Another move to stack the deck in favor of BDS
Soon after the defeat of anti-Israel divestment resolutions at U. Michigan and UCLA, I began to see anti-Israel advocates single out pro-Israel students who had gone on trips to Israel sponsored by pro-Israel groups, or had received advocacy training from pro-Israel groups.
These trips and advocacy training are critical because some campuses have become openly hostile to pro-Israel students as a result of “direct action” and other intimidation by relatively small but highly coordinated anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. Professors actively participate in demonizing pro-Israel students.
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) March 26, 2014
— Rania Khalek (@RaniaKhalek) March 26, 2014
So I was not completely surprised when I learned from reader emails over the past several days that there is an attempt at UCLA to disqualify any student who received pro-Israel training or trips from being on the Student Council.
Because of my trip to Vassar and follow up, I didn’t have time to write it up. So I’m glad that two others have done so.
Jonathan Tobin at Commentary writes, The Next Step in the Campus War on Jews:
… some students—especially Jews—have been to Israel on trips where they learn the other side of the story from the pro-Palestinian propaganda that is often shoved down their throats in classes or at college forums. So rather than merely accept the lies about Israel being an “apartheid” state they can lean on their own experiences and speak about the equal rights that are held by all people in the Jewish state or discuss the complex questions about the West Bank in terms other than that of an “occupation.”
That’s a problem for the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) crowd, but they’ve come up with an effective answer to it: start a campaign seeking to stigmatize those who take trips to Israel sponsored by Jewish organizations. That’s what’s happening at UCLA where an election has promoted a debate over whether it is ethical for candidates for student offices to have been to Israel on a visit sponsored by a Jewish organization. This specious issue was raised in an article published in the student newspaper the Daily Bruin last week by two members of Students for Justice for Palestine, an anti-Zionist group. It was followed by an attempt to get the student government to enact a ban on its members going to the Middle East with pro-Israel groups. That failed but, as the Daily Bruin also reported, a majority of candidates for student government positions have now signed a pledged not to take such trips.
Daniel Mael at Truth Revolt further writes:
Roz Rothstein, Executive Director and founder of the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, blasted the initiative via email:
BDS activists are trying to intimidate student leaders and prevent them from learning about Israel. This is bigoted—because only Israel is being targeted. It is absurd because student senators are not expected to vote on foreign policy issues. It is also hypocritical because if applied fairly, candidates would also be forced to completely disassociate themselves from the BDS Movement. They would not be allowed to attend divestment training sessions, SJP conferences, or pro-BDS events in general, because BDS promotes hatred and marginalizes so many students on campus.
It’s no surprise that BDS seeks to disqualify these students, who have been among the most effective, such as Bobby Dishell at University of Michigan:
This move needs to be fought.
UPDATE: Apparently one particular UCLA student is being targeted, UCLA Muslim Newsmag Targets Jewish Student:
The editorial board of Al-Talib, the Muslim Newsmagazine at UCLA, called on Jewish student Avinoam Baral to disassociate himself from the pro-Israel program Hasbara Fellowships due to the group’s alleged Islamophobia. Al-Talib alleged that the Jewish program “actively (contributes) to violence against Muslims” and asked that Baral, who is a candidate for Internal Vice President in upcoming UCLA student elections, separate himself from the program.
The newsmagazine asked that Baral “publicly distance himself from the organization Hasbara Fellowships because of its association with the production and dissemination of Islamophobic documentaries across the United States. Unless Baral distances himself from an organization that disseminates Islamophobia, ties to anti-Muslim networks will remain accepted in campus life and politics.”
TruthRevolt asked Ibrahim Hooper, the Communications Director for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), whether or not the organization approved of the editorial’s request, to which Hooper replied, “Your apparent hostility to Islam and Muslims seems to have you grasping at straws.”