Over the past few years the SJP- a group with scores of branches in the United States and other Western campuses has emerged as the main driver of academic BDS. By some counts, SJP has some 80 branches in North America alone. As the article below indicates, it has sponsored numerous BDS resolutions in North America.
The little-studied SJP is a highly effective organization, well funded and enjoying the help of professional activists. For instance, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), hired Dalit Baum, formerly from Haifa University's Gender Studies, to run its West Coast BDS campaign. Baum, the subject of a number of IAM posts, was one of the co-founders of Who Profits from the Occupation? a groups of Israeli academics, including Merav Amir from the Hebrew University, who identified companies operated in the territories such as Ahava Cosmetics as targets of boycott.
The SJP has been behind the growing number of Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) events, It has also been involved in high profile protest against pro-Israeli speakers that, according to critics, create atmosphere of intimidation against Jewish students; in some instances, the SJP was banned from campus activity. Lately, the SJP extended its action to bone fide academic events involving Israel. For instance, it has protested against field trip to Israel offered by the International Studies at Vassar College.
The SJP has networked with groups that share the same perspective, including anti-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voices for Peace. Occasionally, African-American students and professors are drawn into the fracas, giving some events a racial tone as the article on Vassar College indicates.
The response of the authorities, often overwhelmed by the competing requirements of free speech and protection of rights of the Jewish students, has been hard pressed to respond. The spotty and fragmented efforts of the Jewish community are no mach for the professional organizers of the SJP events. The Israeli government has recently recognized that the delegitimization of Israel through the BDS movement is a serious threat to national security but, as a rule, states are not well equipped to fight the type of Soft Asymmetrical Conflict (SAC) that the SJP is engaged in.
IAM has launched a research project into the complex issues that encompass academic BDS. The IAM event at Tel Aviv University, Webb 1, on May 14, 2014 at 6pm will present a first comprehensive discussion of the issue and offer some suggestions on the ways to fight it.
Cornell Passover Divestment push not an isolated event.
When the Cornell Students for Justice in Palestine tried to schedule their last-minute anti-Israel Divestment Resolution for Passover week, I assumed that was something isolated to Cornell. (The attempt was defeated yesterday.)
But maybe not.
Passover starts on the night of April 14, and seders are held that night and the night of April 15. Religious Jews do not work on April 15-16.
The Cornell SJP action to try to push a vote on Divestment during Passover is not an isolated event.
Next Wednesday, April 16, is a coordinated National Day of Action called by the National SJP organization (via Pro-Israel Bay Bloggers):
The SJP National Day of Action is a call for all SJP chapters to stand up and fight against these injustices on campus. It is a call to stand for the rights of Palestinians, and a call to end university complicity in the Israeli occupation. Through their coordinated program of sit-ins, rallies, and teach-ins, SJP chapters across the country are sending the unequivocal message that we will not be silenced or intimidated by Zionist groups or campus administrations.
Is the timing for Passover coincidence?
Unlikely. Increasingly SJP actions around the country are coordinated by non-students. I find it hard to believe Passover week in general, and the second day of Passover specifically, were not chosen for a reason.
A Paid Operative Behind Campus Divestment
The anti-Israel movement on campus would like you to think that divestment is a form of pure, grassroots student activism. But recent developments at Loyola University of Chicago have shown that divestment promoters are deceiving the public regarding the true nature of their campaigns.
On Tuesday, April 1st, Students for Justice in Palestine presented the Loyola student government with an anti-Israel divestment resolution. But what they neglected to mention was that they didn’t write the legislation themselves. It turned out that the real author was Dalit Baum, a major leader in the global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Baum is not a student or faculty member of Loyola or any North American university. She is a paid operative working to co-opt student governments into following the BDS Movement’s malicious, anti-Israel agenda. And if she is writing resolutions for one school, it is likely that she is writing them for others as well.
Many in the pro-Israel community suspected that professional BDS activists were behind anti-Israel campaigns on college campuses. Divestment initiatives are often orchestrated at a level that most students would not be able to achieve on their own. And now we have definitive proof that this is not purely grassroots, student-led activism, but rather an industry in which paid operatives play a crucial role. It should be noted that Dalit Baum, the operative in question, actively promotes the “right of return,” which, in the words of President Barack Obama, would, “extinguish Israel as a Jewish state”. This is something that all campus organizations absolutely must be made aware of before they make a decision on whether or not to support anti-Israel divestment campaigns.
It is important to understand the larger context here: BDS is a movement built on deception. It demands the elimination of Israel, but sells itself as a progressive, social justice cause. It manipulates the public into thinking that boycotting the safety measures that keep innocent Israelis alive every day is “human rights activism”. It appropriates and abuses the voices of progressive icons like MLK and Nelson Mandela to gain legitimacy, even though both strongly opposed the toxic brand of anti-Zionism that BDS represents. BDS activists tell members of student governments that divestment does not target Israel or Israelis, even though their official handbook calls divestment a, “stepping stone towards a broad, comprehensive boycott of Israel.” So when they insist that campus divestment campaigns are entirely student-led, it’s just one drop in an ocean of BDS deceptions.
BDS can continue trying to mislead the public about its methods and true intentions, but people are waking up. Campus divestment activists have been forced to distance their campaigns from BDS because student governments do not want to associate themselves with such a malicious movement. Even notorious anti-Israel academics like Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky have publicly condemned BDS for its rank hypocrisy.
BDS is able to recruit well-meaning people only through deception and emotional manipulation. The lies about campus divestment being purely grassroots are just one example of this. But sunlight is the best disinfectant. By exposing BDS for what it truly is, we can stand up for the truth and stop this movement from poisoning any more of our campuses and communities.
Loyola Divestment Resolution, with author listed as Dalit Baum (Click to enlarge).
Loyola Divestment resolution (Click to enlarge).
Max Samarov, 25, graduated from the University of California-Santa Barbara, class of 2011, with a degree in Political Science and International Relations. Max interned at the office of Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) after graduation. He is currently a Senior Researcher at StandWithUs, a 12 year-old , non-profit, international Israel education organization.