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May 3, 2017 4:07 pm

‘Mock Checkpoint’ Stunt on Israel’s Memorial Day Condemned by Columbia University Zionist Student Groups

avatar by Rachel Frommer

Columbia SSI members counter-demonstrate against a “mock checkpoint” display on Yom HaZikaron. Photo: Facebook.

Columbia University’s Zionist student groups have condemned a “mock checkpoint” stunt organized by a campus anti-Israel group on Monday, the Jewish state’s Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron).

Rudy Rochman — the outgoing president of the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) — told The Algemeiner on Wednesday that Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) purposefully timed the display in which “IDF soldiers” — students dressed in fatigues and holding fake guns — harassed “Palestinians,” with a single goal in mind: “to demonize us [pro-Israel and Jewish students] on campus.”

CUAD members held up signs reading, “I was arrested for speaking Arabic” and “I’ve been waiting for 14 hours.” One student pretended to be a pregnant woman in labor who had been impeded by “Israeli troops” from getting to a hospital.

Rochman said SSI quickly found out about CUAD’s activity and “immediately sent out 2 people to stand there with signs and an Israeli flag.” Within an hour, he noted, a total of 10 SSI members were “there standing strong for Israel.”

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“This showed them that we would not be intimidated and also served to challenge their lies in front of any student who was neutral,” he said.

In a video posted on SSI’s Facebook page, members of the grassroots Zionist group are seen singing the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah,” and holding signs that read “Talk to a REAL IDF soldier” and “Zionism is the self-determination movement of the Jewish People.”

Rochman also donned a pair of tefillin (phylacteries), telling The Algemeiner that he chose to do so because “to me [tefillin] is one of the most  empowering Jewish practices.”

Meanwhile, the Hillel-affiliated Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel posted a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, calling out CUAD for putting up “a demonstration that, senselessly and insensitively, disgraced the memory of those who have been killed in acts of violence and terror.”

“The mock checkpoint scene that took place today is not in the slightest representative of the security measures that must be taken by Israelis to prevent the murder of their innocent friends and family — to reduce the number of terror victims they commemorate annually,” the statement said. “That this slander took place on Yom HaZikaron is consistent with CUAD’s history of defamation and bigotry on this campus, and serves as yet another example of how CUAD’s activity alienates and isolates scores of their Jewish peers on campus — many of whom mourned loved ones today.”

“CUAD’s demonstration was shameful not only for its reprehensible timing, which turned a day of remembrance for victims into a day of slander and vitriol, and showed how little respect CUAD has for its peers on campus; it was also shockingly devoid of context, nuance, or conversation — an attitude CUAD perpetuates with their anti-normalization policy, which forbids the very dialogue that could make progress towards ending this conflict,” the statement continued.

SSI’s Rochman urged Jews not to be intimidated by groups like CUAD, who seek to “isolate…and terrorize” anyone who supports the Jewish right to self determination.

“Not every student can be a student leader and stand in the cold in front of people who want to see your identity erased and your homeland destroyed,” he said, adding that groups like his “will speak out for those that cannot.”

A day later at Ithaca’s Cornell University, a student celebration of Israel’s Independence Day was disrupted by a “die-in” staged by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Watch video of the CUAD protest and SSI’s counter-demonstration below:

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