Leaked email reveals ADL advice to universities urging anti-Palestine crackdown

Ashraf Amra APA images

As college students go back to class across the US, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is urging a renewed crackdown on Palestine solidarity activism on campus – and at least one California university leader appears to be receptive.

University of California, Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi’s office shared an email (full text below) from Seth Brysk, Central Pacific Regional Director for the ADL, with all of her university’s senior leadership on Monday.

The email warns about an upcoming day of action for Palestinian rights and calls for extra security and “discipline.”

It singles out the advocacy group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) for special attention and makes thinly-veiled allegations of anti-Jewish activity.

The distribution list Katehi’s office sent Brysk’s memo to includes more than two dozen top administrators who make up the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors, and Nick Crossley, the “emergency manager” of the UC Davis police department.

Reached by telephone, the ADL’s Brysk was unwilling to discuss the email with The Electronic Intifada. “That was intended for the person I sent it and I have no comment,” Brysk said. “I’m not sure how you got hold of it and I’m going to hang up now.”

Katehi became notorious as the “Pepper Spray Chancellor” after university police attacked dozens of students protesting peacefully against tuition fee increases with pepper spray in 2011.

In 2012, Katehi led a delegation of US university leaders on a propaganda tour to Israel organized by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange – an initiative aimed at fostering support for Israel among US elites.

After Gaza

“We write to you today to provide information and recommendations about how to respond to conflicts that may arise on your campus due to the recent conflict in Gaza,” the ADL email states.

“In the wake of the recent crisis, anti-Israel organizations are placing increasing pressure on academic institutions to engage in a ‘Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions’ (BDS) activities [sic],” it adds.

The ADL email warns Katehi to “Be aware of the discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that takes place on your campus and the potential for escalation.”

It urges her to “Review student codes of conduct to ensure that activity which is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas is not allowed on campus.”

It also cites ”Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment” – an implicit threat of legal action if the university does not sufficiently crack down on Palestine-related activities.

Targeting Muslim students

The ADL email describes American Muslims for Palestine as “the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations around the country” and alleges that “AMP advocates for a variety of BDS-related initiatives – all in an effort to isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations.”

It also states that AMP’s call for a day of action is “scheduled for the evening before the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.”

Neither AMP nor the Palestinian-led BDS movement advocate for actions targeting “Jewish communal organizations.”

They call for actions aimed at institutions complicit with Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights, including universities and corporations.

The allegation that AMP targets Jewish groups and the reference to Rosh Hashanah appear to be an effort by the ADL to stoke religious tension and to portray Palestine solidarity activism as anti-Semitic – a common and increasingly shrill tactic of anti-Palestinian groups.

The email was forwarded from the chancellor’s office with a note stating “For your information,” suggesting that the chancellor considers it to be sound advice that her subordinates should adopt.

It is a reasonable assumption that the ADL has sent similar emails to other university leaders across California and perhaps other states.

A person familiar with UC Davis distribution lists told The Electronic Intifada that it was unusual for such communications from private advocacy groups to be shared in this manner with the university leadership.

Amid its call for “discipline,” legal warnings and the demand for outright prohibition of certain activities, the ADL urges Katehi to “Send a senior university official to potentially hostile events and prior to the start of the event have him or her remind those in attendance of university codes of conduct regarding free speech and civil discourse.”

The ADL’s description of campus activities related to Palestine as “hostile events” suggests that the university should treat them as security threats.

The reference to “civil discourse” in this context is particularly chilling following the firing of Steven Salaita by the University of Illinois for no discernible reason other than his expressions of horror at Israel’s latest massacre in Gaza.

“The ADL has always been in the business of censoring Palestine’s narrative and promoting Israel and Zionism but they are going a step further by recruiting UC Davis and other university leadership to effectively employ prior restraint on Palestinians’ free speech,” AMP chair Hatem Bazian told The Electronic Intifada.

“We are increasingly witnessing and documenting the Israelization of the university and instrumentalizing academia into the hasbara network,” Bazian, a senior lecturer at UC Berkeley, added.

Hasbara is the Hebrew term Israel uses to describe its efforts to win global support.

The ADL email is another indicator that there will be no let up this fall in Israel lobby efforts to use all repressive means available to stigmatize and punish, if not shut down altogether, campus criticism of Israel’s crimes.

Update, 17 September

After The Electronic Intifada broke this story, The Chronicle of Higher Education picked it up, confirming that the ADL email was sent to numerous campus administrations.

UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi has now published a defensive statement saying that her “office sent the letter to the Council of Deans and Vice Chancellors and others who are engaged in working with students, with the intention of informing them of one perspective on a sensitive issue.”

