Student Palestine activists in the U.S. have been coming under increasing attack and attempts to silence them for some time and Brooklyn College SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine, which has chapters across the U.S.) are the latest. Student BDS activists here in Scotland and across the UK have been following events in the U.S. with interest and concern, as we’re sure as have our peers in other parts of the world.
Although student groups here are no strangers to these kind of attempts suppress Palestine activism on campuses, it’s clear that the SJPs in the U.S. are coming under a more serious threat, which unchecked has ramifications for us all. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all.
A few months ago in Scotland, Edinburgh University SJP shut-down the Israeli Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Taub when he attempted to speak at their university, just as they did the year earlier with Avigdor Lieberman’s quisling adviser, Ishmael Khaldi in February 2011. They faced a quite moderate backlash which they were able to defend themselves against with relative ease. When first seeing the call to support Brooklyn College SJP the initial thought a similar action had resulted in an attempt to shut them down.
In fact, their great crime seems to be hosting a speaking event on a university campus, where supposedly free speech and critical thought are encouraged, defended and part of the very ethos and principles of a university. On February 7th, Brooklyn College SJP are set to host an event titled “BDS Movement against Israel” featuring Omar Barghouti and Judith Butler.
Omar Barghouti is a founding member of PACBI and the Palestinian BDS National Committee and author of Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions: The Global Struggle for Palestinian Rights.
Judith Butler PhD the post-structuralist philosopher is a world renowned leader in her fields of feminist and queer theory. She is widely published and is the Hannah Arendt professor of philosophy at the European Graduate School in Switzerland.
That Brooklyn College SJP are being attacked rather congratulated for bringing such people to their university needs no commenting on.
We publish here the solidarity statement put out by Al-Awda NY and urge all student Palestine groups and other civil society actors and progressives in Scotland, the UK and beyond to endorse it by signing as their respective organisations and/or in an individual capacity.
SIGN HERE and email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org if you wished to be added to list of signatories listed here.
Statement of Support for Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine:
We Condemn Attacks Against Advocates for BDS and Palestinian Rights!
In recent days, opponents of an event on BDS to be held on campus February 7th have attacked the organizers and scheduled speakers, internationally renowned philosopher Judith Butler and Palestinian human rights activist Omar Barghouti, as well as the political science department and university administration for co-sponsoring the event. This is just the latest in a series of incidents involving attempts to silence criticism of Israel at Brooklyn College.
Opponents of the February 7 event have made deeply offensive and inflammatory accusations against supporters of BDS, with State Assemblyman Alan Maisel going so far as to warn of “the potential for a second Holocaust here.” Other prominent critics include lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who has openly called for the United States and Israel to use torture, and State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, a follower of the late Meir Kahane, an Israeli-American rabbi whose racist Kach movement has been outlawed by the US and Israel as a terrorist organization for advocating the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the occupied territories and for carrying out violent terrorist attacks against Palestinians and others.
It is outrageous and perverse to conflate BDS proponents and our stance in support of equal rights and freedom for Palestinians with anti-Semitism and Nazism. Contrary to the claims of these detractors, the BDS movement is an inclusive, nonviolent, civil society-led campaign whose goal is to pressure Israel into respecting Palestinian human rights and abiding by international law, in the absence of action on the part of the US government and international community to do so. It is comprised of people of all faiths and backgrounds, including many Israeli and American Jews. Leaders of the BDS movement have always rejected and condemned any and all forms of racism and bigotry, including anti-Semitism. As SJP-BC’s mission statement says, we “reject any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious or ethnic group.”
As supporters of Palestinian rights and of academic freedom and free speech on campus, we commend Brooklyn College President Karen Gould for showing leadership and not succumbing to pressure from bullies like Dershowitz and Hikind, who seek to suppress criticism of Israel by smearing advocates of Palestinian freedom and equality as bigots.
For nearly 65 years, Palestinians have been dispossessed, colonized, and denied the most basic of human rights and freedoms by Israel. For more than 45 years, they have endured a brutal and illegal Israeli military occupation that becomes more entrenched each day. More than 11 million Palestinian refugees, the survivors and descendants of the approximately 750,000 Palestinians who were ethnically-cleansed during Israel’s creation in 1948, are prevented from exercising their internationally-recognized right of return to the land and homes they were expelled from simply because they are not Jewish, while those Palestinians who remained inside Israel after 1948, who make up about 20% of the population today, face widespread institutionalized discrimination and are treated as second- or third-class citizens. As the international community looks on and does nothing to hold Israel accountable for its actions, global civil society is taking the lead with BDS.
In light of the attacks, we pledge our continued support to SJP’s efforts to educate the public about Israel’s grave and systematic abuses of Palestinian human rights and the racist, apartheid regime Israel has instituted in the territories it controls between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.