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Here’s Just Some of the Boycott and Protest Activity Being Aimed at Israel

Blair Arch at Princeton University. Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr.

As has been widely reported, activists with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement targeted their efforts on college campuses this year. The connections between campus protests organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace, far-left extremists, and communist organizations are now inescapable:

Documents indicate that Columbia University protest organizers were in contact with counterparts at Princeton University regarding strategy and tactics. Princeton organizers also received legal advice from the National Lawyers Guild.
An organizing guide was issued by the National SJP, and instructed students on occupying and fortifying campus buildings and made reference to the 1968 Columbia riots.
Reports indicate that a number of SJP members who received paid training by the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) were responsible for organizing encampments. The USCPR is funded by the Open Society Foundation and other far left foundations.

Anecdotal reports continue to indicate that more Jewish students are shunning elite universities in favor of institutions in the south. A letter from the heads of Israeli universities also decried the rise in antisemitism at American institutions, and offered assistance to Jewish students and faculty who wished to join their institutions. Brandeis University also extended its deadline for students to apply to transfer, specifically in order to allow as many Jewish students as necessary to relocate.

Student governments and other groups also continue efforts to remove Jewish members, including at the University of California at Santa Barbara, where a senator and the president were targeted. At Vanderbilt University the Multicultural Leadership Council also denied membership to Students Supporting Israel.  Israeli or Jewish events have also been disrupted or shut down by protestors

Student BDS resolutions and referendums greatly accelerated in April. Only a selection are presented here:

Student governments at the Harvard Divinity School, School of Design, and Harvard Law School passed BDS resolutions. The Harvard Undergraduate Association halted consideration of all referendums after a BDS petition was put forward, which then prompted satirical petitions including “should Harvard remove Jews from its faculty?”
At Rutgers University, a divestment referendum and another calling on the university to end its relationship with Tel Aviv University were approved by the student body.
At Vassar College, a BDS bill was blocked from consideration by the student government after the administration warned that the group’s bylaws and state regulations opened it to lawsuits.
The Columbia University undergraduate student government shelved a resolution that would have required the organization to divest its funds from Israel, but the law school senate and graduate student association approved resolutions.
Cornell University undergraduates approved a divestment referendum.
The University of Maryland student government voted down a divestment resolution.

An important student government resolution was approved at Rutgers University that made Palestinians’ victimization at the hands of the Jews an official doctrine.

Student demands for divestment have been mostly rejected by university administrators and trustees, including at the University of California. At Yale University, the university announced that it would not divest from military industries, but would liquidate holdings in companies retailing “assault weapons” to the public.

Ongoing “negotiations” between administrations and protest organizers, however, produced concessions on divestment or ties to Israel to restore calm, particularly at smaller institutions like Bryn Mawr College. At Portland State University, the university decided to “temporarily” halt donations from aerospace giant Boeing as a concession to students.

Other examples of appeasement emerged at Northwestern University, where the administration negotiated an agreement with protestors to disperse most of their encampment in exchange for an “advisory committee on investment responsibility,” which includes students and faculty. Additional concessions include advising employers not to rescind job offers and to support two Palestinian faculty and five students at university expense. At Brown University, the administration agreed that the university corporation would hold a vote on divestment in October in return for students ending their encampment.

Faculty remain at the forefront of promoting campus anti-Israel bias and antisemitism. Only a sample are presented here:

A group of Princeton University faculty signed a letter vowing to boycott Columbia and Barnard until that university reversed the suspension of pro-Hamas students and organizations. A similar open letter was signed by 1,400 academics including faculty and graduate students from around the world.
A Princeton University faculty member temporarily occupied a building but withdrew before a university deadline.
At number of faculty members attempted to physically defend pro-Hamas occupiers ,which resulted in a number of arrests including at Columbia, Emory University, and New York University.

In one incident, the York University Department of Politics proposed that any defense of Israel be regarded as “anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic, and anti-Arab.” The report called for “a departmental definition of anti-Palestinian racism,” since, “The struggle for Palestinian self-determination will support the liberation of all humans and non-humans from colonial oppression” and since “Zionism is a settler colonial project and ethno-religious ideology in service of a system of Western imperialism that upholds global white supremacy.”

