Israel

Study: Anti-Israel Movement Shifting Tactics on Campus, Planning More Disruptions

The number of disruptions of Jewish and pro-Israel events on college campuses increased last year and are expected to continue to rise, a new study (.pdf) by the Israel on Campus Coalition has found.

According to the study, there were 33 campus campaigns to divest from Israel during the 2015-2016 academic year, which was down 25% from the previous year. However, this was offset by an 33% increase in the number of pro-Israel events that were disrupted—24. The study defines a disruption as when “Israel’s detractors staged walkouts, shouted over Israeli guest lecturers, and deliberately interfered with Israel-related educational activities.”

One such disruption occurred in March, when Arab-Israeli diplomat George Deek was shouted down by two dozen student and local anti-Israel campaigners at the University of California, Davis. A video of the incident is embedded below.

Another change noted by the study is the growth of anti-Israel activity in the Chicago area. The University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University all passed anti-Israel resolutions within a three-month period earlier this year. The growth in local anti-Israel campaigning was attributed to the presence of the headquarters of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which supports the leading anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

In congressional testimony in April, Jonathan Schanzer, vice-president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, pointed out that several members the Holy Land Foundation, which was shut down by the federal government for financing Hamas, are now working with AMP. He called AMP “arguably the leading BDS organization in the U.S., a key sponsor of the anti-Israel campus network known as Students for Justice in Palestine.” The group supplies SJP with money, speakers, and training, and “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country,” Schanzer added. “According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.”

In addition to AMP, Chicago is home to several other anti-Israel organizations, the Israel on Campus Coalition wrote, including the “U.S. Coalition to Boycott Israel, the BDS Campaign in Chicago, the Chicago Coalition for Justice in Palestine, and elements of the Palestine Liberation Organization.” These groups have sought to transform Chicago-area campuses into “hubs of anti-Israel activity.” And given the critical mass that these groups have achieved, “anti-Israel activists have re-focused on the Midwest, working to strengthen their efforts in the region.”

According to the study, of 5,323 Israel-related events on college campuses nationwide, “1,437 were anti-Israel events, and 3,886 were pro-Israel activities,” a ratio of better than 2 to 1 in favor of pro-Israel events. In California, a state with a reputation for housing the most virulent of anti-Israel campaigners, pro-Israel events outnumbered anti-Israel events more that 3 to 1 , and divestment campaigns in the state declined by 64%, from 14 in the 2014-2015 academic year to five this past year.

The study also noted the increasing prominence of Jewish anti-Israel groups, such as Jewish Voice for Peace, which had chapters on 23 campuses in the 2015-2016 academic year and has “solidified its position as a leader in the campus BDS movement.”

Anti-Israel campus campaigns have also increasingly begun to associate with social justice organizations, notably the Black Lives Matter movement, allowing “anti-Israel activists to tie their demands to broader social justice causes, and to equate their grievances with the various forms of oppression suffered by other groups.”

While proponents of the Palestinian-led BDS campaign often seek to link their attempts to delegitimize and isolate Israel to prominent human rights causes, many senior BDS leaders have publicly affirmed that their ultimate objective is Israel’s destruction. BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, an opponent of the two-state solution, said in 2014 that Palestinians have a right to “resistance by any means, including armed resistance,” while leading activist As’ad Abu Khalil acknowledged in 2012 that “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel.”

[Photo: Israel on Campus Coalition / YouTube ]