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March 29, 2016 6:53 pm

Quiet Campus Watchdog Group Releases Report on ‘Antisemitic, Anti-Israel Activity’ at U of South Florida

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SJP students blocking Birthright table at U South Florida. Photo: Twitter

SJP students blocking Birthright table at U South Florida. Photo: Twitter

A group that quietly documents antisemitic and anti-Israel activity on campuses released a new report on Monday, The Algemeiner has learned.

Canary Mission released its findings on the University of South Florida (USF).

“Every word in the report is accurate,” Sylvie Feinsmith, the program director at USF Hillel, told The Algemeiner. “And in fact it’s only the tip of the iceberg of what’s gone on here.”

Canary Mission’s attention was drawn to USF, according to the report, because “divestment resolutions … are a warning sign for us that the safety of Jewish and pro-Israel students and faculty is under threat,” and they had learned in January that a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution was being presented to USF’s student government by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

Although that January resolution was vetoed by the student body’s president and vice president because, according to USF’s student newspaper, they believed such resolutions serve “only to divide the student body and to disparage students with opposing viewpoints,” SJP subsequently repackaged the resolution and succeeded in having it passed in February without the signatures of the executive branch leaders.

According to Canary Mission, that successful BDS resolution was the culmination of several years of forceful anti-Israel and antisemitic activity by USF’s chapter of SJP. The report cites a number of examples, including SJP’s 2013 sponsoring of an Israel-Palestine game show in which participants had to answer questions about “types of poisons Israeli settlers put in Palestinian water supplies,” and about roads that “only Jews can use.”

Other examples include a 2014 Facebook graphic comparing Jews to Nazis; a 2014 speech featuring a Hamas fundraiser described as a “motivational speaker;” and the disruption of two pro-Israel campus talks last month, with shouts of “murderers” and “child-killers.” At one of the events, police were required to escort the speakers out of the building.

Feinsmith added, “Last fall, SJP members surrounded and blocked access to a table I was staffing advertising Hillel’s Birthright trips to Israel. Students are free to protest, but blocking access is against the rules. It took several minutes before I could get them to move away, but then they came over as individuals and began hounding me with aggressive questions.”

Feinsmith also said that the logo of USF’s SJP chapter is an image of the entire state of Israel wrapped in a Palestinian flag. “They are not interested in promoting dialogue, coexistence and tolerance, like other student cultural groups,” she told The Algemeiner. “The whole goal of their campus activity is to help destroy the state of Israel.”

Canary Mission’s report also included in-depth profiles of 23 USF students, alumni and faculty involved in these and similar activities. These include individuals who boast of having hurled rocks at Israeli soldiers, promote campaigns in support of a convicted terrorist, refer to members of Hamas as “freedom fighters” and claim that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has “killed more children than Hitler.”

USF administrators responded to The Algemeiner‘s request for comment with this statement:

Students with concerns related to harassment or discrimination should contact our Office of Diversity, Inclusion & Equal Opportunity DIEO and students with concerns related to violations of the Student Code of Conduct should contact our Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Specific concerns brought to either of these two offices will be thoroughly reviewed and addressed accordingly.  These processes also take into consideration whether the alleged activity is free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Canary Mission was founded in 2015 “to document the people and groups that are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses in North America.” It maintains a high degree of secrecy about its members and operations. In the past month, it has released similar reports about Vassar College and Columbia University.

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  • PAK

    Abolish the Federal Reserve, and that will solve most of these problems which are caused by the illegal banking system’s offshoots in every nation in the world. I would love to know, if these women from Palestine are so out spoken in their own countries when returning home? Many college professors have been paid large amounts of money to trash Jews and Israel just as they have to start race riots and the killing of police. I believe if people want to come to America to study, that is exactly what they should do. If they come here for any other reason, we need to find out what it is, and see that they leave when done.

  • Like many American campuses, the University of South Florida made similar pedestrian comments about free speech protected by the First Amendment. USF’s chapter of SJP abuses the First Amendment to delegitimize Israel and the Jewish people. And Jewish-American students would receive a first-rate education in Israel.

  • H. Shalfi

    Anti-Israel images are found in the standard art textbooks widely used in North Carolina and other parts of the country. They show the work of Banksy, a graffiti artist who paints anti-Israel propaganda on walls in the Arab areas of Israel and elsewhere. Other an’I-Israel works are also used in these books, purportedly just as examples of different styles and techniques. There is no comment on the message nor equal representation of Israeli artists.

  • Stein

    In past years, the Muslim community at University of South Florida included members of Islamist terrorist organizations, including Islamic Jihad in Israel, the ‘blind sheikh’ who tried to bomb the Twin Towers in New York, and other groups. It seems the community has become even more Islamist. Unfortunate.

    • Rachel

      The Muslim student population is not to blame. I say this as an American Israeli citizen. We need to look at the groups of people who deny a pluralistic society and choose terrorist organizations to voice their thoughts and opinions.