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Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Zionist War on Free Speech in America

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The young girl singing the song “Gaza Tonight” and holding up the “Free Palestine” sign (see post immediately below this one) could easily at some point find either herself, or possibly her parents, on the receiving end of threats and intimidation from Zionists. The latest wave of harassment is being aimed at Palestine solidarity activists at Oberlin College in Ohio…
Check out the article below published today by Fox News. It is not exactly objective reporting–I’m kind of surprised they even included a quote from the Palestine solidarity group, but they did toss in one–yet what comes through loud and clear is that criticism of Israel on the Oberlin campus is now being equated with “anti-Semitism.”
Apparently Jewish students at Oberlin find it distressing to have to walk past sidewalk chalk drawings reading “Apartheid Week,” and are demanding that such activities be stopped. And more than likely, as these things often seem to go, the school administration will cave into them.
Oberlin Alums Fight Back Against Purported Anti-Semitism on Campus
Palestine solidarity activists at Oberlin organized “apartheid week”
By Perry Chiaramonte | Published January 19, 2016 |
Angry alumni at a prestigious Ohio college have had enough of what they consider anti-Semitism on campus, and have demanded the school put a stop to it.
Some 200 Oberlin College graduates signed an open letter to the northern Ohio school, blasting what they called a hostile environment for Jewish students and faculty on campus. The critics charged that the Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel movement on campus has morphed into raw racism.
“Several student organizations at Oberlin have assumed the role as the mouthpiece of the BDS movement, which claims to be a defender of Palestinian rights, but whose inflammatory language falsely portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime demonstrates that its primary goal is to demonize the Jewish state,” reads part of the letter.
It goes on to state that the campus BDS advocates send an implicit message to Jewish classmates to “either forfeit your allegiance to Israel and join us, or we will brand you as an enemy of justice and complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.”
The drafting of the letter was spearheaded by Melissa Landa, an instructor at the University of Maryland and graduate of Oberlin. Landa told her group wants a task force formed to address anti-Semitism on campus carried out under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism.
The school’s graduates include actor and writer Lena Dunham, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, actor Ed Helms and novelist and playright Eric Bogosian.
“While current students can speak to the atmosphere on campus, alumni have an investment in the future of the college,” Landa said, adding that Oberlin President Marvin Krislov will meet with the group Jan. 26 to discuss the ongoing issue.
Members of Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine issued a statement rejecting the charge that members are anti-Semitic.
“We reject the idea that support for the Palestinian cause is anti-Semitic,” read the statement. “Criticism of Israel may challenge the political opinions of some students, but that is not a threat to their safety. We will continue to confront the realities of the occupation on our campus.”
Oberlin College officials did not immediately return requests for comment.
Over the past several years, Oberlin has had a slew of issues concerning Anti-Israel activism, according to legal blog, Legal Insurrection.
Most recently, there is even a belief among some that BDS activists have attempted to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement on campus.
This past November, the Oberlin Black Student Union brought forth a petition regarding what they referred to as the “cultural appropriation of ethnic foods and cultural insensitivity” in the dining hall.
Among the list of 50 different demands was that the school divest from Israel. The 14-page list of demands was endorsed by Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise on campuses across the country, often driven by BDS activists, said Brett Cohen, executive director of campus affairs for StandWithUs, an international education organization that attempts to ensure that the Israeli side of the debate is heard.
“There is a direct correlation between efforts to boycott and divest from Israel on campus and increased hate crimes against Jews, including swastikas painted on Jewish centers and fraternities, Jewish students being harassed and intimidated, and several cases of outright violence,” Cohen said.
“The pseudo-academic delegitimizaton of Israel fuels this fire, and has created a situation where some pro-Israel students are afraid to voice their opinions in the classroom.”

The following is an open letter  published by a group calling itself the “Oberlin Alumni Against Anti-Semitism.”
