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November 24, 2015 0

Campus Groups Exploit Domestic Social Issues to Attack Israel

Anti-Israel groups on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses con­tinue to link the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict to issues of police bru­tal­ity and dis­crim­i­na­tion in the U.S., in an attempt to gain broader sup­port for Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns and other anti-Israel ini­tia­tives from minor­ity stu­dent groups. By employ­ing this tac­tic, groups such as Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) link domes­tic issues to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, thereby couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms and mak­ing Israel look like an aggressor.students-for-justice-in-palestine-suhad-khatib

Below are a few exam­ples of these events and actions from the 2015–2016 aca­d­e­mic year:

  • Linda Sar­sour, the National Advo­cacy Direc­tor for the National Net­work for Arab Amer­i­can Com­mu­ni­ties, spoke at Rut­gers Uni­ver­sity on Mon­day, Novem­ber 23, 2015 for an event titled “Sol­i­dar­ity: Uni­fy­ing Com­mu­ni­ties of Color to Break Cycles of Oppres­sion.” Accord­ing to the orga­niz­ers of the event, it was held to focus on a num­ber of issues, includ­ing “mass incar­cer­a­tion, mass crim­i­nal­iza­tion, struc­tural vio­lence, apartheid, racism, state-sanctioned vio­lence, police bru­tal­ity, tear gassed for fight­ing for free­dom and equal­ity– a real­ity for Pales­tini­ans liv­ing under occu­pa­tion, and for Blacks fight­ing an unjust sys­tem here in the United States.”
  • Suhad Khatib, a mem­ber of the St. Louis Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee (PSC), spoke via Skype at San Diego State Uni­ver­sity on Thurs­day, Novem­ber 19 for an event titled “Resist­ing Oppres­sion from Miz­zou to Gaza.” In her pre­sen­ta­tion, she stated that African-Americans, Pales­tini­ans, Mex­i­cans, and oppressed peo­ple are con­nected, claim­ing that “Fer­gu­son taught me more about my con­nec­tion with Pales­tine than any­thing else because you under­stand racism and sys­tem­atic racism. We as Pales­tini­ans are brain­washed to think we are white when we are peo­ple of color and are oppressed.”
  • The Mar­quette Uni­ver­sity SJP chap­ter spon­sored a panel dis­cus­sion titled “Out­lets 4 Activism,” which fea­tured Ali Abunimah, founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the anti-Israel Elec­tronic Intifada blog, as a pan­elist. Other pan­elists at the event included Nate Hamil­ton, an activist from the #Black­Lives­Mat­ter move­ment and brother of Don­tre Hamil­ton; and Oscar Her­nan­dez, an immi­grant rights activist who works as an Orga­nizer for We Own the DREAM. The event was co-sponsored by Black Stu­dent Coun­cil (BSC), Youth Empow­ered in the Strug­gle (Y.E.S), the National Asso­ci­a­tion for the Advance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple (NAACP), and Jew­ish Voice for Peace (JVP).
  • Many SJP chap­ters and other anti-Israel groups across the coun­try co-sponsored ral­lies and demon­stra­tions held in sol­i­dar­ity with African-American stu­dents at the Uni­ver­sity of Mis­souri. At one of the demon­stra­tions, which took place at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity on Wednes­day, Novem­ber 11, Nadine Dar­wish, a mem­ber of Loy­ola SJP and Loy­ola Divest, stated “Now is the time to hold admin­is­tra­tors accountable…No longer can we remain com­pla­cent as stu­dents and stu­dent activists. We have to put an end to the poli­cies and prac­tices that con­tribute to the sys­temic trauma­ti­za­tion of stu­dents of color on cam­pus, par­tic­u­larly Black stu­dents and my peers in SJP.”

These events are a con­tin­u­a­tion of what occurred dur­ing the pre­vi­ous aca­d­e­mic year, when anti-Israel groups worked to link the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict to Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri and when SJP and its part­ners began to pub­licly back dif­fer­ent move­ments and offer sup­port to var­i­ous groups, while broad­en­ing sup­port for BDS and other anti-Israel initiatives.

