When they say “direct action” what they mean is intimidation
This has been a mixed, but mostly bad, year for the BDS student movement on campuses in the United States.
While a BDS motion did pass at Loyola Chicago because it was brought up with little or no notice, major BDS pushes were rejected at UCLA (down vote), U. Michigan (vote to table) and Arizona State (vote to table). For the most part, when pro-Israel students have time to organize, they win.
At Northeastern University, the administration suspended Students for Justice in Palestine after a long series of incidents culminating in service of mock eviction notices in dormatories, in violation of school policy. Expected mass protests did not materialize — instead Northeastern SJP and its allies could muster only 150-200 marchers, many if not most of whom were not even students.
The tension is boiling among student BDS supporters who claim that they are being denied a chance to speak. That, of course, is nonsense. They hold their defamatory “Israeli Apartheid” weeks (in which interest is waning) and otherwise can advocate their cause.
What they can’t do is things like invading personal dorm rooms to leaflet. You may have a right to speak, but not in my living room on my couch.
When they lose a motion to table a resolution, they claim it’s a denial of their free speech rights — but no one stops them from speaking; a motion to table a resolution is a legitimate procedural device (just ask Democrats in the Senate).
4. Post-Suspension, Northeastern Sparks a National Outcry
On February 24, following our distribution of “mock eviction” fliers in student dorms, university police officers arrived unannounced at the homes of Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine members, and called our cellphones, to interrogate us about the leaflets. On March 7, the university suspended SJP without giving us a hearing. Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, whose attorneys are helping advise us, has documented more than 100 instances of suppression of pro-Palestine speech across the US in 2013. Following a year of administrative roadblocks and red tape, direct action—like leafleting about the Israeli practice of home-demolition—is all we have left at our disposal. Direct actions have increasingly become the recourse for students who wish to engage in political speech in support of Palestine. As universities curtail pro-Palestinian speech or thwart BDS initiatives, direct action from SJP chapters is set to increase.
Will the direct action turn into direct threats?
At U. Michigan, it apparently already has, via Free Beacon:
Pro-Palestinian activists on the University of Michigan campus have had the cops called on them for threatening pro-Israel students and staging a sit-in over the student government’s refusal to back an anti-Israel initiative to divest from the Jewish state.
University of Michigan police were contacted Wednesday evening after two pro-Palestinian activists allegedly threatened a student who refused to support their boycott initiative.
The threatening rhetoric used by these pro-Palestinian activists is part of wider campaign by the University of Michigan’s pro-Palestine group Students Allied for Freedom and Equality (SAFE), which is part of the virulently anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment movement (BDS).
Is it any wonder they chant “Long Live The Intifada“?
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