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March 15, 2013 9

So What Are You DOING About it?”… How ADL Counters Anti-Israel Activity on College Campuses

Amer­i­can col­lege cam­puses con­tinue to be a prov­ing ground for var­i­ous anti-Israel cam­paigns, tac­tics and mes­sages. Last week, our blog reported on sev­eral dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tives we’ve seen recently, includ­ing non­bind­ing Boy­cott Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) res­o­lu­tions at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, River­side and Irvine; Israeli Apartheid Week and, of course, uni­ver­sity spon­sor­ship of anti-Israel pro­grams.

So what role did ADL play to counter these mes­sages and advo­cate for Israel?

Out­reach to Uni­ver­sity Admin­is­tra­tors: ADL encour­aged the Chan­cel­lors at Irvine, River­side and San Diego to speak out against the non-binding divest­ment res­o­lu­tions that passed on these cam­puses and reas­sure the Jew­ish and pro-Israel com­mu­nity that the uni­ver­si­ties intend to fol­low the UC-wide pol­icy against divest­ment. The chan­cel­lors at all of these schools have com­mend­ably done so.

In a few days, Naim Ateek, the direc­tor of a “Pales­tin­ian Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy” orga­ni­za­tion called Sabeel, is sched­uled to speak at Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity and West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity. Ateek fre­quently uses Chris­t­ian imagery to demo­nize Israel and Zion­ism, includ­ing claims that Israel is engaged in a “cru­ci­fix­ion” cam­paign against Pales­tini­ans. Sim­i­larly, he has accused Israel of com­mit­ting a Holo­caust against the Pales­tini­ans. His appear­ances are spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments at the two uni­ver­si­ties. ADL has com­mu­ni­cated to both uni­ver­si­ties that the school’s spon­sor­ships of Ateek are inap­pro­pri­ate and that the uni­ver­si­ties should con­sider host­ing pro-Israel speak­ers as well.

In the past few months, ADL staff has also met with high-level admin­is­tra­tors at a vari­ety of cam­puses to talk about how Jew­ish stu­dents expe­ri­ence anti-Israel activ­ity on cam­pus. We have brain­stormed with them about ways to make the col­lege cam­pus a true “mar­ket­place of ideas” where all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict are ade­quately rep­re­sented. Over the past 100 years, ADL has devel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as an hon­est and cred­i­ble voice for the Jew­ish com­mu­nity. ADL is there­fore uniquely posi­tioned to edu­cate uni­ver­sity offi­cials about the Jew­ish and pro-Israel community’s per­spec­tive and encour­age them to speak out against extreme anti-Israel activ­ity and anti-Semitism.

Expres­sions against Divest­ment: ADL responded to a non-binding Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion urg­ing divest­ment at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, San Diego, by sub­mit­ting a state­ment against divest­ment to the stu­dent sen­a­tors con­sid­er­ing the res­o­lu­tion. The state­ment, read dur­ing the pub­lic dis­cus­sion on the res­o­lu­tion, described how BDS doesn’t advance the cause of peace because it “deep­ens the divi­sions between Israelis and Pales­tini­ans” and places all the blame for the con­flict on Israel. The state­ment also warned that the res­o­lu­tion tar­geted com­pa­nies that help Israel bet­ter pro­tect its cit­i­zens and that a call for divest­ment would illus­trate the UCSD stu­dents’ lack of com­mit­ment to Israel’s legit­i­mate right to self-defense.

Expos­ing and Edu­cat­ing: In this week’s edi­tion of J., a Bay Area-based news­pa­per, the regional direc­tor of ADL’s Cen­tral Pacific office con­tributed an op-ed about how the three stated goals of the BDS move­ment demon­strate that the movement’s objec­tive is to iso­late Israel, not cre­ate the con­di­tions for peace. ADL reg­u­larly exposes anti-Israel activ­ity through op-eds, as well as our blog, web­site and other platforms.

Train­ing Stu­dents: In San Diego, ADL runs a pro­gram called I-Pitch for Israel which helps train pro-Israel stu­dents on cam­pus to lobby against divest­ment and other anti-Israel cam­paigns. Train­ing also includes infor­ma­tion about free speech rights and the myths and facts of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Sev­eral I-Pitch par­tic­i­pants spoke out against divest­ment at the pub­lic dis­cus­sion as well.

