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BDS Activists Push False ‘Genocide’ Charge to Attack Israel

A pro-BDS demonstration. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Activists of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement spent much of January engaging in disruptive protests aimed at institutions accused of supporting Israel. Accusations that Israel is undertaking “genocide” against the Palestinians have become standard, and were boosted by the spurious case brought against Israel brought by South Africa in the International Court of Justice.

Protestors have blocked bridges, highways, tunnels, train stations, airport access roads, and other transportation infrastructure in major cities around the country. Disrupting travelers in major cities such as Chicago, Seattle, and New York has been a goal, along with tourist attractions such as Disneyland. Egregiously, the entrance to the Los Angeles National Cemetery was vandalized with the words “Free Gaza.” The most dangerous incident involved releasing balloons at Kennedy Airport with the intent of disrupting flight operations.

Few arrests were made and no prosecutions appear forthcoming. Police and prosecutors are unwilling or unable to exert control over the pro-Hamas mobs. This was viscerally demonstrated as protestors attempted to swarm the White House, throwing bottles at police, yelling “fuck Joe Biden,” and destroying an outer fence. Biden was also heckled during an appearance at a Charleston church while in Dallas protestors tried to storm the tarmac and surround Air Force One.

A new lawsuit alleges that the Biden administration has instructed Federal law enforcement to refrain from investigating pro-Hamas protests in order to not offend the American Muslim community.

The “Flood Manhattan for Gaza MLK Day March for Healthcare” — simultaneously usurping the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and mimicking the name of Hamas’ October 7 invasion of Israel, “Al-Aqsa Flood” — was a notable example of the protests. Later in January, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was similarly hijacked with protests and marches, but New York police shut down an attempt to blockade Kennedy Airport.

The larger focus of unified anti-Israel/anti-capitalism protests was made clear by a speaker at “The People’s Forum” in New York City who stated: “When we finally deal that final blow to destroy Israel, when the state of Israel is finally destroyed and erased from history, that will be the single most important blow we can give to destroying capitalism.”

The unification of BDS, Islamist, and communist/antifa groups (called in Europe the “red-green alliance”), including groups which share toolkits, talking points, and organizing advice on anti-Israel and anti-capitalist issues, raises the question of which faction is charge.

On college campuses, faculty members remain at the forefront of supporting BDS and Hamas:

At Columbia University, a new branch of Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine was formed under the aegis of the BDS movement. Another branch formed at Harvard University pledged “to support, defend, and protect our students, faculty, staff, and all Harvard affiliates organizing for Palestinian human rights, justice, and peace in Palestine/Israel.”
A University of Pennsylvania “Penn Faculty for Justice in Palestine” group condemned the university’s “one sided rhetoric” on the Gaza war, alleged outside interference, and said that the “the movement for justice in Palestine has become crucial to the defense of academic freedom.” The group also held a “die-in” on the steps of a university building.
Individual faculty members at Cornell University, the University of California at Irvine, and other institutions canceled classes in solidarity with the “Global Strike for Palestine.”
The union representing York University’s teaching assistants distributed a toolkit instructing them to “collectively divert this week’s tutorials to teaching on Palestinian liberation,” which denounces “Zionist cultural institutions, and accuses the university of complicity in “genocide.”
The University of Michigan faculty senate passed a resolution calling on the institution from to divest from corporations “with financial ties to Israel’s military,” but did not call for ties to be cut with Israeli universities.

The massive upswing in expressions of antisemitism from medical professionals, including in journals and on social media, intensified in January. The leading example was Rupa Marya, associate professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, who stated that, “The presence of Zionism in US medicine should be examined as a structural impediment to health equity.” She was quickly condemned by her university.

On campus, Students for Justice in Palestine’ (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace chapters also continue to be a focal point for BDS related antisemitism:

The Rutgers University SJP chapter had its suspension lifted and immediately held a press conference in which three masked members demanded the university cut ties with Israel, acknowledge the “Palestinian genocide,” and establish a variety of Palestinian educational and cultural programs.
The Columbia University SJP and JVP chapters remain suspended but are operating on campus unhindered. Columbia protestors also claim to have been sprayed with noxious chemicals during an unauthorized campus rally.
The University of Wisconsin’s Students United for Palestinian Equality and Return (SUPER) held a campus prayer vigil, “Honoring Our Martyrs.” A petition also demanded the university rename the main Golda Meir Library, described by a pro-BDS protestor as “a Zionist known for her crimes against Palestine.”
Protestors at Stanford University disrupted a session on antisemitism led by the university president and provost, which featured Israeli envoy Michal Cotler-Wunsh. Students who attended reported threats and insults including, “We’re going to find out where you live,” “Go back to Brooklyn,” and “Our next generation will ensure Israel falls, and America too, the other terrorists” from pro-Hamas protestors.

