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University of Pennsylvania Faculty Anti-Zionist Group Files Lawsuit to Stop Antisemitism Investigation

Students on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah Beier

The fate of the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce’s investigation into antisemitism at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) could be decided in federal court, as members of the school’s Faculty for Justice in Palestine (FJP) chapter have sued its administrators in an attempt to stop them from sharing key documents requested by lawmakers.

Accusing Congress of engaging in a “new form of McCarthyism” — a historical reference to the excessive efforts of lawmakers to purge Communist Party members from important public institutions in the 1950s — and violating constitutional protections of speech and privacy, Penn faculty members are asking a US District Court to grant a preliminary and permanent injunction to end the university’s cooperation with the investigation.

According to court documents first shared by The Daily Pennsylvanian, the principal plaintiff in the suit, associate professor Huda Fakhreddine, engaged in actions that played an outsized role in prompting Congress to investigate Penn. Last fall, Fakhreddine organized the Palestine Writes Literature Festival, which invited to campus several anti-Zionists who have spread blood libels as well as conspiracies of Jewish control.

The event also touched off a burst of antisemitic incidents at Penn. In the days leading up to it, swastikas were graffitied on campus and a student infiltrated the campus Hillel building, where he proceeded to vandalize the place while screaming antisemitic epithets.

The House Education and Workforce Committee “first sent a letter to Penn demanding the production of many categories of information, including private [Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act]-protected student files and documents pertaining to an annual scholarly event produced by plaintiff focusing on Palestinian literature,” the complaint says. “Penn would have been within its rights to protect its community by refusing compliance. Instead, Penn, its trustees off balance and frightened by the accusations of anti-Semitism [sic], announced it would comply with the committee’s letter, and, on information and belief, has begun producing documents.”

The lawsuit dismisses concerns about rising antisemitism at Penn, describing efforts to eradicate it as a conspiracy by “billionaire donors, pro-Israel groups, other litigants, and segments of the media” to squelch criticism of Israel and harm Arab students and academics. It also castigates the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, calling it a tool of a “militant minority which believes that Israel can do no wrong.” The IHRA definition and its use by the House Education and Workforce Committee in its investigation into antisemitism at Penn, the lawsuit continues, is “unconstitutional” and part of a larger plan of a “‘social engineering movement to repeal the First Amendment.”

If successful in disrupting Congress’s investigation into Penn, the lawsuit could conceal from lawmakers, and thereby the public, evidence indicating that Fakhreddine — who has praised Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel as a “new way of life” — and other Penn officials involved in organizing “Palestine Writes” intentionally invited antisemitic speakers to campus.

Held in September, the “Palestine Writes Literature Festival” outraged Jewish community members, as well as non-Jewish leaders and lawmakers, for its inclusion of anti-Zionists who have weaponized classic antisemitic tropes to undermine support for Israel. Speakers listed on the event’s initial itinerary included University of Gaza professor Refaat Alareer, who said in 2018, “Are most Jews evil? Of course they are,” and Salman Abu Sitta, who once said in an interview that “Jews were hated in Europe because they played a role in the destruction of the economy in some of the countries, so they would hate them.”

Roger Waters, the former Pink Floyd frontman, was also a scheduled speaker. Last year, a documentary revealed fellow musicians detailing Waters’ long record of anti-Jewish barbs. In one instance, a former colleague recalled Waters at a restaurant yelling at the wait staff to “take away the Jew food.”

By the time former Penn president Elizabeth M. Magill — who resigned in December — appeared before the House Education and Workforce Committee on Dec. 5 to testify about her handling of the event — which included refusing to cancel it — anti-Zionist protests at the university amid the Israel-Hamas war had descended into demagoguery and intimidation of Jewish students, as activists berated pro-Israel counter-protesters for condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 onslaught.

At one point, during a gathering of the protesters in front of the Van Pelt Dietrich Library, a high school senior — referred to as “MJ,” who attends the Specialized Science Academy in Philadelphia — was invited to speak. He accused Israel of genocide and harassed others in the area, according to students who witnessed his remarks.

“The Israeli Jew has bastardized Judaism! Bastardized it! Trampled on it! How could you let this genocidal regime crap all over your God and your religion like this?” the speaker bellowed, as seen in footage posted by the anti-Zionist student group Penn Against the Occupation (POA) and reviewed by The Algemeiner. “How can you, as a people who have seen the same amount of oppression in the past, stand by the same genocidal tactics, and lies, and methods that they use on our people? How could you stand for that? Look at you — you’re not even looking at this direction. You’re scared. You’re scared of being wrong.”