“We assure our community that UC Davis leadership remains strong advocates of free speech and debate, and we will do the best we can to create the conditions on our campus for this to take place,” the chancellor’s statement adds.

ADL email

From: Lori Hubbard lahubbard@ucdavis.edu
Subject: Fall Campus Activities
Date: September 15, 2014 at 9:26:19 AM PDT
To: “codvc@ucdavis.educodvc@ucdavis.edu, Nick Crossley ncrossley@ucdavis.edu
Cc: “’codvc-assist@ucdavis.edu’ (codvc-assist@ucdavis.edu)” codvc-assist@ucdavis.edu

For your information.

From: Brysk, Seth [mailto:SBrysk@adl.org]
Sent: Friday, September 12, 2014 3:49 PM
To: Linda P.B. Katehi
Subject: Fall Campus Activities
Importance: High

Dear Chancellor Katehi,

We write to you today to provide information and recommendations about how to respond to conflicts that may arise on your campus due to the recent conflict in Gaza.

Over the last several years, we have seen individual students and student groups critical of Israel attempt to stifle dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by disrupting events on campus and refusing to work with pro-Israel and Jewish student groups. In the wake of the recent crisis, anti-Israel organizations are placing increasing pressure on academic institutions to engage in a “Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions” (BDS) activities.

You should be aware that American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations around the country, recently issued a statement calling for an “International Day of Action on College Campuses” on September 23. AMP advocates for a variety of BDS-related initiatives - all in an effort to isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations. These efforts serve only to polarize students on campus, inflame existing tensions, and often isolate and intimidate Jewish students.

AMP’s call for a “Day of Action” –scheduled for the evening before the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah– urges the elimination of study abroad programs in Israel, a ban on university administrators traveling to Israel, and scholars to refuse to participate in research or conferences with colleagues from Israeli institutions. Such tactics disrupt campus life and stifle the ideals of inquiry, free expression, and the civil exchange of ideas - - precisely the foundation on which university communities are built.

The Anti-Defamation League is a strong advocate of free speech and we do not seek to censor or stifle opinions in the university community. We have a long history of fighting for the ideals of individual expression and the free exchange of ideas, even when we disagree with the ideas being exchanged. However, no university should countenance attempts to discourage and suppress free speech, or harass and intimidate Jewish and other students. When this occurs, as in the examples noted above, appropriate action should be taken.

To address these concerns, we urge you to consider implementing the following policies and practices in the coming academic year:

  • Be aware of the discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that takes place on your campus and the potential for escalation.
  • Review student codes of conduct to ensure that activity which is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas is not allowed on campus.
  • When an event takes place on campus where there is potential for disruption, ensure that adequate security is provided to prevent any dangerous escalation in the disruption and ensure the safety of the speakers, organizers and attendees.
  • Send a senior university official to potentially hostile events and prior to the start of the event have him or her remind those in attendance of university codes of conduct regarding free speech and civil discourse.
  • Remember the school’s obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment and to take proactive steps to prevent its recurrence.
  • If the actions of the protestors violate any university policies or codes of conduct, appropriately discipline those involved.
  • Use your own right to free speech to condemn actions which go against the ideals of the university.
  • Reach out to individual students and organizations who may have been negatively affected by an incident.
  • Provide educational opportunities on campus that foster an environment of inclusion, acceptance and respect.

As one of the country’s premier civil rights organizations, ADL has decades of experience in helping administrators and students on campus respond to bigotry and intergroup strife. We would be happy to discuss the challenges many campuses face today and to assist your efforts to ensure that your campus remains a place where all viewpoints can be discussed in an atmosphere of respect and civility. We encourage you to be in touch with us if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Seth Brysk
Central Pacific Regional Director

Anti-Defamation League | 720 Market Street, Suite 800 | San Francisco, CA 94102 Phone: 415-981-3500 | Fax: 415-981-8933 | www.adl.org

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Comments

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Are you sure The Onion didn't write this?

"AMP’s call for a “Day of Action” –scheduled for the evening before the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah– urges the elimination of study abroad programs in Israel, a ban on university administrators traveling to Israel, and scholars to refuse to participate in research or conferences with colleagues from Israeli institutions. Such tactics disrupt campus life and stifle the ideals of inquiry, free expression, and the civil exchange of ideas - - precisely the foundation on which university communities are built.