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September 25, 2015 20

University Departments Sponsor Key BDS Advocates

Uni­ver­sity depart­ments on five dif­fer­ent col­lege cam­puses have spon­sored or co-sponsored anti-Israel pro­grams pro­mot­ing Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns so far dur­ing the 2015–16 aca­d­e­mic year. The found­ing goals of the BDS move­ment and many of the strate­gies employed in BDS cam­paigns are anti-Semitic.  Such spon­sor­ship cre­ates the per­cep­tion that spe­cific uni­ver­sity depart­ments sanc­tion these goals and strate­gies, lend­ing an added degree of legit­i­macy and cred­i­bil­ity to anti-Israel advo­cacy and cam­paigns that may alien­ate Jew­ish and pro-Israel students.omar-barghouti-berkeley-flyer

Since the 2012–13 aca­d­e­mic year, there have been at least 99 anti-Israel events that received uni­ver­sity depart­ment spon­sor­ship, includ­ing 44 events which took place in the 2014–15 aca­d­e­mic year.

On Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015, Omar Bargh­outi, a found­ing mem­ber of the Pales­tin­ian Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (PACBI), spoke at the Uni­ver­sity of California-Berkeley. His pre­sen­ta­tion, which dis­cussed the role which he believes acad­e­mia should play in BDS, was spon­sored by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter and co-sponsored by eight dif­fer­ent Uni­ver­sity depart­ments, includ­ing the Cen­ter for Race and Gen­der, Asian Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Native Amer­i­can Stud­ies, Eth­nic Stud­ies, Eng­lish, Chi­cano Stud­ies, Near East­ern Stud­ies, and African Amer­i­can Studies.

Bargh­outi, a founder of the move­ment who recently stated that he believes BDS is turn­ing main­stream, has used Holo­caust imagery to con­demn Israel and its sup­port­ers in past pre­sen­ta­tions and inter­views. He also has advo­cated for a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, along with the right of return for Pales­tin­ian refugees, claim­ing that one state would mean “equal­ity for everyone–irrespective of iden­tity, eth­nic­ity, reli­gion or any other attribute.”

Barghouti’s event is not unique for this year though, as the Cen­ter for Diver­sity and Inclu­sion at Michi­gan Tech­no­log­i­cal Uni­ver­sity spon­sored a sim­i­lar pre­sen­ta­tion from Israeli anti-Zionist author Miko Peled on Sep­tem­ber 15, 2015. Over the years, Peled has made sev­eral state­ments about Jews, Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict that would not define “inclu­sion” or “diver­sity.” These state­ments include his alle­ga­tion that Israel turned Gaza into an “enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp” or more recently, when he stated that “nei­ther Iran, Hezbol­lah or Hamas pose a threat to Israel, they pose a threat to the Israeli occu­pa­tion and oppres­sion of Palestinians.”

Other events which received depart­ment spon­sor­ship this year include an upcom­ing per­for­mance by Remi Kanazi, an Orga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic & Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI), at John Jay Col­lege. At John Jay, Kanazi’s per­for­mance is being co-sponsored by the Depart­ment of Gen­der Studies.

In addi­tion, a Sep­tem­ber 16 pre­sen­ta­tion at Drew Uni­ver­sity by Bassem Tamimi, a Pales­tin­ian anti-Israel activist who has been arrested in Israel sev­eral times, was co-sponsored by the Mid­dle East Stud­ies Depart­ment; and a pre­sen­ta­tion from Vijay Prashad, the for­mer Edward Said chair in Amer­i­can Stud­ies at the Amer­i­can Uni­ver­sity of Beirut, was co-sponsored by the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs Program.

While not all advo­cates of BDS are anti-Semitic and may be dri­ven by per­ceived legit­i­mate crit­i­cism of cer­tain Israeli poli­cies toward Pales­tini­ans, many indi­vid­u­als engaged in BDS cam­paigns are dri­ven by oppo­si­tion to Israel’s very exis­tence as a Jew­ish state. Because of this, it’s unfor­tu­nate that uni­ver­sity depart­ments would lend their spon­sor­ship to events that can cre­ate an envi­ron­ment that is hos­tile to Jew­ish and pro-Israel students.

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April 1, 2015 2

50% of Anti-Israel Events in Illinois on Three Campuses

Anti-Israel activ­ity on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses in Illi­nois has remained steady over the last two years with student-groups actively work­ing to pro­mote Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel and false alle­ga­tions such as that Israel is an apartheid state.

Tweets from pro-BDS stu­dents dur­ing and after the BDS vote at Loy­ola University.

Since Sep­tem­ber 2013, more than 70 anti-Israel events have taken place on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses in Illi­nois and over 50% of those events were held on three cam­puses: Loy­ola University-Chicago, DePaul Uni­ver­sity, and North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity. So far this year, there have been two divest­ment res­o­lu­tions passed by stu­dent gov­ern­ments at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity and North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity and 25 anti-Israel events have either taken place or been sched­uled on Illi­nois campuses.

