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Criticism of the Israeli Government is NOT Anti-Semitism May 25, 2015

Posted by rogerhollander in Human Rights, Israel, Gaza & Middle East, Racism.
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False anti-Semitism charges used to undermine campus movement for Palestinian rights
On Monday, Palestine Solidarity Legal Support (PSLS) and CCR released findings regarding the increasing use of accusations of anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses to suppress speech critical of Israeli policy. Between January and April of this year, PSLS documented 60 incidents involving accusations of anti-Semitism made against students or faculty and 24 incidents involving accusations that students or faculty were “terrorists” or “supporters of terrorism,” based solely on speech critical of Israeli policy. At two universities, for example, votes on divestment resolutions were blocked because Israel advocacy groups claimed they would create an anti-Semitic climate. Such attacks deliberately conflate advocacy on behalf of Palestinian human rights with anti-Semitism in order to undermine such advocacy, including the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, as a way to shut it down. They thereby violate the free speech rights of students and scholars and undercut the university as a place of debate and critical thinking; they also detract from the fight against true anti-Semitism. Complementing the release of the findings was an analysis of the political context by Dima Khalidi, founder and director of PSLS and CCR cooperating counsel. Also on Monday, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) delivered a letter signed by over 250 academics to the U.S. State Department, asking it to revise its definition of anti-Semitism in order to prevent the charge of anti-Semitism from being misused to silence critics of Israel.

CCR represents Professor Steven Salaita, who was terminated by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign from a tenured position for tweets critical of Israeli policy – which were also called anti-Semitic. A court date scheduled for last week on the university’s motion to dismiss his case was cancelled, and we are awaiting a written decision.


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The Second Holocaust Was Averted at Brooklyn College BDS Forum February 8, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Posted by Tikkun Daily at 7:43 am
February 8, 2013

Crossposted on Tikkun Daily

By David Harris-Gershon

Last night, Brooklyn College hosted a forum on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement – a non-violent initiative targeting Israel’s suppression of basic political rights for Palestinians, particularly those occupied in the West Bank.

In the weeks preceding the forum, Brooklyn College was under intense pressure to cancel the event, pressure spearheaded by Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, who curiously chose to argue against the concept of academic freedom by claiming the forum would be a “propaganda hate orgy” and should not be allowed.

New York City Council members soon followed, threatening to cut off funding to the college if the event proceeded, with Assemblyman Alan Maisel stating, “We’re talking about the potential for a Second Holocaust here.

Thankfully, champions of academic freedom stepped in to push back against such bombastic claims, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who bluntly told the City Council:

“If you want to go to a university where the government decides what kind of subjects are fit for discussion, I suggest you apply to a school in North Korea.”

Eventually, political pressure against the event relented and it went on as planned, an event at which UC Berkley professor Judith Butler eloquently explained the BDS movement:

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism.

Butler also explored and, ultimately, expertly rejected accusations that the BDS movement was inherently anti-Semitic:

But still, it is left to us to ask, why would a non-violent movement to achieve basic political rights for Palestinians be understood as anti-Semitic? Surely, there is nothing about the basic rights themselves that constitute a problem. They include equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; the end to the occupation, and the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses…why would a collective struggle to use economic and cultural forms of power to compel the enforcement of international laws be considered anti-Semitic? It would be odd to say that they are anti-Semitic to honor internationally recognized rights to equality, to be free of occupation and to have unlawfully appropriated land and property restored. I know that this last principle makes many people uneasy, but there are several ways of conceptualizing how the right of return might be exercised lawfully such that it does not entail further dispossession.


If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical mis-use of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

Omar Barghouti, founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, spoke in more populist tones, but was clear in reiterating that the BDS movement rejects all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism, and is focused on one thing: ending the dehumanization of Palestinians and delivering to them dignity, basic human rights and political self-determination.

In the end, the event was peaceful, cordial and level-headed. A far cry from the small group of protesters outside who yelled that the next slaughter of the Jews was beginning at Brooklyn College.

Follow me on Twitter @David_EHG

Boycott Apartheid Israel! February 12, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in War.
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by Derek Summerfield – England

“People First,” International Health Workers for People Over Profit (IHWPOP)


The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid Israel has been gathering steam on several continents over the past few years. The campaign seeks to apply the same principled methods of direct action that were so successful against apartheid South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

One part of this broad front is the academic boycott campaign that was launched in Britain following a call in 2002 from two well-known Jewish professors, Steven and Hilary Rose. This led to the setting up of the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP).

The academic boycott campaign was recently taken up in the United States in response to Israel’s barbaric war against Gaza’s besieged population.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) announced a week of action against apartheid Israel to begin on February 6. In one action, dock workers belonging to the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) refused to offload a ship bringing Israeli goods to South Africa. 

The Western Australian branch of the Maritime Union of Australia have endorsed the BDS campaign and have called for a boycott of all Israeli vessels and all vessels bearing goods arriving from or going to Israel.

It’s not easy to estimate what impact to date the boycott campaign has had in concrete terms. What is clear is that the campaign is educating people who were unaware of the brutal reality of the Israeli occupation: the relentless settlement-building on Palestinian land, the Separation Wall, and the ruthless disregard for human rights and basic needs.

The university and college lecturers’ union in Britain (UCU) has been so successful in promoting the academic boycott that it has provoked an anti-boycott backlash.

A well-funded pro-Israel lobby is trying to discredit and stigmatise individual boycott activists, as was done in the United States (albeit much more blatantly there, with loss of university tenure in some cases).

The growth of the boycott campaign has so rattled the Israeli establishment, that the Israeli Premier has addressed the matter with Britain’s Prime Minister.

 The Corruption of Medicine

As a physician, my role has been to press for an academic boycott of the Israeli Medical Association (IMA) for their longstanding collusion with the practice of torture as state policy in
Israel and the institutionalised involvement of doctors serving in interrogation units where torture is commonplace. These facts have been confirmed repeatedly by international and regional human rights’ organisations.

The IMA has also been silent, over many years, about the systematic violations by Israeli military forces of the Fourth Geneva Convention protocols that guarantee civilians unhindered access to services vital to life, including medical services, and confer immunity from military action on health professionals, clinics, ambulances, etc.

The Boycott the IMA campaign is currently circulating a draft petition, to be signed by doctors worldwide, to the World Medical Association (WMA), the official body overseeing medical ethics worldwide. We are protesting the appointment of Yoram Blachar,  longstanding President of the IMA, as WMA President. This is like appointing ex-Bush Attorney General Gonzales (“the Geneva Convention is quaint”) to be the new head of Amnesty International!

We have been driven to take direct action by the manifest failure of so-called normal channels (direct appeals to the IMA, WMA etc, providing a mountain of evidence) to address these issues in any way.

World-wide, Israel’s medical friends play a considerable role in corrupting the medical profession. This morally tainted status quo will prevail if we don’t support and build the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign.

More information about the boycott can be found at Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel and the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, or email  Derek Summerfield

Derek Summerfield is a London-based Consultant Psychiatrist. View his address, “Medical Ethics in Conflict Zones.”