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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘SJP’

Non-Jewish Groups Join Protest against Campus Anti-Semitism

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014

A group of 14 Jewish and non-Jewish organizations has issued a letter to more than 2,500 U.S. colleges and universities urging them to protect Jewish students on campus in light of rising anti-Semitism in America and abroad.

The organizations include Alpha Epsilon Pi, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, Christians United for Israel, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), David Horowitz Freedom Center, Hasbara Fellowships, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Simon Wiesenthal Center Campus Outreach, StandWithUs, and the Zionist Organization of America.

“None of us should tolerate a campus climate of fear or disrespect, which can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of students and create conditions that negatively affect their learning and their ability to achieve their full potential,” the letter states.

The signatories raised concern over the actions of the anti-Israel Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which the letter notes has a history of “harassing and intimidating Jewish students.”

The letter goes on to cite several incidents on campuses, including a recent one at Temple University in which a pro-Israel student was physically and verbally assaulted by SJP members, as well as SJP’s planting of anti-Israel mock eviction notices under students’ dorm rooms.

“While justifying its hatred and bigotry as protected under the First Amendment, the SJP employs tactics geared to silencing and marginalizing the views of Jewish students who support Israel,” the letter says.

The letter also cited that these schools are responsible for protecting Jewish students from anti-Semitism under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

“Jews around the world are being held collectively responsible for Israel’s actions, which are defensive and undertaken to protect its people,” says the letter. “This is anti-Semitism, according to U.S. government standards.”

 

Pro-’Palestine’ Students at Temple U Blame Victim for Altercation

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

A pro-Israel Jewish student was assaulted by a pro-’Palestine’ student during Temple Fest at Temple University in Philadelphia yesterday, Aug. 20. Except that, according to the pro-’Palestine’ students, the Jewish student harassed and provoked them.

Temple Fest is the event held for new Temple students to become acquainted with the school’s wide diversity of activities and organizations on campus. The myriad organizations set up tables at which literature is distributed and at which members of the organizations describe to new students why they should be interested in becoming members.

Daniel Vessal, a new CAMERA on Campus fellow, claimed that after he attempted to speak to a group of students at the Students for Justice in Palestine table, he was verbally and then physically assaulted. He said he was punched in the face by one of the students at the SJP table, and that others seated there yelled anti-Semitic taunts such as “kike” and “Zionist pig.”

SJP STATEMENT

The SJP’s long, rambling, and at times incoherent statement described what happened as an “unfortunate incident.” It claimed that Vessal is a “former student” (he is a current student) and said that the student who struck Vessal is “not a member of Students for Justice in Palestine.”

Although it states “Temple SJP condones this act of physical violence,” it appears from the context that the SJP meant to write, at least, the opposite.

SJP took the position that Vessal was the one who was not interested in “constructive debate,” claiming he “objected to SJP’s very existence and constitutional right to free speech and assembly.” It is their contention that Vessal was harassing them, saying that the SJP “support terrorism and other racist anti-Palestinian statements.”

It also claimed that SJP relies on civil disobedience and nonviolent protest and “does not infringe on the civil rights of other people, including those who disagree with SJP’s beliefs.” There are many who would take issue with that statement, including the four pro-Israel students who were summarily ejected from a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions lecture at Brooklyn College, based on false claims by an SJP leader who lied about their being disruptive and rude.

According to Temple ’14 SJP student Samantha Pinto, who claimed to be an eyewitness, “this guy wanted to start trouble and insult us. He was calling all Palestinians terrorists and calling us stupid.”

Pinto continued: “I heard him say Israel is not occupying Palestine, but that Palestinians are occupying Gaza. I started laughing at the sheer absurdity because Palestinians are indigenous to Gaza and also unable to leave because of the inhumane siege Israel has maintained since 2007.

