Pro-Israel student leader at Vassar was warned: “Remember the devil has enough advocates”
Shortly before my speech at Vassar on May 5, 2014, Julian Hassan, the President of the Vassar Conservative-Libertarian Union which organized the event, received a message on a Facebook group from a leader of Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine:
“Remember the devil has enough advocates.”
“Oh well we used to be friends. This is anti-Semitism man. Don’t be taken in by it.”
Referring to Israel as the “devil” is not surprising coming from a Vassar SJP leader.
Rather, it reflects the complete dehumanization of Israel and Israelis on campuses by the BDS movement. There is an unrelenting one-sided portrayal of everything about Israel as demonic, and of Israelis and their supporters themselves as demonic.
None of this is by chance. The modern BDS movement was formed at the 2001 Durban conference, which was so anti-Semitic that the U.S. walked out, and even Mary Robinson, generally viewed as hostile to Israel, declared “I am a Jew” in protest:
Waving a book of anti-Semitic cartoons distributed at the anti-racism conference in Durban, UN High Commissioner Mary Robinson – in a dramatic act of identification with the Jews vilified in the pamphlet – declared “I am a Jew” at an NGO dinner there Wednesday night.
Here’s what the late Congressman Tom Lantos observed at that Durban conference (emphasis added):
Another ring in the Durban circus was the NGO forum, taking place just outside the conference center. Although the NGO proceedings were intended to provide a platform for the wide range of civil society groups interested in the conference’s conciliatory mission, the forum quickly became stacked with Palestinian and fundamentalist Arab groups.
Each day, these groups organized anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic rallies around the meetings, attracting thousands. One flyer which was widely distributed showed a photograph of Hitler and the question “What if I had won?” The answer: “There would be NO Israel…”
At a press conference held by Jewish NGO’s to discuss their concerns with the direction the conference was taking, an accredited NGO, the Arab Lawyers Union, distributed a booklet filled with anti-Semitic caricatures frighteningly like those seen in the Nazi hate literature printed in the 1930s. Jewish leaders and I who were in Durban were shocked at this blatant display of anti-Semitism.
For me, having experienced the horrors of the Holocaust first hand, this was the most sickening and unabashed display of hate for Jews I had seen since the Nazi period.
Sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, the official NGO document that was later adopted by a majority of the 3,000 NGOs in the forum branded Israel a “racist apartheid state” guilty of “genocide” and called for an end to its “racist crimes” against Palestinians…
The “Apartheid State” strategy is the core of the demonization. Israel is not and never will be an Apartheid State, but that hasn’t stop BDS from flooding the dialogue for the past several years with the term such that even some Israeli politicians and John Kerry use the term inaccurately and ahistorically.
The Big Lie of the Apartheid State is repeated on campuses each year at Israeli Apartheid Week, and fills virtually every sentence of anti-Israel propaganda. That was the Durban strategy, which also proposed that there be a call for boycott from Palestinian “civil society.” That supposedly spontaneous civil reaction was astroturfed.
Given that Apartheid is defined under international law as a Crime Against Humanity, the false equation of Israel to Apartheid is to place Israel and Israelis outside of humanity.
Portraying Israel and Israelis as being outside humanity is what inspires Vassar SJP students to picket a course because it included a trip to Israel, and then to jeer and mock the professors and pro-Israel students.
It’s what inspires flyers equating Israel to Nazis to appear at Oberlin College and elsewhere:
It’s what inspires Northeastern University SJP both to chant for the return of the Intifada, the brutal multi-year suicide bombing campaign, and simultaneously to protest the Israelis building of a security barrier and checkpoints to stop the terror. It’s as if cause and effect has been lost as a concept. And what inspires a leader of Northeastern SJP to warn of “direct action” across the country.
It’s what inspires students to shout down and disrupt pro-Israel and Israeli speakers on campuses:
It’s what also inspires campus protesters to accuse Israeli soldiers of being rapists and child molesters …
… while also insisting that Israeli soldiers are racist for not raping Arab women:
The claims go beyond being absurd – in one case, a professor asked me if I knew how many Palestinians have been raped by IDF forces. I answered that as far as I knew, none. She triumphantly responded that I was right, because, she said, “You IDF soldiers don’t rape Palestinians because Israelis are so racist and disgusted by them that you won’t touch them.”