Similarly, the City University of New York faculty union announced a special meeting to consider five demands for the administration:

Divest! Immediately divest from ALL companies complicit in the imperialist- zionist genocide, including weapons, tech and surveillance, and construction companies. Commit to full financial transparency regarding CUNY’s institutional investments.
Boycott! Ban all academic trips to the Zionist state, encompassing birthright, Fulbright, and perspective trips. Cancel all forms of cooperation with Israeli academic institutions, including events, activities, agreements, and research collaborations.
Solidarity! Release a statement affirming the right of the Palestinian people to national liberation and the right of return. Protect CUNY students and workers who are attacked for speaking out against the genocide in Gaza and in solidarity with Palestinian liberation. Reinstate professors who have been fired for showing solidarity with Palestine.
Demilitarize! Demilitarize CUNY, Demilitarize Harlem! Get IOF and NYPD officers off all CUNY campuses, and end all collaboration, trainings and recruitment by imperialist institutions, including the CIA, Homeland Security and ROTC. Remove all symbols of US imperialism from our campuses: Rename the Colin Powell School of Global and Civic Leadership at CCNY and reinstate The Guillermo Morales and Assata Shakur Community and Student Center!
A People’s CUNY! We demand a fully-funded, free CUNY that is not beholden to zionist and imperialist private donors! Restore CUNY’s tuition-free status, protect the union, and adopt a fair contract for staff and faculty.

In the international sphere, reports continue regarding growing informal boycotts of Israeli academics and universities. One reports detail how European and American counterparts have ceased collaborations with Israelis, accused them of “genocide,” and succumbed to student pressure to disinvite Israeli speakers and collaborators.

Attention also continues to be paid to antisemitism and anti-Israel bias in K-12 education, especially “ethnic studies”:

Minnesota adopted a K-12 social studies curriculum emphasizing “decolonization,” which requires students to “describe how individuals and communities have fought” for “liberation against systemic and coordinated exercises of power.”
The Massachusetts Teachers Association is considering resolutions to divest pension funds from companies working in Israel, and to support the “liberation for Palestinians and a peaceful solution to the conflict in Palestine” through “Critical Race Theory” and “Critical Social Justice Ideology.”
Britain’s National Education Union issued a statement blaming Israel for the Gaza War and calling on its members to circulate “educational materials” with that message.

Outside of campus, protests earlier in April included the disruption of an Easter Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a New York City fundraiser attended by President Joe Biden, and former presidents Clinton and Obama (at which Jewish women were chased and called “murderous f****g kikes”), a sit-in outside the headquarters of Britain’s National,  Health Service, a sit-in at the US Senate cafeteria at which 50 participants were arrested, and an attack on an Israel-Norway soccer match in Skien, which included fireworks and rocks aimed at police.

Anti-Israel protests in Britain continue every weekend, with infrequent arrests of protestors displaying swastikas and other proscribed symbols.

In heavily Jewish Teaneck, New Jersey, car caravans of Palestinians from nearby Patterson have become a regular occurrence. In one case, an event featuring Israeli first responders turned into a face-off between pro-Israel and pro-Hamas crowds.

Efforts to isolate Israel economically were the focus of the A15 global protests. Overall, except for the tourism sector, Israel’s economy appears to be weathering the Gaza war, including in the high tech and defense sectors. International ratings agencies were split regarding the economic outlook, with S&P following Moody’s in downgrading Israel’s credit rating. Long-term issues such as war risks, budget deficits, and government expenditures remain the main concerns rather than BDS.

International companies have also been targeted by the BDS movement. Some, like Starbucks, have no presence in Israel ,and the boycott was driven purely by rumors and by the perception of support from the company’s CEO. One real casualty has been McDonald’s, which has been targeted after its Israeli franchisee offered soldiers free meals, leading to widespread boycotts in Asia and a decline in revenue. In April, the conglomerate bought back the franchise after the retirement of its Israeli owner, leading to speculation that the company would withdraw entirely from the Israeli market.

The tech industry was also the focus of protests, including from Google employees who occupied several New York and California offices, including that of the Google Cloud president to demand the company cease all work in Israel, especially a cloud computing project for the government. Several were arrested, and several dozens were fired.

Ireland’s sovereign wealth fund divested its holdings of Israeli companies, including banks and supermarket chains, for their operations in the West Bank. The stated rationale was the “risk profile” of the companies rather than an explicit political statement. The Irish Communications Workers Union also passed a motion demanding the right for postal workers to not handle mail from Israel.

The author is a contributor to SPME, where a version of this article was originally published.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Thursday released a second propaganda video this week featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but it was “heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Sasha was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend. All three women were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

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Israel’s Kafkaesque Ordeal at the ICC

Proceedings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, February 16, 2021. Photo: ICC-CPI/Handout via Reuters.

Israel is facing unprecedented and bizarre proceedings at the International Criminal Court (ICC), crescendoing with a request by Prosecutor Karim Khan for arrest warrants against its sitting Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant.

These events are the result of a multi-faceted and long-developing campaign by anti-Israel activists that has largely advanced under the radar.

