Pro-Palestinian Campus Campaign Asks Students To Join ‘Right Side’

by Emily Yavitch - San Diego State University on September 10, 2013

Students for Justice in Palestine, a group of faculty and students dedicated to furthering the cause of the Palestinian people, recently launched a new advocacy and membership drive campaign at San Diego State University to coincide with the start of the fall semester.

Called “The Right Side,” the campaign aims to “educate the student community about the reality of apartheid in Palestine,” SJP co-chair Nadir Bouhmouch said in an email to The College Fix.

The campaign, unique to San Diego State, touts big-name celebrities and academics who support Palestinian causes.

At least one pro-Israel group on campus has expressed concern about the campaign, which includes fliers posted around campus, saying some of the claims in the campaign are not accurate and the effort overall could “divide and destroy our campus climate.”

The slideshow for the campaign, which can be seen on the SJP website, serves as an instruction manual for “standing on the right side of history” by guiding people to the rightside1“moral high ground.”

There are two facets of the online presentation. The first frames the Israeli-Palestinian controversy as the big Civil Rights and humanitarian issue of our time.

“The racist grandpa is what you probably don’t want to be in 20 or 30 years, right?” it asks provocatively.

In the slideshow, SJP likens the way Palestinians are treated in Israel to South African Apartheid and Jim Crow America. This claim is backed by facts such as “Israel segregates buses, schools, roads and residential areas.”

The second part of the campaign lists prominent people who stand on the side of the Palestinians, such as Nelson Mandela and Stephen Hawking. Alongside each picture is a short blurb, such as the one accompanying Hawking’s portrait: “Boycotted conference in Israel.”

Nirit Revzin, president of Aztecs for Israel, a student group committed to promoting unity and action amongst pro-Israel students, expressed concern over the campaign.

“The Right Side Campaign has the potential to completely divide and destroy our campus climate,” Revzin said in an email to The Fix. “For a public university that seeks to embody ideals of acceptance and respect, such a campaign is intolerable and takes many steps back in terms of reaching peaceful terms between the pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students.”

During the 2013 spring semester, Aztecs for Israel hosted Israel Peace Week, meant to educate students about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to serve to balance the narrative created by SJP’s Palestine Awareness Week, held in fall 2012 on campus.

Though successful, one of the setbacks was a lack of cooperation from Students for Justice in Palestine. As reported in The Daily Aztec at the time, Aztecs for Israel has repeatedly sought a dialogue with their pro-Palestinian counterparts, which they stated would be “a great first step.”

Revzin’s major concern regarding the campaign is that “the claims in the campaign are not only dishonest, but hurtful to many pro-Israel students.”

She says that “not only does Israel welcome minorities, but it celebrates minorities with equal rights and protections.” She cites as an example the Israeli doctors who have operated on Palestinian children with congenital heart problems through Save A Child’s Heart.

In response to claims that the campaign could be seen as hurtful or offensive, Bouhmouch said it’s not “designed to be offensive or hurtful in any way whatsoever.”

“We are simply calling attention to serious human rights violations faced by the Palestinian people every day,” he continued. “Questioning Israeli policies is not considered offensive in Israel, so why should it be considered offensive in the United States? Claiming to feel offended or hurt, we believe, draws on an unjust state of exceptionalism provided to the state of Israel as a result of the horrendous crimes of the Holocaust. However, the Palestinian people were not the perpetrators of what we believe is the worst crime in human history, so why should they suffer the consequences of the disgusting European tradition of anti-semitism? Claiming offense and hurt is legitimate in the face of true anti-semitism or the illogical denial of the Holocaust. But our campaign does neither of these. Hence, claiming offense and hurt becomes an abuse of the memory of the Holocaust and a form of apologism for crimes against humanity today in Palestine.”

Fix contributor Emily Yavitch is a student at San Diego State University.

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IMAGES: Screenshots of SJP campaign

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  • nullifidian

    “Hence, claiming offense and hurt becomes an abuse of the memory of the
    Holocaust and a form of apologism for crimes against humanity today in
    Palestine.”

    Bravo.

    I’m sick to the back teeth of seeing the first response of any IDF apologist being how offended they are. Maybe they’ve even brainwashed themselves into believing their line, but it doesn’t change the fact that the purpose of this tactic is to silence critical discussion and focus the topic away from the “un-people” like the Palestinian civilians who are being bombed to death or slowly crushed under the embargo to the teary-eyed apologists who can’t fathom just why one is saying all these mean things about little poor innocent old Israel! *sob* Norman Finklestein had precisely the right response to these carefully orchestrated “crocodile tears”, as he put it.