Pro-Hamas campus vandalism was reported at Princeton University and Boston University, while reports of campus antisemitism and harassment increased, including at the New School and the University of Michigan where Jewish students were called “kikes” and “dirty Jews” by pro-Hamas activists. Pro-Hamas students at New York University distributed an email designed to appear like an official university communication. At the University of Central Florida, a Palestinian-American student was arrested for threatening to shoot three Jewish students.

The spread of BDS, pro-Hamas and anti-capitalist ideology in K-12 education was further documented in January. The problem was illustrated in New York City where controversy emerged regarding a map of the Middle East displayed in an elementary school classroom that labeled the region the “Arab World” and displayed Israel as “Palestine.” The map was part of an “Arab Culture Arts” program funded by the Qatar Foundation International and taught by a Palestinian-American teacher.

It was also revealed that two New York city elementary school teachers used the song “Wheels on the Bus” to indoctrinate students: “The bombs in the air go whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, all through the skies. From every river to every sea the people cry, cry, cry. Free Palestine till the wheels on the tanks fall off.” The song comes from a “Woke Kindergarten” curriculum which describes Israel as a “made up place” with “settlers called Zionists who are harming and killing the Palestinian people.”

Evidence continues to emerge detailing how “ethnic studies” programs claiming that Israel is the epitome of “racism and colonialism” are already being taught in California schools. A new report indicates that high school teachers are describing Palestine as “Arab lands currently occupied by Israel,” Hamas as “a political party which is continuing to fight against Israel,” Gaza as “an open air prison,” and Jesus as having lived in “Palestine.”

The role of teachers in disseminating anti-Israel ideologies had been highlighted when the Oakland Educators Association issued a statement in October condemning the “75 year long illegal military occupation of Palestine” and calling Israel “apartheid state” employing “genocidal rhetoric and policies.” Since then, reports have emerged that dozens of Jewish families have withdrawn children from the public schools, citing safety fears and evidence of anti-Israel bias, including “Free Palestine” posters in elementary school classrooms.

Other reports have documented the involvement of well-known BDS activists in Bay Area schools including teach-ins and teacher trainings sponsored by the Middle East Children’s Alliance and CAIR. In response to complaints, the US Department of Education has launched investigations of the San Francisco and Oakland school districts.

The continuing impact of the Gaza War was also seen in city council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, such as in San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Minneapolis, after raucous debates which featured overt antisemitism and support for Hamas. The Burlington (VT) city council, however, voted against a resolution that would have put a referendum condemning “Israel’s apartheid regime, settler colonialism, and military occupation” on the November ballot.

Reports indicate that these resolutions are often brought about with the help of pro-Palestinian activists and by Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) representatives who use anti-Israel politics as an entryist tactic to gain local legitimacy and votes. More pernicious resolutions were introduced in local school boards, including Ann Arbor, and were supported by demands especially from Arab and Muslim Americans that local schools teach about the conflict.

At the international level, reports indicate that Israel is facing a silent boycott by shipping companies due to Houthi attacks from Yemen on commercial vessels transiting the Red Sea.

Calls for Israel to be banned from international sports and cultural life have also dramatically increased:

Icelandic and Nordic artists have demanded that Israel be banned from the Eurovision song contest.
The International Ice Hockey Federation banned Israeli participation on the basis of “safety,” but then reversed its stance after threats of lawsuits and pressure from the National Hockey League.
An Israeli playing for a Turkish soccer team was arrested, fired, and then fled after displaying a message in support of Israelis held hostage by Hamas.
Fearing backlash, a South African cricket squad removed a Jewish player from the captaincy after he expressed support for Israel. A South African sportswear manufacturer then stated it would not sponsor any games in which the player participated.
Reports indicate that international and US television development projects involving Israelis have slowed or been halted.

While polls continue to show strong support for Israel in the US, with some 80% of Americans backing Israel in its war against Hamas, this figure drops to only 43% of 18-24 year olds. In Britain, one third of the public believes Israel treats Palestinians worse than the Nazis treated Jews, a belief shared by half of 18-24 year olds, while 20% of the public believes that Jews control the media. These and other classically antisemitic concepts form part of the background to reports on soaring rates of antisemitic incidents including bomb threats and violence.

The author is a contributor to SPME, where a version of this article first appeared.

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Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics

And who has the best chance of medalling in Paris.

The post Here’s every Jewish athlete competing at the 2024 Paris Olympics appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Kamala Harris’s Record on Israel Raises Questions About Support for Jewish State if Elected US President

US Vice President Kamala Harris. Photo: Erin Schaff/Pool via REUTERS

Following US President Joe Biden’s stunning exit from the 2024 presidential race, allies of Israel are looking for clues as to how Vice President Kamala Harris, the new presumptive Democratic nominee, could approach issues affecting the Jewish state if she were to win the White House in November.

