Pushing BDS at GWU
On March 27, 2017, SJP at GWU launched
the Divest This Time campaign
. The campaign’s name alluded
to GWU’s declining to “divest from apartheid in South Africa" and called “for GWU not to make the same mistake with Palestine."
On March 28, 2017, SJP at GWU held
an event titled “Why Divest?" in order to recruit support for divestment.On March 29, 2017, Divest This Time released
a video that cameoed SJP at GWU student activists and their supporters promoting the campaign. Students featured in the video invoked
“the Occupation of Palestine" to demonize Israel and companies that provided Israel with security technology. In the video, SJP at GWU student activists also equated
Israel with Apartheid South Africa and accused
Israel of “using the identities" of Transgender people to prove that Israel respects human rights.
of the divestment resolution was introduced
to the student senate on April 24, 2017. It was then “leaked to the general public," just ahead of Israeli and International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Successive “whereas" clauses of the resolution
blamed Israel for crimes against humanity, “deliberately" causing “suffering to Palestinian populations," discriminating against women, “deliberately" killing “Palestinian civilians" and causing an “epidemic of homelessness" among the Palestinians. The resolution also condemned Israel’s detention of Palestinian children for violating Israeli Military Order 1651 which criminalized rock throwing
with up to 20 years of prison time.
On April 25, 2017, the bill’s co-sponsor — Jack Jomarron
— and others claimed the resolution did not target Israel for boycott, divestment and sanctions. However, the resolution’s third “whereas" clause stated: “The act of divesting creates political pressure on corporations to withdraw their involvement in the occupation…" The bill’s fourth “whereas" clause specifically invoked the Rome statute
of the International Criminal Court, calling for criminal responsibility and punishment for "crimes against peace, humanity, and of war."
The resolution’s primary
sponsor — Keiko Tsuboi
— also attempted
to distance the bill from BDS and claimed
it was not meant to “paint some skewed vision of Israel," but to “describe the situation on the ground, that palestinian students are talking about." Tsuboi appealed to the infamous
Goldstone Report to buttress paragraphs 7 through 18 of the resolution’s allegations. Although Judge Goldstone himself publicly retracted
the central thesis of his report, in April of 2011, Tsuboi, insisted “these are the facts on the ground and they are not up for a debate for the purposes of this resolution."
Some GWU students noted
that the resolution was “one sided." The bill exclusively singled out for divestment companies that supplied Israel with security technology — and demonized the use of that technology. One student suggested the resolution looked to “alienate pro Israel students from the GW community" and reflected a “hidden agenda."
Co-sponsor Jomarron admitted
that he understood the “fear of a hidden agenda" and went on to observe: “the national BDS movements and the national SJP groups are frankly super troublesome to me." However, Jomarron continued to insist
that the resolution was not connected with the agenda of the BDS movement.
On Saturday, April 27, 2017 — Holocaust Remembrance Day — BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti
delivered a talk
on behalf of the Jerusalem Fund/Palestine Center about the “Successes and Challenges of BDS." During the Q & A session that followed, Barghouti said
: “... if you join a campaign for justice and freedom, it doesn't have to carry the BDS logo. It doesn’t have to say ‘boycott,’ it doesn't have to say ‘BDS.’ There are many creative ways how to do things without labeling it as ‘BDS.’"
On May 1, 2017, GWU’s Student Association voted down
the resolution 15-14, in a sharply divided session.
Following the resolution’s defeat, SJP at GWU organizer — Henry Rosh
: “we will not stop calling for BDS on this campus."
Another SJP at GWU student activist — Maryam Alhassani
on Facebook to label those who opposed the resolution as “PEP (Progressive Except Palestine)" and “just outright racist."
SJP at GWU also released
a statement on Facebook that read: “At GWU, this action has only just begun — SJP will continue the fight for Palestinian human rights and for those who are oppressed around the world. The Divest This Time coalition is passionate about the GW community and thus looks to further justice on campus."
The campaign’s Facebook page also released
a statement that said, among other things, “The Divest This Time coalition and SJP at GWU will continue to uplift these voices as we move forward in our campaign to end GW complicity in one-sided violence."
On May 4, 2017, Abby Brook
— Divest This Time founder
and SJP at GWU student activist — told
The GW Hatchet student newspaper that SJP at GWU would push for a referendum vote, in which the entire student body would vote on divestment.
On May 15, 2017, the Editorial Board of the GW Hatchet published
an article titled: “Divestment referendum would marginalize part of the student body." The article recalled the sharply divided Student Association Senate vote and criticized SJP at GWU’s announcement to push for a vote rather than increase dialogue and understanding concerning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on campus.
SJP at GWU student activist Maryam Alhassani
shared the editorial board’s article on Facebook and commented
: “This is a huge f**k you to all the Palestinians on campus and in Palestine. The GW Hatchet thank you for showing us how sh**ty you are and how Palestinians don't matter…"
SJP at GWU - Palestine Awareness Week
On March 27, 2017, SJP at GWU launched
Palestine Awareness Week (PAW). The kick-off of PAW was a speaking event
that featured Angela Davis. The Facebook event page noted that Davis’ 2015 book, titled" Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine and the Foundations of a Movement," purported to reveal “the deep connections between the incarceration of Black Americans and the continued occupation of Palestine by the state of Israel."