    You’d think that one advantage of being a conservative would be to regard any use of the content-free PC “I’m so hurt and offended!” line with suspicion, and that’s generally the case until the subject under consideration is Israel, and then the right-wing loses all of its reservations.

    • Judge Jeph

      I’m not offended by criticism of Israel. I’m offended by the intellectual dishonesty SJP and the larger BDS community uses to in disseminating their messages. Since you yourself brought up Norman Finkelstein, allow me to point you to the interview in which he freely and clearly admitted (to a friendly interviewer, mind you, not a “gotcha” situation by any stretch) that the ultimate goal of the BDS movement is the elimination of the State of Israel from the face of the earth.

      The Right Side campaign is slick, I’ll admit, But it’s very telling, too, in its presentation: it is a literal embodiment of the basic problem with SJP’s figurative position on all things having to do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – namely, it’s black and white. Claiming the moral high ground is rich coming from people who bomb pizza parlors and fire rockets at preschools from their own schoolyards. Things are NOT black and white here. It’s time SJP and the rest of the supposedly pro-Palestinian crowd came to terms with this. Either show your true colors (see what I did there?) and admit, honestly that you want Israel to cease to exist and work openly towards that goal; then at least we’d all be honest about our positions. Alternatively, start advocating for real peace, dialogue, negotiation, and, ultimately, a two-state solution.

      • nullifidian

        Since you yourself brought up Norman Finkelstein, allow me to point you
        to the interview in which he freely and clearly admitted (to a friendly
        interviewer, mind you, not a “gotcha” situation by any stretch) that the
        ultimate goal of the BDS movement is the elimination of the State of
        Israel from the face of the earth.

        You say “allow me to point you to the interview” and you don’t do any pointing, just asserting. As they say on Wikipedia, “[citation needed]“.

        Claiming the moral high ground is rich coming from people who bomb pizza parlors and fire rockets at preschools from their own schoolyards.

        I’m sure if the U.S. would subsidize the Palestinian fighters on an equivalent level with Israel, the Palestinians would be happy to throw away their homemade rockets, which have killed a grand total of less than 70 people in the last 12 years, and use cluster bombs, flechette shells, high-yield explosives, etc. like the IDF does, thus ennobling and morally refining their killing of civilians. In fact, I even bet that if Palestine were equivalently funded, they’d stop attacking civilians (about whom Israel demonstrably cares very little), and take the fight to the heavily-armed Israeli government itself.

        Either show your true colors (see what I did there?)

        Yes. It’s called “poisoning the well”.

        and admit, honestly
        that you want Israel to cease to exist and work openly towards that
        goal; then at least we’d all be honest about our positions.
        Alternatively, start advocating for real peace, dialogue, negotiation,
        and, ultimately, a two-state solution.

        It might interest you to know that a majority of Palestinians are in favor of a two-state solution, and it’s Israel that refuses to budge, but continues to make a genuine two-state solution impossible by denying Palestinian sovereignty and by continuing to encourage settlement on the West Bank.

        It might also interest you to know that a two-state solution is not the only alternative to the destruction of Israel. I myself am in favor of a one-state solution, not because I think it’s per se better than the rest, but because I think it’s the only one with a snowball’s chance of succeeding given all the inroads Israel has continued to make in the West Bank. Israel has been carving up the West Bank slice by slice, making 40% of it—an area the size of Delaware—inaccessible to Palestinians or subject to restrictions in this ostensibly ‘independent’ land, and frankly I think the only workable solution is to give them all of it but with the proviso that there be full and equal citizenship for all Palestinians, and this means full right of return, in a secular state, with full compensation for those Palestinians who decline to return.

        This is the reality of Palestinian life: they’re subjected to economic strangulation by an embargo, denied necessary food and medicine (Israel claims to let this through, but the restrictions are such that there isn’t enough), the money that is justly theirs according to the Oslo Accords from the few goods that do get shipped is in Israeli hands, and Israel has only let a bit of it go at a time, and wholly to Fatah, the UNELECTED government that installed itself by a coup, the Israeli government continues to encourage the encroachment of settlers, who function as a paramilitary invasion force with an Uzi submachine gun in every home, and as if that’s not enough the IDF continues to bomb whole blocks to get at supposed ‘terrorists’ or engages in even more extensive bombing campaigns just because it’s an election year. Against that you have a few piddling rocket attacks.

