OverviewSam Cibula has demonized Israel and whitewashed terrorists at Vassar College (Vassar). Cibula is an activist with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and an affiliate of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Vassar.
He has also promoted the #returnthebirthright initiative launched by JVP against the Birthright Jewish heritage tour (Birthright).
Demonizing IsraelOn April 16, 2018, Cibula wrote an article in the online magazine Boilerplate to publicize Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) at Vassar. The article was titled “ISRAEL IS NOT AN INCLUSIVE PARADISE."
In his article, Cibula implied that Israel is an “imperialistic project" and a racist state. He also promoted a libel that Israel forcefully sterilized Ethiopian Jews, a claim that was based on a flawed report by Ha’aretz.
Cibula also encouraged students to attend IAW at Vassar, where “Jewish resistance to Zionism will be celebrated through a number of on-campus events." He concluded: “It is time to acknowledge and disavow the crimes of the government that claims to act in our name."
Cibula’s article also promoted anti-Israel agitator Ahed Tamimi.
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.
On March 25, 2018, Cibula was featured in a photo posted on the Vassar JVP Instagram account holding a sign that read: “End All Occupation Support Decolonization."
Whitewashing TerroristsIn his April 2018 article, Cibula also whitewashed the 2018 “Great March of Return" and justified Palestinian violence against Israeli soldiers.
On March 30, 2018, some 30,000 Palestinians in Gaza approached Israel’s border to take part in “Land Day Protests" or the “March of Return."
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.
Cibula’s article also lamented the death of Yasser Murtaja, who he described as a “photojournalist."
Yasser Murtaja, a photojournalist, was reportedly a Hamas spy who used drones to film Israeli positions. Murtaja was shot on April 6, 2018 as he filmed the 2018 “March of Return" protest in Gaza.
Condemning Jewish Heritage TourOn April 15, 2018, Cibula participated in a Return the Birthright protest outside the Taglit Birthright Gala in New York City. Cibula held a sign that read “Young Jews for Palestinian Right of Return."
He told the crowd [01:11:58]: “I return the Birthright because I believe in a just world, free of colonialism and settler colonialism and all other types of colonialism."
JVP members from across the United States assembled to chant anti-Birthright slogans outside the Birthright offices.
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.
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."