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May 19, 2014 2

Vassar College President To Investigate Anti-Israel Student Group Activity

In response to a series of anti-Semitic posts pub­lished on social media accounts affil­i­ated with Vassar’s Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter, Catharine Hill, the Pres­i­dent of Vas­sar Col­lege, announced that “the col­lege is ini­ti­at­ing a full inves­ti­ga­tion and action on the mat­ter” and that she will be ask­ing the Vas­sar Stu­dent Asso­ci­a­tion (VSA) to review SJP’s pre-organization sta­tus; the group is a “pre­lim­i­nary orga­ni­za­tion” on campus.vassar-sjp

Anti-Semitic and racist mes­sages allegedly dis­sem­i­nated by the Vas­sar chap­ter of SJP included an arti­cle that was reposted from The Occi­den­tal Quar­terly, a racist print pub­li­ca­tion that in its own words, hopes to “defend the racial group that cre­ated and sus­tains our civ­i­liza­tion.” Another post that appeared on Vas­sar SJP’s Tum­blr page was of a car­toon that used offen­sive Holo­caust imagery to con­demn alleged Israeli poli­cies. It depicted a so-called “Holo­caust” in Gaza, with a pile of human skulls topped with a sign that read “Gaza.”

On May 13, a day before Hill’s state­ment, Vas­sar SJP posted a state­ment on its Face­book page claim­ing that, “Up until this point, the social media plat­forms (tum­blr and twit­ter) asso­ci­ated with SJP Vassar’s name have been man­aged by one per­son and the SJP gen­eral body was not involved in deci­sions made about what was being posted.” The group also con­demned hate speech and apol­o­gized for the offen­sive posts.

Con­cern over Vas­sar SJP’s activ­ity first began in Feb­ru­ary when the group orga­nized a protest out­side of an Inter­na­tional Stud­ies class, whose pro­fes­sor co-led a trip to Israel to explore water issues as part of the course. The protest report­edly lasted for at least 30 min­utes, as stu­dents enrolled in the course attempted to enter the classroom. 

As the stu­dents tried to make their way into the class­room, the pro­test­ers called on them to drop the class because of the orga­nized trip to Israel. They also handed out fly­ers, which apart from call­ing for Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel, also claimed that “The sim­ple act of enter­ing and mov­ing within the state of Israel is a free­dom denied to over 5 mil­lion Pales­tin­ian refugees who were eth­ni­cally cleansed from their homes…The indige­nous peo­ple of Pales­tine do NOT want you to come.” 

Hill’s state­ment is an impor­tant step toward ensur­ing that Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents on cam­pus are made to feel com­fort­able and that bla­tant anti-Semitism and hos­tile rhetoric will not be tol­er­ated on campus.

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March 28, 2014 1

MPAC Steps Up Involvement In Anti-Israel Activity

The Mus­lim Pub­lic Affairs Coun­cil, one of the lead­ing Amer­i­can Mus­lim advo­cacy orga­ni­za­tions in the U.S., has shown increased involve­ment in grass­roots anti-Israel activ­ity this month.

On March 30, the group will co-sponsor pre­sen­ta­tions by anti-Israel activist Mazin Qum­siyeh at two churches in Cal­i­for­nia. The pre­sen­ta­tions, titled “The Impor­tance of Pales­tine in Mid­dle East Pol­i­tics and The U.S. Citizen’s Role,” will be deliv­ered at All Saints Church in Pasadena and St. Mark Pres­by­ter­ian Church in New­port Beach.

Qum­siyeh, a pro­fes­sor at Beth­le­hem and Birzeit Uni­ver­si­ties and for­mer pro­fes­sor at Duke and Yale Uni­ver­si­ties, has a long record of engag­ing in extreme cam­paigns against Israel, includ­ing advo­cat­ing for a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, sup­port­ing the Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tion (BDS) cam­paign against Israel, and par­tic­i­pat­ing in “non­vi­o­lent” protests against Israel in the West Bank that often turn violent.

