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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

December 18, 2015  RSS feed
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Anti-Israel rhetoric continues to rise on college campuses, says ADL

By THAIS LEON-MILLER Jewish Press


Israeli Apartheid Week at Northwestern University in Evanston, Il. Israeli Apartheid Week at Northwestern University in Evanston, Il. The chance of U.S. college students across the country being exposed to anti-Israel messages has steadily increased during the last year, according to a new report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

The report indicates anti-Israel events have risen during the 2014- 2015 academic year, with a sharp increase of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activities during the 2015 fall semester.

“Student groups at a number of campuses are sponsoring a range of programs and initiatives designed with one goal: to isolate, defame and delegitimize Israel,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “Many of these efforts have resulted in increased tension between students and have fostered a hostile atmosphere for pro-Israel and Jewish students. We are particularly concerned by the support these initiatives have received from faculty members.”

In response to the rise of anti-Israel sentiment, the ADL now runs a program called Words to Action: Empowering Jewish Students to Address Bias on Campus. The goal of the program is to give students a way to debate against anti- Israel dialogue on campuses. They train students on how to lobby against divestments and encourage university administrators to speak out against divestment resolutions. They have also created a Twitter account, @campusADL, to stay connected with Jewish students and groups and offer them resources and alert them of events.

The ADL reported that there are several organizations that have promoted anti-Israel rhetoric on college campuses, including the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) with the most active group, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). According to the ADL, SJP is the primary organizer of anti-Israel events and the group most responsible for bringing divestment resolutions before student government bodies.

Though not specifically enumerated in the national report, the Florida ADL noted that universities in the state have been the target of a continuous stream of anti- Israel activities by the SJP:

• The SJP was responsible for erecting a billboard along Fowler Avenue in Tampa in January 2015, after their divestment proposal was rejected at the University of South Florida. A mouth with black tape stretched across it to mark an “X” was the background to the message “10,000 students silenced.” The message was meant to symbolize the 10,000 students who had allegedly signed the failed petition.

• The Florida State University chapter of the SJP sponsored a live-stream in February featuring Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian accused by Israel of having taken part in two 1969 bombings by the terrorist group, the Popular Group for the Libertarian of Palestine. Anti-Israel groups around the country say that Odeh’s case is part of a larger campaign against the Palestinian people and they have hosted her in person on campus via Skype on several occasions to discuss the case.

• SJP also hosted “Palestine Week” at FSU last April. Two of the discussions presented were “Zionism, Genocide and Jewish Identity” and “An I.D.F. Soldier tried to Kill My Boyfriend.”

• In May, the SJP sponsored an event on the USF campus where a journalist for the Electronic Intifada, Rania Khalek, was a guest speaker along with activist Dezaray Lyn. Both have accused Israel of “fostering the repression of mi- nority populations” and accused Israel of being a “genocidal, apartheid state.”

• On Nov. 10, Remi Kanzi performed at USF, promoting various forms of BDS during his spoken word event, titled “The Art of Resistance.” Kanzi is an organizing committee member of the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).

One of the more damaging qualities of these BDS groups is their policy of non-verbalization, said ADL Florida Regional Director Hava Holzauer. These groups specifically avoid any dialogue with pro-Israel groups; there is no coming together, she said.

Nineteen campuses held votes on BDS resolutions during the 2014-2015 school year, including Ivy League powerhouse, Princeton University. According to the ADL the resolution did not pass at Princeton, but it was close: 47.5 percent for to 52.5 percent against. The report also mentioned three Illinois schools by name. Northwestern University and Loyola University both voted in BDS resolutions. The third school, DePaul University, passed a referendum, but their Fair Business Practices Committee later rejected it.

In all, there were 520 anti-Israel events that took place on campuses nationwide during the 2014- 2015 school year, representing a 30 percent increase from the previous year. One hundred fifty more events took place during the fall of 2015, up from the 105 events during the same time period in 2014.

“The tactics employed by the BDS movement – along with the continued efforts by anti-Israel student groups seeking to stifle discourse about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel in general through disruption and defamation – is a deeply troubling phenomenon that has contributed to an atmosphere at some institutions where Jewish and pro-Israel students feel uncomfortable voicing their views or even asserting their Jewish identity,” said Greenblatt.


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