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May 13, 2016 7:11 am

BDS Spreads Antisemitism Across US College Campuses

avatar by Noah Beck

Email a copy of "BDS Spreads Antisemitism Across US College Campuses" to a friend
Stanford University. Photo: Website

Stanford University. Photo: Website

Antisemitic incidents seem to spring up each week on college campuses throughout the United States. According to a study, “The strongest predictor of anti-Jewish hostility on campus” is the presence of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

The greater the BDS activity, especially involving faculty members, the more likely antisemitic episodes become, said the study issued last month by the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, and combating antisemitism on US campuses.

One recent example occurred on April 15, when the City University of New York Doctoral Students’ Council passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel, 42-19. Weeks earlier, a CUNY professor and BDS advocate claimed that the killing of Palestinians in Gaza “reflects Jewish values.” On CUNY campuses, the New York Observer reports, Jewish students were harassed, with “Jews out of CUNY” uttered in at least one instance, and a professor who wears a yarmulke was called a “Zionist pig.”

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On April 21, two-thirds of a union representing about 2,000 graduate students at New York University voted to approve a motion to support a BDS resolution against Israel. The motion also urges the union and its affiliate, the United Auto Workers, to divest from Israeli companies. The resolution asks NYU to close its program at Tel Aviv University, claiming the program violates NYU’s non-discrimination policy.

About a month earlier, NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), one of the main organizing forces behind the nationwide BDS campaign, hosted Israeli academic Ilan Pappé, described by Benny Morris as “one of the world’s sloppiest historians.”

As reported by AMCHA:

Pappé blamed Jews, perceived historically as evil, for antisemitism stating, ‘The [Jewish] Israelis…are responsible for bringing antisemitism back.’ He denied Jews self-determination and demonized Israel stating, ‘evil Zionism will come to an end – all immoral regimes do’ as well as suggested rich Jews should leave Israel as a process of ‘decolonization.’ He further demonized Israel throughout accusing Israel of carrying out ‘ethnic cleansing’ multiple times. Pappé delegitimized Israel consistently referring to Israel as a ‘settler colonialist project,’ …[and] promoted BDS.

The Jewish Law Students Association at Harvard University and Harvard Hillel co-sponsored an event April 14 on “The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the U.S.” During the question-and-answer session, Husam el-Qoulaq, an HLS student and head of SJP at the school, insulted  Israeli Knesset Member Tzipi Livni by asking, “How is it that you are so smelly?… A question about the odor of Ms. Tzipi Livni, she’s very smelly, and I was just wondering.” The student’s question resurrected the antisemitic stereotype of a “smelly/dirty Jew.” Incredibly, some “progressive” HLS Jewish students later defended el-Qoulaq.

As BDS campaigns spread on campuses, antisemitic expression increasingly follows – from swastika-filled vandalism at UC Davis and Purdue University to student “debates” at Stanford University that implicitly dignify classical antisemitic tropes about Jews controlling the media and economy. Among other recent incidents:

  • April 20: At Michigan’s Grand Valley State University, there have been six antiemitic incidents reported on campus since last December. These involved swastikas on walls or doors of residence halls, messages including “I am a Nazi” and “Hitler did nothing wrong,” a faculty member making antisemitic gestures in a classroom, and a Star of David with an “X” scratched into it on the window of a bus.
  • April 19: At the University of Maryland, about two dozen protesters arrived at a Hillel and Jewish Student Union event called, “Israel Fest” and, for about an hour, chanted, “Fight the power; turn the tide; end Israeli apartheid” and held signs saying “Zionism kills.”
  • April 15: At the University of Notre Dame, a letter published by three students in the school newspaper accused Israel of apartheid and directed readers to the Antisemitic site “IfAmericansKnew” and the site for a major BDS group, Jewish Voice for Peace.
  • April 10: At Atlanta’s historically black Morehouse College, participants at the US Universities Debating Championship (USUDC) were forced to justify the motion, “This House Believes That Violence By Palestinians Against Israeli Civilian Targets Is Justified.”

According to AMCHA, 2016 already has seen 171 antisemitic/BDS incidents as of April 21. At this rate, 2016 will see a 36 percent increase in incidents over last year.

Faculty members have become increasingly active in BDS efforts and smears. During a talk at Vassar College in February, Rutgers professor Jasbir Puar accused Israel of harvesting Palestinian organs and conducting scientific experiments in “stunting” the growth of Palestinian bodies. Last month, 40 Columbia University professors signed a BDS petition. More recently, one pro-BDS professor even tried to link campus rape to Israel. As Rochester Institute of Technology lecturer A.J. Caschetta notes, “at a time when much of academe is jumping on the BDS bandwagon, there is little risk to academics who join the movement, whereas opposition to majority leftist positions often leads to a perilous path.”