In announcing its investigation into Penn and two other elite schools two months later, Education and Workforce Committee member Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said, “We will use our full congressional authority to hold these schools accountable for their failure on the global stage.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction

Toronto Police have arrested and charged a man for assault over an incident May 9 near the protest encampment at the University of Toronto’s King’s College Circle on its downtown campus.  Toronto Police Services (TPS) say they responded at 3:45 p.m. that day to a call for assault in the area of the road around […]

The post Assault charge laid, arrest made related to incident near the University of Toronto encampment—while its president speaks in Ottawa on antisemitism, and the school seeks a removal injunction appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘Any Chance the Media Would Cover This?’ New Video Shows Terrorists in Gaza Using Humanitarian Aid to Help Prepare Rockets

Terrorists in Gaza using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets. Photo: Screenshot

Terrorists in Gaza have been using humanitarian aid bags to prop up rockets they were preparing to shoot at Israelis, new video circulating on social media reveals, underscoring the challenges of delivering aid to Palestinian civilians in the Hamas-ruled enclave without it being stolen.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade — which is the armed wing of Fatah, the political party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbasused bags from Turkey and UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for the Palestinians — to prop up the rockets, according to the video.

At least three of the bags say they contain “wheat flour,” and the bag from Turkey specifically says it is supposed to go “to the Palestinian people.” It is unclear whether the bags had previously been opened to extract the food and then refilled with sand, for example, or if it still contained the food that was intended to feed Palestinian civilians.

“Any chance the media would cover this, yet another violation of international humanitarian law?” pro-Israel commentator Hen Mazzig wrote on X/Twitter while sharing the video.

Rafah, Gaza: Hamas is using UN humanitarian aid bags as rocket launchers today.

Any chance the media would cover this, yet another, violation of International Humanitarian Law?

— Hen Mazzig (@HenMazzig) May 29, 2024

Almost every day for the past seven months, Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist organizations have been shooting rockets into Israel from civilian areas, which is a war crime. Tens of thousands of Israelis are internally displaced and unable to return to their homes as a result.

There is mounting evidence that Hamas has also operated in civilian clothing and in civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. However, these violations of international law are rarely noted by much of the media.

The latest video of terrorists using humanitarian aid for military purposes underscores the issue of making sure such aid gets to Palestinian civilians. 

The US built a pier to deliver 2,000,000 meals daily to Palestinian civilians, but after a few weeks of operation, the Pentagon said none of the aid unloaded from the pier had made it to those who needed it. On one occasion, about 70 percent of the aid has been stolen while en route to a UN warehouse. In other cases, it just never showed up.

Israeli estimates suggest approximately 60 percent of the aid that has gone into Gaza has been stolen — either by Hamas or other groups and individuals. Oftentimes, that aid is then sold to the population at high prices, making it difficult to impossible for most Gazans to gain access to it. 

According to Ehud Yaari, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has made more than $500 million in profit from selling humanitarian aid since Oct. 7.

The terror group began the war last October by massacring 1,200 people in Israel and taking more than 250 people hostage, about half of whom have still not been released.

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Columbia University Anti-Zionist Group Endorses Hamas

Demonstrators take part in an anti-Israel demonstration at the Columbia University campus, in New York City, US, Feb. 2, 2024. REUTERS/David Dee Delgado

Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) has endorsed Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace antisemitic violence.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

.@Columbia and @BarnardCollege, @ColumbiaSJP is actively promoting terrorism and anti-Israel rhetoric on their social media channels. They are sounding more and more like Hamas spokespeople every day. When is the university going to permanently ban this “student group”?

— Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus (@CampusJewHate) May 26, 2024

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has reformed under multiple organizations since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, has been central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The group’s behavior after Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the StandWithUs Center for League Justice (SCLJ).

The complaint alleges that after bullying Jewish students and rubbing their noses in the carnage Hamas wrought on their people, the pro-Hamas students were still unsatisfied and resulted to violence. They beat up five Jewish students in Columbia’s Butler Library, according to the lawsuit. Another attacked a Jewish students with a stick, lacerating his head and breaking his finger, after being asked to return missing persons posters she had stolen.

Following the incidents, pleas for help allegedly went unanswered and administrators told Jewish students they could not guarantee their safety while SJP held its demonstrations. The school’s apparent powerlessness to prevent anti-Jewish violence was cited as the reason why Students Supporting Israel (SSI), a recognized school club, was denied permission to hold an event on self-defense. Events with “buzzwords” such as “Israel” and “Palestine” were forbidden, administrators allegedly said, but SJP continued to host events while no one explained the inconsistency.

The explosion of end-of-year protests held by the group forced Columbia officials to shutter the campus in April and institute virtual learning. Later, the group occupied Hamilton Hall, forcing President Minouche Shafik to call on the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for help, a decision she hesitated to make. According to The Columbia Spectator, over 108 arrests were made.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Amid the chaos, a prominent rabbi at the school urged Jewish students to leave the campus for the sake of their safety. Ultimately, the university cancelled its main commencement ceremony.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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