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September 22, 2014 3

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

gaza-ferguson-college-of-staten-island

Vigil for Gaza at the Col­lege of Staten Island

While Gaza and Fer­gu­son no longer dom­i­nate the head­lines, these unre­lated events con­tinue to be con­nected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, more recent anti-Israel events con­tinue to link the con­flict in Gaza to the Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri shoot­ing and its after­math, couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent exam­ples of anti-Israel events that draw par­al­lels between Fer­gu­son and Gaza include:

  • Exis­tence is Resis­tance and the Cam­paign to Bring Mumia Home are adver­tis­ing an event sched­uled for Octo­ber 11 at the Mal­colm X and Betty Shabazz Cen­ter in north­ern Man­hat­tan to address “the global sys­tems that oppress us, from Fer­gu­son to Gaza.” The event will fea­ture speak­ers such as Remi Kanazi, an orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel dis­cus­sion titled “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine: Con­nect­ing Strug­gles” is sched­uled to take place at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin on Sep­tem­ber 24 accord­ing to the event’s Face­book page. The event, spon­sored by the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee, will fea­ture at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City Uni­ver­sity of New York (CUNY) Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter is host­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter titled “CUNY Stands for Jus­tice: From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine” on Sep­tem­ber 22 fea­tur­ing “an evening of poetry, speak­ers, and dis­cus­sion around repres­sion and resis­tance from Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri to Gaza, Pales­tine,” accord­ing to event flyers.

    gaza-ferguson-brooklyn-college

    SJP “die-in” at Brook­lyn College

  • The Col­lege of Staten Island SJP chap­ter hosted a vigil for Gaza on Sep­tem­ber 17 at which the group adver­tised on Face­book that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in sol­i­dar­ity from Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Fer­gu­son because “Pales­tini­ans know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • Accord­ing to a post on an anti-Israel Face­book page, mem­bers of the Direct Action Front for Pales­tine attended protests in Fer­gu­son and spoke to peo­ple there about Gaza. On Sep­tem­ber 8, it held a meet­ing in Brook­lyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effec­tive in our resistance…”
  • Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work (IJAN) protested out­side ADL’s San Fran­cisco office on Sep­tem­ber 3 with a ban­ner that read “From Oak­land to Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, The US and Israel, A Deadly com­bi­na­tion” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coali­tion formed in 2008 that seeks to facil­i­tate global anti-Israel activ­ity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Face­book, Brook­lyn Col­lege SJP adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 “die-in” on the Brook­lyn Col­lege cam­pus to “raise aware­ness about israel’s [sic] lat­est mas­sacre” and to remem­ber “all the vic­tims of white supremacy and insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in the U.S., the lat­est being #Mike­Brown and #EricGarner.”

Events link­ing Fer­gu­son and Gaza have also been orga­nized by some uni­ver­sity depart­ments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Crit­i­cal Race Stud­ies Depart­ment spon­sored a Sep­tem­ber 18 event called “From Gaza to Fer­gu­son,” which accord­ing to pub­lic­ity mate­ri­als, explored “the rela­tion­ship between race, the rise of mil­i­ta­rized polic­ing and the response to dis­sent in the United States and con­sider its impli­ca­tions in a global con­text.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holo­caust sur­vivor who has com­pared the Israeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans to the Nazi treat­ment of Jews.

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March 1, 2012 1

Attempts to Silence Pro-Israel Voices on Campus Continue

Recent dis­rup­tions of pro-Israel events on cam­pus illus­trate the con­tin­u­ing use of tac­tics intended to silence Israeli voices and the expres­sion of pro-Israel views.
On Feb­ru­ary 27, Stu­dents from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia — Davis chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) staged a walk­out dur­ing a pre­sen­ta­tion by for­mer sol­diers who served in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). One stu­dent defi­antly stood up and shouted obscen­i­ties at the speak­ers, claim­ing that Israel has “turned the land of Pales­tine into a land of pros­ti­tutes and rapists and child moles­ters,” and harassed the speaker, ask­ing him, “How many women have you raped? How many chil­dren have you raped? You are a child moles­ter.” Dur­ing his out­burst, the heck­ler defended his actions as a free speech right yet noted, “My only pur­pose today is that this event is shut down,” an obvi­ously ironic use of free speech rights.  
SAFE rep­re­sen­ta­tives prior to Feb. 21 walkout
A dis­rup­tion also occurred the next day at UCLA when dozens of SJP mem­bers with duct tape fas­tened to their mouths and signs read­ing “Silenced” walked out in the mid­dle of an IDF soldier’s presentation.
On Feb­ru­ary 21, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from SAFE (Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity), an anti-Israel group at Michi­gan State Uni­ver­sity, staged a sim­i­lar walk­out of a speech fea­tur­ing for­mer Israeli soldiers.
While the sol­diers were able to fin­ish their pre­sen­ta­tions in all three cases, these inci­dents illus­trate an unwill­ing­ness by anti-Israel groups and indi­vid­u­als to allow the pro-Israel voice a space to be heard, an unfor­tu­nate posi­tion given that col­lege cam­puses should serve as a venue for the free exchange of ideas, not a place to “shut down” views one may dis­agree with.
The strat­egy first began in earnest in the 2009–2010 school year with loud dis­rup­tions of, among oth­ers, speeches by for­mer Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ehud Olmert at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago and Israeli Ambas­sador Michael Oren at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Irvine.

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February 29, 2012 2

Mock “Apartheid” Wall Kicks off Palestine Awareness Week at UCLA

Mon­day, Feb­ru­ary 27, marked the start of Pales­tine Aware­ness Week at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia — Los Ange­les. The week­long event, timed to coin­cide with the Israeli Apartheid Week is spon­sored by the university’s chap­ter of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP), the pri­mary orga­nizer of anti-Israel activ­ity on campus.

A large out­door “apartheid wall” con­tain­ing extreme anti-Israel imagery and text has been erected at the university’s cen­tral pub­lic gath­er­ing space, Bruin Plaza.Texts on the pan­els include accu­sa­tions that Israel is an apartheid state that per­se­cutes and deprives Pales­tini­ans of their fun­da­men­tal rights.

“Apartheid Wall” at UCLA

There are also Holo­caust analo­gies com­par­ing the Nazi ghet­tos of Europe with con­di­tions fac­ing Pales­tini­ans in Gaza. Com­par­isons to the Holo­caust are dis­played under the ban­ner of “Never Again? His­tory Repeats Itself.” The pan­els also fea­ture sta­tis­tics and “facts” por­tray­ing a skewed and inac­cu­rate image of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The “apartheid wall” has also been dis­played at a pub­lic area across the Stu­dent Activ­i­ties Cen­ter in Wil­son Plaza in order to more broadly reach the stu­dent public.

In addi­tion to the “apartheid wall,” SJP mem­bers gath­ered Tues­day evening to denounce Israel with dele­git­imiz­ing slo­gans like “Israel is a ter­ror­ist state.” Other events sched­uled for Pales­tine Aware­ness Week include a one-state solu­tion lec­ture by UCLA pro­fes­sor Sari Madi­son and a panel on Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS).

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