JVP Releases First-Ever Report on the Use of False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit Palestinian Rights Activism on Campuses
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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Report details a pattern of activities intended to silence criticism of Israel on campus
September 30, 2015 – A new report, Stifling Dissent: How Israel’s Defenders Use False Charges of Anti-Semitism to Limit the Debate over Israel on Campus, released today by Jewish Voice for Peace, documents efforts by Israel advocacy organizations to intervene in the debate over Israeli policies on campuses. You can read the report here.
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Years of experience working with students and faculty have revealed a pattern of activities by Israel advocacy groups to silence speech and marginalize Jewish students and faculty who advocate for Palestinian rights on campuses.
Drawing on case studies over the last several years, the report documents how Israel advocacy organizations bully and intimidate Jewish students who do not pass their political litmus test on Israel by employing the following tactics:
- Codifying criticism of the state of Israel as anti-Semitism,
- Intimidating faculty and students through blacklists, letters to administrators, and legal threats,
- Censoring political debate both inside and outside Jewish campus spaces,
- Intervening in campus politics by directing external funds to pro-Israel student government candidates
“Political use of the charge of anti-Semitism threatens to void the term of any meaning at all,”
said Tallie Ben Daniel, JVP Academic Advisory Council Coordinator. “By filing complaints with the federal government that campuses are ‘hostile environments’ for Jewish students, Israel-aligned groups conflate some Jewish students’ emotional discomfort around criticism of a country with physical safety and targeted harassment based on religious identity, which of course should never be tolerated. Engaging in debate over foreign policy is a constitutionally protected exercise of free speech, and should not be confused with bigotry.”
Melanie Malinas describes the ostracism she experienced as a Jewish student, both while an undergraduate at Oberlin College and as a graduate student at Stanford University, when she stood in support of divestment from companies that profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank: “I do not feel comfortable expressing my political opinions at Hillel or, for that matter, at most Jewish community events. Rather than being a welcoming home for Jewish life on campuses, Hillel has become a political advocacy group opposing a movement for freedom and equality for Palestinians. Hillels and other young adult Jewish communities do not align with my values, so I largely do not participate in them. ”
The report recommends that campus administrators strive to create an open campus climate that is inclusive of all student perspectives by avoiding policies that conflate the state of Israel with Judaism or the Jewish people.
Jewish Voice for Peace’s report was released in conjunction with a groundbreaking report by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, “The Palestine Exception to Free Speech: A Movement Under Attack in the US,” that documents tactics being used across the country to silence Palestinian human rights advocacy, undermining both First Amendment rights and democratic principles. Students and scholars discuss the backlash they have experienced for engaging in Palestine advocacy in Palestine Legal’s video, launched today.
To view the full JVP report, visit: StiflingDissent.org
Jewish Voice for Peace is a national, grassroots organization inspired by Jewish tradition to work for a just and lasting peace according to principles of human rights, equality, and international law for all the people of Israel and Palestine. Jewish Voice for Peace has over 200,000 online supporters, over 60 chapters, a youth wing, a Rabbinic Council, an Artist Council, an Academic Advisory Council, and an Advisory Board made up of leading U.S. intellectuals and artists.