New tactic: Deliberately excluding Jewish & Christian pro-Israel voices from BDS votes by manipulating senate procedure
AMCHA Initiative Bulletin – May 2, 2017
One of the newest tactics of SJP groups as they promote their BDS resolutions in student senates across the country is to manipulate senate procedure in order to exclude from the debate as many Jewish and pro-Israel voices as possible.
45 Groups Write to Tufts President About
Deliberate Exclusion of Jewish Students
in Recent BDS Vote
One of the newest tactics of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups as they promote their BDS resolutions in student senates across the country is to manipulate senate procedure in order to exclude from the debate as many Jewish and pro-Israel voices as possible. We’ve recently seen this tactic in action at Tufts University in a divestment vote that was scheduled on the eve of Passover despite the pleadings of dozens of Jewish students to merely postpone it; at Pitzer College in a boycott vote that was scheduled on Easter Sunday and Passover; as well as at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where several maneuvers by members of the student government effectively excluded Jewish and pro-Israel students from voicing concern about an anti-Israel divestment resolution. All of these cases resulted in pro-Israel Jewish and Christian students being denied their freedom of speech and the right to full participation in campus life.
It is not surprising that what triggered these displays of flagrantly intolerant behavior were anti-Israel divestment resolutions. Studies have shown that BDS activity on college campuses nationally, especially the promotion of anti-Israel divestment resolutions, is strongly associated with acts that target Jewish and pro-Israel students for harm, including the shutting down or disrupting of pro-Israel events; the vilification and harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students in order to delegitimize their Zionist perspective or cause them to be too afraid or uncomfortable to express it; and, as recently occurred at Tufts, Pitzer and Wisconsin Madison, the malevolent manipulation of student government procedure in order to eliminate pro-Israel voices from debates about BDS.
In response to the egregious behavior at these schools, AMCHA Initiative is mobilizing efforts to address this issue, starting with Tufts University. Last week, an AMCHA-organized letter signed by 45 Jewish, Christian, education and civil rights organizations was sent to Tufts University President Anthony Monaco, expressing grave concerns over the student government’s deliberate exclusion of Jewish students from the BDS resolution vote.
The letter contained several recommendations, including the development of a procedure for evaluating university approved student groups such as SJP, to determine whether their members engage in behavior that suppresses the freedom of expression or civil rights of others. We contend that any group whose members have repeatedly engaged in such behavior should not be given university approval.
Ariela (University of Wisconsin Madison): “They have trampled on and harassed us for more than a month. They have worked very hard to exclude Jewish students from this process.” April 27, 2017, Read more
Zoe (University of Wisconsin Madison): “This student body acted in a way that repeatedly excluded the Jewish community. As a Jewish student, I feel let down by the students that are supposed to be representing me.” April 27, 2017, Read more
Oren (Tufts University): “This resolution worked to undermine Israel’s existence and silence Jewish voices on campus.” April 10, 2017. Read more
Jenna (Tufts University): “If education and dialogue were a priority, there would have been more campus dialogue about this specific [divestment] resolution. I take issue with the fact that [the introduction of this resolution] was done so clandestinely…There’s not the kind of opportunity … to really come to an understanding about all of the narratives that play into this.” April 11, 2017. Read more
Nesi (Tufts University): “The language of that resolution, that was deliberately vague enough to allow for an interpretation that meant there should not be a state of Israel, is anti-Semitism.” April 11, 2017. Read more
Deena (Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College): “[T]he [pro-Israel campus] group was given no forewarning of the vote and [the timing] effectively silence[d] the Israeli narrative.” April 19, 2017. Read more
Jenny (Claremont Colleges Consortium): “On many of the college campuses at the 5Cs, to declare oneself a Zionist is to commit social suicide. SJP promotes a toxic environment that silences an entire population of students…During Israeli Apartheid Week…students who chose to stand up for beliefs that disagree with SJP were vehemently harassed.” April 9, 2017. Read more
Kate (Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College): “Students for Justice in Palestine is using Hate Week as an excuse to carry out a targeted harassment campaign aimed at me, members of my school’s pro-Israel club, the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance (CPIA), and random Israeli and Jewish students. The very first day that their so-called ‘apartheid wall’ was erected, I visited the wall to take pictures of it. Members of SJP, who were stationed next to the wall, verbally harassed me by name. They called me a racist, a white supremacist, and an advocate for ethnic cleansing. One SJP member took a Snapchat picture of me at the wall and captioned it, ‘Her name is Kate _____ and she is a proud racist.’ They posted their targeting harassment on Twitter, where it was favorited and retweeted by other members of Students for Justice in Palestine. SJP continued their targeted harassment of me by stealing one of my Facebook profile pictures that had a pro-Israel message and making it their intro slide in a Powerpoint presentation about imperialism, which they gave publicly in a café on campus…” April 8, 2017. Read more
Zachary (Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College): “As an organization, we feel strongly that SJP does not speak for a majority of students on campus, that they are using tactics that intimidate students for remaining silent for their pro-Israel views.” April 7, 2017. Read more
Chen (Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College): “I feel as though I have to defend my right to exist, both as a Jew and especially as an Israeli. There is so much misinformation and hatred out there which makes it extremely difficult to engage in any sort of positive, thoughtful conversation.” Claremont Colleges, Pitzer College, April 7, 2017. Read more
Albert (Columbia University): “When Jewish student after Jewish student speaks out as to how CUAD’s anti-Israel activities marginalize them, we should pay attention and ask ourselves if we would countenance any other movement that marginalized students of any other identity.” April 24, 2017. Read more
Kelsey (CSU Long Beach): “BDS has no place on our campus. CSULB prides itself on being a diverse and inclusive community, but this divestment resolution divides us and incites anti-Jewish sentiments on campus. As a Jewish and pro-Israel student, I feel personally targeted.” April 27, 2017, Read more
Jonathan (CSU Long Beach): “As someone who is Israeli, someone who is Jewish, someone who is gay, I would never, ever tell someone else how to take an attack on them. I don’t expect people who are not Jewish and [not in] our shoes to tell us what anti-Semitism is. The feelings that the Jewish students have on our campus when they say that BDS is an anti-Semitic movement are the ones who get to communicate to you what anti-Semitism is.” April 17, 2017. Read more
Lily (Auburn University): “[The fliers not only] promoted typical conspiracies about Jews, but encouraged people to actively resist us for existing. The fact that the fliers appeared around Passover shows such blatant aggression, such blatant antisemitism. This is not about arguing for a different political view or for freedom of speech. This was a hate crime. I want to see administrators investigating and finding out who is responsible for the posters and the website. There are security cameras everywhere, they have the resources to track these people down. But, all I’ve seen so far is the university trying to make sure they are not held accountable.” April 14, 2017. Read more
Samuel (University of Maryland): “They [SJP] 100 percent have the right to protest. But they should do it in a place that isn’t in the middle of our event; it shouldn’t be a disruptive demonstration in the middle of our event. There’s a difference between free speech and completely interrupting someone else’s event.” April 10, 2017. Read more
Sasha (San Francisco State University): “If you [President Wong] have a clear vision for creating a welcoming and inclusive climate for Jewish students on this campus, we want to understand what it is. Because, unfortunately, your actions are actively undermining Jewish studentlife, and enabling an environment causing actual discrimination against Jewish students.” April 5, 2017. Read more