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U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights Tag

The Free Beacon broke a story today about how The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation is holding a forum on Capitol Hill supporting the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, Congress to Host First-Ever Forum in Favor of Boycotting Israel:
Congress is scheduled to host what insiders described as the first-ever forum in favor of boycotting Israel, according to congressional sources and an invitation for the event being circulated by an anti-Israel organization. The briefing is scheduled to take place Friday on Capitol Hill and will feature several speakers known for their criticism of Israel and support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which has been cited by Jewish organizations as an anti-Semitic movement. The event is being sponsored by the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, a pro-BDS organization that recently came under fire when it hosted a Democratic member of Congress who referred to Israeli settlers as “termites.” Senior congressional sources with knowledge of the event told the Washington Free Beacon that the Capitol Hill office in charge of reserving the event room would not disclose the name of the lawmaker sponsoring the event.

Rasmea Odeh is the Palestinian terrorist group member convicted of the 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem that killed two Hebrew University students, Edward Joffe and Leon Kanner. Rasmea was released in a prisoner exchange in 1979 for an Israeli soldier captured in Lebanon. Rasmea eventually made her way to the U.S., where she lied on both her visa and naturalization applications, by falsely stating that she never was convicted of a crime or served time in prison. She told other lies as well, such as not disclosing the time she spent in Lebanon after release from Israeli prison, or that she was a military member of the terrorist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Rasmea became a U.S. citizen in 2004 on the basis of those lies. Rasmea Odeh Naturalization Application Photo

A war has been declared on Israel on campus by faculty and students supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. The rallying cry is to blacklist those acting on behalf of Israeli academic institutions or participating in "normalization" events, such as musical and cultural events. On the faculty academic front, we have seen groups such as the American Studies Association and some smaller groups blacklist Israeli academics representing their institutions, as part of a formal academic boycott. That boycott has been declared by the American Association of University Professors to be a violation of academic freedom. There also are many reports from Israeli academics of a silent boycott, in which individual U.S. professors refuse to interact with individual Israeli scholars and students, resulting in denied access to journals for publication and peer reviews. The claim by many pro-BDS faculty members that BDS does not target individuals is an outright lie.

Last week, the Presbyterian Church USA, a liberal Protestant denomination with approximately 1.5 million members, held its General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. The assembly, which takes place every even-numbered year, is a regular scene of controversy over the church's stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. The fighting began in 2004 when the GA voted to divest from companies that did business with Israel's defense establishment. In 2006, opponents of divestment were able to convince the GA to reverse its decision to single Israel out for divestment, but the anti-Zionists kept at it until 2014, when the GA voted to divest from three companies that do business with the Israeli government: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola. This year, there was yet another round of proposals targeting Israel for condemnation.

In an unexpected move, the United Methodists decided on Tuesday to call on the church’s mission agency to withdraw its membership in the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO). Based in Washington, D.C. the USCEIO is a vehemently anti-Israel umbrella organization for the boycott, sanctions, and divestment (BDS) movement. Its main goal is to end “all U.S. support and aid” for Israel. USCEIO logo The plenary vote on Petition 60198 (End Coalition Support) came during the church’s leading policy-making event.

In the saturated market of U.S. anti-Israel activism, the political organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) plays a starring role. In many posts (see a partial list here), we’ve highlighted how JVP provides the façade of American Jewish support for pro-BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) organizations arrayed against the Jewish state. By presenting itself as the Jewish justification for BDS, the group gives “cover” to political and economic war on Israel, insulating BDS from allegations of anti-Semitism and providing it with a veneer of legitimacy. On its website, JVP boasts over 60 member-led chapters across the United States and more than 200,000 online supporters. These days it also has increased access to funding, which it uses to promote and publicize its “high profile” anti-Israel activism.

The American Studies Association (ASA) was the first significant-sized faculty association to implement the academic boycott of Israel. A lawsuit just filed by several distinguished members challenges the ASA boycott, seeks damages against individual officers and National Council members who advanced the boycott, as well as injunctive relief, arguing that ASA exceeded its purpose defined under its constitution and bylaws. A copy of the Complaint is embedded at the end of this post. The lawsuit could serve as a model for litigation against other faculty organizations which have been hijacked by anti-Israel activists.

