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What do the administrators at the University of Pennsylvania know about the 2012 National Conference of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement about to take place at Penn and when did they know it?
“BDS,” as this virulent anti-Israeli hatefest is commonly called, is coming to the Penn campus on February 3-5, but university officials have hid from the implications of hosting such an event. They say that the university is on record as not supporting this movement, yet they let the event go forward, providing space and possibly funding, despite the fact that the sponsors may not meet school requirements as a recognized group and that their anti-Semitic message is deeply hostile to academic freedom and basic human decency. The university appears to be bending rules that would be rigidly enforced for sponsors of another cause.
U Penn’s willingness to enable the BDS conference is particularly inexplicable given the fact that this growing movement to boycott Israel and Israeli-produced goods, force divestment from any companies that do business with Israel, and establish sanctions against Israel due to its supposed violations of human rights, was created by nations and groups seeking to delegitimize and destabilize Israel such as the terrorist-sponsoring nation of Iran and the terrorist groups Hezbollah, and Hamas.
As Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz has noted, the BDS movement abets terrorism: “People who advocate boycotts and divestiture will literally have blood on their hands,” he said. “They encourage terrorism and discourage the laying down of arms.” Even Noam Chomsky stated recently that BDS was “hypocritical” in its pretense to be concerned about Israeli human rights violations and that the movement could be called anti-Semitic “with justice.”
Among the scheduled speakers at the upcoming conference is Anna Baltzer, a “Jewish American Palestinian human rights activist,” who summarizes the line of attack on Israel when she bluntly states that its polices of “ethnic cleansing and apartheid must be stopped.” These terms are not arguments; they are knowing lies designed to weaken the Jewish State and soften it up for the kill. The insidious segregation of “apartheid” does not exist in Israel. Arabs are granted full civil rights under Israeli law, which forbids discrimination on the basis of race, creed, or sex. Israeli Arab citizens vote in national elections, have representatives in the Israeli Parliament, serve as tenured professors teaching in Israeli colleges and universities, and sit on the benches of Israeli courts (including the Israeli Supreme Court). They have more rights, and enjoy more freedom, education, and economic opportunity than the Arabs of any Arab state.
The BDS conference at Penn will feature, in addition to BALTZER, a cavalcade of anti-Israel speakers, including founder of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah, whose views are summed up when he says, “Israel is a society where virulent anti-Arab racism and Nakba denial are the norm although none of the European and American leaders who constantly lecture about Holocaust denial will dare to admonish Netanyahu for his bald lies and omissions about Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.”
The BDS National Conference at U Penn is by no means a stand-alone event. In fact the BDS movement shares radical political DNA (and personnel) with the international “Israel Apartheid Weeks” and “Palestine Awareness Weeks” scheduled to take place on campuses around the country this spring. The goal of these events, designed by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organizations the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), is to garner support for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas who seek to “push the Jews into the sea” and annihilate the Jewish state. These “weeks” have regularly sought to intimidate Jewish students, occasionally through acts of physical violence, and have become frequent occurrences at campuses like the University of California, Irvine.
The growing BDS movement pursues these same ends by other means—delegitimating Israel by cutting its financial and cultural ties to America. Along with others in his group, Omar Barghouti, the founder of the BDS movement, is a regular speaker on college campuses during Israel Apartheid Week. Barghouti expresses the genocidal logic at the heart of the anti-Israel movement when he says of its attempt to defend itself: “Israel is never retaliating, because it’s the occupying power, and occupation by definition is aggression and violence.”
Despite the intention of the BDS conference to preach three days of systematic ethnic hatred against Jews that the university would not countenance if it were directed, say, at Muslims, U Penn officials have turned a blind eye (and deaf ear) to the growing public outcry about the conference, claiming that it is solely a student matter and that, to stretch credulity, the university literally has no information regarding the conference, its funding, its sponsors, or its arrangements to use university facilities.
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