        You say “Thinks are NOT black and white here.” Apparently I’m supposed to be under the delusion that the Palestinians can do no wrong. But I don’t think like that. That is you pushing your obsessions onto me. Apparently I’m supposed to recoil in horror at a few ineffectual rocket attacks while ignoring the tens of thousands Israel has killed and continues to kill. But such recoiling could only happen if I viewed this combat in black-and-white terms. If I accept it as the legitimate expression of resistance to a government that, to all appearances, wants the Palestinians wiped out except for a pliant population confined to reservations that they can use as manual laborers and domestics, then your whole “but what about the rocket attacks!?” *sob* tactic loses all its force. I’m not naive enough to believe that liberation can always be achieved without bloodshed. If I were, I’d have to call the Founders terrorists as well. In fact, they were even worse because they dragged a country that didn’t want a split into one. The support for the Revolution never peaked over 1/3rd during the whole of the fighting. At least the majority of Palestinians do want an independent Palestine.

        • quad

          And what would happen if Israel pulls back to pre Yom Kipper lines, the one when they were attacked, in fact, they were always attacked. In fact, the frkn land was land they took after beating the arb’s back. So, they give in and do what you pro palestinian people want, do you honestly think the hamas wont take advantage of the closer lines and start bombing “oh sob”!! And rockets too!! Sob, sob!! Yea, I’m being a jerk! Because you guys are idealistic beyond belief. I do respect your wishes, peace for both people. However, EVERYTIME the Israelis gave in and loosened up, the hamas took advantage and bombed them! Oh boo, hoo!! Check it out, my sisters a Canadian, a friend of hers is a soldier with Canada, part of a peace monitoring force that was in the Palestinian territory some years back, like in the 90′s. Israel had pulled settlements and turned over the area to Palestinians. Hamas dudes showed up a couple days later, and IN FRONT of the monitors, of which he was a member of, set up a frkn mortar and started lobbing rounds! Sweet!!! The only nation which is truly democratic in the hell hole of the middle east, has Arabs in politics and as citizens, trying to stay around, enemies all around who are always nattering about wiping them out. And you guys hold thier ass to the fire for reacting the way they do! You crack me up!

          • nullifidian

            And what would happen if Israel pulls back to pre Yom Kipper lines….

            I don’t care, quite frankly. I have never been given any reason to believe that doing the right thing should be contingent on whether it’s convenient for Israel.

            So, they give in and do what you pro palestinian people want, do you honestly think the hamas wont take advantage of the closer lines and start bombing “oh sob”!! And rockets too!! Sob, sob!!

            How dreadful! Clearly the Palestinians are scary, scary people you don’t want to have in close proximity to you, which is why… Israel keeps on building settlements in the middle of the West Bank! Do you bother to think through your justifications for why Israel can do no wrong even for a moment to see if they make logical sense?

            Check it out, my sisters a Canadian, a friend of hers is a soldier with Canada, part of a peace monitoring force that was in the Palestinian territory some years back, like in the 90′s. Israel had pulled settlements and turned over the area to Palestinians. Hamas dudes showed up a couple days later, and IN FRONT of the monitors, of which he was a member of, set up a frkn mortar and started lobbing rounds!

            And then they discovered that the mortar fire was COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!!

            At least that’s how I expect these “I know somebody who knows somebody…” stories to end.

            Rather than getting hearsay at secondhand, I went to Palestine and saw two city blocks get leveled to get at an alleged “terrorist group” that had allegedly taken up residence in one house alone. I’ve seen the flechette rounds that Israel uses on the Palestinians and the cluster bombs.

            The only nation which is truly democratic in the hell hole of the middle east….

            That is very, very funny. By saying that I can tell that you really know nothing about how Israel works in practice. And I’m not just talking about with respect to the Palestinians, but with respect to its own citizens (and with respect to who can become a citizen—not all Jews are created equal in Israel). Israel is an orthodox theocracy with much more in common with Iran than the western democracies. Of course, this isn’t the picture that gets fed to America through the complaisant corporate media, so few people ever bother to check up on how the hype doesn’t live up to reality.

            And you guys hold thier ass to the fire for reacting the way they do!

            Sure do. Serbs were massacred by the thousands during WWII under Croatia’s Ustase, but that doesn’t mean that they could have used the “surrounded by enemies” ploy—even though it was true—to justify the war crimes of the 1990s. Why should Israel get a pass for its massacres and slo-mo ethnic cleansing on a basis we wouldn’t give to anybody else? In fact, the Bosnian apologists’ arguments remind me a lot of those used by the apologists for Israel.