Al Marayati at IAW Loyola

Salam Al-Marayati post­ing at Loy­ola Marymount’s mock “apartheid wall.”

After the Boston Marathon bomb­ing last April, Qum­siyeh wrote a post on his blog derid­ing the “Zion­ist spin” of the story, which he claimed was try­ing to hold Mus­lims respon­si­ble for the attack but ignored “past false flag oper­a­tions by the Israeli Mossad.” He has pre­vi­ously accused Israel and its sup­port­ers in the United States of being respon­si­ble for “wars on Arab and Mus­lim countries.”

In addi­tion, last week, Salam Al-Marayati, pres­i­dent of MPAC, par­tic­i­pated in the first Pales­tine Aware­ness Week at Loy­ola Mary­mount Uni­ver­sity in Los Ange­les. The event was orga­nized by the newly formed chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine on cam­pus. On his Face­book page, Al Maray­ati posted a pic­ture of him­self stand­ing near the mock “apartheid wall.”

Although MPAC expressly sup­ports “a just and com­pre­hen­sive two-state solu­tion,” its coop­er­a­tion with and par­tic­i­pa­tion in events that sup­port BDS and a one-state solu­tion to the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict raise seri­ous con­cerns about the organization’s stated platform.

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March 21, 2014 1

Divestment Resolutions Abound on U.S. Campuses This Week

In the wake of Israeli Apartheid Week, which recently wrapped up after tak­ing place on sev­eral dozen col­lege cam­puses dur­ing the month of March, divest­ment res­o­lu­tions were intro­duced on four U.S. col­lege cam­puses this loyoladivestweek.

Here’s a run­down on the res­o­lu­tions – two of which passed, two of which were held up – that were intro­duced this week:

Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity – Although the Loy­ola Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter had dis­sem­i­nated a peti­tion urg­ing the uni­ver­sity to with­draw invest­ments in five cor­po­ra­tions, the cam­pus was blind­sided by the sur­prise intro­duc­tion of a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion in  the Stu­dent Sen­ate on Tues­day. The res­o­lu­tion, which passed by a vote of 26–0-2, had not pre­vi­ously been announced and stu­dents who sought to oppose it were not given the oppor­tu­nity to express their perspective.

Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity – Also on Tues­day, a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity (ASU) to divest from Cater­pil­lar, which pro­vides heavy machin­ery to the Israeli army, was tabled by the Under­grad­u­ate Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment. The bill was intro­duced by the group “ASU Divest from Cater­pil­lar Inc.” and it will report­edly be amended and rein­tro­duced by ASU’s SJP chap­ter in the near future.

Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan – The Cen­tral Stu­dent Gov­ern­ment (CSG) was sched­uled to vote on a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion ini­ti­ated by the anti-Israel stu­dent group “Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity” (SAFE). The meet­ing attracted an over­whelm­ingly large num­ber of stu­dents and as the room became over­crowded, the meet­ing was moved to another loca­tion on cam­pus where an announce­ment was made that the vot­ing ses­sion would be post­poned indef­i­nitely. Accord­ing to the Michi­gan Daily, the crowd then “pressed up against the stan­chions divid­ing the room and chanted ‘Divest’ at the CSG mem­bers for sev­eral min­utes.” In addi­tion, more than 100 stu­dents gath­ered out­side of the Michi­gan Union to rally in favor of divestment.

The fol­low­ing day, mem­bers of SAFE declared that they were con­duct­ing a “sit-in” near the stu­dent gov­ern­ment offices until the CSG would hold a vote on their divest­ment res­o­lu­tion. The stu­dents  took over the space and refused to leave until they were told that they would be arrested. Reports on Twit­ter indi­cate that mem­bers of the group are cur­rently recon­ven­ing for the third day of their “sit-in.”

San Diego State Uni­ver­sity – San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Stu­dent Diver­sity Com­mis­sion passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion by a vote of 11–6-2 on March 19. The res­o­lu­tion now will report­edly be brought before the uni­ver­sity council.

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