Join the movement for freedom, equality and justice, US students tell Zionist ADL
In France, Palestine rights activists have been prosecuted under anti-semitism laws; in Britain, the Methodist Church is being threatened with a lawsuit as anti-semitic for having invited members to support a boycott of Israel’s settlement goods; in the US, activists have been hounded by the police and threatened with loss of funding and legal actions by pro-Israel attack-dogs such as the Anti Defamation League (ADL). These bullying and strongarm tactics are typical of people who know they are losing the argument. We congratulate the Students for Justice in Palestine for its appearance on the ADL’s Top Ten Anti-Israel Groups in America, and for their dignified and courageous response.
Joint Statement on Anti-Defamation League’s “Top 10” List
On October 14th, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) named Students for Justice in Palestine on its list of the “Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups in America,” claiming that “SJP chapters regularly organise activities presenting a biased view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including mock ‘apartheid walls’ and ‘checkpoint’ displays.”
The ADL’s characterisation of our efforts and activism as “biased” is a disingenuous and misguided attempt to vilify students who criticize Israel’s occupation – which denies Palestinian human rights and self-determination. In this statement, we clarify our principles and invite the ADL to reconsider its categorical silence on egregious Israeli human rights violations by joining the movement for freedom, equality, and justice in Palestine.
Students for Justice in Palestine groups seek to raise awareness about the Israeli government’s violations of human rights. Our groups represent constituencies of students, faculty, staff and community members from diverse ethnic, religious, national, and political backgrounds including many Jewish and Israeli members who have been continually ostracised by organisations like the ADL. Our organisations work independently of one another, but collectively we are united in our belief in justice, freedom and human rights for the Palestinian people.
The ADL shields Israeli policy by invoking the “complexity of the conflict” without ever illuminating it. As students we have a definite responsibility to use the tools of knowledge at our disposal to penetrate that complexity; “to speak truth and to expose lies” and “to analyse actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions,” to quote social critic Noam Chomksy.
Complexity can never be an excuse for complacency. In that vein, groups like the United Nations Human Rights Council, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty International have affirmed in painstaking detail Israel’s deplorable human rights record and systematic intransigency. By educating ourselves, our campuses and our communities about what the Israeli government inflicts upon the Palestinian people within the occupied territories, inside Israel, and beyond, we can begin to identify the problems that cause this injustice.
United States foreign aid to Israel — which numbers in the billions every year — is chief amongst the issues enabling Israel’s continued occupation and racism. As students in America, therefore, our duty is threefold: to apply our academic rigor to learn the truth, to educate and hold our communities accountable for support given in our name, and to lobby our government to end its diplomatic cover for Israeli injustice.
Palestinians have the right to fight for their freedom and to resist the occupation and colonisation of their indigenous lands. Therefore, we are committed to non-violent activism that promotes education, and civic and political organisation to promote the Palestinian struggle for freedom.
Many of our organisations have responded favorably to a 2005 call from over 170 civil society organisations within Palestine for activists to stand in solidarity by promoting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. We see this method as an important and practical tool that students can use to express solidarity with the Palestinian struggle for freedom. We also believe it illuminates the behind-the-scenes relationships, economic and otherwise, that enable Israel’s behavior, and can be used to urge our communities to be accountable to the ways in which they may unwittingly support the occupation.
We are inspired by the international movement against South African apartheid — which successfully ended only 16 years ago — and we aim similarly to bring an end to the system imposed by Israel on the Palestinians. As in the South African movement, the BDS call has been endorsed by many conscientious citizens of Israel, including Arabs and Jews, as well as numerous social justice and peace activists around the world. Among the luminaries supporting the call for solidarity are Nobel Peace laureates like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, co-drafter of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights Stephane Hessel, distinguished professors, jurists, authors, intellectuals, and artists.
Ultimately, we locate ourselves in a legacy of social justice movements working at the grassroots for a free and just world. The ADL itself started this way a century ago. We suspect that the ADL, high on its perch among the political elite, has lost sight of its founding values. It opposed the South African anti-apartheid movement and engaged in massive spying on private American citizens. It recently abandoned its belief in religious freedom by condemning Muslim Americans hoping to build an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan.
The same day it attacked SJP, the ADL honored Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who owns Fox News Network, one of the most despicable purveyors of hatred against Muslim, Arab, Latino, Black, and queer communities in our time. These are not the actions of an organisation with a moral compass that points in the direction of justice.
We will continue to work for a just peace where Palestinians are free in their homeland and equals to Jewish Israelis. We invite the ADL to reflect and to choose to build this world, rather than to stop it.
Students For Justice in Palestine Group
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