Thursday, January 27th | 25 Shevat 5782

December 9, 2021 11:57 am

Virginia Tech GPSS’ Farcical BDS Legislation Slanders Israel with Lies and Disinformation

avatar by Matthew Blicher


Burruss Hall at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Despite the well-established irrationality of academic boycotts against Israel, the Virginia Tech Graduate and Professional Student Senate (GPSS) recently passed divestment legislation, supposedly to hold Israel “accountable,” and achieve for “justice for the Palestinian people.”

Despite these lofty claims, let’s be clear: the resolution by the Virginia Tech GPSS is nothing more than an attempt to delegitimize the Jewish right to self-determination, and demonize the world’s only Jewish state.

To begin, while supporters of the BDS campaign claim to be critical of “actions by the Israeli government,” they are often hostile to members of the campus community on the basis of their ethnicity and nationality. Research by the AMCHA initiative has established a disconcerting pattern of misconduct committed by BDS supporters, and increasing BDS activity often corresponds with increasing antisemitism.

For those who remain unconvinced of the true motives of BDS, take it from Omar Barghouti, a self-proclaimed co-founder of the campaign, who said the following: “Ending the occupation doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t mean upending the Jewish state itself … BDS does mean the end of the Jewish state.”

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Furthermore, the authors of the GPSS resolution do not understand basic history — either of the region, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, or the Jewish people at large. On this note, one of the most egregious claims in the GPSS bill is that Israel is practicing “colonialism.”

This is a lie.

The Jewish people are indigenous to the land of Israel, and one cannot colonize one’s own indigenous homeland. To deny the Jewish claim to the land involves rejecting the continual presence of Jews in the land, thousands of years of history, and the spiritual significance of the land of Israel for Jews everywhere.

Furthermore, those who created the Jewish state were a combination of indigenous people and immigrants (many with ties to the land). It is impossible for such a group to “colonize” anything, as they had no formal power, nor were tied to any state or body capable of colonizing someone else’s land.

The GPSS petition also makes incorrect assertions about the conflict itself — including that Israel has denied the Palestinian their own state. This is false, as the State of Israel has a long history of extending peace offers, only to face rejection after rejection from Palestinian leaders.

Next, the claim that the State of Israel engages in official discrimination against Arabs or Palestinians within its borders is absolute nonsense. Israel is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy, and its laws and its Declaration of Independence state that there shall be equal rights for all regardless of race, religion, or sex. All Israeli citizens, including Arabs and other minorities, live and work together, and Arabs continue to excel and rise to prominent positions in Israeli society and government — including the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and more.

Rather than examining why the situation in the West Bank and Gaza ended up as it is today, the authors make the insane decision to compare it to apartheid-era South Africa. As proven by the facts above, this is a slanderous lie.

In addition, it is important to note that Palestinian majority areas in the West Bank fall under Area A of the Oslo accords, meaning they are governed by the Palestinian Authority.

The resolution’s authors also appear to take the side of Hamas in May’s war. As a reminder, Hamas is a terrorist organization, whose stated goal is Israel’s destruction.

During the May war, it committed two war crimes simultaneously — firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and using its own civilians as human shields. Contrary to claims stating otherwise, Israel reacted proportionally in a way that would be justifiable for any other country if it were attacked in such a manner.

Clearly, the Virginia Tech GPSS has a problem with Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza, but not with Hamas’ continued aggression against Israelis.

The “facts” presented in this petition are no more than revisionist history. Like BDS itself, this resolution is merely another way to demonize and delegitimize the right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland — and it’s to the detriment of both Israelis and Palestinians, as this kind of thinking perpetuates the conflict.

It is in the long-term interest of Virginia Tech as an institution that supports academic freedom, social justice, and opposes bigotry in all its forms, to hold the GPSS accountable for their actions.

Matthew Blicher is a CAMERA Fellow, and a student at Northeastern University.

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