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April 1, 2015

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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March 2, 2015

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Propagates Anti-Semitism

On the eve of the Israeli Prime Minister’s address to the U.S. Congress warning about the threats posed by a nuclear-armed Iran, the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is once again using Twitter to propagate age-old anti-Semitic charges of Jewish domination.

Khamenei.ir, the twitter handle used by the Supreme Leader’s office, posted a series of tweets Monday on the theme of  “Zionist domination” of the U.S. and world governments:

Khamenei Tweet 1

Khamenei Tweet 2Khamenei Tweet 3The tweets also feature the hashtag #ShutDownAIPAC, the rallying cry for anti-Israel groups protesting outside the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Council, including SJP, Code Pink, the US Campaign to End the Occupation and the Answer Coalition.

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January 30, 2015

BDS Passed at UC Davis, Other BDS Campaigns Also Occurring

Last night at the University of California, Davis, a divestment resolution was passed by The Associated Students, University of California (ASUCD) with a vote of 8-2-2. The resolution, which calls on the UC Board of Regents to divest from companies that allegedly “aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories,” targets specific corporations such as Caterpillar, G4S, Veolia Environment and Raytheon.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Students from Davis Divest celebrate after their BDS resolution was passed with an 8-2-2 vote.

Several other Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns are simultaneously occurring on other college campuses across the U.S. This is consistent with our predictions in our “Anti-Israel Activity on Campus After Operation Protective Edge” report about upcoming challenges on campuses where student-groups are looking to convince their universities to divest from corporations that they believe perpetuate or profit from the Israeli occupation.

In some cases, new student groups have been founded to launch these campaigns and in other cases, established anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), have taken the lead. In many cases, these student groups have attempted to form partnerships with other groups on their campuses to build broad coalitions and to latch onto other social justice causes. For example, these groups have sponsored events such as “From Ferguson to Palestine and the Wall,” which took place in mid-January at Stanford University and described as an opportunity to “discuss the specifics and connections between the movements for justice in Ferguson, the US-Mexico Border and Palestine.”

During the first semester of the current academic year, the UCLA SJP chapter was able to get “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence Against Palestinians” passed by their student government. The resolution, which was sponsored by 15 student organizations and endorsed by another 17, was voted on with an 8-2-2 margin. In addition, at the end of last semester, the UC Student-Workers Union, UAW Local 2865, voted in favor of a resolution urging the UC Board of Regents to join the BDS movement against Israel.

In addition to UC Davis, there are another six campuses in the U.S. that are currently engaged in BDS campaigns. Below is a rundown of their activities:  

  1. DePaul University – The DePaul Divest coalition submitted a request to the Fair Business Practices Committee (FBPC) to uphold a decision made last spring when DePaul students voted on a referendum in favor of divestment during Student Government elections. The companies that they were targeting for divestment included Hewlett-Packard, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Veolia, and Caterpillar, but the proposal was reportedly rejected by the FBPC.
  1. Northwestern University – A newly-founded group called NU Divest has been hosting pro-BDS events to inform their student-body about BDS and they are planning to submit a divestment resolution for vote to their student government at some point this semester.
  1. Stanford University – A new student group called Stanford Out of Occupied Palestine has been hosting pro-BDS events on campus and plans to submit a divestment resolution to their student government this semester.
  1. SDSU – A group calling itself SDSU Divest recently launched a divestment campaign and has been circulating a petition to current students, alumni, faculty, staff, and community members that calls for divestment “from companies that profit from violence against the Palestinians.” The group is also hosting its “First Open Forum for Divestment” next Tuesday, February 3.
  1. University of South Florida – The USF SJP chapter recently put a billboard up near their campus that claims that “10,000 students were silenced” and calls on USF to divest from corporations allegedly profiting from the Israeli occupation. They claim that students were silenced because the university did not pursue divestment after they circulated a pro-BDS petition that reportedly received over 10,000 signatures.
  1. Ohio State University – A newly-founded group called OSU Divest started a divestment campaign on their campus and disseminated a press release which calls for OSU to divest from companies that allegedly “engage in or otherwise profit from policies that oppress and marginalize Palestinians.”

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