“I heard him say ‘You’re sitting here laughing like idiots!’ He aggressively moved closer to me as he said this. It was then that “B,” who is not an SJP member, slapped Vessal. His sunglasses fell to the ground, but he did not,” Pinto said.

Finally, the SJP statement denies vehemently that any anti-Semitic slurs were used. As support for their contention that SJP members did not use such verbal assaults, the group pointed out that SJP has collaborated with Jewish Voice for Peace (a virulently anti-Israel organization), and that there are Jewish members of SJP.

The student who allegedly “slapped” Vessal, said he was “sorry” for what he did,” and admitted he lost his temper, but claimed he did it because Vessal “kept saying ‘you’re protesting for terrorists,  your whole table is pro-terrorist information.”

Temple University officials state the matter is under investigation.

“There were upwards of several hundred people” at Temple Fest on Wednesday,” Ray Betzner, Temple’s Associate Vice President for Executive Communications told The Jewish Press on Thursday.

Why Are Student Leaders and Jewish Bruins Under Attack at UCLA?

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

There will always be that one person who does not like you. There will always be that one person who thinks you can do no right. And while you acknowledge your own faults, that one person sees them as far greater than anyone else’s. Implicit in this is the antagonistic relationship between two people, between two differing belief systems, and two differing ways of thought. Unfortunately, this is the situation we have learned to accept when it comes to the relationship between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups. On campuses across America, this dynamic is no different.

It seems, however, that during the past year at the University of California, Los Angeles, pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian tensions have reached a climax—partly because there are no longer just two voices fighting against each other, but multiple voices fighting against one. UCLA has seen the mobilization of self-identified minority communities banding together in order to combat the terrors they believe Israel inflicts on the world, and a concerted effort by pro-Palestinian organization to exploit this to their advantage and silence pro-Israel voices on campus.

By going to university, you expect to find yourself, to make friends, and to define beliefs that will guide you for the rest of your life. All of this is happening for me at UCLA, but in a high-pressure situation I could never have anticipated. More than anything else, this was made clear to me during the Undergraduate Students Association Council (USAC) debate over an anti-Israel divestment resolution.

The resolution in question called for divestment from Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, and Cemex, claiming that all these companies committed human rights violations against the Palestinian people. If passed, the resolution would be purely symbolic, since the Regents of the University of California had already declared that they would not divest from any companies that maintain operations in Israel.

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian organization, authored the resolution, which was sponsored by three council members. SJP has long been active on campuses across America and its ideology is well known. Its website states,

As a solidarity organization, we support the Palestinian call for three basic rights, outlined in 2005: The right not to live under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the right to equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, the right for Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland. As a group, we focus on supporting these rights instead of advocating for a particular political solution (such as one or two states).

The issue most pro-Israel students had with the resolution was that it did not allow a dialogue on whether or not Israel committed human rights violations; it assumed Israel’s sole culpability without looking at any event in a historical context. Bruins for Israel (BFI), the primary pro-Israel group on campus, was thus the most vocal organization opposing the resolution.

BFI is an entirely mainstream and moderate group. As outgoing President Miriam Eshaghian has said, “By framing factual current events in a historical context, we give the campus community the tools to comprehend the turmoil…. We advocate for a negotiated two-state solution: A Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state…. We stand firmly against any form of delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state.”

To BFI, the resolution was part of the global anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state, and therefore had to be strenuously opposed.

The USAC meeting to vote on the divestment resolution was scheduled for February 25, 2014. For weeks before the deciding USAC meeting, both pro-divestment and anti-divestment groups lobbied individual council members intensely, bombarding them with fact sheets, presentations, explanations of historical context, and, in some cases, friendships that proved to be false and exploitative.

Echoes Of McCarthyism In UCLA Anti-Israel Campaign

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UCLA has some proud moments in the history of civil liberties.

After World War II, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley, were hotbeds of opposition to an anti-communist loyalty oath that California tried to impose on academics. Ultimately the professors won in court in 1954.