Lead­ing up to the BDS vote at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity, there was a week-long pro­gram called “Loy­ola Divest­ment Week,” which fea­tured sev­eral events pro­mot­ing BDS and the “Loy­ola Divest” cam­paign. Exam­ples of those events included dis­cus­sions about divest­ment, a “Pales­tine 101” ses­sion which pro­vided his­tor­i­cal con­text about the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and a con­ver­sa­tion titled “Reclaim­ing Our Voices through Social Activism.”

ADL described the Loy­ola Divest effort as “mis­guided” and stated that it will likely serve to “divide and polar­ize the cam­pus community.”

The polar­iz­ing effect of the res­o­lu­tion could be wit­nessed dur­ing the vot­ing ses­sion and after its pas­sage, as stu­dents reacted on Twit­ter with the hash­tag “#Loy­olaDi­vest.” One stu­dent remarked dur­ing the vote that there were a “hand­ful of priv­i­leged white peo­ple on one side of room” and that the “rest of human­ity [was] on [the] other.” Another stu­dent echoed that tweet and wrote “Never under­stood ‘white tears’ more than now –white jew­ish stu­dents are ‘uncom­fort­able’ while the Pales­tini­ans are suf­fo­cat­ing,” and another stu­dent cel­e­brated that the cam­pus Hil­lel allegedly lost mem­bers “because #divest­ment made them uncom­fort­able and afraid,” stat­ing that, “That’s a win for #Loy­olaDi­vest no one should join Hillel.”

North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity, the Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter formed a group called “NU Divest” which worked to pro­mote divest­ment. Lead­ing up to the Stu­dent Government’s vote on their BDS res­o­lu­tion, the group spon­sored sev­eral anti-Israel events such as a pre­sen­ta­tion from Hatem Baz­ian, a founder of Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP), on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 13, 2015 titled  “Colo­nial­ism is not Over: Con­tem­po­rary Move­ments.” The group also pub­lished pro-BDS arti­cles in the cam­pus news­pa­per to inform their student-body about the BDS cam­paign and on Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015, the stu­dent gov­ern­ment voted to pass their BDS res­o­lu­tion with a 24–22-3 vote.

The BDS cam­paign at DePaul Uni­ver­sity was also active this semes­ter because of the campus-wide BDS ref­er­en­dum that was passed by a vote of 1,575–1,333 on May 23, 2014. To fol­low up on the vote, the DePaul Divest coali­tion sub­mit­ted a request to the DePaul Fair Busi­ness Prac­tices Com­mit­tee (FBPC) in Jan­u­ary 2015 and asked them to rec­om­mend that DePaul divest from Hewlett-Packard, Boe­ing, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Veo­lia, and Cater­pil­lar. The pro­posal was report­edly rejected by the FBPC.

Flyer from DePaul University SJP Fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh.

Flyer from DePaul Uni­ver­sity SJP Fundraiser for Ras­mea Odeh.

The SJP chap­ters at both Loy­ola and DePaul also hosted events to defend and dis­cuss the case of Ras­mea Odeh, a Pales­tin­ian accused by Israel of hav­ing taken part in two 1969 bomb­ings by the ter­ror­ist group the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine (PFLP), who was just con­victed on a count of unlaw­ful pro­cure­ment of nat­u­ral­iza­tion and is fac­ing eigh­teen months in prison and depor­ta­tion to Jor­dan. While Odeh’s case was only dis­cussed at Loy­ola, at DePaul, the SJP chap­ter actu­ally hosted a fundraiser for Odeh where all pro­ceeds were to be donated to her legal defense team.

Of the more than 70 anti-Israel events on Illi­nois cam­puses since Sep­tem­ber 2013, SJP has spon­sored the major­ity of those events, which were focused on BDS cam­paigns and cas­ti­gat­ing Israeli policy.

Other recent anti-Israel events on other cam­puses in Illi­nois include:

  • Shirien D, an Exec­u­tive Board mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for Pales­tin­ian Equal Rights, spoke about alleged sim­i­lar­i­ties between Fer­gu­son and Gaza at the Illi­nois Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy on Feb­ru­ary 11, 2015.
  • A teach-in for stu­dents to learn about and get involved with the BDS move­ment took place at the Uni­ver­sity of Illinois-Urabana Cham­paign (UIUC) on Mon­day, Novem­ber 10, 2014.
  • Ilan Pappe, an Israeli anti-Zionist pro­fes­sor who is famous for writ­ing a book titled The Eth­nic Cleans­ing of Pales­tine, spoke at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago on Fri­day, Octo­ber 24, 2014.

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