Indeed, academics who buck this trend may be endangering their careers. At Connecticut College, one of the few professors who defended Andrew Pessin, who hasn’t been in his classroom for the past year after a hate-filled campaign miscast his comments about Hamas as a smear on all Palestinians, says his stance cost him a promotion. Manuel Lizarralde, associate professor in Ethnobotany, wrote in a faculty-wide email Jan. 26 that the college “acted like vigilantes and found the perfect scapegoat,” in Pessin.

Within days, Lizarralde said, he was called in by the administration for a scolding. Noting that he was recently denied promotion, Lizarralde suggested in a recent email that this was payback for his support of Pessin. Connecticut College has “a sense of racism since we are Latinos, Jews and advocate for social injustice…[and we] are being punished [for such activism].”

Responding to the negative media coverage generated by the Pessin case, Connecticut College President Katherine Bergeron published an email to the faculty March 28, in which she championed “the right of all its members to express their views freely and openly.” She failed to explain how that principle applied to Pessin, who was hounded off campus for expressing his views, only to see them twisted and turned against him. She said that the school should promote “reasoned and informed debate about the most complex issues of our time,” but Pessin’s absence leaves the school with no pro-Israel voice. When asked about the contradictions between her email and the Pessin affair, she declined to comment.

Meanwhile, outrage against Connecticut College continues to build, with a petition to investigate the Pessin affair and revoke the school’s accreditation now exceeding 1,500 signatures.

Just as the character assassination targeting the only pro-Israel voice at Connecticut College appeared as a total surprise, BDS campaigns to influence student government votes across the country pop up with minimal notice, just weeks before the vote, giving the opposition little time to organize. That strategy helped secure SJP a BDS victory at the University of Chicago undergraduate student government in March.

It failed to persuade the university’s administration, though.

Who is funding BDS? Analyst Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently told members of Congress that former employees of Hamas-linked charities now work for the Illinois-based organization American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which is “arguably the leading BDS organization in the US, a key sponsor of the anti-Israel campus network known as Students for Justice in Palestine.” Schanzer noted that AMP provides money, speakers, training and even “apartheid walls” to SJP campus activists. More surprising, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund has given anti-Israel BDS organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Shurat Hadin Israel Law Center.

On campus after campus, the BDS movement has proven itself to be well organized and determined to poison the minds of impressionable students against Israel. It will take an equally concerted and sustained effort to oppose BDS in academia.

Noah Beck is the author of The Last Israelis, an apocalyptic novel about Iranian nukes and other geopolitical issues in the Middle East. This article was commissioned for and originally published by The Investigative Project on Terrorism. 

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  • kris Kristian

    I live in South Africa.

    I visit Israel regularly.
    I have never found any trace of apartheid in Israel. Lets compare the apartheid government of South Africa, with the Israeli government
    In South Africa, the blacks were trodden on like rubbish. No blacks ever held any government position. Blacks had to carry passes, if caught without their passes, they were thrown into a police van and sentenced to prison terms
    Black were not allowed to sit in a white café or visit a hotel, RESTAURANT or cinema.

    ISRAEL. The Arabs have full freedom of religion, stay where they like.
    VISIT A HOSPITAL AND YOU WILL FIND ARAB DOCTORS AND NURSES WORKING WITH JEWISH DOCTORS AND NURSES.
    VISIT ANY UNIVERITY, THERE ARE ARAB PROFESSORS AND HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS.
    there ARE MANY ARAB STUDENTS IN Israeli UNIVERSITIES, WHO HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AS DO THE JEWISH STUDENTS.

    THE ARABS IN ISRAEL ARE PAID THE SAME AS ARE THE JEWS.

    THERE ARE ARAB JUDGES IN ISRAEL. ONE ARAB JUDGE SENTENCED THE PREVIOUS PRESIDENT TO ALONG PRISON TERM FOR SEXUAL OFFENSES,

    there ARE ARABS WHO WORK IN ISRAELI EMBASSIES.

    the DRUZE ARABS VOLUNTEER TO JOIN THE IDF AND FIGHT TO PROTECT ‘THEIR ‘HOMELAND”

    THERE IS AN ARAB COLONEL WHO IS THE HEAD OF ONE OF THE ELITE IDF IUNITS.

    THERE IS AN ARAB GENERAL SERVING IN THE IDF.
    AND I COULD GO ON AND ON ABOUT THE TRUTH OF ISRAEL.
    THERE IS NO APARTHEID IN ISRAEL. WHATEVER ONE READS IS LIES AND PROPAGANDA FROM HAMAS, ABBAS ETC. AND THEY KNOW THAT WHATEVER THE SAY, ARE LIES.