Sixty years later, a different pressure group purportedly speaking for the “progressive” grassroots wants to impose on UCLA students a loyalty oath of sorts – a pledge foreswearing going on trips to Israel sponsored by certain Jewish organizations.

Issued by five pro-Palestinian groups, the call demanded that candidates for student government take the pledge.

Who would have thought that McCarthyite tactics would be used to target, harass and intimidate pro-Israel students, Jewish and non-Jewish, at UCLA? There are ominous echoes here of both the medieval witch hunts against Jews and Stalin’s show trials.

Leading the charge is Students for Justice in Palestine, which is funded in part by two organizations dedicated to the destruction of Israel, American Muslims for Palestine and Al-Awda.

SJP is using cyberbullying to punish Jewish students in the UCLA student government majority who voted against a recent resolution to divest from and boycott Israel. Jewish students who opposed the resolution reportedly feel uncomfortable even walking on campus because of the hate mail they have received.

Adding insult to injury, SJP has introduced an initiative calling for a judicial board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and Hasbara Fellowships; the SJP deems the groups have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.”

On other campuses across the country, SJP tactics include mock eviction notices against Jewish students, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.

The SJP initiative demanding that candidates for student government positions sign a pledge not to take certain trips to Israel violates both the UCLA Principles of Community Conduct and the Student Conduct Code against harassment of all kinds.

Unfortunately, what’s happening at UCLA is not an aberration but part of a national trend. Here are examples from a coast-to-coast report compiled by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a founder of the AMCHA Initiative, a nonprofit group that combats campus anti-Semitism:

  • At UC Davis, a student who expressed concern about anti-Semitic banners displayed at an anti-Israel “occupation” rally was physically assaulted by a protester who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
  • At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel wants peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of the local SJP chapter.
  • At San Francisco State University last fall, the General Union of Palestine Students hosted an all-day event where participants could make posters and T-shirts that said, “My heroes have always killed colonizers” – meaning Jews.
  • At Harvard, the Palestine Security Committee frightened Jewish students by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.
  • At Northeastern University in Boston, SJP vandalized a menorah and disrupted Jewish events.
  • At the University of Michigan, anti-Israel student activists hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.”

Why is it that so many university administrators and academics seem paralyzed to act if the victims of campus bullying are Zionist Jews?

UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s reactions to the developments on his campus have been unsatisfactory. First, according to the Daily Bruin, he wanted to “leave the matter to be resolved by students.” Later, he said, “I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion,” but he nevertheless stood up for the pledge as free speech protected by the First Amendment.

Jewish DePaul Student: ‘I No Longer Felt Safe on this Campus’

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

This week, students at DePaul University are being asked to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and vote on a non-binding resolution that asks the university to divest from companies that do business in the Jewish State. But for some Jewish students on the Lincoln Park, Chicago campus, the campaign behind the proposed measure has created an atmosphere of intimidation, not free speech.

Rachel (last name withheld), a sophomore at DePaul, explained that the “DePaul Divest” campaign, begun two months ago, has transformed this campus from one that used to be “safe and community-giving.”

“This entire campaign and entire sit-in going on in the SAC (Schmitt Academic Center) is totally unsafe for Jewish students and I have had a lot of Jewish students text me and call me today and tell me they are not comfortable walking through that part of our campus, which is really disheartening.”

Rachel added, “About two months ago when SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) started the ‘DePaul Divest’ campaign, I no longer felt safe on this campus and I no longer felt I could be a proud Jewish student.”

During a Tuesday afternoon public forum on campus about the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, freshmen student Ally (last name withheld) told a pro-Israel panel that as a Jewish student, she feels intimidated on the Lincoln Park campus. (Note: SJP did not respond to an invitation to participate according to moderator Professor Patrick Callahan.)