          • Michael Dar

            Israel can perhaps eventually do wrong…everyone would do the same in the complexity of the situation…the real problem however is that the Fakestinians can not do anything right! Let’s suppose that after Israel’s foolish unilateral retreat from Gaza they would have started a serious, peaceful state building process..instead of the Low intensity terrorist war against Israel they may have become the Singapour of the Middle East by now….they are simply not interested in peace,,,it’s in their genes look at the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Lybia, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia…

        • Judge Jeph

          Here’s the relevant excerpt from the Finkelstein interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iggdO7C70P8

          Here’s the complete interview for context, in case you think it’s out of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASIBGSSw4lI

          You state that a majority of Palestinians are in favor of a two-state solution (something that I believe insofar as the street-level population is concerned, as opposed to the leadership). This is also true of the Israeli population.

          You also say that “it’s Israel that refuses to budge” and makes a two-state solution impossible by allowing settlements in the West Bank. If you don’t acknowledge the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as “budging” than we have serious semantic issues to talk about in addition to geopolitics.

          That said, I appreciate you being up front about your advocacy of a one-state solution (that is, the end of the Jewish State of Israel). Your openness and honesty is refreshing, sobering, and a fine reason for me to end my part in this “conversation.”

          • nullifidian

            You state that a majority of Palestinians are in favor of a two-state solution (something that I believe insofar as the street-level population is concerned, as opposed to the leadership).

            In that case, you might also be interested to know that the Palestinian leadership also supports a two-state solution. It was adopted as official policy at the 19th Palestinian National Council in 1988.

            You also say that “it’s Israel that refuses to budge” and makes a two-state solution impossible by allowing settlements in the West Bank. If you don’t acknowledge the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as “budging” than we have serious semantic issues to talk about in addition to geopolitics.

            Yes we do have serious semantic issues to talk about. First, you need to look up the word “budging” in a dictionary. Doing precisely what you want to does not constitute “budging” in any real lexicon. Israel never wanted the Gaza Strip as long as they could rely on Egypt to corral the Palestinians for them, which every Egyptian government, even those since the ouster of Mubarak, have seemed willing to do to placate Israel and more importantly the U.S. The Gaza Strip was a money sink for Israel—a largely unproductive region that because of its very poverty held disproportionate amount of very pissed off people. That’s why when the PLO tried to organize its coup against Hamas, Gaza successfully resisted (and has been paying the price ever since for their ‘willful’ determination to hang onto the legitimate government that they elected). But even today, Israel controls the major roads through Gaza, the airspace over Gaza, and the waters around Gaza, plus all the crossings, which is why the embargo is successful. They don’t have to be in Gaza to keep the Gazans bottled up.

            That said, I appreciate you being up front about your advocacy of a one-state solution (that is, the end of the Jewish State of Israel). Your openness and honesty is refreshing, sobering, and a fine reason for me to end my part in this “conversation.”

            I’m happy to oblige, but I’m sure you’d have found a way out eventually, because cowardly pro-Israeli apologists can never deal successfully with anyone who knows more about the region than they do.

            But the ostensible reason for your running away is interesting: you dislike the fact that it means the end of the “Jewish State” (with caps even!). Not the state of Israel, which would still continue, but the “Jewish State.” You think that Israel should be a Jewish theocracy and regard it, apparently, as so incontrovertible that anyone who rejects theocracy should be treated with horror and loathing, or at least you hope that other similarly indoctrinated people will treat it as beyond conceiving. But what’s so good about theocracy? Why should Israel be a “Jewish State” when I doubt very much if you’d recognize the absolute right and necessity of Iran to remain an “Islamic State”? I don’t respect any theocracies, whether they’re Jewish, Muslim, Christian, or Eastern (and there have been some). Why should I accept the carving out of a special place for theocratic rule in Israel when I reject it everywhere else? You don’t bother to explain this point. I suspect it’s because you can’t. You don’t know why Israel should be a Jewish theocracy—in fact, I don’t even think you’ve given any thought to the fact that this is, in sum, what you are saying—but you think it makes a good bit of propaganda to spring on anybody who supports self-determination for the Palestinians.

  • nadine

    LOL at “one of the setbacks was a lack of cooperation from Students for Justice in Palestine.” I was there. One of the greatest setbacks was when an AFI member came over to the wall SJP had put up and tried to push it over. He then harassed SJP members and innocent by standers by yelling profanities and threatening them. We have the video footage if youd like to post that. :) We were nice enough to not file a police report.