The Anti-Defamation League is a strong advocate of free speech and we do not seek to censor or stifle opinions in the university community. We have a long history of fighting for the ideals of individual expression and the free exchange of ideas, even when we disagree with the ideas being exchanged. However, no university should countenance attempts to discourage and suppress free speech, or harass and intimidate Jewish and other students. When this occurs, as in the examples noted above, appropriate action should be taken."

I don't know if the ADL is accurately portraying AMP's position. But even if they are accurate in their portrayal, it is hard to take their claim that they value free speech seriously.

Champions of free speech see the need to protect speech they don't particularly like. We would not need a First Amendment in order to protect popular speech.

AMP is trying to express an opinion about what the Administration should do. They are throwing out their ideas into what should be a level playing field of debate. It is hard to see how the ADL can claim to be a champion of free speech while trying to create an atmosphere that would chill the speech of the AMP.

Too bad George Orwell isn't alive today. He would have a field day with this.

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"Too bad George Orwell isn't alive today. He would have a field day with this." With what? The suggestion that any criticism of the displacement, disenfranchisement, and strafe bombing of civilians is de-facto anti-semitism? Why, yes, yes he would. War is Peace, right? Israel's offense is defense. Yes, you and this branch of the ADL would fit his criteria quite well. Oh, you meant...oh, no, then using Orwell is just dull and lazy. Like the rest of your argument.

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I think you misread his comment. He was arguing that the ADL email was loaded with irony, and it's the ADL email that Orwell would have a field with.

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George's bones have dug themselves up, and he is playing soccer with his own skull.

He is purposely scoring on his own goal every time the following statement is uttered:

“Review student codes of conduct to ensure that activity which is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas is not allowed on campus.”

Oh...you mean like CENSORSHIP, right?

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"Dear Northwestern Students,
Welcome! For those of you already on campus, we’re glad to see you back. And for those of you who are still enjoying the last weeks of summer, we’re eagerly anticipating your arrival.
I would like to welcome in particular those of you who are joining the Northwestern family for the first time, whether you are an undergraduate or a student in one of our graduate or professional school programs. I wish each of you a great Northwestern career, full of transformative experiences, both inside and outside the classroom.
This is my sixth year as Northwestern’s president, and I have come to appreciate the values that govern our incredible community – respect, compassion, integrity, intellectual curiosity and social engagement.
We are a university that prides itself in its ability to discuss society’s most contentious issues in a civil manner. We haven’t been perfect by any means – our campuses have not been immune from thoughtless acts that demean one particular group or another. But to a large extent, we have had productive dialogue around the most difficult of topics.
Undoubtedly there are strong passions surrounding the national and international issues that have dominated the news all summer. The worst thing would be to isolate ourselves from a serious discussion of the world’s problems. During the coming academic year, we will continue to foster an environment that includes free expression and a robust exchange of ideas, and I anticipate that we will all share in the occasionally uncomfortable learning that contributes significantly to greater understanding. I encourage all of us at Northwestern to engage with one another as a true community of learners.
Northwestern is a place where discourse and debate are expected; let’s continue that important part of our University heritage, and do so in a respectful and considerate way.
Again, welcome! I look forward to seeing you on campus this fall.
Morton Schapiro
President and Professor

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AMP should proceed with legal action against ADL on grounds of defamation and slander.

If AMP does not take legal action now, they should expect that the defamation would increase to reach the point of actual FBI investigation of AMP for support of terrorist groups. Remember the Bush days when American Muslim organization were investigated on false accusations by Zionist organizations. Be proactive otherwise AMP deserves it's coming demise.

Be careful of the domino affect if AMP does not take legal action now against ADL for slander and defamation.

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The email attempts raise the temperature and create alarm by warning that pro-Palestinian activist are out to target "pro-Israel AND Jewish student groups."

Jewish student groups have nothing what so ever to do with the issue unlike pro-Israel groups.

The Anti-Defamation League is up its' dark tricks again trying to infer that anti-Israel activism is an attack on all Jews.

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"[The ADL email] urges [Katehi] to 'Review student codes of conduct to ensure that activity which is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas is not allowed on campus'" - activity such as, you know, attempts at suppressing criticism of Israel on campus by outside groups, via email.

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The zionist lobby and support groups, like the ADL, are very practiced in defending the morally indefensible. They excel at lies and manipulations and false flags. I do believe they have met their match in student populations, however. It has always been our young people who stand for right against wrong, who recognize the truth and insist upon it. I believe the lasting impact of a site such as the Electronic Intifada are immeasurable to the cause of righteousness and freedom.

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Only way to defeat the "unseen" evil that lurks and works in the darkness is to expose it the light so the innocent can witness their nefarious doings and to wake-up! Kudos to the individual who was courageous enough expose this correspondence.

