University of Michigan-Ann Arbor students involved in the finally-after-15-years-passed Israel divestment measure were caught on a clandestine recording rejecting the nationhood of Jewish people and preventing a Jewish student from joining a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Obtained by The Washington Free Beacon, the footage also shows students concurring that Palestinian activists should reconsider their “past nonviolent stance.”
Students Allied for Freedom and Equality’s Ahmed Ismail says repeatedly that “Jews are not a nation,” as well as “There’s no nation called ‘Judaism,'” and “Where on the map is there a country called ‘Jews’?”
Ismail continues with “Zionism is a dirty political ideology,” and adds “[a]ny person who is a Zionist believes in the State of Israel, even though it oppresses and kills millions of Palestinians—which I call terrorism.”
“Most Jews are Zionists,” he says.
As proof, though, that Zionism has no inherent tie to Judaism, Ismail said there are more non-Jewish Zionists than Jewish Zionists. Ismail noted that he has “lots of Jewish friends,” and that “terrorism in Israel has nothing to do with it being Jewish.”
He said that his views were formed by literature given to him by SAFE, and his experiences growing up as a Muslim in Egypt. He said he has never taken a class on Zionism or the history of Judaism.
Another exchange documented the practice by Palestinian activists of “anti-normalization,” or a refusal to speak with or participate in ordinary conversation with those they believe to be pro-Israel.
A Palestinian female student is seen cutting off the discussion on Palestinian politics she was leading in a public hallway, when she noticed that a male student wearing a traditional Jewish skullcap and ritual tassels known as tzitzit had started to listen.
“You are not welcome into this conversation,” she told him, prompting praise from other students on “the strength” it takes to “say that to someone’s face.”
A man, who said he was Muslim and supportive of the divestment motion, later approached the group and asked if his friend was sent away because he’s Jewish.
“No, it’s because he’s Zionist,” he was told.
She later instructed someone to tell the Jewish student that he is “welcome to ask permission to stand and listen and not ask questions.”
Conditionally invited to ask permission to be an observer of the discussion, the Jewish student is granted permission to listen.
“You can’t ask me questions though,” said the Palestinian student. “I’m not going to have a conversation with you. Those are my guiding principles.”
In the footage, SAFE members say their BDS resolution “is not intended to harm Israel” although the group’s co-president notes the goal is to “put economic pressure on Israel.”