Exposing Israel’s Campus Detractors As Anti-Semites

If you look at what the leaders of the anti-Semitic boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement say, their positions are clear:

  • They do not believe the Jewish people have the right to self-determination, only the Palestinians have that right.
  • They hold Israel responsible for the conflict with the Palestinians and consider the Palestinians blameless.
  • They believe the only human rights violations are those allegedly committed by Israelis against Palestinians
  • They profess concern for Palestinians, but ignore their mistreatment by their fellow Arabs.
  • They do not believe killing innocent Jews is terrorism.

These views are not a secret. Anyone can readily find similar statements online by BDS supporters; nevertheless, uninformed and gullible students join groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and ignore their organizations’ raison d’ê·tre. Instead, they are fooled into believing these organizations are human rights advocates seeking peace and justice for the persecuted Palestinians living under Israeli “occupation.” Once they become members, these often well-meaning students, try to persuade their peers, who know little or nothing about the conflict, to vilify Israel.

Several years ago, the Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), an earlier version of SJP, pursued a similar agenda and roiled the pro-Israel community with annual conferences that were organized Israel hate fests. Like SJP, PSM caused hysteria among those convinced that any anti-Israel activity was bound to adversely effect the attitudes toward Israel of Jewish and non-Jewish students. This did not happen and the impact of the PSM is best reflected by the fact that it disappeared like similar anti-Israel groups that came before. This is the likely fate of SJP as well.

When the PSM circus came to Duke in 2004, pro-Israel students were ready and devised a simple test to expose the organization’s hypocrisy and nefarious intent. The sponsors of the conference were asked to condemn the murder of innocent civilians, support a two-state solution and agree to engage in respectful debate. The conference organizers refused.

This was an effective strategy because it did not require any criticism of the PSM or its right to free speech, but it did reveal its extreme positions to the Duke student body. The conference itself further reinforced the image of the group as radical and virulently anti-Israel. Following the conference, Phyllis Chesler reported that speakers referred to Zionism as a “disease” and compared Israel to South Africa under the Afrikaner regime. Participants referred to terrorists as “freedom-fighters,” Chesler said, and “called for the abolition of the Jewish state through the use of suicide-homicide terrorism, and through the adoption of a ‘one state’ solution in which Jews would be demographically overwhelmed, marginalized, persecuted, and ultimately driven out.”

The PSM was also an early advocate of hijacking Birthright by encouraging Jews to sign up for the free trips and sneak into the West Bank to assist Israel's enemies. “They taught a session on how to lie to Israeli authorities and to the Birthright people,” according to Chesler. Birthright subsequently became adept at identifying and weeding out applicants with ulterior motives.

Chesler reported the group also planned “to use left-wing Jews, Christians, and Muslims to infiltrate and ‘take over’ campus Hillels--precisely because they are, commendably, democratic--as a way of further indoctrinating American students with their ideology of hate.”

The PSM also foreshadowed the anti-Semitic BDS movement by calling for a boycott of Jewish companies “such as Estee Lauder, Clinique, and Bobby Brown because they donate money to Israel and do business there as well.” The PSM boycott failed just as the BDS movement is failing now.

As noted above, the PSM joined the Soviet Union on the dustbin of history. The PSM’s new incarnation, SJP, is seeking to resurrect the PSM’s discredited agenda. SJP extremists on campuses around the country are engaged in disseminating anti-Semitic propaganda while university administrators hypocritically preach their right to free speech at the same time they are silencing criticism of every other minority.

As was the case at Duke, students at universities where SJP is active should put the group on the spot to unmask its true agenda. Ask SJP’s members to answer simple questions such as the following:

  • Do you condemn terrorism and, specifically, attacks on Israeli civilians?
  • Do you believe Israel has the right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East?
  • Do you believe the Jewish people have the same right to self-determination as the Palestinians?
  • Do you support Hamas and its charter calling for the destruction of Israel?
  • Do you agree that all of Palestine; i.e., what is today Israel, the West Bank and Gaza should be a Palestinian State?
  • Do you agree with Sheikh Ibrahim Madhi, a Palestinian Authority official and imam of Gaza City's main mosque, who believes Jews are the descendants of apes and pigs?
  • Do you believe in a two-state solution whereby a Palestinian state is created in Gaza and most of the West Bank beside the Jewish State of Israel?
If their answers are consistent with the views of most members of SJP, the group will be discredited and shown to be anti-Semitic. Its claims to progressivism and a commitment to human rights will be exposed as a sham.
The university should treat SJP the same way it does organizations that express racist, sexist, or homophobic views. Like those groups, SJP has no business on a college campus and should be unequivocally condemned by faculty and administrators.