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December 25, 2016 8:42 am

Anti-Israel Activists at U of Maryland Demand Administration Protect Them Against Antisemitism Allegations, Allow BDS Promotion ‘Without Fear of Consequence’

avatar by Lea Speyer

University of Maryland campus. Photo: UMD.

University of Maryland campus. Photo: UMD.

Anti-Israel activists at the University of Maryland (UMD) are calling on the administration to defend them against antisemitism allegations and allow them to operate “without fear of consequence,” the independent student newspaper The Diamondback reported.

According to the report, in a “List of 64 Demands for New Programs, Resources and Initiatives,” sent to UMD President Wallace Loh in late November, ProtectUMD — a coalition of 25 campus groups, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) – called themselves “marginalized students” in need of support.

According to self-described “pro-Palestine” and Muslim student community members, UMD must:

Support and defend activist groups by nullifying slander and smear campaigns from bigger groups. Example: Many members of SJP were slandered as antisemitic for being pro-Palestine…

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Provide protection during campus events that might make students feel unsafe because of their political implications (i.e. Israel Fest for Muslim and Arab students…)…

[Encourage] positive representation of Pro-Palestinian human rights activists on campus… [s]pecifically condemning the conflation of Pro-Palestinian activism with racism and antisemitism.

The document defines “pro-Palestinian activists” as “people who seek the fair treatment of Palestinians in Palestine and the rest of the world,” claiming that “[p]ro-Palestinians do not reject the human rights of any group of people, and encourage a fair and just system of governance across the globe.

In a statement to The Diamondback, ProtectUMD said it met with representatives from Jewish and pro-Israel campus organizations, who “offered opinions about the absence of the Jewish voice within the demands, and weighed in on their groups’ stances toward [the pro-]Israel Fest and the [anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions] BDS movement.” In the end, “none of the [UMD] Jewish student groups or organizations signed on.”

The ProtectUMD’s “list of demands” is the latest move by the school’s anti-Israel community. In April, UMD students protested the annual Israel Fest, waving Palestinian flags; carrying “Zionism kills” signs; and chanting, “Viva, viva Palestine” and, “Fight the power; turn the tide; end Israeli apartheid.” A police presence was required at the scene.

BDS is a driving force of anti-Israel activity on campuses around the world, with protests often  turning violent.

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