As of November 2018, her Twitter indicated that Fernandez graduated Vassar in May 2018. In a June 1, 2018 Facebook post, she indicated that she had moved to New York City.
As of November 2018, Fernandez’s LinkedIn page said that she was a Lead 8th grade ELA teacher at Success Academy Charter Schools in Bronx, New York.
Supporting an Anti-Israel AgitatorOn January 31, 2018, Fernandez posted a picture of herself on Facebook holding a statement in support of Ahed Tamimi. Fernandez also wrote: “Ahed Tamimi will spend her 17th birthday in prison today. Her passion and bravery inspires me to continue to fight for the liberation of Palestine and all people. Sign the petition to demand her release."
Ahed Tamimi was detained after she was filmed punching and kicking Israeli soldiers. She has a long history of physically attacking Israeli soldiers.
Tamimi is the daughter of Bassem Tamimi, who is notorious for exploiting young children as political props in staged confrontations with Israeli soldiers. In 2011, he was jailed for organizing violent rallies and inciting minors to commit violent crimes such as rock-throwing.
Demonizing IsraelOn April 25, 2017, Fernandez wrote an article for the +972 blog, titled “Hillel must put Jewish diversity and social justice above Israel allegiance." In the article, Fernandez alleged that the Israeli government and Hillel seek to “marginalize and silence Jewish students like me."
Fernandez alleged that working with the Israeli government has “worsened Hillel’s policies of exclusion," and again accused the Israeli government of forcing Hillel at OSU to expel B’nai Keshet, after the group partnered with JVP.
She also claimed that Israel seeks to “promote a sexist, homophobic, and anti-interfaith vision of the Jewish family."
On May 3, 2017, Fernandez co-wrote an article for Vassar’s student newspaper with another JVP member. In the article, the authors accused the Israeli government of forcing the Hillel chapter at Ohio State University (OSU) to expel an LGBTQ+ Jewish campus group, after the group cosponsored an event with JVP.
The article continued, “We don’t advocate terrorism, but we do want to reconsider which groups and people are framed as terrorists."
On April 27, 2018, Fernandez retweeted a tweet by JVP executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson, promoting JVP’s “DeadlyExchange" campaign.
In 2017, JVP launched the “Deadly Exchange" campaign that accused American Jewish organizations of promoting human rights abuses.
JVP also released a video that blamed [00:04:04] US-based Jewish organizations for violence that occurs against Black and Brown communities, immigrants and activists in the U.S.
The video accused mainstream Jewish organizations in the United States of coordinating exchange programs between American and Israeli security personnel, to advance “worst practices" and “racist policies."
The campaign page claimed that these “policies" included: “extrajudicial executions, shoot-to-kill policies, police murders, racial profiling, massive spying and surveillance, deportation and detention."
Opposing the Anti-Semitism Awareness ActIn December 2016, Fernandez signed a JVP-launched petition opposing the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act (AAA), which was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate on December 1, 2016.
The AAA directed the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to use the U.S. State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism when evaluating hostile environment complaints.
JVP’s petition asserted that anti-Semitism did not warrant its own bill, but should rather be considered equal to other forms of bigotry. The petition also purported that “real anti-Semitism" came from the “white supremacist movements in this country" and contended the bill did “little to protect us, as Jewish students, from these dangers."
The petition also claimed that BDS was “not inherently anti semitic," and called the State Department’s definition of anti-Semitism “problematic."
On December 3, 2016 Fernandez was featured in a JVP Vassar Facebook video, in which she said [00:00:06] that she “deeply" opposed the AAA.
Fernandez also said [00:00:30] that “This bill does not protect Jewish students, it protects white supremacy and imperialism and suppresses free speech."
Condemning Jewish Heritage TourOn April 16, 2017, Fernandez was a leader of a JVP Return the Birthright protest outside the Taglit Birthright Gala in New York City. Fernandez emceed the event and led [00:02:23] the group in a chant: “Hey Israel time to learn, let the refugees return."
Fernandez spoke to the crowd and said [00:12:06] , “I’m here to stand today on the 70th anniversary of the Nakba with all of you to say that we oppose the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians...and we are here today to return the Birthright and for the Palestinian right of return."
Fernandez continued, “it is fundamentally wrong that I who was born in the United States gets a whitewashed and Disney-fied free trip to the same land that Palestinians who still have the keys to their home are still barred from returning."
