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April 9, 2019 5:14 am

What Happened During Duke’s ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’?

avatar by Amy Rosenthal


The Israeli ‘Apartheid Wall’ at Duke University in 2019. Photo: Amy Rosenthal.

The anti-Israel rhetoric never stops in my community. Maybe it’s the academia here in the Chapel Hill/Durham, North Carolina area, which is home to the University of North Carolina (UNC) and Duke University.

But whatever it is, the anti-Israel events here come fast and furious.

For example, two weeks ago, Duke and UNC held a joint three-day conference on Gaza that was entirely from the Arab perspective.

Next, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UNC hosted a “Palestine is Here” event with speaker Eran Efrati, the director of the antisemitic Researching the American-Israeli Alliance. Efrati’s talk claimed that training with Israel leads to militarization of US police forces. The city of Durham already fell for this false accusation a year ago, which resulted in the first, and only ban in the country against police training with Israel.

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The following weekend, Linda Sarsour came to visit. She gave her anti-Israel agenda a twist, claiming that Japanese Americans had been placed in “concentration camps” in America, and that Muslims might be next.

Immediately after Sarsour’s visit, Students for Justice in Palestine at Duke University held their “Israeli Apartheid Week.” Out of curiosity, I attended the coffeehouse panel discussion “On Palestine and Solidarity Between Struggles: An Interactive Panel Discussion.” There were six panelists and 12 attendees. One panelist spoke of how important it is to care for oppressed people around the world, but later said that the US should not be involved or active in any foreign country. When one student pointed out this contradiction, the student was shut down.

The next day, the sun was shining on the large “occupation” and “apartheid” wall that SJP students displayed, which was covered in anti-Israel propaganda. The wall took up the entire stage section part of the plaza outside the student union. Other student groups, including a pro-Israel group, had small bridge tables on the lower level.

That evening, there was a panel discussion in a campus classroom: “Connecting Palestine and BLM [Black Lives Matter].” Twenty-two people attended. One panelist claimed to be a history major at nearby North Carolina Central University. He said, “What’s going on in Palestine is the most inhumane condition going on in this world.” I guess he hasn’t heard of Syria, Yemen, or North Korea, to name a few. He went on to demonize Israel, calling it a settler colonial state that was engaged in “a bloody ethnic cleansing to racialize genocide.”

He spoke with admiration about the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a known terrorist organization, calling it the “Marxist-centered revolutionary socialist wing of the Palestinian freedom movement.” He bragged about meeting hunger strikers, saying that “all Palestinian prisoners are political prisoners.”

Most speakers expressed concern about the power of Christian Zionism. One Duke student said, “Palestinian black liberation theology is crucial to combating Christian Zionism.”

The keynote speaker, Nadya Tannous, spoke before about 40 people, nearly all students. Her agenda was to demonize and destroy Israel.

“When I talk about Palestine, I mean ’48 and ’67,” she said — in other words, all of Israel. She called Israel a “white supremacist nation.” She claimed that Jews “don’t need the land in order to eat,” but Palestinians do. Of course, she also failed to mention Palestinian terrorism.

Tannous is sad when Gaza is being bombed. But is she sad when thousands of rockets are launched against Israeli citizens?

She said, “I come from a place called Yaffa” — but later, “I’m from the Bay Area, born and raised.” She spoke of the importance of “cross movement building,” and praised the Palestinian Liberation Organization.

What have I learned by attending these events? They never discuss:

  1. Terrorism against Israelis.
  2. Teaching Palestinian children to hate and kill Jews.
  3. The rejection of Palestinians by neighboring Muslim countries.

SJP is not about peace or justice, and “Israeli Apartheid Week” is pure propaganda. Its goal is to indoctrinate students to support the destruction of the only Jewish country in the world. Why is this allowed on college campuses?

Amy Rosenthal is the co-founder of the North Carolina Coalition for Israel.

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