Pro-Israel Groups at UC Berkeley Band Together to Counter-Protest ‘Day of Action’ Against Jewish State
Two groups at the University of California, Berkeley are gearing up to counter-protest an annual rally whose purpose is to demonize Israel, the head of one of the organizations told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
Josh Woznica, president of Bears for Israel, said that his group and fellow pro-Israel organization Tikvah are “coming together for the first time to present a strong, united front” against Thursday’s “International Day of Action for Palestine” demonstration. In previous years, he said, students at these rallies have gone so far as to openly call for terrorism against the Jewish state.
Woznica said that the counter-protest, which he expects will be attended by over 100 people, is not aimed at anti-Israel students, but rather at the “70 percent who pass by and don’t know anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
“Our intent is to have a silent protest opposing the anti-Israel messaging of the ‘Day of Action,’ highlighting the importance of academic freedom and ending the double standard applied to Israel,” he added. “We are not trying to convince the other side. We want the students to see there is another perspective. Anti-Israel groups scream and chant really catchy slogans, such as, ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ and present a false picture of what is happening in Israel. Our goal is to expose this.”
According to the demands outlined on the “Day of Action” Facebook page, anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists are calling, among other things, for the end of “academic complicity with Israeli occupation.”
Calling this “counter-productive dialogue,” Woznica said, “You can’t support academic freedom for everyone other than Israel.”
Pro-Israel and Jewish students at UC Berkeley, he said, “feel like they are in a place where their ideas are not valued and they are targeted for their religion or views.”
The “Day of Action” rally is being sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Bears for Palestine. Speakers include Dr. Hatem Bazian, a notorious anti-Israel activist and SJP co-founder. It comes on the heels of a recent controversy at UC Berkeley over an anti-Israel course, which led — as The Algemeiner reported — to the appearance of fliers on campus warning students about Jewish “bullies.”