Fernandez concluded with, “we are not backing down...until the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has ended, until the apartheid wall is torn down, until the siege has ended, until Palestinian refugees and their descendants can and will return."
On the same day, Fernandez posted about the protest on Instagram, writing: “Boycott birthright, that’s our plan, no free trips on stolen land! So proud to fight for a Palestinian and Jewish future together with @jewishvoiceforpeace, my Jewish community is so fierce and vibrant and I am so blessed...#returnthebirthright and fight alongside us!"
On February 3, 2018, JVP Vassar posted a photo on Facebook of Fernandez holding a sign that said “I #ReturnTheBirthright because justice and liberation for all is the most holy to me! @jvpvassar"
The caption on the photo read: “We #ReturntheBirthright at Vassar because we don’t need a free trip at the expense of Palestinian lives in order to embrace our heritage."
On December 3, 2017, Fernandez attended and participated in a Return the Birthright protest outside the Taglit-Birthright offices in New York City, where JVP members assembled to chant anti-Birthright slogans.
Fernandez spoke at the protest and said [0:51:23]: “I am returning, with anger, this thorn and bloody gift that I never asked for but nonetheless have an abiding duty to denounce."
Fernandez continued [00:55:22]: “When I see Birthright, I see not just a problem but a symptom of broader patterns of colonialism...our biggest enemy here today is not the direct violence of Israeli occupation and apartheid but the apathy of those who are standing on the sidelines."
On December 3, 2017, Fernandez posted a picture of herself on Instagram from the protest and wrote, “This young Puerto Rican Jew says NO to Birthright, Sheldon Adelson, apartheid, and colonization across the globe! No free trips until Palestinians are free! #ReturntheBirthright."
On December 14, 2017, the Return the Birthright Facebook page featured a photo of Fernandez and quoted her accusing Birthright of “propaganda and deadly lies of omission."
Return the Birthright CampaignIn September of 2017, JVP issued its #ReturntheBirthright campaign manifesto, calling on American Jews to boycott the Birthright Israel (Birthright) program. Birthright was founded by Jewish philanthropists “in 1999 to address the growing divide between young Diaspora Jewish adults and the land and people of Israel."
After decades of demographic decline in the American Jewish community, Birthright set out “to strengthen Jewish identity, build a lasting bond with the land and people of Israel, and reinforce the solidarity of Jewish people worldwide." The program offers “the gift of a life-changing, 10-day trip to Israel to young Jewish adults between the ages of 18 and 26."
JVP’s anti-Birthright campaign was launched precisely to coincide with “the very moment that college students across America are returning to campus and registration for Birthright winter visits are underway."
The #returnthebirthright manifesto accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing" and alleged “the modern state of Israel is predicated on the ongoing erasure of Palestinians."
The text claimed: “We reject the offer of a free trip to a state that does not represent us, a trip that is only ‘free’ because it has been paid for by the dispossession of Palestinians."
The manifesto concluded: “And as we reject this, we commit to promoting the right to return of Palestinian refugees… Israel is not our Birthright… Return the Birthright."
On June 22, 2017, just prior to the launch of JVP’s #returnthebirthright campaign, JVP received a $140,00 two-year grant for general support for its operations from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund (RBF).
Since 2015, JVP has received $280,000 from RBF, which has a history of supporting anti-Jewish causes, including BDS campaigns and various organizations that promote BDS campaigns throughout the United States.
Promoting BDSOn March 15, 2017, Fernandez wrote an opinion piece for the Times of Israel titled, “Feeling Isolated By Jewish Establishment." In her op-ed, she described herself as “a Puerto Rican Jewish college student who supports the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement for Palestinian rights."
She reiterated her support for BDS in her April 25, 2017 article for the +972 blog, writing that she “supports the call for BDS."
Fernandez indicated on Facebook that she “went" to an event on April 1, 2017 titled, “BDS Amendment Referendum: Please Sign!" The event, which was hosted by SJP at Vassar, called on BDS supporters to sign a referendum that would implement BDS at Vassar.
Fernandez indicated on Facebook that she “went" to an event on March 6, 2017, called “VSA Votes on BDS Resolution," hosted by SJP at Vassar. The event invited people to attend the Student Association meeting and “speak their mind on the resolution."
On March 3, 2018, Fernandez posted a photo to Instagram, holding a sign that read: “Propaganda? Young Jews aren’t buying it. #RightToBoycott #BDS @sodastream."