As anti-Israel cam­paigns con­tinue to play out on col­lege cam­puses across the coun­try, ADL will stand with our part­ners in the local Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties and with stu­dents to counter these ini­tia­tives and advo­cate on behalf of Israel and the Jew­ish peo­ple. Do you have any other ideas for respond­ing to anti-Israel activ­ity? Use the space below to let us know!

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March 14, 2013 2

Universities In Michigan To Host Sabeel’s Naim Ateek

A week ago, we reported on our blog that uni­ver­sity and aca­d­e­mic depart­ment spon­sor­ship of anti-Israel pro­grams has risen dra­mat­i­cally in the last few years. In fur­ther evi­dence of this trend, two uni­ver­si­ties in Michi­gan plan to host Naim Ateek, the founder and direc­tor of the Sabeel Ecu­meni­cal Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy Cen­ter in Jerusalem, in the next few days.

On Sat­ur­day, March 16, Ateek is sched­uled to speak on the “Require­ments for a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel” at West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity. Two aca­d­e­mic depart­ments, the Insti­tute of Gov­ern­ment and Pol­i­tics and the Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence are listed as spon­sors. No stu­dent group appears to be involved in bring­ing Ateek to cam­pus. Two days later, Ateek will speak at Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity, a talk spon­sored by the Mid­dle East Stud­ies and Reli­gious Stud­ies Pro­grams of the uni­ver­sity, as well as sev­eral stu­dent groups.

Sabeel, which has sev­eral chap­ters in the U.S., espouses what it calls “Pales­tin­ian lib­er­a­tion the­ol­ogy.” This “the­ol­ogy” rein­ter­prets the Hebrew Bible in an attempt to bol­ster the legit­i­macy of the Pales­tin­ian posi­tion and dis­avow Zion­ism. In his fre­quent speak­ing appear­ances at Sabeel con­fer­ences and other gath­er­ings, Ateek has said that claims that the land of Israel belongs to the Jew­ish peo­ple is “bad the­ol­ogy.” He asserts that the estab­lish­ment of Israel is a “relapse to the most prim­i­tive con­cepts of an exclu­sive, tribal God.” He also has accused Israel and its sup­port­ers of aban­don­ing God, say­ing that Israel “has no fear” of God and that Israel has instead adopted “secu­rity” as a new God.

On sev­eral occa­sions in the past, Ateek has used Chris­t­ian imagery to demo­nize Israel by com­par­ing modern-day Pales­tini­ans to Jesus and their suf­fer­ing to his cru­ci­fix­ion. He has referred to the Israeli occu­pa­tion as the “orig­i­nal sin” that must cease before Pales­tin­ian vio­lence will end. In a 2001 Easter mes­sage, Ateek explic­itly said: “Jesus is on the cross again with thou­sands of cru­ci­fied Pales­tini­ans around him…The Israeli gov­ern­ment cru­ci­fix­ion sys­tem is oper­at­ing daily.”

More recently, Ateek has employed Holocaust-related lan­guage to con­demn Israel, an oft-used rhetor­i­cal device for the anti-Israel move­ment. In a 2009 arti­cle in Cor­ner­stone, Sabeel’s pub­li­ca­tion, Ateek viciously claimed that the mur­der of Jew­ish chil­dren dur­ing the Holo­caust is “com­pa­ra­ble to what the gov­ern­ment of Israel has done to the peo­ple of Gaza today.” Other arti­cles pub­lished in Cor­ner­stone have sim­i­larly tried to exploit the hor­rors of the Holo­caust by analo­giz­ing it to Israeli pol­icy. In last spring’s edi­tion, for exam­ple, there was a poem that included the fol­low­ing lines:  “But what O Israel/Have you become?/The Nazis made me fear­ful to be a Jew/but you [Israel] have made me ashamed…Time to con­front the dark­ness we have become/With the Holo­caust it is Never Forget/but with Deir Yassin it is Never Mind.”

