Thursday, March 5, 2009

"New York Times":

A boycott demonstration, against Israeli dance troupe, due to "Israel's actions in Gaza".

"Israeli Dance Troupe May Draw Protest"

Published: March 4, 2009


On the Web at:

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is bracing for protests of the Batsheva Dance Company, an Israeli troupe, this week.

In recent weeks during a North American tour, Batsheva, which was to begin a run of performances on Wednesday night, has been dogged by small demonstrations and calls for a boycott over Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Fatima Kafele
, a spokeswoman for the Brooklyn Academy, said a “small group” had asked the police for a permit to demonstrate on Thursday. She said she did not know the group’s identity. Batsheva and its artistic director, Ohad Naharin, are prominent in the modern dance world and are respected by many critics.

Mr. Naharin, through Ms. Kafele, declined to be interviewed but issued a statement on Wednesday saying he forgives and understands “the frustration” and people who “want to fight for human rights.” But he said that boycotting a dance company could not make a difference, and that such energy should be channeled “into getting moderate powers and people on both sides to talk to each other.”


"Israeli Apartheid Week" demands boycott against Israel:

"If you condemn others, condemn Israel"

"Israeli Apartheid Week comes to Guelph:

"University has not responded to event's calls to boycott Israel"

by Aaron Levy

THE ONTARION (University of Guelph; Canada)

March 5, 2009

On the Web at:

"We're not asking for anything revolutionary -- just do what you would do in all other situations. If you condemn others, condemn Israel" -Rami Alhamad, co-organizer of Guelph Israeli Apartheid Week

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) came to Guelph this week featuring various events about Israel and the Palestinians. IAW was started in Toronto five years ago as a means of encouraging support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which aims to put pressure on the state of Israel to end what some call the oppression of Palestine.

BDS refers to how external groups can lend their support to Palestine by taking away financial contributions to the state of Israel, boycotting business with Israel, and urging sanctions against the state.

"We're not asking for anything revolutionary -- just do what you would do in all other situations. If you condemn others, condemn Israel," said IAW Guelph co-organizer Rami Alhamad.

Alhamad pointed to the sanctions elicited from the international community in response to the human rights violations of South African apartheid.

BDS was initiated by the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative in conjunction with IAW in 2005, and was instrumental to the initial British University and College Union boycotting of Haifa and Bar-Ilan Universities that same year.

The move has since been repeated by Britain's Association of University Teachers (AUT), and most recently, a boycott against Israeli academic institutions by Ontario's own Canadian Union of Public Employees.

At outset of the boycott, the University of Haifa issued a statement saying "the case against Israeli academia, in general, and the University of Haifa in particular, is devoid of empirical evidence and violates the principle of due process. Driven by a prior and prejudicial assumption of guilt, the AUT has refused to confront (sic) itself with facts."

In terms of the University of Guelph's stance, Alhamad says it has been studiously neutral. "We haven't had any problems [organizing the event], as opposed to other campuses," he said. But on the other hand, Alhamad notes that, "they're not [the university] taking up our call with regards to the boycott of academics."

Aside from universities themselves, Israeli Apartheid Week has met opposition from students.

"We don't feel that apartheid is the appropriate name for what's happening in Israel," said Lisa Bowmander, President of the Israel Affairs Committee. "And we feel that a university is a place for balanced dialogue. And we feel that using such an aggressive term, it jeopardizes the opportunity for a respectful dialogue on this campus."

Bowmander says that in response to IAW her organization has been attempting to facilitate discussions about peace and the need for coexistence in the Middle East.

This week, Guelph is one of 40 cities across the world, and 11 in Canada, where IAW events are taking place.

Films and speakers are planned for Mackinnon every day of the week, documenting the struggle of Palestinians, and the experiences of Israeli's who refuse to support the occupation....


Dearborn students push for Palestine in their student newspaper, beating back their school's censorship efforts.

"Online student article pulled:

"Senior's editorial on the effects on Gaza residents after military strikes by Israel taken off school paper's Web site"

by Karen Bouffard / The Detroit News

March 5, 2009

On the Web at:

DEARBORN -- School officials' decision to remove an article on the Middle East conflict from Edsel Ford High School's first online student newspaper has sparked a free-speech issue at the school.

An article written by senior Deanna Suleiman, 17, and the entire online edition was yanked following a flurry of criticism from online readers over her commentary on the effects on Gaza residents after the January military strikes by Israel, which came in response to Palestinian mortar attacks.

District spokesman David Mustonen said the article was only pulled because the site did not make it clear it was just one student's opinion. He said it was a problem with the site, not the article.

The district will post a copy of the printed version in its online archives by the end of the week, he added.

School officials eventually put the issue back online except the article, but some experts say it's unconstitutional to censor political speech, even online.

The article also appeared in the print version of the student newspaper, the Bolt.

"I think our students got caught in the middle of some peoples' political agenda," journalism teacher Keith Rydzik said Wednesday, adding the piece was met with an onslaught on Internet blogs and social networking sites. "Our students of all ethnicities look at this as a First Amendment issue and not a Hamas issue. Some people outside the school tried to make this an issue bigger than that."

Frank LoMonte, executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based Student Press Law Center, said censoring political speech in a student newspaper is unconstitutional, whether it's removed from a print edition or a Web site.

"There is widespread confusion about the scope of the First Amendment when you move from print publishing to online, but its all the First Amendment. A pure political viewpoint gets the absolute highest protection under the First Amendment."

