On March 21st, a group of students enthusiastically chanted “Intifada, Intifada” at a Brooklyn College vigil held in honor of the victims of the Christchurch massacre. Days later, the campus’ Israel Apartheid Week was hosted by the Brooklyn College Socialists, Students for Justice in Palestine and the Brooklyn College Student Union; unfortunately, this anti-semitic campaign is now on “37 campuses around the country,” according to a recent article by Carly Pilidis, a founding member of the pro-Israel progressive organization “Zioness.” Pilides describes Israel Apartheid Week as “[an] annual event of protests, rallies, film screenings, lectures and actions designed to promote BDS and the idea that Israel is a colonialist apartheid regime.” It is a shame that these same distorted lies were brought to my campus, to Brooklyn College.
When Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, is slandered as an “apartheid state,” this lie must be passionately condemned. Where else could an Israeli-Arab judge, Salim Joubran, argue for a Jewish former prime minister, Ehud Olmert, to be indicated further? It is appalling that students across the country are subject to the blatant untruth that Israel is an “apartheid state” or a “colonialist regime” when the country grants equal rights to all people, regardless of their race or religion. Of course, the same cannot be said for its neighbors. Syria commits genocide against its people through chemical warfare, siege tactics and starvation. Palestinian refugees in Lebanon have been marginalized and mistreated, including the right to work as they are denied access to 72 different professions.
Israel Apartheid Week fosters hatred; for example, on Israel’s Independence Day on May 2, 2018, an Israeli flag was burned, and a Zionist student was injured at a Realize Israel event. Other student events have been disrupted such as at City College. Given this, it is not surprising that we see hatred expressed through calls for an intifada.
In response to these disgusting chants, our College President, Michelle Anderson, explained that while she condemns any calls of violence against Jews, she supports freedom of speech and the Brooklyn College Socialists’ naive definition of “intifada,” which is simply a ‘shaking off’ of the oppression of the Israeli “occupation” in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Despite President Anderson’s and Brooklyn College Socialists’ gaslighting, the Israeli and Jewish communities know that the Second Intifada was a genocidal bloodbath, rife with suicide bombings on buses, in cafes, and even Passover Seders. When the Jewish community on campus hears the chant, “Intifada,” we are reminded of this horror. Our campus’ anti-Israel activists cannot and will not erase this painful history.
It is important that this anti-Semitic hatred is unceasingly countered, which is why I assembled resources and shared them on campus while “Apartheid Israel: The Wall” took place. Our materials shared the truth about Israel and countered the lies that Students for Justice in Palestine propagate. Their messages call for the “stopping of colonization” and the three clear demands of Boycott, Divest and Sanctions, which they displayed on their mock wall.
“1. Ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall.
- Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality and
- Respecting, protecting, and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.”
We countered these demands with a poster that explained that all Israelis are treated equally under the law, regardless of their faith, and that Jews are indigenous to the land of Israel, dating back to Abraham.
Two days after the events, an article was printed in The Kingsman, another Brooklyn College student newspaper, that tried to neutrally describe the ensuing events. The front page of the spring issue featured an article titled, “Disputed Territory: The Israel-Palestine Debate Return to Campus,” which claimed that our two sides merely “clashed” on Bedford Avenue. However, reality is much different. Students for Justice in Palestine gathered across from Bulldogs for Israel and shouted at us, “Free, Free, Palestine,” “Long Live the Intifada,” and “Netanyahu, We Indict You with Genocide.” Their cries for Palestine to be “free” clearly call for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Furthermore, the article claimed that Bulldogs for Israel and Students for Justice in Palestine ignored one another, while the truth is that Students for Justice in Palestine called my club members and board members “murderers,” “brainwashed,” and even ripped up one of our flyers, calling it “fascism.”
As a college student in America, I appreciate freedom of speech, but a week dedicated to lies about a country is discriminatory and would never be accepted for another minority. So why is it accepted here?
Aliyah Jacobson is a rising senior at Brooklyn College studying early childhood education with a concentration in music. She is the CAMERA 2019/2020 fellow and Secretary for Bulldogs for Israel.