One of the most common questions I get when I give speeches about the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has to do with its funding. BDS, including in the U.S., has plenty of money to organize, fly people around, and coordinate efforts across dozens of campuses and multiple countries. Yet BDS portrays itself as just a bunch of concerned people seeking to do social justice. The money angle, though, is barely exposed. Some of the funding comes from the fundraising efforts of tax-exempt groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation. Some of it comes from churches and church-related groups like Sabeel North America and American Friends Service Committee, which use their tax exempt status to fund anti-Israel activities. Meanwhile, faculty groups like the American Studies Association exploit and arguably violate their tax exempt status by promoting academic boycotts.

Once again, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY, is mired in controversy regarding anti-Israel activities on campus involving Vassar faculty. The controversy surrounds the February 3, 2016, appearance of Rutgers Associate Professor Jasbir Puar at the invitation of several Vassar departments, including Jewish Studies. At the outset of the appearance, according to the Vassar alumni/parent/friends group Fairness to Israel (FTI), a request was made by the Vassar professor introducing the speaker not to record the event, although it was acknowledged that it was legal to do so:
Before I give my brief remarks, I would like to request that you silence your devices you brought with you so as not to disrupt the conversation with Professor Puar is conducting with us today. I would also like to request on her behalf and on behalf of the rest of the assembly that you refrain from recording this evening’s proceedings, in the spirit of congeniality and mutual respect, though it is not against the law, to record someone vocation professional labor without informing them, it is quite unseemly and violates the modest contract of trust essential to the exchange of ideas.
Requesting non-recording of an open, public event on the pretext that non-recording is "essential to the exchange of ideas" is odd.

The organized smear campaign against UT-Austin Israel Studies professor Ami Pedahzur continues unabated. For those of you who are new to the story, the UT-Austin Palestine Solidarity Committee invaded an Israel Studies event hosted by Prof. Pedahzur (possibly in violation of the campus code), refused either to participate in the event or leave, and instead disrupted the event, ending in shouts of "Free, Free Palestine" and "Long Live the Intifada." The disruption was led by UT-Austin law student Mohammed Nabulsi. According to what he wrote afterwards, when Prof. Pedahzur learned after the event that two of the leaders of the disruption used online aliases of known terrorist names, he became concerned that the aggressive behavior posed a risk of escalation that worried him, particularly in light of the Paris terrorist attacks. Nabulsi has written of the need for the anti-Israel boycott movement to support Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other "resistance" groups.

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.

We have written several times before about the effort by Jewish Voice for Peace activists in Ithaca, NY, where Cornell is located, to advance a referendum at the GreenStar Food Coop to boycott Israeli products. The Greenstar Council is considering whether, under its bylaws, there are grounds to reject the referendum petition, or whether it is obligated to let the referendum go to a full membership vote in early November 2015. The GreenStar Council takes no position on the merits of the boycott, and seems aware that the referendum process itself, not to mention if it passes, will do serious damage to GreenStar itself. Yet the referendum is being pushed hard by the JVP activists, particularly Ariel Gold (who works as an organizer for the anti-Israel Friends of Sabeel - North America) and Beth Harris (a retired Ithaca College professor long active in the boycott movement). Gold and Harris tried hard to and did manage to get themselves arrested at the 2015 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) annual conference as part of a Code Pink-led protest. The boycott push, though just starting, has been marred by incendiary rhetoric from the pro-Boycott side. Last fall, the group promoting the boycott (the Central NY Committee for Justice in Palestine - CNYCJP) posted on its Facebook page a horrible photoshop of Nazi concentration camp inmates holding anti-Israel signs. The photoshop was taken down after I called attention to it and people began to complain. CNYCJP claimed it was done by a former member and without group permission, but it refused to identify the person.

We have covered anti-Israel student government divestment votes the past couple of years. Groups, typically led by Students for Justice in Palestine assisted by Jewish Voice for Peace, try to get student governments to vote to divest from specified companies doing business in Israel, such as Caterpillar and HP. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. In the end, it's purely symbolic, since student governments have no such power. Symbolism matters, though, because the campus movement is part of a larger goal of demonizing and dehumanizing Jewish Israelis.  Even when they lose a vote, the BDS crowd claims victory because they forced people to talk about their issue. Last academic year there were a series of divestment initiatives that failed, but recently in the U. California system, several have passed. The anti-Israel groups are very strategic, taking the time to elect their supporters to student councils, and that long-term strategy has paid off in places like UCLA, which rejected divestment last spring, only to see it pass this fall after a change of board membership. One thing that slowly is coming to light, however, is that the anti-Israel movement is not the grassroots, student-led movement it purports to be. In fact, it has a highly coordinated, well-funded action plan assisted and coordinated by outside groups. A column in the UCLA Bruin newspaper details what is happening, Co-author of UCSA resolution needs to disclose affiliations:

The Islamic State, otherwise known as "ISIS" or "ISIL," made a name for itself earlier this summer via graphic videos showing the beheadings of American hostages Steven Sotloff and James Foley. The atmosphere of terror created by ISIS in northern Iraq and Syria has helped the group draw in millions of dollars in ransom money, and motivated world leaders to work together to develop the growing terror threat in the Middle East. Part of the United States' strategy to fight ISIS is happening online in the form of propaganda videos targeted at Americans who are considering defecting to the Middle East to fight with the Islamic State. The first hit, “Welcome to ISIL-Land," features a series of graphic smash cuts highlighting the torture, beheadings, and mass violence that has defined the group's presence in the American media. WARNING: It's graphic.

If reports are true, Steven Salaita's horrific and bizarre Twitter feed cost him a job offer at U. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As of this moment, the reason behind the denial of a position is not known, but that hasn't stopped Salaita's supporters from portraying the denial as based on Salaita's anti-Israel views. As if there is some new blacklist against anti-Israel views, despite the fact that so many faculty members are anti-Israel and proud to express those views. One thing about Salaita's tweets -- he said how he feels. And how he feels is that Israel should be destroyed ("decolonized" in his lingo). That's what the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement really is all about -- it's struggle until Israel is gone. There are some naive dupes who actually believe that academic boycotts are about changing Israeli policies, but the leadership knows that it's about destroying Israel. The reaction to the denial of an offer to Salaita has been furious. One supporter of the academic boycott of Israel now wants a boycott of UI-Urbana-Champaign. Another professor is refusing to show his film there. The American Association of University Professors has weighed in against the denial, although it admits "a number of facts concerning this case remain unclear." There has been an attempt to portray Salaita as a world-reknowned scholar, but that's an exaggeration. Most of his work was simply devoted to bashing Israel in a now-typical melding of political activism and academics. Whether Salaita's initial selection was political to begin with is being questioned. Much of the organizing has been focused on a Petition for Corrective Action on Change.org posted by Rima Merriman: Salaita Change.org Petition Rima Merriman

With ongoing developments on the crisis in Ukraine, here are some news updates from Tuesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a draft treaty making Crimea part of Russia. From CNN, Ukraine cries 'robbery' as Russia annexes Crimea:
Never mind what the West thinks -- the Kremlin says Ukraine's Crimea region is now part of Russia. A signing ceremony Tuesday between Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister of Crimea and the mayor of the city of Sevastopol made it official, the Kremlin said in a statement. The territory, ceded to Ukraine in the Soviet era, is now part of the Russian Federation, it said. The annexation -- which had not been expected to occur until Russian lawmakers met later this week -- was met with a howl of protest in Kiev, where Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk called it "a robbery on an international scale."
Additional details also at CBS News. Also Tuesday, a Ukrainian soldier was reported to have been killed on a base in Crimea and another wounded, though some of the details appeared to be unclear at the time of this writing. From AFP:
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