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the vitriol already showing here is terrific.

read those bullet points closely. not only is every one of them completely in line with the principles of free speech and the protection of a space for free speech and free inquiry, but all the ones recommending actions refer specifically and exclusively to the enforcement of existing laws and codes, for *both* sides in the discourse.

there is nothing wrong with this letter and there would be nothing wrong if the NAACP wrote a similar one for parallel causes.

by making it into something much worse than it is, you are showing exactly the intolerance and intimidation toward one side of this conflict that the letter recommends against and which you claim to be combating.

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It seems ADL has just commented. Read the rubbish above. As usual to defend themselves they start accusing others of what they are doing. Now this Hasbara is describing the critical comments as vitriol comments . If we give this Hasbara another five minutes, we will read accusation of antisemitism.

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Your analogy: "there is nothing wrong with this letter and there would be nothing wrong if the NAACP wrote a similar one for parallel causes." (sic) is weak.

There WOULD be something wrong were the NAACP to cry anti-black racism for criticism of the actions and policies of, say, Zimbabwe.

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Let's repost the purported points:

•Be aware of the discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that takes place on your campus and the potential for escalation.
•Review student codes of conduct to ensure that activity which is detrimental to the free exchange of ideas is not allowed on campus.
•When an event takes place on campus where there is potential for disruption, ensure that adequate security is provided to prevent any dangerous escalation in the disruption and ensure the safety of the speakers, organizers and attendees.
•Send a senior university official to potentially hostile events and prior to the start of the event have him or her remind those in attendance of university codes of conduct regarding free speech and civil discourse.
•Remember the school’s obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment and to take proactive steps to prevent its recurrence.
•If the actions of the protestors violate any university policies or codes of conduct, appropriately discipline those involved.
•Use your own right to free speech to condemn actions which go against the ideals of the university.
•Reach out to individual students and organizations who may have been negatively affected by an incident.
•Provide educational opportunities on campus that foster an environment of inclusion, acceptance and respect.

Mostly, those points are good ideas...all but the first: "Be aware of the discourse around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that takes place on your campus and the potential for escalation."

Pretending that an issue doesn't exist does not make the issue disappear. The stifling of discussion of said issue only turns it into a potential escalation.

I'm pretty sure that the rest of the points actually exist in other campuses; the first point is a game-changer.

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ADL claims that the day is "...an effort to isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations." Odd statement. Supporters of Israel just LOVE to demonize "Jewish communal organizations" such as JVP, JPRR, IJV.
This is another case of right wing Zionists attempting to conflate any criticism of Israeli atrocities with 'antisemitism.
Sick.

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One of Steven Salaita's most astute observations in his book Israel's Dead Soul is that the ADl is a hate organization. It has a documented history of compiling dossiers on activists and using informers to gather license plate numbers. It also played a role in attempting to censor bus ads in Seattle that called attention to Israel's war crimes in Gaza. It has no interest in protecting free speech that criticizes Israel's denial of human rights to Palestinians.

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They quote fraudulent legislation to back their argument "Remember the school’s obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, particularly the responsibility of the school not only to investigate an incident, but to take prompt and effective steps to eliminate any hostile environment and to take proactive steps to prevent its recurrence."

Technically speaking no-one can justifiably quote any legislation as a defence, or for anything actually, because it's fraud. Please see https://deuteronomy4verse2.wor...

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According to the bullet points, this is what the ADL is saying...

"Monitor everything the protesters do, consider them 'hostile', draw lines they should not cross, protect pro-Israel supporters, crack down on protesters, speak against protesters if you want, listen to those that feel 'uncomfortable', but always say you believe in 'inclusion, acceptance and respect' ".

Wow. Trying to define how the university should "police" protests, insinuating this protest is "hostile", and threatening action if the university doesn't do what is asked. So damn typical and disgusting.

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hilarious... and transparent.
the ADL points the finger at Muslims and makes a ton of fuzzy references to things like "danger" and anti-Jewish and whatever. Lions and tigers and bears! The only thing missing (I hope) is a big donation of tear gas and pepper spray!
But the funny thing is, we all know from all our anti-zionist and anti-war demos over the years that the protest will be inclusive of Christians and Jews and Atheists and young and old and big and small, while the counter-demonstrators will stand alone with Israeli flags...
all the pepper spray in the world isn't going to make Americans pretend to approve of genocide. nice try, ADL.

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On the eve of Rosh whatever? How could they? The Likud chose Ramadan for their latest pogrom.