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‘Targeted and Unsafe’: Universities Across the Country are Holding ‘Israel Apartheid Week’


By: Kate Anderson, Daily Caller News Foundation

University student groups across the country are hosting “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) events to protest the Jewish state’s alleged crimes against humanity and its occupation of Palestine.

IAW is designed to “raise awareness of Israeli apartheid and to mobilize support for strategic BDS campaigns to help bring an end to this system of oppression,” according to the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement’s website. Dozens of university student groups are putting up “apartheid walls,” holding “workshops” to discuss how Israel has engaged in the Zionist colonizing of Palestine and watching controversial films that have been criticized for an inaccurate portrayal of the Israel-Palestine conflict, according to their social media accounts.

Students from Washington, D.C. to Arizona are participating in their school’s week-long events that many have criticized as being antisemitic and anti-Jewish, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Georgetown University has four different events lined up, according to the chapter’s Instagram. On March 13, the group held a movie showing of “Farha,” a Netflix film that depicts Israeli soldiers murdering a Palestinian family in 1948 when Israel declared itself to be an official state.

The film was heavily criticized by Israeli officials for its portrayal of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and the events surrounding Israel’s independence day, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light. Many pro-Palestinian activists use the term “Nakba” to “insinuate that the very existence of Israel is a catastrophe and to question the legitimacy of Israel as the Jewish national homeland,” according to the ADL.

The group also hosted former executive director of Human Rights Watch Sarah Leah Whitson, who is a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, designed to compel businesses and institutions to cut ties with Israel. Whitson has also said Israel shows what “apartheid looks like in practice” and cited individuals like Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who have been accused of antisemitism themselves, as examples of pushing back against Israel’s abuse of Palestinians, according to an article she wrote for The American Prospect.

SJP at Boston University is also having a film screening of Farha for their apartheid week and said in an Instagram post promoting the event that they hope to “educate” the BU community and promote “Palestinian liberation.”

“Israel is a settler colonial project, that utilizes a system of Apartheid to carry out inhumane acts against the Palestinian people, including denial of civil rights, land expropriation, dispossession, and establishment of a dual legal system, all of which are upheld by a system of continuous and historical violence carried out by the Israeli occupation forces,” the post read.

Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO of StandWithUs, a non-partisan educational organization that supports Israel and fights antisemitism, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that IAW is “designed to target Jewish and pro-Israel students.”“Campaigns like IAW can leave Jewish students feeling singled out, targeted and unsafe,” Rothstein said. “Despite the bigotry IAW promotes, it is protected speech under the First Amendment, and instigated by registered campus groups, so most public universities are required to allow it to take place.”

Students at Butler University watched Farha this week as well and also held a discussion titled “Student Voices: Harnessing the Power of Boycotts” to discuss how student activists can be “effective on a worldwide scale” by pushing boycotts against Israel, according to a post from the schools SJP chapter.

Other university groups are building “apartheid walls” to symbolize “Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and how it systematically impedes the movement of Palestinians,” according to SJP at Arizona State University.

Erza Meyer, a senior at George Washington University and previously president of GW for Israel, told the DCNF that his school is also hosting Israel Apartheid Week and that “antisemitism masked as anti-Zionism has not just been tolerated, but it’s becoming increasingly normalized.”

“Having events on campus that propagate the narrative of Israel apartheid leads to an atmosphere of hostility towards Jewish students,” Meyer said. “I am fully supportive of free speech and the free exchange of ideas, but when organizations at universities are hosting “punch a Zionist” days and swastikas are showing up weekly on Jewish students doors, the situation on campus needs to be called out.”

At the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT), the Coalition Against Apartheid student group held an event titled “Modern Israeli Apartheid: Chat with Human Rights Watch Director” Tuesday and wrote to “Palestinian Political Prisoners” Thursday. American University the SJP chapter will be hosting an “Apartheid 101 Workshop” on March 20 and screening the film “The Wanted 18” on March 21, which details an attempt by Palestinians to boycott Israeli companies and products, according to an Instagram post.

Meyer told the DCNF that he used to live in Israel and also has a sister who just finished serving in the Israeli Defense Forces and noted that the anti-Israel sentiment hits home.

“At the George Washington University, Israel apartheid week has taken place where a culture of delegitimizing Jewish students’ identity continues to be normalized,” Meyer said. “‘The false notion that Israel is an apartheid state has become accepted as the unquestioned truth in many university settings,” Meyer said. What’s even more concerning about this, perhaps, is that these narratives spread to American society beyond campus, all the way to the halls of Congress.”

Rothstein told the DCNF that campaigns like IAW must be “denounced” if the atmosphere towards Jews and Israel on college campuses is to improve.

“[I]t is imperative that University administrators denounce this campaign and implement measures to support Jewish and Israeli students on campus,” Rothstein said. “One method is to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Antisemitism (IHRA) to ensure proper education and identification of antisemitic actions.”

All the aforementioned universities and student groups did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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