OverviewGabriel Levine has condemned as “unconstitutional" the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, a bipartisan bill drafted in response to growing anti-Semitism in the United States.
In 2014, Levine co-founded a Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) chapter at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he served as a JVP board member and promoted the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on campus.
In 2014, Levine spoke on a panel at the annual US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (ETO) Conference. ETO has been renamed the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR). USPCR is a coalition of American-based anti-Israel organizations that lobbies the U.S. Congress to adopt anti-Israel policies and end government support for Israel.
Levine is also a member of the Facebook group International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and has spread hatred of Israel on social media.
As of February 2018, Levine’s Linkedin said he was a Quantitative Analyst at Trulia in San Francisco. He is a 2014 UCLA graduate with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Economics.
Opposing the Anti-Semitism Awareness ActIn December 2016, Levine 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."
Anti-Israel Campus ActivismIn April 2014, Levine co-founded a JVP chapter at UCLA.
In one of its first campaigns, the group handed out flyers and tabled on Bruin Walk to campaign for a boycott against Israeli companies Soda Stream and Ahava.
In May 2014, Levine drafted a pledge to be signed by all students campaigning for student government. The pledge called on all candidates to promise that they would not take trips to Israel sponsored by the pro-Israel groups American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) or Hasbara Fellowships.
On November 4, 2014, Levine posted a graphic on his Facebook page in support of an SJP UCLA divestment resolution. The resolution, which was later endorsed by the UCLA student government, called on the University of California Board of Regents to divest from a list of companies allegedly tied to violence against Palestinians.
Promoting BDSOn May 16, 2015, Levine wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times, stating: “There were and are many Jewish students, like me, who will stand in solidarity with the peaceful Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel until it recognizes Palestinian human rights."
On June 25, 2015, Levine shared a Newsweek article on Facebook titled: “FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN ISRAEL DROPS BY 50%" and captioned it: “#BDS."
On May 18, 2015, Levine shared an article on Facebook titled “Finland boycotts Jewish National Fund" and wrote: “Good. JNF’s actions have and are a part of the continuing dispossession of Palestinians."
On May 13, 2015, Levine shared on Facebook an article titled, “It’s time to boycott Ben and Jerry’s." The article condemned the company for establishing a manufacturing plant in Israel.
On April 18, 2014, Levine tweeted: “#BoycottSodastream #boycottAhava both products made in illegal Israeli settlements."
On March 28, 2015, Levine shared an article on Facebook titled,“France-based firm pulls out of Jerusalem cable car project" and captioned it: “BDS is working."
On June 20, 2014, Levine responded to a tweet which said: “How sad. The Presbyterian church has disappointed the Jewish people." Levine said: “@RozRothstein don't you dare speak for all Jews. Many Jewish people are happy that the Church has divested from the violent occupation."
On June 15, 2014, Levine tweeted: “Young Jews like me aren't going to stand for violence committed in our names! Please divest Presbyterian Chuch #ChurchDivest."
On June 13, 2014, Levine posted a photo on Facebook from his graduation. In the photo, he and three others held up a Palestinian flag and a large sign saying “DIVEST." Levine also wrote “#NoRestTillWeDivest."
On June 5, 2014, Levine tweeted about “the importance of continuing to push for #BDS" and added the hashtag “#NoRestTillWeDivest."
On April 13, 2014, Levine tweeted: “... BDS is necessary - it makes occupation uncomfortable, untenable for Israelis in Tel Aviv and Haifa."
Spreading Hatred of IsraelOn April 4, 2017, Levine tweeted at the pro-Israel Bruins for Israel club at UCLA, saying “How does it feel to promote an Apartheid State in 2017?"
On June 2, 2015, Levine shared to Facebook an article titled “When will Israel stop seeing Palestinians as a 'demographic threat?'" Levine also commented: “This is why I have a problem with Zionism: ‘The terrible irony is that in its desire to escape its history as a persecuted minority, the Israeli Jewish population became an oppressive majority obsessed with racial control…’"
On May 22, 2015, Levine tweeted at Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International, writing: “.@eric_fingerhut dangerously reduces Jewish identity 2 support of a settler-colonial state tht violates non-Jewish human rights #OpenHillel."
In July 2016, BTS was discredited by Israel’s investigative Channel 10 TV show, HaMakor (The Source). HaMakor presented a report revealing that a substantial number of BTS testimonies are untrue or distorted.
On May 23, 2014, Levine tweeted: “Kerry is right: Israel is moving towards Apartheid."
On May 2, 2014, Levine tweeted: “ … in order to attain an Jewish ethnic majority, 750,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from what is now Israel. Unjust."
On April 27, 2014, Levine tweeted: “... Ethnic privilege is embedded in Israel's laws;non-Jewish citizens R effectively 2nd class citizens."
On April 18, 2014, Levine tweeted: “Zionism as practiced today which denies human rights to ensure Jewish ethnic majority."
Condemning Jewish Heritage TourOn December 3, 2017, Levine 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.
At the protest, Levine spoke [00:45:04] about how much he disliked Birthright when he participated on a trip in 2011. Levine explained that he accepted the free trip in order to “see the West Bank, after, and see the occupation firsthand."
Levine added [00:46:04] that “during the trip, I was in contact with Palestinian NGO leaders" and that after the trip, he “joined Palestinians on a protest" and that the experience “led him to believe that Zionism is unjust."
He concluded by promoting BDS and urging [00:47:12] those who were thinking of taking the trip to “visit Palestine after." Levine also encouraged [00:47:42] the audience “to urge [their] family members to boycott Birthright."
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).
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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