The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Avi Dichter (Likud), held an urgent debate on Tuesday on the efforts of BDS-affiliated organizations to target Jewish students on college campuses throughout the United States. The debate was held following motions for the agenda submitted by MKs Anat Berko (Likud), Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid) and Nachman Shai (Zionist Camp).
The motions were filed in light of a report published by the Reservists on Duty advocacy organization regarding the activity of BDS-affiliated groups on college campuses, including posting ”eviction notices” on the dormitory doors of Jewish students, demanding that they evacuate in three days or have their property thrown out.
The Reservists on Duty organization seeks to ”fight the current forms of anti-Semitism, and its new form – the BDS, which is spreading throughout the Western world at a worrying rate.”
Amnon Goldstof, head of research in the organization, presented figures according to which 941 anti-Semitic incidents occurred in the US in 2015; 90 of them took place on college campuses, marking a significant increase from the 47 anti-Semitic incidents which occurred on campuses in 2014.
”Jewish students are the most persecuted minority on campuses in the United States,” he said.
Committee Chairman Dichter said, ”BDS is an anti-Semitic wave against Jews, which is unfortunately taking place in countries that are considered enlightened and on campuses that are considered intellectual. A large part of the BDS` activity stems from the activists` frustration over the past few years because the Palestinian issue is [less prominent]. The Arab countries are not dealing with the Palestinian issue, and this makes the Palestinians and their supporters crazy. This is why the Palestinians are trying to aggressively disseminate the issue.”
”We are experienced,” Dichter continued. ”They will not succeed in deteriorating the Israeli idea and the State of Israel. We in the Knesset and in this committee have a responsibility to every Jewish person who is attacked for being Jewish,” Dichter said. “We have a responsibility as the nation state of the Jewish People to help however we can, without breaking local laws.”
Dichter praised the members of Reservists on Duty for presenting the figures to the committee, and stated that the acts against Jewish students are carried out with the purpose of hurting Israel, ”a corrupt goal which will not be achieved.”
MK Berko said, ”The violence must be exposed. The students are no longer safe on the campuses, and lecturers who say anything that contradicts the Palestinian propaganda suffer for it. A lecture I gave on a certain campus was moved to a different location because students blocked the entrance to the hall where it was supposed to take place, while there are professors who chair departments funded by countries such as Qatar and spread propaganda.”
Tzahi Gavrieli, deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, said the ministry is handling the issue of Israel`s delegitimization, which the BDS movement is only a part of. ”We are working on a number of fronts: Legally, economically, academically, with regards to interreligious relations, and more,” he said, adding that there has been a decrease in the issuing of fake eviction notices to Jewish students due to the ministry`s activity – between 2014 and 2015 there were three such incidents, down from 11 between 2013 and 2014, and only one so far in 2016.
The physical intimidation of the sort Berko encountered is the most common on campuses, he said.
Dichter wondered whether posting fake eviction notices does not constitute a criminal offense. Yona Schiffmiller of NGO Monitor said lawyers advise the BDS activists to make sure to put up a few eviction notices in places where Jewish students do not reside order to avert claims of racism and persecution. ”This is part of the strategy,” he said. ”And this is precisely why we cannot focus solely on activity against the eviction notices and must also act against the legal aid and funding these activists receive.”
MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) said, ”The Jewish community stands by us on every issue, and now that its members are on the front and being attacked, it is our duty to stand by them. Eleven states in the US have already passed laws which allow sanctions against the boycott, so it is certainly possible to ask the universities to consider doing the same.”