Pro-Palestinian activists have scheduled a splash of anti-Israel events on campuses around the country this week during the major Jewish holiday of Passover, raising accusations that they are intentionally trying to exclude Jewish supporters of Israel from the debate.
News of the “National Day of Action” campaign posted on Facebook by the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) comes just days after the blog Legal Insurrection revealed that the Cornell University chapter of the pro-Palestinian student group scheduled a vote last week on an anti-Israel resolution with only 48-hours’ notice, catching some Jewish students out of town and on their way to spend the holiday with their families.
The pro-Israel group StandWithUs said of the “Day of Action” scheduled on Passover week, “Holding this event during Passover is insulting and culturally insensitive at best.”
“This is yet another example of how anti-Israel activists are afraid to be challenged by those who disagree with them, and prefer to silence or marginalize opposing voices instead,” StandWithUs national campus director Brett Cohen said in a statement. “Many Jewish students will not have the opportunity to make their voices heard because they will be away from campus with their families, or otherwise preoccupied because of the holiday.”
“Considering how carefully planned and executed these actions were, the timing for Passover is highly suspect,” Cornell law professor and Legal Insurrection blogger William Jacobson told TheBlaze via email on Sunday.
“While religious Jewish students may not be the majority of Jewish students on campuses, even less religious Jews view the first two days of Passover as a time to be with family and to reflect on the history of the Jewish people, not to be out fighting divestment resolutions,” Jacobson noted.
The Facebook page for the pro-Palestinian student group wrote in its announcement of the April 16th events, “Through a coordinated day of action of sit-ins, rallies, and teach-ins, SJP chapters across the country will be sending the unequivocal message that we will not be silenced or intimidated by Zionist groups or campus administrations.”
StandWithUs noted that this year’s scheduling of events around Passover was reminiscent of previous cases of pro-Palestinian campus votes being scheduled on Jewish holidays.
It noted that in 2012, the University of California Student Association passed an anti-Israel resolution on the Jewish Sabbath and just one day before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year.
In California, like at Cornell last week, the vote was not publicized ahead of time. Furthermore, the exact location of the Berkeley board meeting was not posted on the Student Association’s website, according to a 2012 editorial in the student newspaper which noted that “the Jewish community didn’t become aware of the UCSA resolution until it was too late.”
Last week’s resolution calling on Cornell University to divest from companies doing business with Israel was tabled on Thursday indefinitely by the Student Assembly after pro-Israel students scrambled to scuttle what law professor Jacobson likened to a “stealth move” reminiscent of the 1973 Arab armies’ surprise attack of Israel during the solemn Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur.
Supporters of the Israel divestment measure were clearly incensed by the outcome of the vote. After the vote, a female attendee began shouting at Student Assembly members, while a man gave the finger to pro-Israel students in the audience applauding the outcome.
“This is a crushing defeat for SJP — maybe one of the most decisive yet on any campus.
They tried to pull a fast one, and never even were able to present their Resolution,” Jacobson wrote on his blog.
“This reflected widespread opposition not only to the substance, but also a resentment of students who see SJP trying to usurp campus dialogue. As one Assembly member wrote to me: ‘[Resolution backer] wants to see 20 year old college students form firm opinions on an issue we know very little about and have no responsibility for,’” Jacobson added.
Jacobson who was at Thursday’s hearing told TheBlaze that after the vote, he heard one person shout, “That’s why we don’t believe in institutions.”
Another individual who Jacobson said is not a student shouted at Student Assembly members, “You’re supporting colonization and genocide, bloodshed…Cornell stands on stolen and occupied land and it supports occupation in Palestine.”
Later, outside the hall, they continued lashing out, this time at Jacobson who was filming them.
Here is video of the Cornell vote and its aftermath, courtesy of Legal Insurrection. (Language warning):
Notably, the pro-Palestinian student group on its Facebook page accused their ideological adversaries on campus of using “malicious” tactics to “silence” Students for Justice in Palestine.
“Israel’s defenders are using every malicious tactic they can think of to try and silence SJPs on campus. This includes campaigns to disrupt and deny the right to free speech; baseless charges designed to undermine academic freedom and intimidate professors; and the false claim that discussion of Palestinian rights is tantamount to anti-Semitism,” the group wrote.