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  Israel
Anti-Israel Activity on American College Campuses
Posted: October 15, 2004

Antiwar and Anti-Israel


Introduction
Antiwar and Anti-Israel
Divestment
Radical Speakers
Support for Violence
Harassment and Intimidation
Opposing Israel's Security Fence
Acknowledging Bias and Preventing Intimidation
A new dimension of anti-Israel activism on American college campuses in 2003-04, was that it occurred in the shadow of Iraq-either an impending war with Iraq, the war itself, or the violent postwar occupation of the country.

Anti-Israel college activists increasingly connected criticism of Israel with opposition to the U.S. war in Iraq; chants of "hands off Iraq" were heard alongside "justice for Palestine."

ANSWER & United for Peace and Justice

The U.S. conflict with Iraq provided the first substantial opportunity for an antiwar movement in the United States since the end of the Vietnam War. From its outset, anti-Israel activists sought to link their own cause to the antiwar movement and to the activities of the two main antiwar groups, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), associated with the Stalinist Workers World Party; and United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), an umbrella group comprised primarily of far left groups. Many activists argued that all imperialism and all occupations (including that of the Palestinian territories) should be opposed, not just U.S. policies toward Iraq.

Many antiwar activists (primarily from within UFPJ) were far more interested in promoting opposition to the war in Iraq than the Palestinian cause and therefore resisted linking the two. Ultimately, proponents of an anti-Israel agenda succeeded in convincing antiwar activists to accept them. Throughout 2004, they shared platforms with those who opposed U.S. involvement in Iraq. The immediate result was that, in many places, mass antiwar protests were as much about the Palestinian cause as Iraq. For example, during a demonstration in San Francisco sponsored by ANSWER and UFPJ on March 20, 2004, protesters, reportedly from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Association, promoted the obliteration of Israel, chanting "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

Muslim Student Association

The Muslim Student Association, responsible for organizing many of the most extreme anti-Israel events on campuses across the country over the past few years, has been particularly active in the effort to link Iraq and the Palestinian cause (MSA's hostility toward Jews was made particularly clear in 2002 when a local branch at San Francisco State University distributed a blatantly anti-Semitic flier with a picture of a dead baby, captioned "Canned Palestinian Children Meat--Slaughtered According to Jewish rites under American license").

  • At one April 2004 rally in San Francisco, Hatem Bazian, a Berkeley professor and frequent speaker at MSA events, shouted to the crowd that "we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don't have an intifada in this country?" Acknowledging the reactions his words might garner, Bazian said, "They're gonna say some Palestinian being too radical-well, you haven't seen radicalism yet!"

  • In January 2004, MSA was one of the originators of an "open letter" to the "U.S. Anti-War Movement" calling for a mass demonstration on March 20, 2004 (the one-year anniversary of the war in Iraq) to protest against all "colonial occupations from Iraq to Palestine to everywhere." The letter, which was ultimately signed by well over 100 groups, refused to accept the "delinking [of] the struggle of the Palestinian people from the anti-war movement."

  • In December 2003, MSA, the Campus Coalition for Peace and Justice and the Palestine Solidarity Committee united for a "teach-in" resisting "empire in the Middle East" at the University of Texas. Having failed to uncover weapons of mass destruction, the promotion stated that "the Bush administration is now attempting to sell its war on Iraq as a mission to promote democracy in the Middle East. But living under the daily humiliation of occupation, most Iraqis and Palestinians have found this rhetoric to be all-the-more arrogant and hollow."

  • In late 2003, the MSA and the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) sponsored a nationwide campus speaking tour called "Speaking Truth to Empire," ostensibly focused on Iraq but also providing a platform for anti-Israel speakers.
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2004 Anti-Defamation League