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April 21, 2016 7:07 am

The Planned Palestinian Invasion of the University

avatar by David Collier

Palestinian Invasion of U.K. Universities. Photo: Beyond The Great Divide

Palestinian Invasion of U.K. Universities. Photo: Beyond The Great Divide

The university campus is becoming increasingly hostile to both Jews and Israel. From what I have witnessed and experienced, it is no side effect, but rather part of a deliberate and well-planned strategy.  We are witnessing an entry operation.

In March, in the period around “Israeli Apartheid week,” I attended an impressive one-day conference at the London School of Economics. It was jointly organized by “Olive,” “FOSIS,” and “Friends of Al-Aqsa.” The event was titled “From Johannesburg to Jerusalem.” One of the speakers was Max Blumenthal, who got on stage to present various conspiracy theories, compare Israel to ISIS and to praise Hamas.

The university pull factor

During the event, there were two workshops held. One that was of particular interest went about explaining how to create and promote Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns on campus. The strategy was broken down into seven parts. The most important was persuading your university to create a scholarship for Palestinians. This is what was said:

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The best people to lead a group or society on campus are Palestinians. There is no one who can articulate better to you the realities of occupation and who can make that argument better. To get Palestinians on campus, from the Gaza Strip, from the West Bank and from Israel, what you need is to convince your university to set up scholarships. That requires lobbying, and that requires organizing and that can also come in the form of fundraising every year.

At Sheffield, we get a fee waiver ever year for a Palestinian student. Then we have to fundraise for accommodation and living. Although actually now the university pays for that as well, originally we had to do so. But what that actually meant was that you could build up long relationships with academics who pay standing orders and you build up a network of individuals to contribute towards your scholarship.

So that is the “pull” factor. I am sure that when they lobby the university for the scholarship, they plead humanitarian concern. They stress the necessity of saving the student from the “oppressive and brutal occupation.” In reality, they are lobbying to persuade the university to finance their political cause. Whichever way you consider this, people on this side are actively seeking new recruits from “Palestine” to promote BDS. Then they ask the university to pay for it.

The university push factor

But I wondered at the time about the “push.” Who are these students? Are they Palestinians from Gaza lucky to be given a life-changing opportunity? Or is there a deliberate “push” factor, where Palestinian movements have created a network carefully selecting potential candidates, assisting them in their application and training them prior to their departure?

It would be an astonishing miss if this is not the reality. The Palestinian cause on this side is desperate to lobby for the scholarship. They have a specific goal in mind. Are they going to do all this work, go to all this trouble, only to find they end up with a Palestinian who isn’t capable of presenting their case? Consider Gaza, given that Hamas has control over the propaganda there. Is Hamas selecting or filtering the applicants? Are our university funds being used to further the Hamas cause?

Meet Hazem Al-zatma. Hazem wants to study at Swansea University. Hazem is from Rafah in Gaza and has apparently applied for a scholarship at Swansea. On his Twitter feed is a Tweet saying, “I am still waiting for an official reply and I think it is ‘Yes’ according to my friend who phoned them. I hope I can join you all [at] the nice family of Swansea University.”

If you hyphenate his surname and replace the “A” with an “E,” you find out Hazem is also a freelance translator. You also find he is an online activist. Sometimes he just drops the “Al” and the hyphen altogether. This is Hazem Zatma”s Google page. Hazem raised £170 using online crowdfunding towards his Swansea University education under the captivating title: “Send Refugee to University For Masters.” According to a site called “translator scammers,” Hazem tends to change his name quite frequently.

The problem, however, is far larger than one name-changing translator from Rafah.

Rawan Yaghi was a student at Gaza’s Islamic University, and she won a scholarship to Oxford University to study linguistics and Italian. The BBC ran a story about how “students at Oxford’s Jesus College will pay some of the cost of Rawan’s studies.” The anti-Israel site Mondoweiss published a story about how Rawan was a Mondoweiss contributor. Rawan also ran a blog called weresist. You can also see her in a video promoting #BDS. No surprise, then, that in a recent interview, Rawan suggested “she is planning to be involved in the BDS campaign.” The person who organized the campaign to assist in Rawan’s scholarship-funding was activist Emily Dreyfus. Both Daphne Anson and BBC Watch picked up this story at the time.

We clearly have an example here of an activist in the UK, bringing over an activist Palestinian, who then furthers the “Palestinian cause” once her position here was secured. This was described as a deliberate strategy in the workshop at LSE.

Now, is it systemic?

Full circle

Meet Malaka Mohammed. In 2013, Malaka was given a scholarship by Sheffield University. Malaka raised almost £5,000 towards additional expenses. While still at university in Gaza, Malaka successfully implemented the first BDS campaign. Clearly an activist, she is now on her way to Sheffield — the same university that was specifically mentioned in the workshop I participated in; the one that was persuaded to provide a scholarship to Palestinians to promote BDS.

Now meet Malaka in 2014, just one year later. There was a workshop called “Confronting Israeli Apartheid: Building the Student Movement for Palestine” taking place at Sheffield. Like the one I attended, this was about spreading BDS on campus. Malaka, who was now “Education Officer at Sheffield University Students’ Union,” was one of the speakers. Her topic included “Palestine scholarship campaigns.”

Malaka has come full circle.