SJP at GWU - Promoting Anti-Semites and Holocaust Deniers
The rally demonized the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and featured a lineup of speakers who have spread anti-Semitism. Among them was the rally’s lead organizer, Al-Awda co-founder Abbas Hamideh
, who has been called out
for promoting anti-Semitism on his Twitter account, by a prominent pro-Israel blog. Hamideh personally thanked
SJP at GWU for promoting the event on Facebook.
The rally’s Facebook page accused Israel of “ethnic cleansing" and demanded: “End the illegal occupation of Palestine from the River to the Sea!." The chant “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free" — which Hamideh confirmed
as a call to eliminate Israel — was a constant refrain
at the rally.
Another speaker at the rally was Ryan Dawson
— a denier
of Nazi gas chambers. Dawson mocked
ancient Jewish Scriptures and attacked
Jewish historical claims to the Land of Israel. Dawson’s comments were greeted with cheers. Dawson also said
: “If I can give something across to the scumbags inside … AIPAC is a virus … AIPAC is a parasite." Those comments were also greeted
with shouts of approval.
Anti-Israel activist and author Miko Peled
also spoke at the rally, claiming
: “We know very well that the Palestinian resistance is not terrorism. Palestinian resistance is legitimate resistance. And all of us today are part of that resistance." Peled’s comments were met with applause and shouts
of approval from the crowd.
On March 27, 2017, SJP at GWU shared
on Facebook produced by Al Jazeera with footage from the rally including David Feldman, a member of the Neturei Karta
— a marginal
, anti-Zionist, fringe Jewish group. He has helped to tokenize
the radically anti-Zionist Neturei Karta members — and has falsely portrayed their anti-Zionism as emblematic of mainstream Judaism. The group is notorious for its delegation
to an Iranian Holocaust denial conference
SJP at GWU - Promoting “Anti-Normalization"
On March 30, 2016, SJP at GWU hosted
an event titled: “Why You Should Take Sides: Israel/Palestine and Normalization."
The Facebook event page description referred to the definition of “Anti-Normalization" according
to the Palestine Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) which opposes the normalization of relations between Israelis and Palestinians (and/or Arabs). PACBI defines
“normalization" as “the participation in any project, initiative or activity" aiming “to bring together Palestinians (and/or Arabs) and Israelis (people or institutions) without placing as its goal resistance to and exposure of the Israeli occupation."
that Zionists “are trying to soil the words we hold sacred — Shahid, Martyr, Revolutionary’ which are sacred because they "belong to the oppressed. They empower us and strike fear into the hearts of cowards. We are people of resistance and we need to rebuild our culture of resistance."(1.00)
He also stated
: "We must resist the Zionist entity at every turn. They must know that their presence is not welcome anywhere that values justice. I don’t care what the setting may be, there is no room for a diversity of opinions on issues of human rights!" (3.30)
Radi went on to say
that “by surrendering to the language of peace, we have handcuffed the means in which our people back home can resist." (1:04)
SJP at GWU - Saltwater Challenge
On May 12, 2017, Maryam Alhassani
SJP at GWU student activists in a “Saltwater Challenge," in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners then hunger striking in Israeli prisons.
The prisoners’ hunger strike was initiated by Marwan Barghouti
, then serving five consecutive life sentences for his role in shooting attacks that killed five Israelis during the second Intifada.
his doctorate in Political Science while in Israeli prison.
According to CNN, the Salt Water Challenge appears
to have been invented
by Marwan Barghouti’s son, Aarab Marwan Barghouti.
SJP at GWU - Hosting Right to Education Tour 2016
On April 5, 2016, SJP at GWU hosted
“two Palestinian students from Birzeit University in the West Bank who are travelling the US on the Right to Education Tour."
The Facebook event page linked to a video “to learn more about R2E," by Birzeit University students, published in 2013. The video celebrated
the creation of the Palestinian curriculum and attacked what it called
“a Jewish-American organization," The Center for Monitoring The Impact of Peace
, for exposing that curriculum’s indoctrination of children to terror.
The campaign brings students to U.S. campuses, who claim that Israel is obstructing the rights of Palestinians to higher education. These claims mischaracterize sweeps
Israeli security forces have taken to shut down terror cells operating from Birzeit’s campus.
Birzeit’s student body elected
Hamas to power in 2003, 2015 and 2016.
In January of 2016, Birzeit characterized
an IDF raid to arrest wanted militants as a “belligerent ... attack on the university and our right to education …"
In September of 2014, pro-Palestinian Haaretz reporter Amira Hass was thrown off
of Birzeit’s campus — because Hass is Jewish.
SJP at GWU - Hosting Radicals
On April 9, 2015, SJP at GWU hosted
a speaking event featuring Iyad Burnat
— the coordinator of the so-called Bil’in Popular Non Violent Resistance Committee
, has repeatedly equated
Israel with Hitler and ISIS has been accused
of personally attacking
Israeli soldiers. The weekly demonstrations
he has organized against the Israeli security barrier since 2005 have frequently turned violent
On March 2, 2015, SJP at GWU hosted
an event that featured anti-Israel author Miko Peled, titled: “Palestine Beyond Zionism - Hope for Peace and Co-Existence."
The Facebook event page description claimed: “… In South Africa removing Apartheid was the key to ending the plight of black South Africans, in Palestine removing Zionism is the key to resolving the plight of the Palestinians."
SJP at GWU – Celebrating Violence
On March 8, 2016, SJP at GWU shared,
with supportive comments, photos of numerous women — masked by Keffiyehs — brandishing guns, firing slingshots and collecting large rocks.