Firstly, Israel is not a member of the Court and does not recognize ICC jurisdiction over its actions. In the late 1990s, Israel was initially a strong backer of the ICC, but during the drafting of the Court’s governing Rome Statute, the Arab League blocked efforts to include terrorism as an international crime and helped invent a new crime that would specifically target Israeli activity across the 1949 armistice lines. For these reasons, Israel refused to ratify the Rome Statute and join the Court.

In any other situation, this would be the end of the matter. However, beginning in 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA), acting in collaboration with UN Rapporteurs and European-funded NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, attempted to join the Court.

Rather than dismiss the PA’s effort immediately because the PA is not a state — and ICC membership is only available to states — the ICC Prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, launched a PR campaign to ostensibly “debate” the issue. Three years later, he rejected the PA’s application, but instead provided a blueprint facilitating the Palestinians’ ability to circumvent the clear standards of the Rome Statute.

In November 2012, the Palestinians succeeded in upgrading their status at the UN to “non-member observer state.” Merely on the basis of this semantic, rather than substantive change, ICC officials allowed the Palestinians to game the system and join the Court.

Despite these machinations and exploitation of the Court, the next Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, filed a request with the Court’s Pre-Trial chamber (PTC) in December 2019 seeking authorization to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the “State of Palestine,” despite the fact that this state does not exist and has no defined territory. Moreover, she argued that the Court could proceed against Israelis, regardless of whether it was a member of the Court.

This action, endorsed by the PTC in February 2021 in a controversial 2-1 opinion, essentially eviscerated the Oslo Accords, the agreement mutually agreed to between Israel and the PLO in the mid-1990s, which lays out governance of the West Bank and Gaza.

A key provision of the Accords is that the PA would not have any authority to exercise or delegate any criminal jurisdiction over Israelis to the Court. The Prosecutor and the Court completely ignored this issue.

In yet another unbelievable move, the Court next also allowed the Palestinians to retroactively assign temporal jurisdiction going back to June 13, 2014, precisely the day after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, which triggered the war that summer. This meant that Hamas’ brutal murder and kidnapping of Jews, a preview of what Israel would experience on a larger scale on October 7, would get a free pass from the Court.

Fast-forward to Khan’s move to file for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant. Here, too, the Prosecutor’s office engaged in highly questionable conduct. Khan could have already issued indictments against Hamas leaders on October 7 itself, when their flagrant crimes were broadcast around the world. Instead, he chose to wait until after manufactured allegations of “starvation” could be crafted against Israeli officials. He also inexplicably ignored thousands of other war crimes, including each rocket attack on Israel, committed by Palestinians since 2014.

In yet another outrageous move, at the time of the announcement, Khan’s team had been scheduled to attend meetings in Israel. However, the planned trip appears to have been a bad faith ruse. Instead of the team boarding the plane, Khan went on CNN to tell Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview about the arrest warrant requests. It doesn’t take an expert in communications to know that such a step would generate a storm of PR almost solely focused on Israel, meaning attention on the Hamas atrocities and real crimes committed on October 7 would be virtually ignored.

One also wonders if any mind was paid to what this action might mean for any hope of a ceasefire to secure the release of the hostages.

Egregiously, Khan’s actions offended another cornerstone of the Rome Statute, that of complementarity. The ICC is only supposed to act as a court of last resort in situations where a judicial system is unable or unwilling to investigate international crimes. As he himself acknowledged on a visit to Israel in early December, Israel has robust investigatory mechanisms and judiciary — one that has never shied away from intervening in military matters, nor in going after the most senior officials, including prime ministers.

Instead of giving the Israeli system a reasonable time to proceed, however, the Prosecutor disregarded the complementarity requirement and decided to bulldoze forward. In contrast, although Khan has had for years the jurisdiction to act against President Maduro in Venezuela, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and military junta in Myanmar — authoritarian governments responsible for horrific atrocities — no cases have been filed.

Multiple procedural irregularities and political maneuverings of the Office of Prosecutor have been well-documented, and there are several other disturbing aspects to the “Situation in Palestine” not mentioned here. For years, the ICC has been under intense criticism for its lack of accomplishments in its more than 20 years of operation. Khan was brought in to serve as a sober and responsible actor to right the ship. The actions of his office the past few months now call this assessment into question.

In an interview published with the Times of London a few days after his inexplicable actions, Khan stated, “if we don’t hold on to the law, we have nothing to cling onto.” The Prosecutor would be wise to reflect on his Office’s history and follow his own advice.

Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research organization.

