OverviewRebecca Lewis [Becca Lewis] has demonized Israel as an activist with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement at George Washington University (GWU) university.
She was active in the 2018 BDS campaign at GWU known as “#DivestThisTime." SJP at GWU activists led the campaign.
As of the same date, Lewis’s LinkedIn page said she has been an assistant in the “Events and Operations Team" at the Institute for International Economic Policy at GWU since August 2016.
Demonizing IsraelOn June 2, 2018, Lewis tweeted: “huge shout out to my queer comrades actively fighting israeli apartheid in Palestine. yall are the real heroes this month, & every month."
On May 25, 2018, Lewis shared a Facebook post where SJP activists at the University of Houston (UH) accused [00:00:17] Israel of “genocide," while disrupting a speech by Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Activists opposed Haley’s support for Israel during the Gaza March of Return, chanting [00:00:30]: “Nikki, Nikki, can’t you see? You’re on a killing spree! Haley, Haley, you can’t hide! You signed off on genocide!"
The “right of return" is a Palestinian demand discredited as a means to eliminate Israel.
March participants sent scores of kites bearing explosive devices across Israel’s border to burn Israeli crops and homes. Participants also attempted to breach the border fence, which caused the Israeli Defense Forces to respond with live fire.
Agitators threw Molotov cocktails, firebombs, shot firearms and threw rocks under the cover of smoke from burning tires.
On May 18, 2018, Lewis shared a Facebook post comparing Israel’s security fence to the Berlin Wall, in a post about the March of Return.
On May 18, 2018, Lewis shared a Facebook post about ongoing violent riots attempting to breach the Israeli-Gaza border fence. The Hamas terror organization led the protests and the post defended Hamas.
The post said: “The Great Return March WAS NOT ORGANIZED BY HAMAS but by large swaths of Palestinian society. Hamas is a political party and a resistance faction. Many Palestinians identify with it. That's their right as a people struggling to be free. So, nothing, Hamas or otherwise, justifies killing 62 unarmed Palestinians who just want to return to their home."
On May 17, 2018, Lewis shared a Facebook post that supported the March of Return that said: “Gaza is an open-air prison."
Lewis retweeted a May 14, 2018 tweet accusing Israel of committed “genocide" during the March of Return.
Lewis retweeted a May 14, 2018 tweet that accused Israel of having a “purely colonial nature."
Lewis retweeted a December 29, 2017 tweet defending anti-Israel agitator Ahed Tamimi and linking to an article by her father, propagandist Bassam Tamimi.
Tamimi is the daughter of Bassem Tamimi, who is known 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.
Israel’s security barrier, 97% of which is a low chain link barrier, was built as a deterrent to Palestinian terror attacks. The concrete portions of the fence were built in response to Palestinian sniper attacks.
BDS ActivismOn March 24, 2018, Lewis appeared [00:02:51] in the #DivestThisTime promotional Facebook video, where she supported the so-called “right of return" and presented UN Resolution 194 as binding international law.
The “right of return" is a Palestinian demand discredited as a means to eliminate Israel. International law mandates no absolute right of return and UN Resolution 194, which defined principles for “refugees wishing to return to their homes," was unanimously rejected by Arab nations following the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
On April 7, 2018, Lewis participated in a Facebook photo campaign to promote #DivestThisTime.
On April 23, 2018, Lewis spoke [00:39:50] before the GWU Student Association (SA) to represent SJP at GWU and promote the #DivestThisTime anti-Israel divestment resolution.
The resolution implied that “Israel is the worst apartheid regime" and that Israel imposes “forced labour" on Palestinians. It also implied that Israel divides “its population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups."
The resolution portrayed Israeli military campaigns against Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as deliberate attempts to kill children and civilians. It also singled out Israel for alleged violations of the Geneva Convention and war crimes.
Israel commenced Operations Cast Lead (OCL), Pillar of Defense (OPD) and Protective Edge (OPE) in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014 respectively, in order to stop Hamas rocket fire from Gaza targeting Israeli civilians.
Three of the resolution’s four co-sponsors voted [00:09:59] against an amendment [00:07:15] acknowledging that “Israel is a state and has the right to exist" and that Israelis have the “right to safety, security and self-determination." The fourth co-sponsor abstained.