Cheryl Pell, a Michigan State University journalism instructor, said newspapers are intended to spur discussion of current events. "Instead of shutting down discussion they should be ramping it up," Pell said.



As of March 5, the students' Gaza commentary was still missing from "The Bolt", at:


Columbia University:

"Panelists Push Divestment, Support Gaza"

"Panelists Push Divestment, Support Gaza"

March 5, 2009

COLUMBIA SPECTATOR (Columbia University; New York City)

On the Web at:

A “teach-in” organized by the Columbia Palestine Forum Wednesday night drew a crowd of supporters, dissenters, and interested students and faculty that filled the Hamilton classroom and spilled into the hall.

It came to light during the meeting that University president Lee Bollinger has agreed to meet with the faculty to discuss the issue.

The group, whose recent formation began with a demand for University divestment from companies profiting from the Gaza conflict and for protection of Palestinian academic freedom, hosted a discussion with a panel composed of four University faculty members, two speakers from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, and a Barnard student representing the CPF.

Supporters and critics of the Forum sounded off in a question-and -answer follow-up that mostly took the form of commentary on the recent and historic Gaza conflicts.

The faculty members speaking on the potential benefits of Israeli divestment were Bruce Robbins, Old Dominion Foundation Professor in the Humanities, Gil Anidjar, a professor of religion who also teaches in MEALAC, Mahmood Mamdani, Herbert Lehman Professor of Government and anthropology professor, and Brinkley Messick, anthropology professor.

Faculty first clarified the terms of CPF’s demands. Robbins said that “students don’t have academic freedom, professors do” and that the denial of education—a basic human right—rather than academic freedom—associated with tenure—is the heart of the matter. He added that because academic freedom is not a universal or democratic right, the conflict surrounding Gaza becomes more divisive when this terminology is used.

During the panel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was continuously compared to the South African and Liberian apartheids, though this analogy was met with varying reactions from the audience.

It was noted that Columbia divested from South African companies during its apartheid. In this context, Anidjar advocated boycotting as an appropriate “exercise of freedom” and affirmed the group’s demands as “change we can believe in.”

Eric Heitner, CC ’05, spoke on behalf of the BDS and presented figures indicating how tax dollars and other expenses contribute to the profit of companies supporting what he considers the Israeli occupation of Gaza.

Messick expressed that an impending meeting between Bollinger and the faculty about the letter issued listing the CPF’s demands is an “historical moment” for the University.

A lively question-and-answer session allowed attendees to express their reactions to the panelists’ assertions. Critics condemned the lack of a more realistic approach to solving the issue and cited the need to incorporate Hamas into the discussion.

Some students felt the event was successful. “Everyone was calm and it was good to have perspectives from professors and activists and commentary from the community,” said Edna Bonhomme, MSPH ’10, and a member of the CPF. “A dialogue about the Israel occupation is central and people should be able to put their opinion on the table and figure out what could be the best option."


Israeli Apartheid Week, at Berkeley:

The Daily Californian

University of California at Berkeley

Thursday, Mar 5, 2009

Photo on the Web at:

Click on photo to enlarge it.

Protesters participate in an Israeli Apartheid Week event on Sproul Plaza yesterday, with students dressing as both prisoners and guards.


Massachusetts student government debates divestment from Israel.

"SGA debates UMass’ divestment from Israel"

by Nicole Sobel, Collegian Staff

DAILY COLLEGIAN (University of Massachusetts at Amherst)

Thursday, March 5, 2009

On the Web at:

Wednesday, March 4th the SGA gathered in the Campus Center at to vote on whether or not the University of Massachusetts should divest from companies who support Israel such as Caterpillar, General Electric, and Motorola.

The meeting concluded with the motion being tabled until March 25th, after, lengthy and controversial debate.

The main debate was between The Student Alliance for Israel and the Campus Anti-War Network debate over whether SGA should pass the bill.

Michael Feder spoke firest on the topic, representing a pro-Israel outlook. He said the bill contained a number of half-truths.

“Real decisions come from knowing the information on both sides,” said Feder.

Feder’s speech also had a strong emphasis on ‘war as a symptom.’ He claimed that, “An anti-war stance is a way to avoid thoughtful inquiry.”

The Student Alliance for Israel’s believed the bill should be treated as a starting point for dialogue, not for rash decision. The main qualm expressed by Pro-Israel students was their worry only one side of the issue was being seen, and more debate and dialogue was necessary on the matter.

Hannah Grossman from the Student Alliance for Israel was concerned that “This bill is going to polarize the campus and make it impossible for each side to understand each other.”

Other pro-Israel speakers at the meeting referred to the bill as an “unfair vilification of Israel,” and a “means for polarizing the campus.”

The campus Anti-War network, on the other hand, felt the bill should be passed.

The Anti-War network said that, “Divestment helps towards peace.” They claimed repeatedly that the bill was urgent, since many Palestinians were dying and starving by the minute.

“Palestinian Civil Society asked the U.S. to make this move.” network representatives said.

The Anti-War network claimed that Israel should not be portrayed as representing ‘democracy,’ considering their recent assault on the Gaza Strip. The Anti-War network felt that this bill would, “protect the Palestinians from being besieged.”

The Anti-War network referred to the Gaza Strip as, “an open air prison right now,” and said this bill needed to be passed in order to, “Divest from occupation of war, and invest in education.”

They were insistent upon this bill being passed quickly because of the urgent humanitarian crisis that was at stake in Israel concerning the Palestinian people.

--Nicole Sobel can be reached at


No comments: