Students denounce demonization of student activism by Anti-Defamation League

On campuses around the country, groups promoting Palestinian freedom respond to attack by the Anti-Defamation League
UNITED STATES (October 17, 2010) – Representing campus organizations at over 60 campuses around the country, university students promoting Palestinian freedom have responded to a vilifying report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) listing “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP) and a variety of other American organizations as the “Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America.”  The report was released the same day the ADL honored Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns Fox News Network.

The report – which also names prominent Muslim-American organizations, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Christian ecumenical organization Friends of Sabeel – criticizes SJP chapters for “regularly organiz[ing] activities presenting a biased view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including mock ‘apartheid walls’ and ‘checkpoint’ displays.” SJP chapters have independently proliferated across the country as awareness about the brutality and violence of Israel’s occupation grows on university campuses. In an unprecedented statement, 60 student groups around the country affirmed, “we are unified by our purpose of confronting these wrongs that cause so much death and suffering.”
Recent investigations by the United Nations and reports by human rights organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch frequently criticize unrelenting Israeli settlement expansion, the siege of Gaza, the military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and brutal Israeli violence that has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. Ilana Rossoff, from Hampshire College SJP, continued, “We see the urgent need to educate our communities about the injustice of the occupation and work to hold our communities and governments accountable for our own complicity in US support of the occupation.”

The signatory groups affirmed that they were dedicated to non-violent activities, such as promoting Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions in solidarity with the call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organizations. The groups explained, “we locate ourselves in a legacy of social justice movements working for a free and just world.” The groups invited the ADL “to reflect and to choose to build this world, rather than to stop it.”

See the “Joint Statement on Anti-Defamation League’s ‘Top 10′ List” at this url

www.sjpalestine.com/statement.pdf

CONTACTS BY REGION:

EAST COAST:

Yaman Salahi [Connecticut]: 203-491-0092, yaman.salahi@yale.edu

Alex Cachinero-Gorman [Massachusetts]: 908-705-6033, alex.cachinerog@gmail.com

MIDWEST:

Andrew Dalack [Michigan]:734-645-6860, ajdalack@umich.edu

Sami Kishawi [Illinois]:773-822-8157, kishawisami@gmail.com

WEST COAST:

Lana Khoury [California] 650-274-9085, lkhoury06@gmail.com

Gabriel Schivone [Arizona]: 520-302-6006, gabrielm@email.arizona.edu

Study abroad program sends wrong message

ASU’s Study Abroad Office announced an Israel study abroad program in conjunction with Ben-Gurion University last month.

However, a partnership with BGU also means inadvertently cooperating with its controversial apartheid policies.

Perhaps the administrators didn’t know of BGU’s reputation of discriminatory procedures, or they simply brushed it off. Regardless, the name of ASU does not need to be mixed with a university that supports prejudice and racist policies.

Ben-Gurion was the first Israeli Prime Minister and the person who read the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948. He was once quoted as saying, “Zionism is a transfer of the Jews.”

The concept of “transferring” European Jews to Palestine and then “transferring” Palestinians out is central to Zionism. The “Law of Return” helps grant a right of immigration to Jews born anywhere in the world. This is coupled with “Absentee Property Law” that classifies the personal property of Palestinians as “absentee property” and places it under control of the government.

There was always historic, strong solidarity between South Africans and Palestinians because of the similarities of racist laws that legalized stealing of land in South African and Palestinian territories during Apartheid.

More attention came to this issue when a delegation of South African Veterans of the anti-apartheid struggle was sent to the West Bank in 2008. They agreeably concluded that restrictions endured by Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories were worse than those imposed on the black majority under white rule in South Africa.

A South African campaign initiated at the prestigious University of Johannesburg to cut off academic links with Ben-Gurion University is currently gaining momentum.

The apartheid Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories has had disastrous effects on access to education for Palestinians, which leads to more immobilization, poverty, gendered violence, harassment and humiliation. The racist divide put between “white” and “black” Jews officially exist in state decisions. Several months ago, a religious school in the illegal Israeli settlement of Immanuel was approved funding by the Israeli Education Ministry for segregating white Jewish students from non-white Jewish students in classes.

Israel has also explicitly mounted direct attacks on Palestinian educational institutions, with complete closures of Hebron University and the targeting and bombing of more than 60 schools during the attacks on Gaza in 2009. Meanwhile, BGU maintained structural support for the Israeli occupation by offering scholarships and extra tuition to students who served in active combat units during those attacks.

The assault on Gaza in 2009 resulted in the death of 1,400 Palestinians in acts described by Judge Richard Goldstone as war crimes. The majority of those killed were children and women that died because of indiscriminate Israeli shooting.

The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released a report detailing how Palestinian applicants are three times more likely to be rejected by Israeli academic institutions, including BGU, than Jewish applicants. While Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute more than 20 percent of the country’s population, only a mere 1 percent of the academic staff in Israeli academic institutions are Palestinian.

In regards to academic freedom, BGU has been condemned for disciplining academic staff, such as Professor Neve Gordon, for supporting the non-violent demonstrations. It also went to the extent of maintaining obstacles that prevent students from mounting legal political demonstrations on campus.

At ASU we don’t criminalize political dissent, nor do we support racist and discriminatory policies against Palestinians, Ethiopian Jews, non-Jews or anyone. But our cooperation with such a university sends the wrong message about policies that go against our values.

I call for a review of this decision and urge administrators to disband academic connections with Ben-Gurion University for its lack of respect for human rights and dignity.

This article is from the State Press

U.N. report: Israel “summarily executed” U.S. citizen on flotilla

Glenn Greenwald reflects on the UN Report that concludes Israel executed one US citizen and 5 Turkish citizens on-board the aid flotilla to Gaza on Salon.com. Even more jarring than the Obama administration’s lack of outrage over the finding, is the almost absolute silence in the U.S. media over the matter. That’s probably for the best though, because as Glenn notes the only thing they are likely to attack is the report itself.

The report has been largely ignored in the American media despite the fact (or, more accurately: because) it found that much of the Israeli force used “was unnecessary, disproportionate, excessive and inappropriate and resulted in the wholly avoidable killing and maiming of a large number of civilian passengers”; that “at least six of the killings can be characterized as extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions”; and that Israel violated numerous international human rights conventions, including the Fourth Geneva Conventions (see p. 38, para. 172).

Even more striking in terms of U.S. media and government silence on this report is the fact that one of the victims of the worst Israeli violations was a 19-year-old American citizen. As Gareth Porter documents in an excellent article at The Huffington Post, the report “shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style by Israeli commandos.”

The full article can be found here.