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May 2, 2017 4:08 pm

Cornell University Israeli Independence Day Celebration Disrupted by Students for Justice in Palestine ‘Die-In’ Stunt

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An aerial shot of Cornell University. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

A festive program held at Cornell University on Monday in honor of Israeli Independence Day was marred by a notorious student group which staged a demonstration against Israeli “genocide” by conducting a “die-in” stunt in the middle of the celebration, the Cornell Sun campus paper reported.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) members reportedly lied to Cornell Police — who were providing security — and to program organizers to gain access to the event venue, promising that they would not protest inside. According to the report, some 20 SJP members were then allowed to enter, but, within minutes, began a half-hour long disruption.

SJP’s antics included pulling out a sign reading, “Celebrating 69 years of Genocide,” handing out fliers accusing Israel of being “founded on the expulsion of the indigenous population” and dropping to the floor in the middle of the room in a “die-in.”

Rabbi Ari Weiss, the executive director of Cornell Hillel — an organizer of the event — was quoted in the Cornell Sun report as saying he confronted SJP members about their deception to police and program personnel, but they shrugged it off.

One SJP member told the school paper that “Israel Day” — an apparent reference to Yom Haatzmaut — “ignores a lot of genocidal histories and… the human suffering that is going on in Palestine right now,” while also “appropriat[ing] a lot of Arab culture and clump[ing] it together in one weird category that we think is pretty racist.”

According to the report, Brandon Cohen — student president of Cornell Hillel — lamented that SJP is “more interested in protesting” and “just being antagonistic against us,” rather than participating in a conversation about the “very hot topic” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

SJP also claimed that some of its members were physically harassed by pro-Israel students, adding they believed “racism” motivated the alleged non-response of Cornell Police to altercations. Officers, however, said they witnessed no physical incidents at the event.

Toba Stern, Hillel’s student chair of Israel programming, told The Algemeiner that despite SJP inserting itself into the middle of the event, the protesters were treated in a “respectful way” by attendees.

Over 100 “students and community members continued to enjoy themselves…and join[ed] together to celebrate the birthday of the State of Israel,” she added.

Hillel’s Weiss told The Algemeiner that his organization was “really proud of the event.”

“Despite the protest, we were able to engage the Cornell community with impactful Israel programming last night,” he said, adding that Hillel would continue to offer students “meaningful Israel-focused events and experiences.”

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