When asked if she feels as safe as the other students on campus, Ally said, “I do kind of feel as a Jewish student that I am being targeted on campus. I feel that a lot of questions are being directed to me and I am constantly on the defensive on campus,” she explained. “I have to defend myself, my Judaism, my pride in Israel every day and it’s getting a little bit exhausting.”

Ally continued, “I’d like to live and go to a university where everybody can have their own opinions and have a diverse community and feel safe.”

Accusations of intimidation tactics against the BDS movement are not new.

Last month Jewish students were allegedly targeted on the New York University campus. Mock eviction notices were placed under doors in their dorm, causing Jewish students to “feel violated and unsafe.” A similar incident at Northeastern University in March led to that SJP chapter being suspended.

During the investigation of this story, supporters of DePaul Divest holding a rally in a popular “social gathering and study area” became agitated when they noticed photos and video being taken of their rally.

“The outright harassment and intimidation of pro-Israel students is commonplace wherever BDS rears its hateful head,” said Brett Cohen, National Campus Program Director for the pro-Israel group StandWithUs. “Shocking events have occurred at Vassar College over the past few weeks, ranging from BDS supporters violently shouting down opponents and posting actual neo-Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda images to their social media accounts.  A hostile takeover of the Student Government agenda at the University of Michigan last April included BDS supporters shouting racial epithets at student senators.”

SJP DePaul treasurer Hanna (last name withheld) did not respond to an email request for comment regarding Jewish students “feeling intimidated” or concerns about a lack of “open and honest dialogue” on campus.

When asked about charges of anti-Semitism in an earlier on-campus interview, Hanna stated, “There are three goals to the BDS movement. The right of return for the Palestinians as stipulated by U.N. resolution 194; the rights of Palestinian citizens within Israel to full equality; and the end of the occupation. This is a rights-based movement; there is nothing anti-Semitic about it.”

Student voting on the divestment resolution concludes on Friday. DePaul’s President Dennis Holtschneider has stated he “will not be able to honor it one way or the other without first being satisfied that the university community has explored all the matters at issue, and come to a thoughtful, informed, recommendation.”

Anti-democratic Effort to Bar Pro-Israel Voices in UCLA Govt Fails

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

An effort to invalidate the votes of presumably anti-divestment voting students at UCLA who had traveled to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel organizations was defeated on Wednesday, May 21.

That effort was one of two promoted by the aggressively anti-Israel organization Students for Justice in Palestine. The other SJP initiative was to ask students wishing to serve in the UCLA student government to sign a pledge that they would not go on such pro-Israel sponsored trips to Israel.

The decision Wednesday rejecting SJP’s effort was issued by the UCLA judicial board. The judicial board was considering a Complaint brought by SJP which claimed that the pro-Israel groups had, essentially, “bought” the students anti-divestment vote by bringing the students to Israel.

The two students whose experiences were under investigation, Sunny Singh and Lauren Rogers, visited Israel on trips sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, respectively, according to the Jewish Journal.

The vote by the undergraduate Judicial Board was 4 – 0, with two abstentions. The vote meant that taking such trips did not constitute a conflict of interest for members of student government. In other words, members of the student government who had been on trips to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel organizations were not required to abstain from voting on matters pertaining to the Middle East, or be barred from participating in student government altogether.

Representatives from local ADL and AJC branches which sponsored the trips to Israel on which Singh and Rogers went were called to present evidence and undergo cross-examination. Both maintained, apparently credibly, that the trips were not a quid pro quo for pro-Israel votes on relevant matters that came before the UCLA student government.

A written opinion will be issued by the judicial board on June 4.

This vote constitutes the latest in a series of stinging defeats for SJP. That organization, heady from a series of successful bullying tactics, hit the wall once Jewish and other pro-Israel students began standing up to the organization’s bullying, over-the-top tactics.

Pro-Israel students at Brooklyn College, Northeastern University, Cornell University and New York University, to name just a few, have defeated anti-Israel efforts by the SJP over the past year.

