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May 30, 2016 / 22 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Divestment and Sanctions’

Exclusive Interview: Danny Danon to Kick Off Anti-BDS Initiative at UN with 1500 College Students

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

In an interview Monday with The Jewish Press, Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon outlined a plan of action aimed at leveling the playing field against the Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement.

In less than two weeks, Jews around the world will start getting some much needed back-up in the battle against BDS, as Danny Danon, Israel’s envoy to the UN, rolls out a plan of action designed to unite, organize, and train those on the front lines.

“Young people are being effected by the propaganda,” said Danon, “if we don’t counter it, it will become their truth and reality. We have to stand, fight back, and show the world the real face of Israel”.

The initiative’s inaugural event, entitled “Ambassadors Against BDS”, will take place on May 31st when Israel’s Mission to the UN will host 1500 students, organizations, and agencies from around the world at a summit aimed at cultivating a cadre of able young ambassadors who will carry the message back to their campuses, armed with practical advice and the resources to take on the toxic atmosphere created by BDS.

“The goal of the event is to empower students from around the world – not just from the US – by giving them the tools they need to fight back. By doing it at the United Nations, in the General Assembly, we send a clear message that we will not be silent. We are a strong nation and we will overcome this wave of incitement against the State of Israel,” explained Danon, “We can win, but in order to win, we – the State of Israel and world Jewish communities – have to work together in order to be strong and effective.”

Although the initiative is being spearheaded by Israel’s Mission to the UN, other Israeli government Ministries are also behind the trailblazing effort to which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allocated record funding last summer. “The Israeli government is very aware of the threat posed by BDS”, said Danon, “the Prime Minister takes it very seriously”.

Representatives from several Ministries will be arriving from Israel to take part in the May 31st event. The day will open with a plenary session in the UN General Assembly Hall and be followed by a series of professional panels, where experts from fields such as law and public diplomacy will work with students to hammer out guidelines and provide them with “Ambassadors Against BDS” kits to help implement a new cohesive plan of action.

BDS has been operating for almost 11 years. Its attempts to delegitimize Israel by pressuring businesses, intimidating academics, bullying artists, and the spreading of lies and messages of hate against Jews and Israel on college campuses, have seen more success than previous boycott attempts due to their centralized organization. “I see the work being done by the other side, the way they are organized on college campuses. I know that we can, and we must, be united as well. It’s crucial to understand that this needs to be a joint effort in order to be effective”.

Danon knows there are some people in Israel and here in the United States who think it’s best to ignore BDS, but he’s not one of them. “We cannot and should not ignore the BDS movement, it will not go away. We cannot sit idly by and watch an organized group bashing Israel, in the process of actively trying to delegitimize the State of Israel. Our economy is strong, but we can’t ignore the chilling effect of companies that think twice before investing in Israeli businesses. I don’t think we should wait until the moment when we see the numbers going down, we need to tackle it in advance”.

Although “Ambassadors Against BDS” kits will be available online after the summit, Danon is urging all college students that face anti-Semitism on campus to attend the summit on May 31st. “Registration is free and still open. I encourage all students who can, to participate, to make the effort, to come for one day to the UN. Together, we can proceed with structure, and move forward”.
To register for Ambassadors Against BDS click here.
 

Stephanie Granot

NJ State Senate Unanimously Rejects BDS for Pension Fund

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

The New Jersey State Senate has unanimously rejected the Palestinian Authority-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

A bill requiring the state’s public worker pension fund to divest from companies that boycott Israel was approved in a 39-0 vote, NJ.com reported Monday.

The State Assembly must still vote on the measure (S1923), however. Under the legislation, the state Division of Investments would be unable to invest the public workers’ $68.6 billion pension fund in companies that support the boycott.

Those funds already invested with such companies must be removed within the next 18 months, except for companies providing “humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people through either a governmental or non-governmental organization (NGO) unless it is also engaging in prohibited boycotts.”

New Jersey has one of the largest Jewish populations in the United States. But the state also prohibits its pension fund from investing in businesses with ties to Iran, Sudan and Northern Ireland.

“New Jersey cannot support such biased practices as those of the BDS against our sister state,” state Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) said in a statement.