JVP ActivismOn December 3, 2017, Lewis attended [00:06:20] a JVP-organized Return the Birthright protest, outside the Birthright offices in New York City.
At the rally, Lewis joined [00:09:29] in a chant claiming [00:48:25] that Israel is built on “stolen" land, saying: “Birthright! Birth-wrong! The land was stolen all along!" She also participated [00:07:40] in another chant accusing Israel of “apartheid."
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.
#DivestThisTime at GWU 2018 - Instigated by SJP at GWUOn March 24, 2018, student groups at GWU launched the second BDS campaign in two years; both were titled “#DivestThisTime." Activists with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at GWU (SJP at GWU) led both campaigns.
On the campaign launch day, #DivestThisTime released a Facebook promotional video, in which activists alleged [00:01:23] that Israel has committed “crimes against humanity." They also claimed [00:03:34] that Palestinians are “bombed every day" and blamed [00:02:06] Israeli for police violence against black Americans in Ferguson, Missouri.
SJP at GWU held five events leading up to the launch of #DivestThisTime, which formed part of its 2018 Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). 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 BDS movement.
#DivestThisTime at GWU 2018 - Demonizing IsraelOn April 23-24, 2018, the GWU Student Association (SA) held a hearing and vote on the BDS resolution. At least 18 SJP at GWU activists and affiliates addressed [01:07:50] the SA in defense of the resolution, where it passed [00:21:53] via [00:11:14] a secret ballot with 18 votes for, six against and six abstentions.
During the hearing, many Jewish students said [01:09:05] they experienced [01:24:45] anti-Semitism related to #DivestThisTime. One student spoke [00:50:40] about the Jewish community’s pain when “this hateful and divisive resolution was proposed over Passover." One Jewish Israeli-American student said [00:48:05] it “creates an environment where I am made to feel that my identity is taboo" at GWU.
One black Jewish student said [01:39:24] that an SJP activist told him he was “weaponizing" his identity when he asked why a clause mentioning the “discriminatory conditions black people face in the Gaza Strip under Palestinian leadership" was omitted from the resolution.
SJP at GWU activists mocked [00:52:48] or dismissed [00:39:50] concerns over anti-Semitism. Other resolution supporters voiced agreement [00:45:40] with the SJP at GWU activists, including one who claimed [01:04:13] that resolution opponents were stoking “racial fears and sowing the divisions."
A number of Jewish students walked out [00:35:19] of the hearing to protest [00:33:21] the resolution and to protest the SA’s inaction to combat anti-Semitism within its own ranks.
On April 24, 2018, three of the four resolution co-sponsors — Joshua Gomez, Eden Vitoff and Shaheera Jalil Albasit — voted [00:09:59] against an amendment [00:07:15] that said: “Palestinians and Israelis, like all people, have the right to safety, security, and self-determination" and “Israel is a state and has the right to exist." Jessica Martinez, the other co-sponsor, abstained [00:10:06].
On May 10, 2018, Al Jazeera published a report on Youtube about #DivestThisTime. SJP at GWU activists spoke [00:01:47] to passers-by on campus and stood next to a display [00:01:43] labeled the “Israeli Apartheid Wall" that demonized Israel’s security barrier.
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 Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement was founded by Omar Barghouti in 2005 as an allegedly “Palestinian-led movement" to challenge “international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism."
In 2015, Barghouti was quoted saying that “BDS aims to turn Israel into a pariah state, as South Africa once was, and to isolate its regime of oppression in order to achieve our UN-stipulated rights."
The dominant organization in the BDS Movement is the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Campaign National Committee (BNC), founded by Barghouti in 2007, during the First Palestinian Conference for the Boycott of Israel.
The movement’s most notable achievement has been the infiltration of university campuses through lobbying for “BDS resolutions." In these cases, student governments, backed by anti-Israel affiliates, have proposed resolutions on some form of boycott of — or divestment from — Israel and Israeli-affiliated entities.
These boycott 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.
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 Israel critics Naomi Klein, Judith Butler, Noam Chomsky and Tony Kushner.
JVP, which generally employs civil disobedience tactics to disrupt 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 “white supremacy 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 value."
The ADL also claimed that “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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