Tanya Keilani has demonized
anti-normalization and supported
the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS)
Keilani was reportedly
a member of the Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC)
at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and a member
of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)
at Columbia University (Columbia) in 2013.
Keilani was an organizer
of the 2011 National SJP conference held at Columbia.
Keilani is the founder
of Love Under Apartheid
, a social media campaign featuring videos portraying Palestinian love stories in the Israeli “apartheid state."
In 2017, Keilani was an activist
with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
As of February 2020, Keilani’s LinkedIn page said
she was a Media Consultant and the Director of Media and Audience Engagement at a “Non-profit media organization" since June 2014, and based in Brooklyn, New York.
Keilani’s LinkedIn page also said
she received her master’s degree in Anthropology from Columbia in 2012 and studied for a “Dual Degree in History and Spanish-Hispanic Studies," at UT Austin.
On February 27, 2011, Keilani published
an article she co-authored with fellow SJP activist, Randa Wahbe
, in the Columbia Spectator, titled: “Israel Practices Apartheid." In the article, the authors promoted Israel Apartheid Week (IAW) and claimed that: “Israel discriminates against its Palestinian minority—20 percent of the total population—by corralling them in ghettos…"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
The authors also suggested
that Israel was a settler-state practicing “racism" and “colonialism," adding that “C-SJP’s objective in hosting international Israeli Apartheid Week is not to debate whether Israel is practicing apartheid, as this is a fact already substantiated."
On December 14, 2011, Keilani published
an article on the anti-Israel
, in which she promoted
CSJP’s endorsement of an “anti-normalization" policy, which included the condemnation of “any project designed to bring together Palestinian and/or Arab youth with Zionists that ‘is not explicitly designed to resist or expose the occupation and all forms of discrimination and oppression inflicted upon the Palestinian people.’"
Keilani also wrote
: “After years of struggle with normalization, it felt liberating to come out of the closet. We were not going to normalize and we weren’t afraid to say it."
Proponents of the “anti-normalization" policy seek to police all interactions between Israelis and Palestinians and shut down all conversations, interactions and speech that they perceive as being ideologically unaligned with their own agenda. Adherents to this position reject “liberal Zionist" groups who seek to dialogue with Palestinians, on the grounds that such interaction “normalizes" entrenched power dynamics.
This policy was originally dictated by the BDS National Committee (BNC), which listed as one of its “main activities" the “Monitoring & Rapid Response" against interactions that recognize or cooperate with “Israel’s regime."
Support for BDS
In a September 21, 2011 interview with Electronic Intifada as an organizer of that year’s National SJP meeting to be held at Columbia University, Keilani said
: “BDS is something we can all come together around. Just having a little bit of success here and there, even if it’s small, really pushes us to work on these campaigns and make sure that we have a presence on each campus and make sure that we have a consolidated movement."
: “I remember as an undergrad we never mentioned BDS until the [2005 Palestinian civil society call] came out. Then it was something that we discussed and thought, you know, is this something we want to take on, how do we feel about this. At the time that was a really scary thing to think about taking on BDS, and now that’s very different."
In 2017, Keilani presented
a seminar, titled “Media and Messaging for Palestinian Rights," at Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)
’s National Membership Meeting.
Keilani co-presented the seminar with JVP leader Naomi Dann
, to teach “messaging and media planning tips and tools from the Institute for Middle East Understanding and JVP."
On March 13-15, 2015, Keilani joined
Midwest Regional JVP Organizer Ilana Rossoff
and National Director of Media and Communications with American Muslims for Palestine (AMP)
Kristian Szremski to address “the discourse on Israel and Palestine in“a panel about normalization" at the 2015 JVP National Membership Meeting.
CSJP’s Mock Israeli Checkpoint 2010
On November 20, 2010, CSJP uploaded
a video to their YouTube channel, titled: “Mock Israeli Checkpoint at Columbia University"
On November 18, 2010, CSJP activists staged
[00:00:01] a mock Israeli checkpoint on Columbia’s Low Plaza.
Activists, dressed as Israeli soldiers blindfolded
[00:01:08] and taped over the mouths of other activists, who were meant to portray Palestinians.
Israeli checkpoints were built
to prevent terror attacks, like suicide bombings
, against Israel's civilian population.
The video claimed
[00:02:21] that “91% of students at An-Najah University miss classes because of delays at checkpoints."
Al-Najah (alternatively, An Najah) University is the largest Palestinian university in the West Bank and is notorious for its triumphal exhibit
lauding the August 9, 2001 Sbarro cafe suicide bombing
. The blast killed 15 civilians, including 7 children and a pregnant woman and wounded 130.
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 individuals linked to terrorist activity and speakers who use language considered anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department.
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 has been linked to numerous terrorist organizations and received a public endorsement from Hamas.
BDS initiatives include calling on institutions and individuals to divest from Israeli-affiliated companies, promoting academic and cultural boycotts of Israel and 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, 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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