Fernandez captioned the photo: “this is pretty on brand for me I think. anyway, apartheid is bad... my comrades and I aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Deuces."
Anti-Israel ActivismFernandez indicated on Facebook that she “went" to an event an event on May 13, 2017, titled, “Nakba Day March for Resistance and Return!" The event description called for participants to “commemorate the Nakba, stand against the continuing Nakba, and call for the right of return for Palestinian refugees."
Nakba is generally translated as “catastrophe" in Arabic, referring to the outcome of the 1948 War. It is a term often used to delegitimize the creation of the State of Israel through defining it as a catastrophe.
Fernandez also indicated on Facebook that she “went" to an event on April 19, 2017, titled, “What The Hell is JVP?" hosted by Vassar JVP. The event page said: “We're there to answer your questions about Israel and Palestine, the occupation, the BDS call, the upcoming BDS referendum, and the unique position of JVP as a coalition of Jewish students going forward in the current campus climate."
During the JVP National Member Meeting, held in Chicago from March 31-April 2, 2017, Fernandez was a panelist on the topic of “Resisting the Right-Wing Backlash on Campus."
The event was described as a place to “discuss some of the resistance strategies used by faculty and students as they face the national pattern of repression and backlash that targets the movement for Palestinian freedom and equality."
JVP was founded in Berkeley, California in 1996, as an activist group with an emphasis on the "Jewish tradition" of peace, social justice and human rights. The organization is currently led by Rebecca Vilkomerson and its board members include controversial Israel critics Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner.
JVP, which generally employs civil disobedience tactics like disrupting pro-Israel speakers and events, consists of American Jews and non-Jewish "allies" highly critical of Israeli policies. A staunch supporter of the BDS movement, JVP claims to aim its campaigns at companies that either support the Israeli military (Hewlett-Packard) or are active in the West Bank (SodaStream).
Although several Jewish groups critical of Israeli policies, like J Street and Partners for a Progressive Israel, make efforts to operate within the mainstream American Jewish community, JVP functions outside. The group is often criticized for serving as a tokenized Jewish voice for the pro-Palestinian camp and is widely regarded as the BDS movement's "Jewish wing."
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has accused JVP of being "the largest and most influential Jewish anti-Zionist group in the United States," and said the group "exploits Jewish culture and rituals to reassure its own supporters that opposition to Israel not only does not contradict, but is actually consistent with, Jewish values... JVP consistently co-sponsors rallies to oppose Israeli military policy that are marked by signs and slogans comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, demonizing Jews and voicing support for groups like Hamas and Hezbollah."
According to the ADL website, JVP "uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of anti-Semitism and provide it with a greater degree of legitimacy and credibility."
SJP was co-founded in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) by Professors Hatem Bazian and Snehal Shingavi. Bazian served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) while studying at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and headed the Muslim Students Association (MSA) while earning his M.A. at UC Berkeley. In 2004, while the second intifada was already winding down in Israel, he called for an intifada in the United States.
Shingavi, an activist tied to the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has been criticized for using his literature course as a vehicle for promoting anti-Israel propaganda. SJP has grown to become the primary student movement advancing the Palestinian national agenda on North American campuses and is the primary force behind BDS campaigns at most schools.
SJP activists frequently intimidate and harass Jewish and pro-Israel students. SJP members have physically assaulted Jewish students, aggressively disrupted pro-Israel events and possibly vandalized communal property. SJP rallies regularly include hate-speech and chants such as "Long Live The Intifada" and "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free" — calls for violence and for the destruction of the Jewish state.
SJP chapters frequently run inflammatory campaigns against Israel, including BDS resolutions, rallies, Israel-Apartheid initiatives, propaganda comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, mock checkpoints and "die-ins."
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by Omar Barghouti and asserts that it "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law."
The movement's most notable achievement has been the infiltration of university campuses through lobbying for "BDS resolutions." In these cases, backed by university anti-Israel affiliates, student governments have brought to vote on some form of boycott of — or divestment from — Israel and Israeli-affiliated entities. These resolutions, although non-binding, have been passed by student governments on numerous North American campuses.
BDS activity is often aggressive and disruptive. It has been noted that universities that pass BDS resolutions see a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In 2013, when the student government of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) debated a BDS resolution, reports emerged of violent threats and the spitting on a student wearing a Star of David necklace. As a result, the student government chose to vote via a "secret ballot" in order to ensure its members' safety.
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