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The Truth About Casualties: Comparing Gaza to the Iraq War

An Israeli police officer stands next to the remains of a rocket after rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestinian Islamist terrorist group Hamas, in Herzliya, Israel May 26 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Nir Elias

Last December, The Wall Street Journal contrasted the number of munitions dropped in the Gaza war with numbers from the US war in Iraq. In the roughly two months that had elapsed since the Oct. 7 massacre, Israel dropped 29,000 weapons in Gaza, the Journal explained, whereas the US military dropped just 3,678 munitions on Iraq from 2004 to 2010. The clear takeaway was that Israel was uniquely trigger-happy.

If history started in 2004, those statistics might faithfully tell the story. But the invasion of Iraq began — and ended — in 2003. That was the year Iraq’s cities fell to US forces, the year the regime was overthrown, and the year Saddam Hussein was captured.

If the Journal were interested in comparing what is comparable, readers would have learned that while Israel dropped 29,000 weapons in two months in 2023, the US in 2003 dropped that same number in half that time.

This example is one of many media manipulations, which have bent and stretched statistics from the Iraq war and others. And it has frequently been on the basis of such tampered evidence that the media has argued Israel’s fight against Hamas dramatically stands out compared to other wars throughout history.

To help make its case that the Gaza war “is different,” for example, The New York Times contrasted casualties over two months of fighting in Gaza to “the entire first year of the invasion of Iraq.”

In fact, the 2003 invasion lasted about one month, during which most of the Iraqi casualties mentioned by the newspaper were killed. (Never mind that in the Gaza war, the Times has also relied on undependable Hamas casualty breakdowns.)

If the Iraq comparison is important enough to cover, then it’s important enough to cover without downplaying the casualty rate in Iraq.

So let’s look at what The New York Times conceals. How different was Gaza than Iraq, really?

Over the 22 days from March 19, 2003, when invasion of Iraq began, and April 9, when the Saddam Hussein regime is understood to have collapsed, the US invasion led to the death of civilians at a higher rate than the best, albeit rough, estimates over that same time span in Gaza.

Our graph plots the number of Iraqi civilian deaths that have been verified by Iraq Body Count alongside estimates based on Hamas figures for total deaths in Gaza. (Hamas updates hide the number of combatants killed.)

We call our highest estimate of civilian casualties the “Hamas extrapolation,” since it takes Hamas’s overall numbers and assumes 80 percent of them are civilians, as a Hamas official cited by Reuters once charged.

Our lowest estimate, the “Israel extrapolation,” assumes 60 percent of Hamas’s stated casualties are civilians, in line with Israeli estimates (but ignoring a lower estimate used by Benjamin Netanyahu). The “Egypt extrapolation” in the middle assumes 70 percent of the deaths were civilians, in line with a projection by Egyptian intelligence officials who said the number falls between the belligerents’ estimates.

And what about the numbers after the first 22 days of fighting in Iraq and Gaza?

For the remainder of the year, the rate of deaths in Iraq fell to a trickle, as might be expected after the fall of the regime. In Gaza, fighting raged on, so the casualty totals quickly surpassed those in Iraq.

Still, the casualty rate in Gaza steadily declined, a fact that seems to have been lost in the media’s coverage of the fighting. The graph below, which also relies on Hamas’ casualty totals, shows how every month that has passed, the rate of casualties fell further below the rate during the invasion of Iraq.

This continuous decline in casualties as Hamas lost ground in Gaza is unsurprising, since Israel’s stated objective is to beat back Hamas and end its control over the territory.

Those who insist Israel’s intent is to destroy the Palestinian people — in other words, those throwing around the “genocide” slur — might have a harder time explaining the decline.

To note that the rates of munitions and casualties during the fight to unseat the Iraqi regime exceeded the rates in Gaza serves as a corrective to media misrepresentations. It doesn’t diminish the real suffering in Gaza, any more than a tallying of Hamas and Hezbollah rockets diminishes the hardship of thousands of Israeli families forced from their homes by those rockets, or the pain of Israelis whose children were murdered or kidnapped during Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

If war is hell, then urban war merits a worse description. In Gaza, we have an urban war in which Hamas terrorists dig themselves under the densely packed civilians they rule, a literal inversion of the humane arrangement.

If civilian casualties mean so little to Hamas, of course it refuses to surrender itself and its hostages. And in light of Hamas’s promises to repeat the Oct. 7 slaughter again and again, Israel’s obligation to its citizens is to do everything it reasonably can, politically and certainly militarily, to eliminate the threat.

To understand how the Gaza war is different, the press should start there — and stop manipulating the numbers.

Gilead Ini is a Senior Research Analyst at CAMERA, the foremost media watchdog organization focused on coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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