Sabeel’s Amer­i­can coun­ter­part, Friends of Sabeel-North Amer­ica, orga­nizes sev­eral anti-Israel con­fer­ences a year that fea­ture speak­ers who accuse Israel of racism, oppres­sion, and human rights vio­la­tions. Speak­ers often pro­mote Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions efforts as pun­ish­ment for what they see as Israel’s apartheid-like poli­cies. Some speak­ers at Sabeel con­fer­ences have also described the pro-Israel lobby as exces­sively pow­er­ful and argue that Israeli inter­ests con­trol the U.S. government’s for­eign pol­icy. The group has been the dri­ving force behind Chris­t­ian divest­ment ini­tia­tives against Israel since 2004.

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February 27, 2013 1

University Sponsorship Of Anti-Israel Programs On The Rise

Update 3/14/13:  Two more uni­ver­si­ties in Michi­gan plan to host anti-Israel pro­grams in the next few days. Naim Ateek, the founder and direc­tor of the Sabeel Ecu­meni­cal Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy Cen­ter in Jerusalem, is sched­uled to speak at West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity and Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity.

In recent years, the num­ber of highly politi­cized anti-Israel pro­grams that have been spon­sored by uni­ver­sity depart­ments has increased quite dra­mat­i­cally. To date, 22 anti-Israel events have been spon­sored by uni­ver­si­ties and/or aca­d­e­mic depart­ments across the U.S. dur­ing the cur­rent school year. In the 2011-12 school year, the total was 10; and in the school year before that, it was just five.

The university-sponsored event that has received the most atten­tion was the Boycott Divest­ment and Sanc­tions (BDS) event at Brook­lyn Col­lege three weeks ago. But other events that are almost as con­tro­ver­sial have got­ten much less atten­tion. Miko Peled – an Israeli who advo­cates for BDS cam­paigns against Israel, calls for a one-state solu­tion and holds Israel cul­pa­ble for Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ism – has been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and Haver­ford Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia in recent months. Peled, a draw as an anti-Israel speaker because of his nation­al­ity, has also been invited to speak at Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State Uni­ver­sity in two weeks.  His pre­sen­ta­tion there is being spon­sored by the Inter­na­tional & Area Stud­ies Com­mit­tee and Peace Stud­ies, two inter­dis­ci­pli­nary pro­grams at the university.

In his recently pub­lished book, The General’s Son: Jour­nal of an Israeli in Pales­tine, Peled calls Gaza an “enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion camp,” an inac­cu­rate and offen­sive effort to cheapen the mem­ory of the Holocaust.

While not all anti-Israel speak­ers that have been spon­sored by aca­d­e­mic depart­ments hold views as hos­tile as Peled’s, many use the oppor­tu­nity to call for out-and-out anti-Israel advo­cacy like BDS, which ren­ders the sup­port they receive from aca­d­e­mic depart­ments even more rep­re­hen­si­ble. Some of these events have drawn con­tro­versy in the past, includ­ing the “one-state solu­tion” con­fer­ence at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity last year (which was spon­sored by the Weath­er­head Cen­ter for Inter­na­tional Affairs and the Office of the Provost) and a March 2011 con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Hast­ings Col­lege of the Law called “Lit­i­gat­ing Pales­tine: Can Courts Secure Pales­tin­ian Rights.” Although the title of the con­fer­ence sounded benign, the con­fer­ence was actu­ally meant to be a strat­egy ses­sion about ways to bring Israel to the Inter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court (ICC), issue arrest war­rants for Israeli diplo­mats trav­el­ing abroad, and engage in inter­na­tional BDS campaigns.

The approx­i­mately two dozen university-sponsored anti-Israel events this school year have also included per­for­mances by Remi Kanazi, an anti-Israel poet who is a leader of the BDS move­ment; a panel dis­cus­sion fea­tur­ing only anti-Israel speak­ers talk­ing about how the “Jewish-American rela­tion­ship with Israel” is at a “cross­roads;” and a screen­ing of a new film called “Roadmap to Apartheid,” which analo­gizes Pales­tin­ian refugees to Jews in the War­saw Ghetto and par­tially con­dones ter­ror­ism as a “symp­tom” of the conflict.

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