Harris’s previous statements reveal a mixed record on Israel, offering signs of both optimism and pessimism to pro-Israel advocates.

Though Harris has voiced support for the Jewish state’s right to existence and self defense, she has also expressed sympathy for far-left narratives that brand Israel as “genocidal.” The vice president has additionally often criticized Israel’s war effort against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas in Gaza.

In 2017, while giving a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), then-Senator Harris delivered a 19-minute speech in which she showered praise on Israel, stating that she supports “the United States’ commitment to provide Israel with $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.” Harris stated that America has “shared values” with Israel and that the bond between the two nations is “unbreakable.”

In 2020, while giving another speech to AIPAC, Harris emphasized that US support for Israel must remain “rock solid” and noted that Hamas “maintains its control of Gaza and fires rockets.”

Despite such statements of support, however, Harris has previously exhibited a degree of patience for those who make baseless smears against Israel. 

In October 2021, when confronted by a George Mason University student who angrily accused Israel of committing “ethnic genocide” against Palestinians, Harris quietly nodded along and then praised the student. 

“And again, this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed, and it must be heard,” Harris told the student. 

Following Hamas’ slaughter of 1,200 people and kidnapping of 250 others across southern Israel on Oct. 7, Harris has shown inconsistent support for the Jewish state. Although she initially backed Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas’ terrorism, she has also levied sharp criticism against the Jewish state’s ensuing war effort in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

During a call with then-Israeli war cabinet leader Benny Gantz earlier this year, Harris suggested that the Jewish state has recklessly imperiled the lives of Palestinian civilians while targeting Hamas terrorists in Gaza.

“Far too many Palestinian civilians, innocent civilians have been killed,” Harris said. 

The same month, while delivering a speech commemorating the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, Harris called the conditions in Gaza “devastating.”

“And given the immense scale of suffering in Gaza, there must be an immediate ceasefire for at least the next six weeks,” Harris said.

While speaking with Israeli President Isaac Herzog to mark the Jewish holiday of Passover in April, Harris shared “deep concerns about the humanitarian situation in Gaza and discussed steps to increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians and ensure its safe distribution.”

Harris also pushed the unsubstantiated narrative that Israel has intentionally withheld aid from the people of Gaza, triggering a famine. 

“People in Gaza are starving. The conditions are inhumane. And our common humanity compels us to act,” Harris said. “The Israeli government must do more to significantly increase the flow of aid.”

The United Nations Famine Review Committee (FRC), a panel of experts in international food security and nutrition, released a report in June arguing that there is not enough “supporting evidence” to suggest that a famine has occurred in Gaza.

Harris has also expressed sympathy for anti-Israel protesters on US university campuses. In an interview published earlier this month, Harris said that college students protesting Israel’s defensive military efforts against Hamas are “showing exactly what the human emotion should be.”

“There are things some of the protesters are saying that I absolutely reject, so I don’t mean to wholesale endorse their points,” she added. “But we have to navigate it. I understand the emotion behind it.”

Some indicators suggest that Harris could adopt a more antagonistic approach to the Jewish state than Biden. For example, Harris urged the White House to be more “sympathetic” toward Palestinians and take a “tougher” stance against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a Politico report in December. In March, White House aides forced Harris to tone down a speech that was too tough on Israel, according to NBC News.

Later, she did not rule out “consequences” for Israel if it launched a large-scale military offensive to root out Hamas battalions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing humanitarian concerns for the civilian population.

Harris initially called for an “immediate ceasefire” before Biden and has often used more pointed language when discussing the war, Israel, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. However, her advisers have sought to downplay the notion that she may be tougher on the Jewish state.

“The difference is not in substance but probably in tone,” one of Harris’s advisers told The Nation.

Meanwhile, Halie Soifer, who served as national security adviser to Harris during the then-senator’s first two years in Congress, said the current vice president’s support for Israel has been just as strong as Biden’s. “There really has been no daylight to be found” between the two, she told Reuters.

Still, Biden, 81, has a decades-long history of maintaining relationships with Israeli leaders and recently called himself a “Zionist.” Harris, 59, does not have such a connection to the Jewish state and maintains closer ties to Democratic progressives, many of whom have increasingly called for the US to turn away — or at least adopt a tougher approach toward — Israel

Former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that Harris would be a far less reliable ally than Biden, pointing to her ideological alignment with the most progressive lawmakers in Congress. 

“Biden made many mistakes regarding Israel, but he is miles ahead of Harris in terms of support for Israel,” Friedman told The Jerusalem Post. “She is on the fringe of the progressive wing of the party, which sympathizes more with the Palestinian cause.”

“This will move Jewish voters to the Republican side,” the former ambassador argued. “Harris lacks any affinity for Israel, and the Democratic Convention will highlight this contrast. This could lead to a historic shift of Jewish voters to the Republican side.”