    BDS IS A FAILURE AND THOSE WHO PROMOTE BDS WILL FIND OUT THAT THEY ARE FOOLS.
    TO GIVE YOU AN EXAMPLE.
    ISRAEL HAS THE VERY BEST WATER SCIENCE IN THE WORLD.
    ISRAEL DEVELOPED THE DESERT, INTO THE FINEST FERTILE LANDS.LANDS THAT HAVE NEVER HAD ANY PLANT LIFE FOR HUNDREDS OF YEARS
    SOUTH AFRICA WAS HAVING A WATER SHORTAGE, SO ISRAEL OFFERED SOUTH AFRICA TO SEND THEIR TOP WATER EXPERTS TO SOUTH AFRICA.
    THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNEMT DID NOT WANT ANY ISRAELIS TO SHOW THEM HOW TO CONSERVE WATER AND TO BUILD FARMS ETC.
    NOW, WE ARE HAVING THE WORST DROUGHT IN HISTORY. THERE IS NO GZAING FOR THE ANIMALS. SO THEY ARE STARVING AND DIEING.
    FARMERS CANNOT PRODUCE QUALITY FRUIT AND VEGETABLES.
    PRICES ARE EXCALLATING.

    NOW, THE SOUTH AFRICAN GOVERNMENY HAS WOKEN UP, AND ASKED ISRAEL TO HELP.

    THOSE WHO HAE TURNED AGAINST ISRAEL, WILL FIND THAT THEY WILL SUFFER..
    I WOULD SUGGEST THAT THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST ISRAEL, VISIT (UN ANOUNCED)TO SEE FOR THEM SELVES.
    THEY ARE FOLLOWING HATRED WITHOUT INVESTIGATING THE TRUTH.
    AFTER A VIST, THEY WILL FIGHT AGAINST ANTI SEMITISM AND ANTI ISRAEL

    THOSE WHO ARE AGAINST ISRAEL, MUST NOT USE THEIR COMPUTERS OR CELL PHONES AS MANY OF THE COMPONENTS WERE
    DEVELOPED IN ISRAEL. IF THEY HAVE HEART PROBLEMS, THEY MUST REFUSE TO HAVE AN ANGIOGRAM, AS THIS WOULD SHOW WHERE THE PROBLEMS ARE, AND THEY NEED TO HAVE STENTS INSERTED, TO SAVE THEIR LIVES. RATHER DIE.

  • enufizenuf

    Jewish students, please start collecting information on every pro-BDS student and faculty member they can. This should include all of their personal information, as well. Be very guarded and close-lipped about it.

  • nat cheiman

    Trump will stop this

  • Lloyd Wedes

    Based on the colleges they attend, most of these same “Can you drive me to the revolution, daddy?” graduates will buy townhouses in gentrified areas where once low income people resided, buy expansive trams for their children who wear expensive clothes made in third world nations where dictators or child labor exists, and become the self-absorbed Yuppies they and their professors dreamed of becoming; while using computers in their jobs with important hard and software invented in Israel. Or medications that keep their family healthy that were made in Israel. Because it is all about them and their narrow view. Then they wonder why people do not take them seriously. If they think they are all above hypocrisy, then they are more naive than they think.

  • Jane

    WHO is supporting all these BDS groups on the various campuses? Follow the money! All of these concerted efforts — the printing of flyers, bringing in speakers, advertisements — it all costs money. WHERE is it coming from? You are investigative journalists — find out!

    • Tommy

      It’s not really a secret. BDS is ultimately controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood which is mainly financed by super-rich Arabs from the oil-producing states. For BDS to present itself as representing the “down-trodden” is simply an example of how abusing the language is a necessary step to abusing the system.

      The Brotherhood studied the Communist effort in this area very thoroughly and learned from their mistakes. They set up a defensive shield against people identifying what they are doing — they call it “Islamophobia” — to ensure that anyone who speaks the truth about it is labeled a racist, when it is the BDS-advocates who are themselves racist.

  • fred

    As I stated Hitlers 1933 edict are back on US campuses. It is an easy comparison of German & American UNIs, anti Semitism financed by Arab & anti Jewish ( Israel ) interest
    finding fertile grounds in these Institutions of “learning ? “,

  • Larry

    At this time and in this age I have not seen so many ignoramuses attending colleges. They seem to major in anti-semitism. That is the only thing they excel in. They are a wasted generation.

  • stevenl

    BDS only reveals and confirms the spread and depth of anti-Semitism in the western world. It parallels the spread of Islamism and the nefarious role of our President.

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