Anti-Zionist Group at Columbia University Calls for Boycott of ‘Pro-Israel’ Clubs, Equates Zionism With Antisemitism
Anti-Zionist students at Columbia University in New York have called for a boycott of “pro-Israel” campus clubs, and equated Zionism, the movement for Jewish national self-determination, with antisemitism.
In a statement shared on Sunday, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) urged “our peers and allied organizations to boycott all pro-Israel advocacy groups and clubs,” specifically naming Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Columbia and Aryeh: Columbia Students Association for Israel.
J Street CU, a third campus advocacy group that in part describes itself as “Pro Israel,” was not explicitly mentioned.
“Any advocacy on behalf of the State of Israel effectively amounts to a defense of its settler-colonial foundations and apartheid regime,” SJP maintained.
The statement came a less than a week after SSI invited SJP and its allied organization, Jewish Voice for Peace, to host a joint event that would allow students “to engage with our various perspectives” through debates and conversations.
The initiative would aim to improve student understanding and “create a less divisive relationship between our groups,” SSI wrote in its email invitation, which was also sent to members of the Columbia College Student Council (CCSC).
Last month, the CCSC rejected an SJP and JVP proposal to issue a campus-wide referendum on divesting from companies over their ties with Israel.
Columbia SJP declined the invitation in a Sunday email, and shared a link to a longer statement that accused SSI of attacking and silencing “Palestinian voices on campus,” most recently by advocating against the divestment referendum.
After affirming its opposition to debates with Zionists that don’t abide by “anti-normalization guidelines,” as shared by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, SJP shared “a list of [SSI’s] racist, belligerent, and downright bizarre anti-Palestinian activities on campus.”
These ranged from promoting Zionism “as a multicultural indigenous liberation struggle” and collaborating with “unsavory propaganda groups,” to recording SJP and JVP events without permission and filing complaints against the groups with Columbia administrators.
“We … believe that social ostracization is a powerful tool that the student body can use to voice their rejection of Zionism, white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and other oppressive ideologies,” SJP wrote in explaining its call for groups including SSI, among them Columbia University College Republicans, to be “effectively deplatformed.”
In a response on Sunday, SSI said SJP “virulently used made up claims and half-truths to justify their insistence on marginalizing and boycotting pro-Israel voices on this campus.”
“SSI’s invitation to host a joint event came as a result of SJP claiming that they want to promote dialogue on this issue on campus,” the group continued, calling the boycott “downright preposterous, frustrating and reprehensible.”
“We hope that SJP members come to their senses and instead of making aggressive public Facebook posts targeting other student groups on campus, work with us towards a better future for both the Israelis and the Palestinians,” it added.
Corinne Greenblatt, president of J Street CU, said her group “respectfully [disagrees] with the statement and boycott call.”
“Time and time again we’ve seen issues of moral purity prevent dialogue between individuals on campus who actually agree on fundamental issues,” she told The Algemeiner in a statement on Monday.
Last April, SJP at nearby New York University led more than 50 campus groups in announcing a boycott of the school’s two Zionist student clubs, Realize Israel and TorchPAC, with signatories agreeing not to co-sponsor events with them.
Others on the SJP blacklist included the Anti-Defamation League civil rights group and all Israeli academic institutions, as well as “Israeli goods and goods manufactured in the Occupied Territories, except for those manufactured by Palestinians.”