Emma Davis is a junior at Vassar College (Vassar), majoring in Political Science. She is also a Democracy Fellow at Mayday Pac.
In 2014, Davis was elected Vice President of her sophomore class at Vassar and was an elected class representative in 2013. She is the committee chair of the Political Science Department at Vassar. On February 12, 2016, Davis changed her Facebook profile picture to declare support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and to indicate solidarity with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Vassar (SJP Vassar) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) at Vassar (JVP Vassar).
On October 24, 2015 Davis retweeted Chicago JVP’s encouragement to picketers of a Jewish National Fund (JNF) donor event. Those picketers falsely accused JNF of "ethnic cleansing" as well as stealing Palestinian land and water.
JNF was founded in 1901 to buy land in Ottoman Empire-controlled Palestine for Jewish resettlement and to plant forests. JNF now works with the the governments of Egypt and Jordan to find solutions to the problems shared by arid and semi-arid countries around the world and advance strategies for sustainable development of desert regions. Since 2009, JNF has been helping the Palestinian Authority plan public parks and other civic amenities for the Palestinian city of Rawabi, north of Ramallah. Due to JNF, the amount of recycled water in Israel is now more than 85%.
SJP Vassar - Support for Terror
In February 2016, SJP Vassar announced that they would be selling "sweet fucking antiZionist gear" at their future events, such as a T-shirt featuring gun-toting terrorist Leila Khaled.
Khaled was a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and participated in the hijacking of TWA Flight 840 in 1969 and El Al Flight 219 in 1970.
In a 2014 interview, Khaled opined that the Palestinian second intifada failed because it was not violent enough.
SJP Vassar also advertised the sale of “Existence is Resistance" T-shirts, which include various designs featuring the words “Straight Outta F**k Israel" a picture of a masked gunman, as well as the Leila Khaled T-shirt.
On October 6, 2015, SJP Vassar whitewashed Palestinian terrorist Fadi Aloon as a civilian who was shot while “run[ning] from a racist mob."
Fadi Aloon was shot by Israeli security forces after he stabbed a 15-year-old Israeli boy. Several hours before the attack, Aloon posted “Either martyrdom or victory" on his Facebook page.
SJP Vassar - Spreading Incitement
In February 2016, SJP Vassar’s Facebook page said that the group sought a “full decolonization of Palestinian lands," a call to dismantle the state of Israel.
On October 21, 2013, SJP Vassar posted an article on Facebook alleging that Israel was carrying out a campaign to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The allegation that Jews “threaten" to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque has been a traditional pretext for Arab attacks on Jews long before the existence of the modern Jewish state.
Such propaganda served as the excuse for an upsurge in Palestinian violence that flared in the fall of 2015 and incited Palestinians to attempt mass casualty attacks on Israeli civilians in July 2016.
SJP Vassar - Spreading Hate
In May 2014, SJP Vassar was forced to issue an apology for posting a Nazi-style, anti-Semitic cartoon on its Tumblr account. Vassar’s President, Catharine Hill, announced a review of SJP Vassar’s status as a student group, and said that Vassar would probe use of the image “as a bias incident under college regulations."
In late February 2014, SJP Vassar staged a protest against a proposed class trip to Israel, outside the classroom of the professor leading the trip. The belligerent behavior of the SJP Vassar members left the professor and her students feeling harassed and intimidated.
On March 3, 2014, Vassar held an open forum to discuss the “ethics" of the class trip to Israel. SJP Vassar members turned out to picket the event. Reports from attendees were that “Jewish kids who spoke were heckled" and drowned out with a finger snapping noise and loudly laughed at" and that “rage against Israel was the theme."
In February 2014, SJP Vassar shared a video called “This Divestment Hurts my Feelings."
On March 4, 2014, SJP Vassar mocked pro-Israel students on Facebook who felt “attacked" and “vulnerable" after receiving fake eviction notices in their dorm rooms.
