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March 8, 2013

Anti-Israel Activity Reached Fever Pitch This Week

Anti-Israel activists took a multi-faceted approach to attacking Israel in the public sphere this week. In the span of 7 days, divestment resolutions were considered at three college campuses, ten anti-Israel billboards were put up in Atlanta, over 30 college campuses hosted Israeli Apartheid Week programs and two daylong BDS conferences were scheduled.

These initiatives are formally or informally part of a global effort to advance the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. They demonstrate the anti-Israel movement’s commitment to employing multiple tactics and campaigns to attract support for its positions.

A flyer advertising the first public discussion on the divestment resolution at UCSD

Here’s a closer look at what’s taken place this week:

  • Campus Divestment Resolutions: Student governments at Stanford University, the University of California (UC), Riverside, and UC San Diego considered divestment resolutions targeting multinational companies that work with Israel like Caterpillar, General Electric and Northrup Grumman. The results were mixed: the resolution at Stanford was voted down; UC San Diego did not vote on its resolution (after a discussion that lasted until 2am) and will resume discussing it next week, while UC Riverside passed its resolution in a stealth manner reminiscent of the recent resolution at UC Irvine. The divestment resolution at Riverside was introduced without advance notice and seems to be part of an effort to ensure that pro-Israel students are left in the dark and are therefore not present at the public discussion to voice their perspective and advocate against the bill.
  • Israeli Apartheid Week: At least 35 college campuses in the U.S. are participating in IAW this year, the ninth consecutive year that the program has been held in cities around the world. Most of the events in the U.S. were formally scheduled to take place March 4-8 but some are stretching into next week as well (due to various university-related scheduling conflicts). IAW events this year have primarily included anti-Israel speakers, mock “apartheid walls” and checkpoint displays on campus, and screenings of two critical of Israel films,  the Oscar award-nominated “5 Broken Cameras” and a more extreme film called “Roadmap to Apartheid.” “Roadmap to Apartheid” is narrated by The Color Purple author Alice Walker and analogizes Palestinian refugees to Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and partially condones terrorism as a “symptom” of the conflict.
  • BDS Conferences: This past Saturday the University of Texas, Austin, hosted a daylong “BDS Conference” that featured extreme speeches by Nada Elia, a faculty member at Antioch University in Seattle, and Sherry Wolf, a Jewish socialist and activist. Elia avowed that she would not reject Palestinian extremism because Palestinians “have a right to resist” and compared Israelis to American slave-owners. Wolf used the platform to claim that the notion that Israel is the Jewish people’s homeland is “bulls–t” and accused Israel of “terrorism” and institutionalized racism against the Palestinians. She further described Zionist Jews as “white supremacist racist[s].” On Saturday, March 9, a similar conference will take place on the Auraria campus in Denver. Participants will “learn about the history of both Palestine and the global BDS movement, hear what coalition groups are working on, and participate in BDS and coalition-building training,” according to the event flier.
  • Anti-Israel Billboards: The Council for the National Interest, an anti-U.S. aid to Israel group based in DC, recently started a campaign called “Stop the Blank Check to Israel” which hopes to place billboards in cities across the country. Ten such ads, which read, “$8 Million a day to Israel just doesn’t make sense! STOP The Blank Check.org,” have recently been erected in Atlanta. Ads with similar messages have appeared in the past year in Den­ver, Detroit, Los Ange­les, Chapel Hill and New York.

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