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Vassar and the BDS War on Campus

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

The anti-Zionist – and sometimes also anti-Semitic – website Mondoweiss recently published a lengthy report by the site’s founder Philip Weiss about a meeting that took place at Vassar in early March.

According to Weiss, the meeting had been scheduled by the school’s Committee on Inclusion and Excellence in order to discuss guidelines for activism after persistent protests by Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) against a trip to Israel planned by Vassar’s International Studies program.

VASSAR BDS WAR

Weiss began his report by quoting Jill Schneiderman, the professor who had apparently initiated the trip and who had mentioned the meeting in a post on her blog, where she wrote that she “was knocked off-center by a belligerent academic community dedicated to vilifying anyone who dares set foot in Israel.”

Weiss confirmed that the meeting “was truly unsettling,” that “torrents of anger ripped through the gathering” and that “rage against Israel was the theme.” He contrasted this atmosphere favorably with the broad popular support for Israel in the US, asserting that it was very different at Vassar, where “the spirit of that young progressive space was that Israel is a blot on civilization, and boycott is right and necessary. If a student had gotten up and said, I love Israel, he or she would have been mocked and scorned into silence.”

But according to Weiss, Israel’s supporters should expect not just more of the same, but worse to come, because in his view, the “battles we’ve seen so far on campus are just preliminaries.” He predicted that “things are going to get much more belligerent” and asserted that “belligerence may be necessary to the resolution.”

At the end of his detailed report, Weiss offered something like a declaration of war:

“If the SJP students can be obnoxious, their manner is just what feminist Margaret Fuller saw in abolitionists during slavery: tedious, rabid, narrow, prone to exaggeration. And dedicated to a principle worth living and dying for.

Expect many more rage-filled meetings in years to come as the left is broken over this question. How long before students occupy administration buildings of liberal arts colleges that work with Israel? How long before students chain themselves to bulldozers at the Cornell-Technion project in New York city?”

According to Weiss, this militant conduct is also endorsed by BDS leader Omar Barghouti:

“That is what Omar Barghouti is saying to people in the middle now, Get out of the way. The intellectual labors are done, the activists are moving. The public square will increasingly belong to the warriors of both sides. And Vassar shows us clearly which side will win.”

This “war” rhetoric is also reflected in a new book by Ali Abunimah, another leading anti-Israel activist, who is currently touring the US to promote “The Battle for Justice in Palestine” which contains a chapter on “The War on Campus,” and his book tour includes numerous events on campuses.

To understand the growing militancy of anti-Israel activists it is useful to consider for a moment what it means when Weiss declares that the “intellectual labors are done.”

In order to justify the targeting of Israel with campaigns calling for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS), anti-Israel activists have to exaggerate and magnify every failing of the Jewish state in ways that demonize Israel as an evil entity comparable to apartheid South Africa or even Nazi Germany. This demonization is also necessary in view of the fact that all leading BDS advocates insist that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state.

The inevitable result of this indoctrination by activists – and all too often also by professors who support the BDS agenda – is a radicalization of students. As professor Alan Johnson recently noted after an encounter with a group of BDS bullies at an Irish university:

B’klyn College Pro-Israel Students Deserve More than Late Apology

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

It’s been more than a year since four Jewish pro-Israel students (the JPI Students) were forcibly ejected from an anti-Israel talk given by two proponents of BDS, co-sponsored by and held at Brooklyn College. Finally, this past Friday, March 7, Brooklyn College president Karen Gould issued a public apology to the JPI Students. But that very-late apology should be only the very first step taken, according to the public interest law center representing those students.

First, a very quick recap of the events that led to this belated apology.

LEAD UP TO AND FEB. 7 BROOKLYN COLLEGE BDS EVENT

In January of 2013, it was announced that the Brooklyn College Political Science Department endorsed and co-sponsored with various Students for Justice in Palestine organizations a forum about the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel (BDS) movement. The title of the forum was: “A lecture by Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti on the importance of BDS in helping END Israeli apartheid and the occupation of Palestine.” The sub-title, just in case you hadn’t yet understood the point, was “BDS, a strategy that allows people of conscience to play an effective role in the Palestinian struggle for justice.”

There was a great deal of concern and displeasure specifically that a school department would sponsor such a blatantly anti-Israel event, but the administration rejected the complaints. Of special note was Brooklyn College president Karen Gould’s statement that she approved the event solely on the basis of academic freedom, and she encouraged those who disagreed with the premise of BDS to attend the forum and engage in dialogue and debate.

The event went forward. Four pro-Israel Jewish students attended. They brought with them paper containing background information about BDS, which they intended to use during the Question and Answer session at the end of the talk.

Shortly after Judith Butler began speaking, an SJP official observed the papers and went over to the JPI Students, insisting they hand over the papers. The JPI Students refused. Then the SJP official brought over Brooklyn College security guards and the JPI Students were removed from the event. The Brooklyn College communications director later told the press that the JPI Students were ejected because “they created a disturbance” and “were disrespectful.”

THE AUDIOTAPE REVEALING NO WRONGDOING BY THE PRO-ISRAEL STUDENTS

That probably would have been the last anyone heard about the Feb. 7 event, except that later that week an audio recording of the entire event, made by someone in the audience the night of the BDS event, was discovered. The person who made the recording was seated one row in front of the students who were ejected.

Although the clicking of pens and even noise from outside the building could be heard on the audiotape, as well as the speaker’s voice, the tape revealed to a certainty that the JPI Students had not made any noise and certainly had not created a disturbance.

In fact, the first time a voice other than that of Judith Butler can be heard on the tape is when the SJP person told the JPI Students to hand over their papers. The only other discernible words from the audience occurs when the JPI Students were ejected, and one said out loud: “my free speech rights are being violated.”

Because there was irrefutable evidence that the JPI Students did nothing to warrant their expulsion, Brooklyn College was forced into, ultimately – painfully slowly and oh so reluctantly – apologizing to the those students whose rights had been violated.

While the wording issued by Gould on March 7, 2014, is clearly, finally, an apology, Brooklyn College has far to go before it has sufficiently rectified the wrong it did to those students.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/bklyn-college-pro-israel-students-deserve-more-than-late-apology/2014/03/11/

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