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BDS resolutions down, ‘anti-Israel events’ up on college campuses last year, ADL tally shows

(JTA) — The number of student governments taking up resolutions to boycott Israel dropped sharply last year, even as anti-Israel activity on college campuses nearly doubled over the previous year, according to the latest tally by the Anti-Defamation League.

The antisemitism watchdog releases an analysis of anti-Israel activism on college campuses annually, as part of its regular reporting about antisemitism across the United States. In recent years, the group has strengthened its ties to Hillel to gather better information about what’s happening on college campuses, where Jewish and pro-Israel groups have long said they are concerned about whether Jewish students who support Israel can feel safe and included.

Overall, the ADL’s latest report says, a groundswell in activism among pro-Palestinian students has resulted in many instances when Israel was condemned or students who support Israel were harassed. In total during the 2022-2023 school year, the group documented and verified what it said were 665 anti-Israel incidents, up from 359 in the previous school year.

The results, the report concludes, point to the emergence of “a more radical activist movement that seeks to make opposition to Israel and Zionism a pillar of campus life and a precondition for full acceptance in the campus community, effectively causing the marginalization of Jewish students.”

The tally for the 2022-2023 school year includes nine instances of anti-Israel vandalism and no instances of physical assault — both in line with what the ADL documented in previous years.

A major change came in the number of student and faculty organizations considering resolutions about whether to endorse the movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel, known as BDS. In the 2020-2021 school year, 17 BDS resolutions were voted on and 11 passed. The following year, 2021-2022, student and faculty governments took up 20 resolutions. Last year, according to the ADL report, the number was three.

The report does not speculate about a reason for the change but notes that students initiated BDS campaigns that did not reach student governments at additional campuses.

The biggest change came in the number of protests, actions and events in which students promoted violence against Israel, condemned its existence or criticized students who identify as Zionists. The ADL tallied 629 such events, up from 303 the previous year.

The reports counted as “anti-Israel events” any student or university panels at which participants promoted BDS or suggested that Israel was an apartheid state. It also counted campus screenings of the Netflix film “Farha,” a Jordanian movie about a Palestinian refugee set during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

A much smaller number of recorded events involved harassment of Zionist students. In one incident detailed in the report, a student affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine shouted “Zio! Zio! Zio!” at an openly pro-Israel student who walked near an SJP table at the University of California, Davis.

Some events cataloged in the survey made national headlines, such as an anti-Israel commencement speech recently delivered by a graduating City University of New York law student; and The Mapping Project, a diagram of Boston-area Jewish institutions that anonymous activists claimed were financially supporting Israel (and that was swiftly denounced by top lawmakers and the BDS movement). The ADL included the latter when university chapters of groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine expressed support for it.

Litigating the bounds of campus anti-Israel activity has become an intense focus of many Jewish and pro-Israel groups. Since the Trump administration expanded the federal definition of campus antisemitism in 2019, legal organizations like the Brandeis Center have filed numerous complaints with the U.S. Department of Education alleging that universities’ failure to properly curb anti-Israel activity on campus amounts to a violation of Jewish students’ civil rights; some of these cases have resulted in federal investigations and even settlements with the schools. The ADL’s survey on campus anti-Zionism partially relies on data reported by some of these pro-Israel activist groups, including the AMCHA Initiative and the Israel on Campus Coalition.

The report arrives at a time when the ADL is facing criticism from both the left and the right over whether it strays too much from its core mission, to monitor and respond to antisemitism.

The group’s CEO says that anti-Zionism is a form of antisemitism. The latest report emphasizes that not all campus anti-Israel incidents “may be characterized as antisemitic” but concludes, “Collectively, they may contribute to a more hostile campus environment for Jewish students.”

Multiple recent surveys, including one in 2021 from the ADL and Hillel, have found that that a substantial proportion of  college students say they have experienced or witnessed antisemitism, sometimes because of their real or perceived support for Israel.

The post BDS resolutions down, ‘anti-Israel events’ up on college campuses last year, ADL tally shows appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle

In this pamphlet, the country of Jordan is billed as the “The Holy Land”. This material introduced visitors to the Kingdom of Jordan pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Ironically, the motto of the fair was “Peace Through Understanding”.  It describes a pavilion that includes a “photographic survey of the Holy […]

The post Treasure Trove recalls a time when the Kingdom of Jordan’s pavilion at the World’s Fair generated controversy, protests and a court battle appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police

Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School, located near the Finch and Dufferin intersection in Toronto, had shots fired in its direction Saturday at 4:52 a.m. The incident was captured on a security video. The suspects can be seen getting out of a dark-coloured vehicle and opening fire on the school, which serves the Hasidic community with […]

The post A shooting at Bais Chaya Mushka Elementary School involving two suspects is being investigated by Toronto Police appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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At Cannes, Iranian Director Rasoulof Recalls Difficult Exile Decision

FILE PHOTO: Cast member Setareh Maleki and director Mohammad Rasoulof attend a press conference for “The Seed of the Sacred Fig” (Les Graines du figuier sauvage) in competition at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, May 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

Iranian director Mohammad Rasoulof recalled how he had to decide within hours whether to go into exile or serve a prison sentence, saying it was still difficult to talk about it during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday.

Rasoulof was in the French Riviera town for the premiere of his new drama “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” almost two weeks after announcing he had fled Iran and entered into exile in the wake of his sentencing to eight years in jail and flogging.

After he learned that he had a week left before his sentence would be implemented, things moved quickly, he said, especially as authorities had caught wind of the existence of his new film.

“I had to say to myself, well, do I want to be in prison, or should I leave Iran, geographic Iran, and join the cultural Iran that exists beyond its borders?” recalled the director.

“It took me two hours to make the decision. I walked around, I paced around my house. I said goodbye to my plants that I love, and I have many, many plants in my house,” he added.

Then, Rasoulof left all his belongings and walked out of the house. “It’s not an easy decision to take. It still isn’t easy even to talk about it today with you,” he told journalists.

Iran‘s culture minister Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili told state media this month that Rasoulof’s film had been made illegally and there would be a crackdown on movies without permits.

“The Seed of the Sacred Fig” is about a court official who grows increasingly controlling of his family during the 2022 protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, a Kurdish woman arrested by the morality police for allegedly flouting dress codes.

The film drew the longest standing ovation at the festival after its premiere on Friday night and was well received by critics who called it “mesmerizingly gripping” and “shattering.”

The director, who has been arrested and detained several times for charges ranging from filming without a permit to “collusion against national security,” said that the idea for the film came from years of confrontation with secret services.

“All these characters were inspired by real people, all the scenes come from real situations,” he said, adding that experience has also made him adept at avoiding secret services.

“Our life is fairly similar to that of gangsters, except we are gangsters of the cinema,” he joked at the news conference.

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