The New Campus BDS Strategy: Attacking Jewish Student Organizations

July 17 2018

Over the course of the last year, notes Kenneth Waltzer, the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS) appears to have shifted its approach at colleges and universities, perhaps because of its failure to convince university administrators to boycott the Jewish state. Its main campus collaborator, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has instead set about ostracizing Jewish student groups, often in the name of “intersectionality.” Waltzer writes:

The SJP strategy [is] to build alliances of progressive and minority groups on each campus and . . . emphasize “intersectionality” (highlighting the linkages among all forms of oppression), identity politics, and the mobilization of multicultural coalitions for BDS goals. This means excluding Jewish students presumed to support Israel as well as Jewish institutions supporting Israel, such as Hillel. . . .

[Thus] Jews are now automatically to be excluded from [working with] progressive groups for popular causes; they are thought of as “privileged” or “white,” and therefore ineligible for membership in coalitions [of “minorities”]. Of Jews specifically, it is said by SJP and others that they are a group that does not face and never has faced oppression like that faced by people of color—an astounding bit of erasure and revision. Jews, it is repeated on campus, are powerful and wield great influence. Jewish students [are therefore] subjected to political litmus tests before being permitted entry to progressive coalitions. “Good Jews,” those aloof from Israel, can participate; others, “bad Jews,” Israel supporters, are to be separated and shunned.

As a noteworthy example, the resolution for divestment [from Israel] introduced at the University of Michigan . . . insisted on the necessity of assisting Palestinian students to be heard and to feel included in the multicultural mix. [The resolution thus states that while] “the university continually expresses its commitment to efforts of equity and inclusion that provide underrepresented students an environment ‘where every individual feels a sense of belonging and inclusion,’ . . . Palestinian students, as a minority group on campus, receive neither the university’s full support nor the benefits of its plan to foster a more inclusive climate, so long as a proportion of the endowment is invested by the university in companies that violate Palestinian human rights in Israel.” . . .

In other words, the resolution claims that Palestinians cannot feel included unless Israel is excluded. And from here it’s an easy step to replace “Israel” with “Jews”:

Finally, at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, SJP students demanded that the campus Hillel be replaced by a “proper Jewish organization.” Such an organization should not be a Zionist one; it should focus on observing the Sabbath and holidays but not offer support to a Jewish homeland. These students also characterized Jews as “oppressors.” When the chaplain for the Muslim Students Association, Saana Nadim, called on the SJP students to abandon their “agenda of hate and alienation,” and in a brave interfaith statement forthrightly defended Hillel, SJP attacked the Muslim chaplain, accusing her of working with Zionists.

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More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, Students for Justice in Palestine

 

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy