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Universities Make Concessions to Pro-Hamas Demonstrators, Expert Warns Capitulation Led by Faculty Pressure

Demonstrators rally at a pro-Hamas encampment at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. on April 28, 2024. Students set up the encampment demanding that Northwestern divests from connections to Israel. Photo: Max Herman via Reuters Connect

At least two elite American universities have made concrete concessions to anti-Israel protesters who set up illegal “encampments” on school property, chanted antisemitic slogans, and vowed not to leave unless administrators agreed to adopt the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement against the Jewish state.

For the past two weeks, college students have been amassing in the hundreds at a growing number of schools, taking over sections of campuses by setting up “Gaza Solidarity Encampments” and refusing to leave unless administrators condemn and boycott Israel. Footage of the protests has shown demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas, calling for the destruction of Israel, and even threatening to harm members of the Jewish community on campus. In many cases, activists have also lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

The protests initially erupted across the US but have since spread to university campuses around the world, primarily in the West.

According to an announcement issued by Northwestern University in Illinois after hours of negotiations with the protesters, the school has agreed to establish a new scholarship for Palestinian undergraduates, contact potential employers of students who caused recent campus disruptions to insist on their being hired, and create a segregated dormitory hall to be occupied exclusively by Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim students. Northwestern University — where a mob shouted “Kill the Jews!” as part of the ongoing protests — has also agreed to form a new investment committee in which anti-Zionists students and faculty may wield an outsized voice.

On Tuesday, meanwhile, Brown University in Rhode Island announced that it will hold a vote on divesting from companies linked to Israel in exchange for the students disassembling their encampment and abstaining from holding more protests until the school’s commencement on May 26, according to the Brown Daily Herald. The student newspaper added, however, that the university will not “at this time” drop criminal charges filed against 41 students who illegally occupied an administrative building in December.

Student involvement in promoting the BDS movement and anti-Zionism amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza has been widely covered by major news outlets across the world. However, the role of university faculty in leading the push against Israel has received little attention.

On Wednesday, campus antisemitism expert Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, who founded the AMCHA Initiative watchdog group, told The Algemeiner that far more focus must shift to the faculty, who have provided material and intellectual support to the student protesters and, in many cases, are the individuals responsible for steering them into antisemitic movements fueled by anti-Zionism.

“So much of this has to do with faculty — it’s the missing piece for understanding all of what’s happening, but particularly administrative responses to it,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “The protesters were students who were protected, supported, and, in many cases, colluded with by faculty. Almost all of these encampments, especially the most vicious and antisemitic, have faculty groups that either have their back and are running interference with the university administrations or are actively conspiring and participating in what’s happening on campus, giving it academic legitimacy, inciting it, and encouraging the adoption of more antisemitism and aggression.”

Rossman-Benjamin added that when a university president concedes to the demands of a student mob, they do so at the insistence of faculty, who can prematurely end their employment by issuing votes of no confidence, a measure that all but guarantees a president will be removed from office. On Tuesday, such a vote took place at Barnard College — reportedly the first ever in the school’s history — in protest of President Lauren Rosenbury’s decision to suspend over 50 students for their involvement in staging an encampment there.

“It’s the faculty. Faculty are behind the vote of no confidence at Barnard College and also at [California State Polytechnic University-Humboldt],” Rossman-Benjamin continued. “Faculty run the university, and they are out of control. They have tenure, and university presidents do not. So, it’s not that administrators are capitulating to students. They are capitulating to the faculty, because they know that if they run afoul of the faculty, they are history. This has been happening for years and and is the consequence of allowing academic departments to become political soapboxes.”

Formally launched in 2005, the BDS campaign opposes Zionism — a movement supporting the Jewish people’s right to self-determination — and rejects Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. It seeks to isolate the country comprehensively with economic, political, and cultural boycotts. Official propaganda issued for the campaign’s academic boycott delineates specific restrictions that adherents should abide by — for instance, denying letters of recommendation to students who seek to study in Israel — and says that it aims to ensure that “projects with all Israeli academic institutions should come to an end.”

Widespread adoption of BDS by universities would mark an “inflection point” in American history, Rossman-Benjamin explained.

“What is an academic boycott? The goal of it is to make sure that Israel is not normalized in the global academy,” she said. “What does that mean? No mention, no positive mention of Israel, which is about more than stopping study abroad programs. It’s about stopping and shutting down any flow of information about Israel that puts Israel in anything but a negative and demonic light. It’s completely against anything the university stands for, turning it on its end, and it uses the structure of the university to do that.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse

Samantha Kline, 22, presented photos of antisemitic graffiti she says targeted her.

The post OCAD University student is seeking $1M in damages—alleging a lack of protection from threats and abuse appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases New Propaganda Video of Israeli Hostage

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in a propaganda video released by Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Photo: Screenshot

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

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.

Trufanov’s mother said in a video released by the family 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.

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

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Trufanov was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend.

All three 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.

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Gal Gadot’s Action Movie Nabs Second Place on Netflix List of Most Watched Films in Second Half of 2023

Gal Gadot as Rachel Stone in a scene from the trailer for “Heart of Stone.” Photo: YouTube screenshot

Netflix released its engagement report that details the films with the most views from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2023, and Israeli actress Gal Gadot’s action thriller Heart of Stone secured the number two spot with 109.6 million views.

The film — starring Gadot alongside Jamie Dornan and Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt in leading roles — was the runner-up to Leave the World Behind, the drama starring Julia Roberts, Mahershala Ali, and Ethan Hawke that garnered 121 million views on Netflix.

Heart of Stone, directed by Tom Harper, was released on the streaming giant on Aug. 11 of last year. The action film is about international intelligence operative Rachel Stone, played by Gadot, who goes on a mission to protect an artificial intelligence system, known as The Heart, from falling in the wrong hands. The film was produced by Pilot Wave, a company founded by Gadot and her husband Jaron Varsano.

Gadot also stars in Netflix’s most popular film of all time, Red Notice, alongside Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds.

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