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June 4, 2020 3:54 pm

Outrage Greets Pro-BDS Petition to University of California Blaming Israel for Teaching Methods That Killed George Floyd

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Anti-Israel protesters disrupt an event at the University of California, Los Angeles, May 17, 2018. Photo: Screenshot.

Outrage erupted on Thursday as a ferociously anti-Israel petition to the University of California blaming Israel for police brutality and the murder of people of color in the US circulated online.

The petition, signed by hundred of campus organizations and individuals, included a long and rambling list of demands, such as abolishing the police and returning “all Indigenous lands” to Native Americans.

The petition also tied Israel to US police brutality and racism and, specifically, the killing in Minneapolis last month of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin.

“This complicity goes beyond domestic policing,” the petition read. “We also call on the UC to divest from companies that profit off of Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, investments that uphold a system of anti-Black racism in the US.”

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“We know the Minneapolis police were also trained by Israeli counter-terrorism officers,” it continued. “The knee-to-neck choke-hold that Chauvin used to murder George Floyd has been used and perfected to torture Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces through 72 years of ethnic cleansing and dispossession. Police departments view Israeli Defense Force tactics as models for responding to ‘public health and safety crises.’”

The second of the petition’s three primary demands was “Divest from companies that profit off Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine.”

In response to an inquiry from The Algemeiner regarding Israeli training for the Minneapolis police force, a spokesperson from the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest said, “Any attempt to create any link between what took place in Minnesota with Israel is baseless and misguided.”

Professor Miriam Elman — executive director of the independent pro-Israel group Academic Engagement Network — told The Algemeiner, “Like past efforts to blame Israel for US policing problems and police violence, the petition has absolutely no basis in fact. It defies belief to suggest that Israel was responsible for the killing of George Floyd because, according to the signatories, back in 2012 some Minneapolis police officers attended an FBI-hosted counter-terror seminar where a few Israeli law enforcement officials were invited to speak. The notion that this training program, or similar police exchanges sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and other American Jewish organizations, cause or contribute to police shootings by American cops on the beat is ludicrous. It smacks of antisemitic tropes and canards related to Jewish power, money, and influence that have sustained anti-Jewish hatred across the millenia.”

“This petition basically states that if you care about Black Lives Matter, racial and social justice, and the need for police reform, then you must also revile Israel and detest its supporters, who stand accused of complicity in the suffering of blacks, Latinos, Native Americans and other minority communities,” she continued. “Scapegoating American Jews for societal ills is one of the hallmarks of antisemtic discourse. University of California campus leaders must not hesitate to speak out forcefully and unequivocally against it.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin — director of the AMCHA Initiative watchdog organization — told The Algemeiner, “It is truly sad that at a time when we should be coming together and uniting against hate and bigotry, some are exploiting this tragic moment and using it as a vehicle to promote anti-Israel divisiveness and hate.  Sadly, this happens on campus all too often. It is a deliberate effort directed by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel to have anti-Israel student and faculty activists use every opportunity to align themselves with meaningful causes while ostracizing and suppressing Jewish students and pro-Israel voices. And faculty, who should know better, are playing a more prominent role than ever.”

“The dozens of faculty members who signed this petition should be ashamed of themselves, particularly Jeanelle Hope, who was paid by the California Department of Education to develop an ethnic studies model curriculum for our state’s high schools,” she went on to say. “With faculty who do not hesitate to use every opportunity to promote their narrow, radical and hate-filled agenda, it is no wonder that the first draft of that ethnic studies model curriculum resembled a partisan playbook filled with political propaganda — including the promotion of BDS — and not an educational curriculum.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center told The Algemeiner, “Never mind that this is all based on lies and vicious anti-Israel propaganda, the main goal is simple — link the horrific image of George Floyd’s murder to the incendiary lies about the Jewish state and its non-existent connection to such horrific incidents in the US.”

“If they succeed in embedding that image then the rest follows,” he said, “banning cooperation between police departments and Israelis, and the full menu of the BDSers, and the further demonization of Israel and her Zionist supporters.”

“Not only must the Jewish community protest this big lie, we look to African-American leaders who have to deal with racism every day to denounce this phony screed,” Cooper added.

While the petition itself did not list an author, it appeared to have first surfaced on Monday as a post on the #DisarmUC Facebook page.

The group described itself as “a movement, a collective, which seeks to disarm campus police across University of California campuses.”

#DisarmUC declined The Algemeiner’s request for comment.

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