It’s what inspires an anti-Israel Ithaca activist to charge at me screaming “get your camera out of my face,” when the video shows that never happened. As if reality was just an inconvenient fact.
It’s what inspires Curtis Marez, President of the America Studies Association, to single out Israel alone in the world for academic boycott, because ASA had “to start somewhere.” As Alan Dershowitz pointed out, that “somewhere” starts and stops with Israel.
It’s what inspires Lisa Duggan, NYU Professor and incoming President of the American Studies Association to post that she is “drooling‘ at the prospect of anti-Israel speakers at a conference she organized.
It’s what inspires far-left academics to hold Pinkwashing and similar conferences on campuses in which Israel’s positive record on gay rights — particularly compared to the Arab world — is inverted into a negative, and the subject of entire conferences and scholarship.
It’s what inspires UCLA SJP to single out sponsored trips to Israel as uniquely disqualifying events precluding participation on the student council.
It’s what inspires NYU SJP to tweet out that Israel has no right even to exist.
It’s what inspires SJP groups around the country to think that they are not bound by content-neutral rules against “dorm storming” as they shove anti-Israel propaganda flyers under student dorm bedroom doors.
Everything about the BDS movement on campuses has an ugly tone, one that dehumanizes Israel, Israelis and pro-Israel students.
The anti-Israel Mondoweiss website recently trumpeted what it called a”freedom ride” by Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah (of Electronic Intifada) on the college circuit, equating their lectures to those who helped free the slaves in the U.S:
It must have been like this when the underground railroad was in action, and the southern freedom rides.
Blumenthal and Abunimah appeared at Vassar 5 days before me . Their appearance was sponsored by several academic departments, using college funds accordingly to The NY Daily News. None of those departments would sponsor me.
You can watch the full Blumenthal-Abunimah appearance here. It was an almost two-hour anti-Israel hatefest, allowing for nothing — zero — good about Israel or Israelis, an account devoid of the 100-year campaign of terror against Jews in Israel by various Arab governments and more recently, Palestinian groups.
Pay particular attention to what Blumenthal says starting at 21:45 about how normal human emotions and tendencies have been programmed out of Israeli Jews:
The culture of militarism in Israel is unparalleled in the world, it’s the most militarized country in the world, every citizen has to be constripted and that means every citizen, every Jewish citizen, has to be mentally prepared to go into the West Bank and participate in the occupation by 18.
That means that all of these natural, all the natural resistance we have, not only to warfare, but to the domination of other people, to treating people unfairly, has to be removed, and an extremely hardened, rearmed ethnocratic belligerent form of Jewish identity has to be instilled.
There is a lot wrong with even that 45 second clip, but what’s important is how closely it mirrors the depiction of Israelis as outside humanity.
It was that same one-sided portrayal of the conflict and of Israel in the Open Letter signed by 39 Vassar faculty in late February 2014, in defense of the academic boycott that led me to challenge them to a debate (for which not one accepted):
Even the ardent supporters of Israel cannot deny the ongoing systematic dispossession of Palestinians, the destruction of their homes and livelihood, the expansion of illegal settlements beyond the 1967 borders, and the general humiliation and hardship Palestinians must endure as walls, checkpoints, apartheid legislation, and control of movement deny Palestinians self-determination, freedom, and basic human rights.
As if there is no other side of the story; as if that narrative that “[e]ven ardent supporters of Israel” cannot deny is not in fact denied. (I spent 90 minutes rebutting the foundations of that assertion.) As if there is no other view acceptable on Vassar’s campus other than Israel as devil.
Is it any surprise, then, that multiple Vassar SJP social media platforms started citing and quoting from anti-Zionist white supremacists as a source for demonization of Israel? Is it any surprise that the usage of white supremacist sources was defended on multiple Vassar SJP social media platforms?
Is it any surprise that SJP then posted the hideous Nazi-era propaganda poster?
Is it any surprise that even after the President of Vassar condemned the Nazi poster that a pro-Israel Wall of Truth was defaced at Vassar?
That poster depicts Jews the way anti-Israeli speakers and advocates on campus depict Jewish Israelis, as a militaristic people apart from humanity.
Look at the poster. It is not an aberration, but an essential formula of the BDS movement on campus.