Unfortunately, the judicial board vote rejecting SJP’s complaint came too late to save Singh’s run for the UCLA student government presidency. It is Singh’s opinion that, although his platform was about increasing mental health resources and efficiency of student government, the SJP’s harping on the issue of Israel helped lead to his defeat by a candidate who took the SJP pledge not to travel to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups.

The SJP initiatives were also supported by the radical pro-BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace.

Pro-Israel Groups Blast SJP for Racism and UCLA for Fecklessness

Friday, May 16th, 2014

Seven staunchly pro-Israel organizations told the California Board of Regents at a hearing on Thursday, May 15, that its failure to stand up to the thuggery and blatant racism of the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine against pro-Israel students was a failure of leadership and of morality.

What was so egregious that these pro-Israel organizations were protesting?

JUDICIAL BOARD INVESTIGATE STUDENT COUNCIL MEMBERS WHO WENT ON ISRAEL TRIPS

The UCLA-SJP introduced an initiative which calls for a Judicial Board investigation of student council members who have taken trips to Israel sponsored by groups which the SJP deems to have “political agendas that marginalize multiple communities on campus.” The groups on SJP’s hit list are the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and Hasbara Fellowships.

As Dumisani Washington, the Pastor-leader of the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, said in his remarks at the hearing Thursday morning, the SJP’s denunciation of pro-Israel groups for having a political agenda is not just hateful, it is hypocritical.

“One wonders exactly what SJP assumes itself to be, if not an organization with a ‘political agenda,’” Washington told the Regents.

STUDENTS MUST TAKE A PLEDGE NOT TO GO ON PRO-ISRAEL SPONSORED TRIPS TO ISRAEL

The second initiative promoted by the SJP to deprive pro-Israel students of a voice in campus discussions was its demand that candidates for student government positions sign a statement pledging that they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by the three Jewish organizations.

Washington boldly labeled SJP’s efforts reminiscent of the worst racism in American public life.

SJP’s wanton arrogance and blatant antisemitism in this manner is telling.  I am beyond appalled.  As an African-American, I could only imagine an anti-Black student group attempting to restrict my travel to Ghana or Senegal.  Such gall is reminiscent of the grotesque persecution my people suffered earlier in America’s history, when the US government restricted everything from which schools we could attend to which public restrooms we could use.

The SJP, as everyone knows who closely follows the way the Middle East is discussed on U.S. Campuses, is the most aggressively anti-Israel of any of the many anti-Israel organizations on campuses. The SJP’s antics include the mock eviction notices, “die-ins,” and promotions of virulently anti-Israel speakers and events.  In addition, the SJP, aided by lawyers happy to write intimidating letters to academic institutions, consistently claims that the behavior of its members is protected by free speech, whereas any criticism or objection to their activities is a violation of academic freedom and are constitutional violations.

Sadly, most school administrators and even some Jewish campus professionals are cowed by the lofty-sounding legalese. As a result, the views and sensibilities – and sometimes even the Constitutional rights – of pro-Israel students have been a casualty as administration after administration has caved to the outrageous positions and behaviors engaged in by SJP members.

BROOKLYN COLLEGE SJP THUGGERY

Perhaps the best example of SJP’s stranglehold over the better judgment people expect from university officials was a forum held at Brooklyn College last year. At that event, two promoters of the legal and economic warfare against Israel, the Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel movement, were given free rein at an unbalanced forum which was co-sponsored and co-endorsed by the College’s Political Science Department.

Four pro-Israel Brooklyn College students who came to ask questions were ejected from the event on the say-so of the SJP event organizer, someone who was not even a student and had no affiliation at all with Brooklyn College. The leader claimed the four students were disruptive and disrespectful, and college administration and security personnel did his bidding despite being in the room and knowing full-well, as later proven in audio recordings, that the pro-Israel students were sitting quietly when they were ejected.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/pro-israel-groups-blast-sjp-for-racism-and-ucla-for-fecklessness/2014/05/16/

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