Meanwhile, J Street, a progressive Zionist organization, eagerly endorsed Harris the day after Biden dropped out of the presidential race, citing her “nuanced, balanced approach” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflictt.

“Kamala Harris has been a powerful advocate for J Street’s values in the White House, from the fight against antisemitism to the need for a nuanced, balanced approach on Israel-Palestine,” J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a statement. “She’s been a steadfast supporter of hostage families and Israel’s security, while also being a leading voice for the protection of Palestinian civilians and the need to secure an urgent ceasefire.”

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US House Speaker Mike Johnson Blasts Kamala Harris for Skipping Netanyahu Address

US House Speaker Mike Johnson speaks to members of the media at the Capitol building, April 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Ken Cedeno

US House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) on Tuesday slammed Vice President Kamala Harris over her decision not to attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to a joint session of the US Congress.

“It has never been more important than it is right now for us to stand with our closest ally in the Middle East,” Johnson told reporters at the US Capitol, arguing it is “inexcusable” and “outrageous” that Harris is “boycotting” Netanyahu’s speech.

“This is a historic moment,” Johnson continued. “It is an important moment for the country, for all the reasons we’ve said. The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated, and yet Kamala Harris will abandon her seat. As you all know, as the vice president and serving as the president of the Senate, she is supposed to be seated next to me in the rostrum. She will not be there, because she refuses to attend.”

Johnson stated Harris needs to be “held accountable” for skipping Netanyahu’s address and that “she needs to be asked very searing questions” about her absence. 

The top-ranking House Republican lamented that several high-profile Democrats have declined the opportunity to preside over Netanyahu’s upcoming address, accusing the party of making “political calculations when our ally [Israel] is in such dire straits, fighting for its very survival and fighting back against the horrific attack in October.”

The White House announced that Harris would not attend Netanyahu’s speech, citing a prior commitment. Instead of presiding over the address, the vice president will attend a convention honoring the Zeta Phi Beta sorority in Indianapolis.

However, Harris will reportedly meet with Netanyahu at the White House this week. The vice president is expected to have a “frank” conversation with Netanyahu in which she will demand that Israel finish its ongoing war against the Islamist terrorist group Hamas in Gaza and improve conditions for Palestinians, according to Politico

The Jewish state has insisted that it will not stop its military operations until Hamas, which launched the war in Gaza with its Oct. 7 invasion of and massacre across southern Israel,  has been dismantled and the hostages kidnapped by the terrorist group during its onslaught are freed. Israeli officials have insisted that they have allowed a significant amount of humanitarian aid into Gaza during its military campaign. Last month, a UN panel of experts cast doubt on the notion that Hamas-ruled Gaza is suffering through a famine, despite many critics of Israel arguing the opposite.

US Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will preside over Netanyahu’s address in place of Harris. Notably, Cardin is retiring from the Senate, suggesting that the senator faces little political consequence from attending Netanyahu’s address at a time when progressives within the Democratic Party have become increasingly outspoken against the Jewish state.

US President Joe Biden will meet with Netanyahu on Thursday separate from the Israeli premier’s meeting with Harris. The two leaders were initially scheduled to meet on Tuesday, but Biden was still recovering from COVID-19. In a statement, Netanyahu said that he plans on thanking Biden for his assistance to Israel during his term in office. 

Netanyahu will reportedly also meet with former US President Donald Trump on Friday. Trump, the Republican presidential nominee, is the current favorite to win the White House in November. 

“Looking forward to welcoming Bibi Netanyahu at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida,” Trump wrote on Truth Social. “During my first term, we had Peace and Stability in the Region, even signing the historic Abraham Accords — And we will have it again.”

Republicans featured the issues of the Israel-Hamas war and surging antisemitism on college campuses during last week’s Republican National Convention. During his speech, Trump promised that he would resolve the war in Gaza upon his return to the Oval Office. The Republican nominee and former president chided Biden during their most recent debate for supposedly being too sympathetic to Palestinians. 

During Trump’s single term in office, he and Netanyahu enjoyed a productive working relationship. Trump moved the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem; cut aid to UNRWA, the controversial United Nations agency responsible for Palestinian refugees; and helped facilitate the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized Israel’s relations with several Arab countries. He also recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a strategic region on Israel’s northern border previously controlled by Syria.

However, Trump and Netanyahu’s relationship soured after the Israeli prime minister congratulated Biden and Harris for winning the US 2020 presidential race, refusing to indulge the former president’s unsubstantiated assertions that the election was “stolen” from him. Trump also criticized Netanyahu and Israel’s intelligence agencies for not preventing the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks on the Jewish state.

This week’s meeting could allow Netanyahu a chance to give his relationship with Trump a fresh reboot.

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