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Jewish Voice for Peace Tag

The Vassar College Student Association is in the midst of a highly contentious debate over whether to adopt an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution and bylaws amendment proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace.  SJP takes the position that the BDS resolution includes an academic boycott, though there is no explicit language to that effect in the resolution. There also is a counter-resolution by Vassar J Street U which condemns Israel's occupation of the West Bank, but does not call for a boycott. The vote is Sunday night, March 6, 2016. The BDS vote will be anonymous, while the J Street U vote will be on the record. Scroll through our Vassar College Tag for numerous recent reports on the campus atmosphere and conflict created by the BDS resolution, as well as the history of BDS and anti-Semitism at Vassar. There was an important development today. In a mass email to all students, VSA's Executive Board indicated it had been informed by the administration that Student Activity Funds used to fund VSA may be taken out of the control of VSA should the BDS resolution be adopted. (Full email at bottom of post.)

The Vassar College Student Association  council is voting anonymously on March 6, 2016, on an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution proposed by Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Vassar Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). For details, see Vassar anti-Israel activists attempt stealth academic boycott Resolution. For years the BDS campaign on campus has been punctuated by crude and misleading accusations against Israel, and an implicit and sometimes explicit argument that Zionism is inherently racist. Overt anti-Semitism rears its head from time to time. In researching Vassar's history, I came upon an interesting historical contrast with the current situation. In November 1975, the U.N. General Assembly passed the notorious (and now rescinded) "Zionism is Racism" Resolution. Then U.S. UN Ambassador Daniel Moynihan spoke eloquently in rebuttal of spoke of the “infamous” Zionism is Racism act.

One of the most controversial aspects of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is the academic boycott. That academic boycott has been condemned and rejected by the Presidents of over 250 American universities and colleges, and major groups such as the American Council on Education (1700+ Higher Ed Institutions), Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (216 Universities and University Systems), Association of American Universities (62 Universities). The American Association of University Professors (approx. 48,000 members) not only rejects the academic boycott, it also calls it a violation of academic freedom. Almost all resolutions introduced at student governments by groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) focus on divestment from companies allegedly aiding Israel's violation of Palestinian human rights. These are symbolic resolutions since student governments have no say on university finances; sometimes they pass, but more often they fail.

This spring three U.S. mainline churches, the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), the United Methodist Church (UMC), and the Unitarian Universalist Church (UU), will feature a number of anti-Israel BDS-related resolutions at their annual meetings. Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists are already anticipating that “2016 could be the biggest year yet for church divestment”. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO), an anti-Israel umbrella group for the BDS movement, recently released a call to action encouraging supporters to sign petitions, and follow and ‘like’ the efforts of anti-Israel member groups within these liberal Protestant churches via emails and social media. UCEIO, Huge News on church divestment Below we highlight what’s in store in the months ahead in the anti-Israel movement’s ongoing campaign to hijack America’s liberal Protestant churches.

On Monday night, February 15, 2016, the student government council at the University of Illinois - Chicago unanimously (14-0) passed a divestment resolution proposed by Students for Justice in Palestine and a coalition of other student groups. That passage is being promoted by anti-Israel activists, including Jewish Voice for Peace, as a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campus movement. But passage of the resolution isn't the real story. The real story is that the resolution that passed did not single out Israel, and applied to any and all alleged human rights abuses anywhere in the world, specifically also mentioning the United States, China, Britain and other countries. As such, the watered-down resolution amounted to a universal statement of principles, not a condemnation of Israel. The UIC Coalition for Peace, which included pro-Israel students, can claim this as a victory for fair treatment of Israel.

Concentrated, intense anti-Israel activity at Vassar College in early 2014 resulted in gross displays of anti-Jewish hostility, as I documented at the time, Anti-Israel academic boycott turns ugly at Vassar. Thirty-nine Vassar professors signed a letter in the student newspaper supporting the academic boycott of Israel, and aggressive protests by Students for Justice in Palestine created a pervasive climate of fear on campus. When I was invited by a student group to speak on campus, no academic department would co-sponsor my appearance despite the fact that several departments co-sponsored the appearance the week before of the anti-Israel activists Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal. The hostility following my appearance on campus was so intense that Vassar SJP circulated on social media a Nazi cartoon. Since then, there has been near continuous anti-Israel activism on campus, including an appearance by the leader of national Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and a dining hall boycott of Sabra Hummus (which later was reversed).

Pallywood is the Palestinian industry of creating fake images, events and stories to demonize Israel. It is a critical part of the worldwide, decades-long propaganda campaign against Israel. Pallywood is not done only by Palestinians. In fact, some of the most egregious perpetrators are Western anti-Israel leftists who create and spread false or distorted stories about Israel. The NY Times just got Pallywooded. Anti-Israel activists, the identities of whom are not currently known, created a fake Supplement Edition of the Times with fake stories meant to pursue anti-Israel narratives. Parody NY Times anti-Israel Israel General Homepage

A Wider Bridge is an Israeli group that promotes not only LGBTQ rights, it does so in the context of promoting cooperation across religious and ethnic lines. When A Wider Bridge was scheduled to hold a Sabbath event at the Creating Change conference in Chicago, the invitation initially was revoked under pressure from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions groups, as A Wider Bridge described in this Press Release:
A group of American and Israeli LGBTQ Jews that was scheduled to appear at the largest conference of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer activists in the United States this week has been booted from the event because of pressure by anti-Israeli activists, the group says. U.S. nonprofit A Wider Bridge, which builds connections between American and Israeli LGBTQ Jews, was set to host a reception with leaders of Jerusalem’s Open House at the Creating Change conference, which is scheduled to take place in Chicago January 20 – 22. Last year the gathering, which is convened by the National LGBTQ Task Force, had 3,800 people attend.

This story is almost too unbelievable to be true, but it is true. Ezra Nawi is not just another Israeli leftist activist. He was one of the most prominent Israeli activists engaged in direct action to interfere with Israeli military activities in Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"). Nawi's actions brought him accolades abroad. He was featured in a favorable NY Times article in 2009:
For his activist colleagues, Mr. Nawi’s instinctual connection to the Palestinians is valuable. Ezra Nawi was in his element. Behind the wheel of his well-worn jeep one recent Saturday morning, working two cellphones in Arabic as he bounded through the terraced hills and hardscrabble villages near Hebron, he was greeted warmly by Palestinians near and far.

A controversy brewing in St. Louis progressive activist circles sheds light on how the anti-Israel movement’s effort to demonize Israel by hijacking the Black Lives Matter agenda is intensifying. At issue is an offensive poster and cartoon featuring the image of a prominent St. Louis Rabbi Susan Talve. Both were circulated last week on social media by HandsUp United, a “social justice organization” based in Ferguson, Missouri. The anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace is supporting the effort to demonize Rabbi Talve, and the vile anti-Israel cartoonist Carlos Latuff has created a cartoon meme that is spreading. This is all part of an effort to turn Black Lives Matters into an anti-Israel movement, an increasing focus of anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists.

Targeting St. Louis Rabbi Susan Talve

Rabbi Susan Talve, who leads St. Louis’ Central Reform Congregation, is a well-known and nationally respected figure in St. Louis’ interfaith community and in the Ferguson protest movement. Last year, she was named one of America’s most inspiring rabbis by the Forward. For years she’s taken a leading progressive position on racial issues in the United States. Since the Michael Brown fatal shooting in Ferguson, just outside St. Louis, in August 2014, she’s also voiced opposition to racial profiling and policing policies at numerous public events.

Last week on November 22, Al-Awda—the Palestine Right to Return Coalition—proudly announced on Twitter the co-hosting, with Jewish Voice for Peace and others, of Alison Weir at an event in Cleveland: It isn’t surprising that Al-Awda would take the lead in promoting Weir and her group and website If Americans Knew (IAK). The two organizations are basically cut from the same cloth. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Al-Awda is a notorious anti-Israel campaigner that views Zionism as “inherently racist” and is unwilling to accept Israel’s existence.

On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed the infamous "Zionism Is Racism" Resolution 3379. The Resolution was revoked in 1991, but the theme remains the same among those who want to destroy Israel. You can attend just about any Boycott Divestment and Sanctions rally, "Jewish Voice for Peace" protest, "Campaign to End the Occupation" conference, and you will here vile rhetoric similar to that of Resolution 3379. You'll also hear it at some faculty associations where BDS resolutions have passed, such as the American Studies Association, and other associations where it is under consideration, such as the American Anthropological Association. "Zionism is Racism" in words or concept is the rallying cry of Students for Justice in Palestine and a host of other anti-Israel campus groups, as well. The oldest hate endures, taking new forms but never changing its tune. So it's worth considering the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan in opposition to that Resolution, which we covered before in my December 15, 2013 post, American Studies Association about to pass odious equivalent of Zionism is Racism resolution. Here is an excerpt from his speech could just as easily be given today, tomorrow or any other day:

On Friday morning, September 18, 2015, the third grade classes at the Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY, heard a presentation on "human rights" by Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi and local anti-Israel activists, including Ariel Gold of the local chapter of the anti-Israel Jewish Voice for Peace. On Sunday night, September 20, Legal Insurrection broke the story, Anti-Israel activism hits elementary school in Ithaca, NY. Because of Tamimi's notoriety for exploiting children in videotaped confrontations with Israeli soldiers, Tamimi's mere appearance in a third grade class raised suspicions about the event. After our report, a firestorm of controversy erupted, with the Superintendent of the Ithaca City School District (ICSD), Dr. Luvelle Brown, conducting an investigation, after which he issued a statement that the event was "politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.” The Superintendent's statement, though, contained few details of his investigation. But now Legal Insurrection exclusively has obtained documents pursuant to a Freedom Of Information Law (FOIL) request that show the event was even worse than we thought.

Last year we highlighted a debate within the American Anthropological Association as to whether to boycott Israel, and how the anti-Israel activists had stacked the deck, Anti-Israel academic boycotters rig debate at American Anthropological Association. That stacked deck recently resulted in a one-sided report calling for action against Israel, though a full boycott similar to what the American Studies Association adopted was only one of the potential actions discussed. The ideological nature of the boycott push is clear in the Report, in which the authors explicitly applied a "settler colonialism" construct (see Report, starting at page 11), which is the prism through which boycott advocates view Israel itself (not just the "occupation" of the West Bank) as illegitimate:
... We found the “settler colonialism” frame suggested by many of our interlocutors to capture some aspects of the relationship of the Israeli government to Palestinians that concerned us and we present that frame first....

A storm of controversy erupted when the Ithaca, NY, chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace brought Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to a third grade class. Tamimi is best known for the viral videos and photos he creates by sending children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers. Tamimi, who argues that it is the “duty” of children to engage in acts of resistance, was on a now-concluded U.S. national tour co-sponsored by JVP and the Chicago branch of Amnesty International. [caption id="attachment_146972" align="alignnone" width="600"] [Image capture Ithaca Week video][/caption]The Superintendent of the Ithaca school district, after an investigation, denounced the visit,finding that Tamimi was not invited by the school and the event was “not developmentally appropriate for third graders, nor aligned with the New York State standards. The statements were politically skewed, inflammatory, and not endorsed by the Ithaca City School District.”

Incitement on social media is fueling the current epidemic of knifings, firebombings and stonings against Israeli Jews. That incitement comes from the highest levels of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, as well as people on social media. The incitement involves not only fabricated claims of Israeli intentions as to the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa Mosque, but also false claims which portray Palestinian attackers as random innocent victims of Israeli aggression. The cumulative effect is to so inflame young Palestinians, including children, that they attack Jews for being Jews. Now a famous Palestinian activist has joined in. Bassem Tamimi is the internationally-famous Palestinian activist from the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh who is best known for the viral videos and photos he creates by sending children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers.

A firestorm of controversy erupted in Ithaca, NY, hometown of Cornell University and Ithaca College, when it was learned that local anti-Israel activists brought highly controversial Palestinian activist Bassem Tamimi to third grade class. Tamimi is best known for using children, including his own, to confront Israeli soldiers to create viral video and photo opportunities. He also is an advocate of children taking part in resistance activities, including stone throwing. To pro-Palestinian activists, however, he is a symbol of Israeli repression. The third-grade presentation was skewed and biased against Israel, according to a statement issued by the Ithaca City School District Superintendent, after an investigation. Among other things, after seeing videos and hearings stories of how Palestinian children suffer at the hands of Israelis, the third graders were urged to become "freedom fighters for Palestine."

The misnamed "Jewish Voice for Peace" (JVP) has launched a national campaign along with other anti-Israel groups to claim that "pro-Palestinian" speech is stifled around the country. In fact, The accusation of speech stifling is a passive-aggressive move to preclude legitimate criticism. As we demonstrated, what JVP and other such groups really want is Freedom from Criticism. Two events in Ithaca and Rochester, New York, are being used by JVP to claim a "wave of censorship and bullying is sweeping upstate New York." As we demonstrate below, JVP has seriously misstated what happened, and those events show the contrary to what JVP is claiming.

JVP's Anti-Israel Event to Third Graders in Ithaca

One of, it not the first, actions JVP took in furtherance of the "stifling" campaign is unfolding in upstate New York. In ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ defends anti-Israel Third Grade event, we explained that the local Ithaca JVP branch, run by anti-Zionist (and now Code Pink) activist Ariel Gold, is defending bringing the highly controversial Bassem Tamimi to a third grade class as part of a one-sided presentation demonizing Israel.