In April 2014, the group posted on Facebook a cartoon ridiculing pro-Israel college students for feeling attacked and unsafe.
SJP Vassar - Honoring Human Shield
In November 2014, SJP Vassar co-sponsored a play with JVP Vassar honoring the memory of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activist Rachel Corrie.
The International Solidarity Movement (ISM), founded in 2001, is a movement allegedly “committed to resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land using nonviolent, direct-action methods and principles."
However, the group has been accused of supporting terrorism and has encouraged its foreign volunteers to act “as human shields in cities, towns and refugee camps." ISM has also encouraged activists to break curfew and disregard Israeli directives prohibiting access to closed military zones.
That policy resulted in the death of Rachel Corrie, who was accidentally killed while interfering with an Israeli military operation in 2003. A wrongful death suit brought by Corrie’s family was dismissed, because the judge ruled that Corrie unreasonably chose to put her own life in danger.
Promoting BDS at Vassar
On February 1, 2016 JVP Vassar and SJP Vassar partnered to form
the Vassar Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (VBDS) Coalition, which sought to pass a resolution that would be considered by the Vassar Student Association (VSA) on March 6, 2016.
The resolution, which was co-authored by Rosen, demanded that Vassar “boycott and divest from the main colonizing force in Israel/Palestine, Zionism." The resolution also aimed to prohibit using student funds to purchase goods from 11 companies that had ties to Israel, such as Ben & Jerry’s and Sabra Hummus.
VBDS organized over a month and a half of anti-Israel events, culminating in Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), to advocate for the divestment resolution’s passage.
Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) is presented as “an international series of events that seek to raise awareness of Israel’s settler-colonial project and apartheid system over the Palestinian people" and build support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement. IAW has been re-named Palestine Awareness Week.
VBDS Promoting Hate-Speech
On February 3, 2016, VBDS’ promoted an event that featured anti-Israel professor Jasbir Puar, speaking on “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters."
Puar began her speech by calling for armed struggle against Israel. She went on to demonize Israel, suggesting that Israelis harvest the organs of dead Palestinians. Puar also claimed that Israel was maiming and “stunting" Palestinians via food restrictions.
Puar also opined that the reason Israeli Jews have not killed Palestinians is “[t]hey need the Palestinians alive in order to keep the kind of rationalization for their victimhood and their militarized economy."
JVP Vassar - Demonizing Israel
In March 2015, JVP Vassar and SJP Vassar co-sponsored an event featuring Dr. Sa'ed Atshan, speaking on “resistance in Palestine." Atshan, a leading proponent of BDS, wants the Jewish state to be dissolved in favor of another democratic state, but stripped of its Jewish majority.
On November 19, 2015, JVP Vassar promoted an initiative called “Renounce Birthright," calling on Jews aged 18-26 to renounce a free trip to Israel provided by Birthright. The Renounce Birthright initiative states “We are young Jews living in the diaspora committed to mobilizing for the abolition of Birthright."
According to the site, anybody that visits Israel on Birthright is “willfully taking advantage of [his or her] racial privilege" and “complicit in sustaining the occupation."
On November 17, 2015 JVP Vassar shared an article on Facebook titled “The way for Americans to take on the Islamic state is to end support for Jewish nationalism." commenting “We are Jewish, we stand against the oppressive Israeli state, and we will not be ignored."
JVP Vassar was created in October 2014. JVP Vassar frequently partners with members of Students for Justice in Palestine at Vassar (SJP Vassar) to host anti-Israel speakers and events.
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."
SJP chapters regularly host speakers who use language considered anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department and individuals linked to terrorist activity.
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."
BDS initiatives include compelling institutions and individuals to divest from Israeli-affiliated companies, academic boycotts, anti-Israel rallies and protests.
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.
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."
JVP denies the notion of "Jewish peoplehood" and has even gone so far as to refer to its own Ashkenazi (Jews who spent the Diaspora in European countries) leadership as supreme inside of JVP."
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."
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