Fueling anti-Israel climate through lobbying, activism
Campus branches of the liberal group J Street have been helping anti-Israel activists gain support for student government resolutions calling for boycotts of Israel, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of BDS campaigns on college campuses during the recently concluded 2017-2018 school year.
At many schools where boycott and divestment campaigns have taken place, J Street chapters provided key assistance to BDS activists through statements, lobbying, and activism that fueled the anti-Israel climate on campus and reinforced accusations against Israel made by BDS groups. Despite J Street claims that the group is an important progressive opponent of BDS, at many schools J Street chapters did not oppose BDS campaigns and sat on the sidelines during contentious fights over student government divestment resolutions.
The revelations, compiled from Free Beacon interviews with campus activists and pro-Israel professionals who fought BDS resolutions this year, call into question the group’s publicly claimed opposition to the BDS movement. Catie Stewart, deputy director of J Street U, recently boasted that her organization “does not support Israel Apartheid Week or BDS campaigns and joins anti-BDS coalitions.” This year’s campus fights suggest a different record.
At the University of Minnesota, where a BDS referendum succeeded in March, a pro-Israel coalition launched a campaign to oppose the vote. J Street U refused to participate in the effort, instead releasing a statement condemning the campus Hillel for being insufficiently anti-Israel. The president of J Street U at UMN, Imogen Page, is a donor to Jewish Voice for Peace, a BDS group that endorses terrorism and calls for Israel’s destruction. Page was seen handing out anti-Israel flyers during the voting period of the referendum. Weeks later, she was arrested for disorderly conduct during an anti-Israel protest staged by a different BDS group.
A similar approach was adopted by the Columbia University/Barnard J Street chapter, which claimed to oppose a BDS resolution at Barnard but refused to participate in efforts to oppose it. The group released a statement endorsing boycotts of Israel, declaring, “we do not oppose specific targeted boycott or divestment initiatives that recognize Israel’s right to exist.”
Read More: Washington Free Beacon