Standing next to Malaka on the platform was Goldsmiths University’s then-education officer Sarah El-alfy, best remembered for leading the campaign to reject a Holocaust memorial day. Another on the platform was Juman Asmail, a Palestinian student activist from the university of Southampton. Juman co-founded Southampton Students for Palestine. She was also instrumental in breeding discomfort across the UK Jewish community as one of the driving forces behind the failed anti-Israel conference at Southampton.

Not just Sheffield

The University of Durham has a page dedicated to the “Durham Palestine Educational Trust.” It lists those students granted scholarships in recent years. Diana Alzeer was there until 2013. Prior to her arrival, Diana was already an activist and co-produced a video diary called Sleepless in Gaza and Jerusalem. In 2013 she appeared at a Palestine Solidarity Campaign event at SOAS. Nada Nabris is from the same year group, and along with Alzeer promoted Palestinian activism on campus and raised money to pay for further scholarships. Others, such as Tahani Abu Shaban, also raised money for the same cause. Tahani’s Twitter page leaves no doubt about her sentiments, with a Tweet stating that “Israel surpassed Hitler in barbarism.”

Tahani worked with Hamas-infested UNRWA in Gaza, but what is suspicious is that her Twitter feed became active on the subject of the conflict, in English, just a few months before she arrived in the UK. This provides some indication that some of the students may be being primed in Gaza before they leave. And just so Durham’s class of 2014 isn’t left out, the entire group — Basma Al Hadad, Saba Fadda and Reem Jodeh — can be seen here protesting the conflict and pushing BDS on their local high street.

All over the country

I spent much of February going to events that demonized Israel and pushed BDS. In all of these events there were Palestinian students, many of them here on scholarships. Many of these students are now doing the job that they were expected to do: furthering the cause, creating a case so that even more Palestinian scholarships can be created. This isn’t about one or two universities anymore. At St Andrews, a scholarship program was created for Palestinians, called STEPS. They welcomed their first student in about 2012, and by 2013 they were cancelling pro-Israel events because of protests. There are scores of universities that receive indirect funding through outlets such as the “Said Foundation” – Birmingham, Cambridge, East Anglia, Essex, Exeter, Glasgow, Goldsmiths, Kings, UCL, Leeds, Leicester, LSE, Loughborough, Nottingham, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Holloway, SOAS, Southampton, Sussex and Warwick. There are also the HESPAL Scholarships, 22 each year, spread across the UK. The list is almost endless.

Kings, the university now remembered for the violent protest against a meeting about Jewish peace initiatives, has KCL Action Palestine, who, like good BDS activists, “succesfully achieved a scholarship system for a Palestinian student in 2008.“ Or take Amal Nazzal at Exeter. She arrived on a HESPAL scholarship. Now she teaches at Exeter and includes BDS examples in a lecture during a marketing module. This particularly unethical method of subliminal conditioning is widespread. While I was at Birkbeck, the Lecturer in Law, a BDS activist, used Gaza protests as one of the examples we needed to study in the section on police powers. Nazzal also writes on the conflict at outlets such as Middle East Monitor. She writes of “Israeli colonization and apartheid” and is now free to lecture a whole generation of British students.

A clear victory for the BDS strategy

This isn’t an exercise in careful selection. I could have expanded this research from days into weeks, uncovering more and more evidence under almost every single stone. This is a blatant BDS strategy that they openly advertise and propagate. Consider this: almost every NGO contacted in the exercise I reported about safety conditions in “Palestine” instructed the volunteers how to behave when they returned home. There are information booklets given to ex-volunteers about how to become an activist. Does anyone really believe that those Palestinians awarded scholarships do not undergo similar instruction? Or taking it to a level higher, that those best suited for international activism are not actively pushed towards scholarships? These students are highly politicized and many come as soldiers on a mission. They walk into a university campus that is simply not prepared or capable of dealing with them. There is no comparable “opposing army.”

This is a strategic infiltration of our academic space. Why is there so much money being invested in one specific nationality, when clearly there are far more deserving cases worldwide? Worse still, these scholarships, if utilized by activists, contribute to a worsening and deepening of the conflict. Is it a coincidence that so many of these scholarships are being awarded to students who were already activists before they came? These students most certainly contribute to a deteriorating situation within the UK. How many, just how many, of the Palestinian students standing up on campus, pushing propaganda, alienating the British Jewish students and demonizing the only free state in the entire Middle East, are here on scholarships? How many? And this isn’t just in the UK. If this is a BDS strategy, then it is likely happening everywhere.

The government has a duty to act

I have nothing against the students or scholarships set up to further student education and opportunity. However, the government has clearly stated it believes there is a connection between BDS activity and antisemitism on campus and that BDS “undermines good community relations.” We can now see there is a deliberate and intricate network that intends to bring foreign students over to the UK with the intent to create such an atmosphere on campus and strengthen BDS. We also know that they chase university funding under the flag of humanitarian concern. These scholarships are funding antisemitism.

These students are not British, and they are being imported with the specific aim of increasing the strain on community relations. Their actions fuel the rise in antisemitism against UK Jewry. The government has a clear duty to act quickly to protect its own citizens. Therefore, this practice has to be stopped. The government has to intervene to ensure that it does. If humanitarian concern is the primary purpose behind these scholarships, then simply suggest that while they are here they should refrain from political activity that unsettles UK citizens, such as BDS. Make it a condition of their sponsorship.

After all, if education is really the primary goal, why would anyone object to such a proposal?

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