Anti-Israel Activity on Campus: 2009 in Review
Fundraising for Viva Palestina
Posted: February 1, 2010
George Galloway, a far-left British parliamentarian from the anti-Zionist Respect Party, spoke at several American colleges and universities in 2009 to promote and raise funds for his Viva Palestina US convoy.
Viva Palestina US was modeled after Galloway's European initiative, which delivered vehicles and a substantial amount of cash to representatives of Hamas in March. Galloway's U.S. tour, conducted during the months between his initial convoy to Gaza and his American convoy, prompted requests to the Justice Department to investigate whether Galloway was raising funds for the purpose of providing material support to Hamas.
Galloway raised more than $1 million during his tour of the U.S. which included stops at DePaul University, University of California, Irvine, University of New Orleans, Florida Atlantic University, University of Michigan-Dearborn, Pennsylvania State University, Rutgers University and Columbia University.
During his talks, Galloway regularly railed against Zionism, advocated for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, accused Israel of committing acts of "terrorism" against Palestinians and regularly voiced support for Palestinian "resistance."
At the University of California, Irvine, on May 21, Galloway denounced Israel as a racist state and compared its war against Hamas in Gaza to the Nazi Holocaust, including describing Gaza as a "concentration camp." He argued that Zionism has debased "the Jewish people" and called on "Jews in America today to stand up against the apartheid state of Israel." Galloway's appearance at UCI was part of a series of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel events organized by the Muslim Student Union called "Israel: The Politics of Genocide." Event organizers passed around donation boxes to support Viva Palestina US during the Q&A session.
At Columbia University on March 23, Galloway spoke brazenly about giving material support to Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, and depicted Hamas as a legitimate response to Israel's "illegal and violent military occupation" that "should not be lumped together with other terrorist groups." Promotional materials for the event, which was organized in part by student groups, described it as "Voices for Palestina - A Fundraiser for the Viva Palestina US Convoy to Gaza."
At Penn State, Students for Justice in Palestine even fundraised in order to send their own convoy along with Viva Palestina US, according to the student newspaper. The paper reported in April that the group had raised approximately $1000 of the $10,000 needed to send a Penn State convoy along with the Viva Palestina US mission in July. The group also organized an event featuring Galloway in March, during which Galloway condemned U.S. support for Israel and lambasted Israeli policies in Gaza and the economic blockade, describing Gaza as the "largest concentration camp on Earth."
Many other groups with a history of promoting anti-Israel efforts on and off campus helped organize stops on Galloway's U.S. tour. Included among them were local anti-Israel groups such as New Orleans Palestinian Solidarity and South Florida Palestine Solidarity Network, and regional chapters of national anti-Israel groups like Al-Awda, the Palestine Right to Return Coalition.