“Israel has long been a vibrant trading partner, ally and friend with our state, and making sure that we are not investing in any company that seeks to hurt the interests of Israel or its people through boycotts, divestments and sanctions will send a clear message that we stand against this kind of veiled discrimination.”

“I think this bill sends a very clear message to our friends in Israel that New Jersey has your back,” State Senator Jim Beach (D-Camden) added.

Hana Levi Julian

Enough With the Gratuitous Israel-Bashing – Some Profs are Fighting Back

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Imagine this:  an organization called the American Studies Association, which was chartered by the Congress of the United States of America, and which is based in Washington, D.C., and which is composed of American scholars at American universities teaching American students about America, decided in 2013, that it should declare that it would – and all other U.S. academic institutions should – cease to deal with any Israeli academic institutions.

Got that?  Don’t you think a boycott of Israeli academics is what professors of American history, American culture, American literature should have as their organization’s mission? No?

If not, it turns out that four distinguished members of the ASA agree with you. And so does the organisation’s actual mission statement. That’s why those four members announced today that they are suing the ASA, charging that the blatant politicization of their academic association violates District of Columbia (D.C.) law governing nonprofit organizations.

“Until a handful of zealots hijacked our learned society, the ASA was the leading organization for the study of American culture,” stated Professor Simon Bronner, one of the plaintiffs. “Yet in 2013, in marched a handful of anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists and suddenly ASA is an organization of social change pushing a narrow political agenda.”

According to the plaintiffs – all four of whom are professors who teach American Studies – the boycott adopted by ASA in December 2013 was a concerted effort by a small number of BDS activists, including founding members of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), who used their leadership positions in ASA to make anti-Israel activism the central focus of the Association.

ASA’s stated mission – obviously and literally – has nothing to do with boycotting a foreign nation and thus the suit alleges its adoption violates the law that governs nonprofit corporations. These laws prevent organizations from engaging in activity that ignores its raison d’être, according to its own incorporating documents. An example: an organization created expressly as a charity to benefit the disabled cannot, because of these laws, take its donors’ money and decide it wants to instead promote fracking or protest animal cruelty.

The Complaint was brought against the people who are, or recently were, officers of the ASA, and who have used their positions to redirect the erstwhile scholarly organization.

In the allegations filed Wednesday, April 20, the plaintiffs explain:  “The Individual Defendants’ goals have nothing to do with the promotion of scholarship and everything to do with the advancement of their own political views, and their goal in hijacking the ASA is to use it to advance those views, not to advance the study of American culture.“

When the boycott was initiated, ASA’s constitution stated that “[t]he object of the association [is] the promotion of the study of American culture through the encouragement of research, teaching, publication…about American culture in all its diversity and complexity.”

The lawsuit charges that a boycott of another country is outside the scope of ASA’s charter and is the antithesis of promoting knowledge. ASA’s constitution goes on to say that ASA’s goal is “the strengthening of relations among persons and institutions in this country and abroad devoted to such studies.” According to the Complaint, the boycott does the exact opposite:  it affirmatively excludes an entire country and its academics.

In addition, as a tax-exempt nonprofit, ASA reports annually to the Internal Revenue Service. In its IRS documents, the Association continues to describe its mission as “the nation’s oldest and largest association devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and history,” with its “exempt purpose – advancing the Study of American Culture.”  Plaintiffs allege that the academic boycott of Israel is clearly outside of this stated mission and purpose. Sounds right, doesn’t it?

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

40 Columbia University Faculty Sign Anti-Israel BDS Petition

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2016

Dozens of faculty members at Columbia University have signed a petition calling upon their employer to “divest from corporations that supply, perpetuate and profit from a system that has subjugated the Palestinian people.”

The 40 signatories proclaimed their solidarity on the petition with Columbia University Apartheid Divest, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.

CUAD demanded last month the university divest from eight corporations that “profit from the State of Israel’s ongoing system of settler colonialism, military occupation and apartheid law” as part of the BDS movement, the Columbia Spectator reported.

“As both scholars and community members, we are professionally, intellectually, and morally invested in our University. We deem it our duty to hold our institution accountable for the ethical implications of its own actions, notably its financial investments and their implications around the world,” the petition said.

“In particular, we take issue with our financial involvements in institutions associated with the State of Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian lands, continued violations of Palestinian human rights, systematic destruction of life and property, inhumane segregation and systemic forms of discrimination.”

As a policy, the University does not comment on specific holdings in its endowment portfolio.

Hana Levi Julian

SodaStream Forced to Lay Off Last PA Workers Thanks to Terror & BDS

Tuesday, March 1st, 2016

The SodaStream plant in Lehavim was forced to lay off the remaining 74 Arab workers Monday who had transferred with the company in October from the Palestinian Authority.

SodaStream produces a small machine for homemakers to create their own fizzy drinks.

There was no choice. SodaStream had been forced to move from its site on the “other” side of the 1949 Armistice Line due to pressure from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement ending the jobs of 500 PA workers.

A boycott of Israeli products in PA-controlled territories had proved effective, persuading SodaStream there was no point in remaining in the area.

The BDS coordinator in the PA capital city of Ramallah – Mahmoud Nawaja’a – called the loss of the jobs at SodaStream “part of the price that should be paid in the process of ending the occupation.” But then, Nawaja’a was not one of those who lost his livelihood.

Last year’s European Union labeling requirements forcing Israeli companies to indicate whether their products were made in areas outside of pre-1967 Israel only aided and abetted the BDS boycotts.

The welcome move by the British government last month to ban the public sector boycotts of Israeli suppliers came too late for SodaStream’s PA Arab workers.

In addition, after the start of the terror wave, Israel cut off work permits because many of the murderous terrorists attacking innocent civilians were found to be PA residents with work permits and no criminal records.

That was the employment death knell for the PA workers who had been able to move with the company to its new location in Lehavim.

“There is no hope in Palestine,” Anas Abdul Wadud Ghayth told Voice of America. Ghayth is one of the Arab workers from the Palestinian Authority. “There is little work; we can’t be happy there like we were happy here.”

The company said it would fight to get the work permits back for its PA Arab employees.

“If the government of Israel does not allow the Palestinians to get to their jobs, I will bring those jobs to the Palestinians. That is not a threat. It is a fact,” said Daniel Birnbaum, SodaStream’s CEO.

According to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), 58,000 Palestinian Authority residents still hold permits to work in Israel. Another 27,000 are working for Israeli businesses in Jewish communities and industrial zones in Judea and Samaria.

Hana Levi Julian

Canada Formally Condemns Anti- Israel BDS Movement

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

The Canadian Parliament voted overwhelmingly Monday afternoon (229-51) to formally condemn the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The historic motion was a wall-to-wall rejection of BDS by the representatives of the Canadian people.

Both Liberals and Conservatives backed the motion “That, given Canada and Israel share a long history of friendship as well as economic and diplomatic relations, the House reject the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which promotes the demonization and delegitimization of the State of Israel, and call upon the government to condemn any and all attempts by Canadian organizations, groups or individuals to promote the BDS movement, both here at home and abroad.”

Canada has for years stood beside Israel against the onslaught of the new anti-Semitism that began to creep up on campuses across North America and in Europe.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was present to cast his ballot against the movement together with the rest of his Conservative colleagues. Tom Muclair, leader of the NDP, opposed it, according to CIJ News.

Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion declared after announcing the Liberals would also condemn BDS, “The world will win nothing by boycotting Israel, but depriving itself of the talents of its inventiveness.”

Liberal candidate Michael Levitt said during a February 18 debate that “BDS is about intolerance. It’s a broader movement to… collectively punish all Israelis by holding Israel alone responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whereas anti-Semites have long targeted Jews throughout the world as the root of all society’s ills, this new form of anti-Semitism targets Israel as the Jew among the nations, singling out the Jewish State as the root of all ills in the world.”

During the same debate, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather noted that the BDS movement is “asking for the disappearance of the State of Israel. BDS is saying that all Palestinian refugees must have the right of return to what is today Israel, which would automatically create a situation where we would not have a two-state solution. We would have a one-state solution where Israel was not a majority Jewish State…. the only one in the whole entire world, and that is wrong. BDS, which again singles out Israel, is not looking at all those other countries in the world that engage in egregious human rights violations… The whole idea of holding Israel to a higher moral standard than anyone else is clearly anti-Semitic,” he said.

