“There is a usurpation of the narrative of human rights on American campuses by [Muslim organizations and Palestine activism] groups in discussing Israel.”
Such were the shocking words of outgoing University of California President Mark Yudof, speaking at the recent Facing Tomorrow conference held in Israel (the same conference that renowned physicist Stephen Hawking boycotted, as we reported).
Yudof was part of a panel discussion entitled “The Campus at a Crossroads in the Life of a Young Jew” (which included topics such as the “de-legitimization of Israel on the campus”) and was joined by Zionist group officials including Gidi Mark, chief executive of Birthright Israel (Taglit), and Natan Sharansky, chairperson of the executive of the Jewish Agency.
In the first few minutes of his remarks, seen in the video posted above, Yudof talks about the thriving Jewish communities across the 10 UC campuses. He highlights the various academic and student life programs that Jewish students are a part of, and says that Jewish students, in general, “like the University of California better than most of the other groups.”
However, he goes on to say that Muslim organizations “and other interest groups, racial minorities and others” and events such as Palestine Awareness Weeks “offend many Jewish students.”
Divestment resolutions strike a nerve
Yudof refers to his ongoing commitment to the University of California’s governing body, the Regents, to prevent divestment from firms profiting from the Israeli occupation. He notes, though, that his stance has not “prevented the commotion from continuing on campuses.”
He says that the “delegitimization of Israel is an ongoing problem,” and adds that “it seems that every six months, I’m reading about another vote of some sort of student organization on this issue, or some sort of academic organization, and too often, that vote is lost.”
To the students organizing with limited resources across University of California campuses, those “lost” votes — here, Yudof is ostensibly referencing the divestment resolutions that passed and were upheld at UC Irvine, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley — are indications that the tide is turning, much to the chagrin of well-funded Israel-aligned organizations working on and off-campus.
As Alex Kane pointed out on Wednesday on Mondoweiss, Zionist groups are planning to ramp up heavily-financed efforts to bash the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) on US campuses while, paradoxically, claiming that the Palestine solidarity movement and BDS are insignificant and “limited” in their reach and support.
Malcolm Hoenlein, a top official with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, told [Haaretz] journalist Judy Maltz that his organization plans to launch a counter-attack to BDS on campuses in August. “It will be a major Internet and social media campaign, in which we hope to reach every single college student in America. The goal is to educate in creative ways and win the public back,” Hoenlein said in the interview published earlier this week. Hoenlein was in Israel visiting Jerusalem for Israeli President Shimon Peres’ birthday party and [the Facing Tomorrow] conference.
… The new Conference of Presidents campaign will join the multi-million dollar anti-BDS effort from the Israel Action Network, which is the Jewish establishment’s number one vehicle for battling BDS.
I could go on and on about how vile this new “campaign” by Israel-aligned organizations really is. But The Electronic Intifada’s Maureen Clare Murphy put it best:
It’s clear that university students in the US who are part of Palestinian solidarity activism will be facing some pretty intense hasbara efforts this coming year, as calls for divestment ring louder — especially here in California.
If you can stomach it, the full video of the Facing Tomorrow panel discussion, featuring Yudof et al, is viewable here: