Smears must not deter students from acting against genocide

Students at SciencesPo in Paris have irked the French political elite by protesting against the Gaza genocide. 

Houpline-Renard SIPA

Heaven forbid that students would skip class to try and stop a genocide.

Such a message is being sent by the French political elite – horrified that protests in solidarity with Palestinians have been held at SciencesPo, a well-known Paris university.

No doubt fearing that such protests will spread, Israel’s supporters are alleging they have an ulterior motive.

As the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) is prominent in efforts to smear protesters, an examination of the group’s policies and philosophy – if that’s the right word – is necessary.

Far from being dedicated to preventing bigotry, the EUJS explicitly defines itself as Zionist. It is, therefore, wedded to the ideology undergirding the dispossession of Palestinians in the 1940s and the genocide being perpetrated against them at this very moment.

The EUJS betrayed its real agenda in a summary of a recent discussion it held with other pro-Israel lobby groups. That summary showed that one of its biggest concerns is anti-Zionism in universities.

Because Zionism is premised on giving Palestinians an inferior status to Israeli Jews, opposing Zionism is a duty for everyone who genuinely cares about justice and equality.

Anti-Zionism is completely distinct from anti-Semitism – hatred of Jews based on their religion or ethnicity.

Being clear about the differences between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism is essential, not least because groups such as the EUJS portray them as synonymous.

Emma Hallali, the EUJS president, has lately been claiming that Palestine solidarity protests in universities make it impossible for Jews to lead “a normal student life.”
The inference that the hidden objective of the protests is to turn campuses into a hostile environment for Jews must be exposed as dishonest.

Sinister game

Whereas the protests are aimed at halting the genocide in Gaza, the EUJS is playing a sinister game by insisting that all self-respecting Jews have to side with Israel, the state carrying out that genocide.

In January, the EUJS issued a statement criticizing anti-Zionist organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace.

The statement contended that the actions of such groups “risk perpetuating harmful stereotypes and misconceptions about the Jewish community, leading to increased prejudice and discrimination.”

The opposite is actually the case.

Anti-Zionist Jewish groups demonstrate that the Jewish community is not monolithic. A significant number of Jews are outraged by Israel’s crimes and determined to speak out against them.

If anyone is perpetuating harmful stereotypes, it is the EUJS and its suggestion that the only Jews who should be listened to are those backing Israel.

Shamefully, the European Union treats the EUJS as being representative of all Jewish students.

The EUJS received almost $900,000 in funding from the European Union during 2022.

The EUJS enjoys particularly close relations with Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Union’s coordinator against anti-Semitism.

Although von Schnurbein’s formal job description does not mention Israel even once, she acts as a propagandist for Israel.

She has been amplifying the lie that Hamas committed mass rapes on and following 7 October. That hoax is being used as a pretext for the genocide which Israel is perpetrating in Gaza.

Von Schnurbein has spoken lately about there being a “tsunami of anti-Semitism” in Europe.

Her choice of words should be questioned. Von Schnurbein has frequently conflated antipathy toward Zionism with anti-Jewish hatred.

Von Schnurbein complained recently that a conference on the forthcoming European Parliament elections was “hijacked in a way that Jews no longer feel safe.”

Her complaint was based on how the slogan “free Palestine” was chanted and the EUJS delegation was described as “fascists” by some participants in the conference. The video of the incident posted by the EUJS does not indicate that there was any threat whatsoever to the safety of its delegation at the conference.

Instead, the video shows that the EUJS sought to shut down a discussion about the situation in Gaza, even though it is a matter of urgency.

If the EUJS had its way, students would either remain silent as Palestinians get slaughtered or applaud Israel, the state carrying out the slaughter.

Fortunately, young and not-so-young people on both sides of the Atlantic are refusing to be bullied or intimidated by Israel’s supporters. The defiance displayed on campuses is a source of hope in these bleak times.


Add new comment