An Open Letter to College President Krislov, the Trustees, Faculty, Staff and Students of Oberlin College
January 3, 2016
 Throughout the past few years, the movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel (BDS) has become increasingly active on American college campuses, and Oberlin has become the site of highly visible BDS activism. Several student organizations at Oberlin have assumed the role as the mouthpiece of the BDS movement, which claims to be a defender of Palestinian rights, but whose inflammatory language falsely portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime demonstrates that its primary goal is to demonize the Jewish state. Because participation in these groups requires denouncing Israel, the message to Jewish students can be summed up as follows: Either forfeit your allegiance to Israel and join us, or we will brand you as an enemy of justice and complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.
As Oberlin students and alumni representing a diversity of views on Israel, we accept criticism of its leadership and policies. However, we do not believe Israel should be singled out for condemnation and we object to questioning its right to exist. We also abhor the tactics of Oberlin’s pro-BDS student organizations that intimidate, threaten, and coerce Jewish students, which we have seen and heard in numerous written and spoken reports. 
According to The Jewish Exponent, an award-winning newspaper that serves the Jewish community of Philadelphia, one Oberlin student reported, “My fellow Obies and I were expected by our peers to join them in denouncing a plethora of social evils including…Israel.” That same student described an incident on campus when, “One speaker drew laughs when she said that Zionists should be burned at the stake.” In addition, the AMCHA campus monitor, which is published by a non profit organization that addresses anti-Semitism on college campuses, has documented numerous messages posted on line by the student group, Students for a Free Palestine, including, “Ohio is infested with Zionism,” and describing Israel as a “white supremacist,” “violent apartheid state.” As reported to The Oberlin Review, other incidents include the expulsion of the Kosher Halal co-op from the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association (OSCA) and an exhibition of black flags symbolizing the Palestinians killed in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge displayed on Rosh Hashanah, one of Judaism’s holiest days. 
Jewish students have articulated the impact of these incidents on their lives. The Oberlin Review quoted one student who said, “I quickly learned that at Oberlin, love for my own nation (Israel) was not something I could freely express.” The student who was quoted in The Jewish Exponent, also explained that she transferred out of Oberlin due to its “toxic climate…around Israel.”
While we commend the decision of Oberlin’s Board of Trustees to reject calls for the college to endorse the BDS movement, and President Krislov’s statements against anti-Semitism on college campuses, we are deeply troubled by the continued intimidation of Jewish students and the many other forms of anti-Semitism occurring on campus. To echo a recent ruling by a French court of appeals, declaring BDS a blatant form of hate speech and anti-Semitism, we believe that pro-BDS individuals at Oberlin are exploiting the concept of free speech by promoting hate speech and by inciting acts of anti-Semitism. Thus, in an effort to see our alma mater reverse this unacceptable trend of aggression, we are calling on the administration to take the following steps:
1) A thorough investigation and documentation of all acts of anti-Semitism, including student rallies that voiced inflammatory language about Israel. 
2) A forum for students and alumni who have experienced anti-Semitism at Oberlin in the past or who have been coerced by BDS proponents, to share and discuss the impact of those experiences on their psychological well-being and academic performance.
3) A task force comprised of President Krislov, Rabbi Shlomo Elkan, the interim or permanent Oberlin Hillel director, students, staff, faculty, and alumni to put into place an appropriate, clear and immediate plan of action to address this current crisis. 
Oberlin College has a rich history of tolerance and peaceful political activism. As current students and alumni, we need to know that those values, which appealed to each of us when we chose to attend Oberlin, will still exist for Oberlin’s  future students, and that the current divisive and damaging environment will not continue. We hope and trust that you will do what is necessary to maintain our proud legacy.
The letter seems to be long on accusations and short on documentation. If the person who made the comment about “burning Zionsts at the stake” was a faculty or staff member (assuming such a comment was even made), then disciplinary proceedings against that person would be warranted, but the party who allegedly made the statement isn’t even named. The worst charge that the Oberlin alumni group seems able to lay at the campus Palestine activists’ feet is that of making “inflammatory” statements that irked Jewish students by “portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime.”
So if we reach a point in America where we’re not allowed to call apartheid apartheid, and we’re not allowed to make “inflammatory statements” about a regime that kills children, imposes embargoes and blockades, and locks people up behind walls, then where will that leave us? Will we any longer be able to claim we enjoy the right to free speech?
Israel supporters seem very much to be waging a war on the First Amendment.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   
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