By Amy Zewe—
How about we start with the good news!
To Follow up to my report two weeks ago about an education bill in California mandating that state university college students take a certain “ethnic studies” course, we have some good news. This bill mandated a so-called ethnic studies course whose curriculum specifically targets Israel and is rather antisemitic in order for the student to graduate. At the urging of many Jewish and Israeli advocacy groups, Governor Newsom did veto the bill! For this, we are grateful!
While some of our more mature and aged leaders are seeing some light, with sadness I must report that within two major US universities, within the last month, antisemitism is alive and well.
At Columbia University in NYC, on Tuesday September 29, following a joint proposal put forward by BDS and the local chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace, students at Columbia University voted by a majority of 61% to boycott Israel. This is disappointing to say the least. This comes after a federal complaint filed in December last year accused the school of antisemitic discrimination after swastikas posted on walls outside a Jewish Professor’s office, staff sharing and posting antisemitic tropes and Jewish students being made to feel both unsafe and victimized. The University’s President, Lee Bollinger, earlier this year published a statement tying the movement to boycott Israel to the rise in antisemitism responded to this recent student vote that “the vote should and would not change the University’s investment policies.” So while the student vote is symbolic, it is overtly telling about the mindset of many students studying at one or American’s most elite universities.
Any to further complicate the delicate and sensitive topic of racial relations in the US and the idea to irradicate racism and discrimination in all its form—both at the community level as well as at a systemic level—The University of Illinois students passed a resolution urging divestment from Israel. The problem is, this resolution was bundled in with a vote to Support the Black Lives Matter movement. Jewish groups on campus responded this is “attempt to paint Israel and Jews as the obstacle to racial equity.”
The university’s Office of Student Affairs condemned the nonbinding resolution, which passed two weeks ago in a 22-11 vote, with seven abstentions.
It is unfortunate that a resolution before the group tonight was designed to force students who oppose efforts to divest from Israel to also vote against support for the Black Lives Matter movement,
-the Office of Student Affairs said in a statement signed by Chancellor Robert Jones and five vice chancellors and continues,
This resolution includes several points on which we can agree, but a foundational value of this institution is inclusion, and this resolution includes language that we cannot and will not support.
In February, the student government passed a resolution by a vote of 20-9 with seven abstentions that called on the university to divest from “companies that profit from human-rights violations in Palestine and other communities globally,” naming three companies in particular: Raytheon, Elbit Systems Ltd. and Northrup Grumman. But a week later the body’s president vetoed the resolution, saying its passage “made students feel unsafe and have fostered a climate of hate on this campus.”
The Illini Hillel at Cohen Center for Jewish Life said in response to the student vote in a statement on Facebook.
After five failed attempts in as many years to pass BDS, student activists enshrouded calls for divestment within a resolution opposing anti-Black violence. This was an attempt to paint Israel and Jews as the obstacle to racial equity, amidst the holiest time in the Jewish calendar. The Jewish students refused to submit to this anti-Semitic litmus test. Instead they issued a joint statement of principles declaring their steadfast commitment to Zionism and racial justice. During the ISG meeting Senators made clear that they are driven by their Jewish values which call for social, racial and environmental justice.
Jewish and Zionist students are who committed to racial equality are left no choice in these conflated votes because racial equality includes equal treatment for Jews and protection of their civil and human rights. Discrimination on identity, in fact, is what they want to fight. To carve out Israel and by default, Jews, is the very anthesis of what I thought the BLM ideas were supposed to be espousing: Equality—not based on the color of skin (or religion or culture of origin). Not only that, the real issue of Palestinian suffering is not about Israel…and since the UAE-Israel-Bahrain Abraham Peace Accords, more and more Arab neighbors are speaking about what we and Israel has been saying for decades, Palestinians biggest problem is their own leadership. So if BLM is committed to Palestinian reform, they need to direct their hate elsewhere.
As Joshua David Washington, director at the Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel (IBSI) noted on his Facebook page last week:
The majority of Palestinians in Gaza know that Hamas is the source of their problems. The ones who actually speak up about it or try to do something about it get jailed or killed.
This is evidenced by the “We Want to Live” 2019 protests in Gaza. The protest was against Hamas, and Hamas wound up torturing and killing many Palestinian journalists and people.
This is also evidenced by the three peace activists who will most likely face prison for years to come for simply having a video chat with Israelis.
If you say you’re for justice for the Palestinians, but will ultimately ignore these things, you don’t give a d*** about Palestinians. You just hate Jews. Next to Hamas and Abbas, you are the biggest enemy of the Palestinian people.
Don’t come to me anymore talkin’ about “bUt tHe oCcUpAtIoN.” Your true colors are showing.
Joshua David Washington is, in case it matters to anyone, a Black man.
May we keep all our leaders and our schools and students in our constant prayers.
Shavua Tov, have a great week.