MP Jeff Watson called the BDS movement “hateful and deceitful.” He denounced “this new anti-Semitism which is poisoning our Canadian campuses.”

Hana Levi Julian

University of Missouri Students Kill Anti-Zionist Course

Sunday, June 14th, 2015

A University of Missouri (MU) fall 2015 honors tutorial that pro-Israel students felt would promote bigotry and misinformation on their college campus has been cancelled because of lack of interest.

“Perspectives on Zionism” was scheduled to be taught by self-proclaimed “post-Zionist” and “Nakba Jew-in-law” George Smith, a tenured biology professor who pushed for a curriculum that the instructor himself said would have included works by anti-Zionist authors such as Ilan Pappé. Smith also has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing.

The pro-Israel community welcomed the news of the course’s cancellation. and Destiny G. Albritton, former president of MU’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI) campus chapter, said:

I can now walk away with the knowledge that there is no interest among students [at MU] to take biased classes like Smith’s.

Smith has written dozens of columns and letters to the editor in the local and campus newspapers in Columbia, Md., equating Israel’s Independence Day with a Palestinian version of Holocaust Remembrance Day. He uses phrases such as “Zionist mythology” and accuses Israel of “colonization of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

He shows up at pro-Israel events and heckles the speakers. Earlier this year, when 25-year-old Israel Defense Forces reservist Hen Mazzig spoke at MU as part of the StandWithUs Israeli Soldiers Tour of the Midwest, Smith heckled him from the audience with hostile questions and accusations.

“[He said], ‘Why do you kill Palestinians? How many U.N. schools have you attacked?” Mazzig told the Chicago Tribune. “And at the end, he came to me and said, ‘How can you come here and defend Ashkenazi Jews—white Eastern European Jews—when you are an Arab Jew?’”

MU alum Daniel Swindell said Smith brought flyers to a talk by the Sderot Media Center’s Noam Bedein that made a joke out of the thousands of rockets that have been launched at Israel.

Smith has used his tenure to bring in anti-Israel speakers with university funding. Recently, six university depart-ments sponsored a talk by author Saree Makdisi, who has said it is more important to eliminate the Jewish state than to create a Palestinian one.

“He uses his reputation to get several departmental sponsors,” Albritton told JNS.org. “But when Students Sup-porting Israel or CUFI asks these same departments to co-sponsor events, we wither don’t hear back or we hear, ‘we cannot help you.’ It’s not fair.”

Smith disagrees and told JNS:

I do go to pro-Zionist meetings, but I don’t disrupt. I am just vocal with my questions. People have freedom of speech. Our university does not sensor our political speech—or any other kind of speech.

“The University of Missouri is not a hot bed of anti-Semitism or BDS (the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement),” Karen Aroesty, Missouri/Southern Illinois regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, told JNS.org. Until recently, the impact Smith had on campus was, in Aroesty’s words, “minimal.”

The honors tutorial, however, created tension.

“When I saw the roster of what honors tutorial would be offered in the fall and I saw that George wanted to teach this class, I immediately spread the word around,” said Albritton. “George [Smith] is not qualified to teach the class. His background is in biology. He has no background in international relations. His only interested in Zionism is that he has been a virulent anti-Zionist activist.”

Nancy West, director of MU’s Honors College, told JNS.org that honors tutorials are different than courses offered under the normal curriculum of the university. They are one-credit electives taught by instructors with “expertise in the subject area,” but not necessarily with credentials. Courses are reviewed by a faculty, staff, and student cur-riculum committee that reads the syllabus and interviews the teacher. According to university spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken, Smith’s class was approved by the committee with a vote of eight to four, with two abstentions. An affidavit is being prepared by Jewish community activists, in conjunction with the university legal department, that would help ensure Smith will be turned down next time he tries to teach about Zionism.

JNS News Service

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/university-of-missouri-students-kill-anti-zionist-course/2015/06/14/

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