BDS resolutions proliferate as universities lose control over campuses. Arts communities shun Israel while nations threaten weapons boycotts of Israel.

  • 0


The Gaza War has revived BDS resolutions on campus, the shunning of Jews in arts communities, and threats to cut off weapons shipments to Israel. Campuses, politics, and now the arts have become supersaturated with protests for the cause of ‘Palestine,’often characterized by histrionics and violence. In all these settings the recitation of Hamas’ atrocities provoke rage from ‘pro-Palestinian’ supporters, pointing to deep dehumanization of Israelis and Jews. The willingness to believe absurd claims, especially that Israel is conducting ‘genocide’ against the Palestinians, points to the deep-seatedness of blood libels. The role of campuses in spreading irrationalism is especially harmful since students have been riled into quasi-religious states of agitation that will not be easily undone.

Editor’s Note: The rapid growth of BDS-related antisemitism since the October 7 Hamas attack has required the BDS Monitor to be greatly expanded. Readers are reminded that a shortened version appears in The Algemeiner.



On campus BDS activities in March were characterized by the rapid revival of BDS resolutions or referendums which frequently accused Israel of ‘genocide’:

  • The Tufts University student government approved a BDS resolution that demanded divestment from Israel, the end of study abroad programs in Israel, boycott of specific products on campus, and university acknowledgement of the Palestinian ‘genocide.’ Jewish students report having been spat on and verbally abused during the debate, which was not conducted according to established procedure. The university rejected the call for BDS and claimed it would investigate abuse of Jewish students.
  • The University of California at Riverside student government approved a BDS resolution. In response the university administration stated it would not divest from Israel.
  • The University of California at Santa Cruz student government approved a boycott resolution calling on the university system to divest from Israel and which directed that the group’s $550,000 million budget be divested from companies working in Israel.
  • The University of California at San Diego student government approved a BDS resolution demanding the university system divest from Israel and which directed that the group’s $8.2 million budget be divested from companies working in Israel.
  • A divestment referendum at the University of Virginia was passed by a large margin. The measure demands the university first audit investments to determine if they are “engaging in or profiting from the State of Israel’s apartheid regime.” The Virginia Attorney General urged the university regents to reject the measure.
  • The Barnard College student government approved a motion to present a BDS referendum to the student body. The referendum calls for “1. Divesting all stocks, funds, and endowment and refrain from further investment in companies profiting from or engaging in Israeli apartheid; 2. Canceling the opening of the Tel Aviv Global Center; 3. Ceasing the Dual Degree Program between Columbia University and Tel Aviv University.”
  • Union Theological Seminary’s student government passed a resolution demanding divestment and calling to “End all promotion of Israeli Settler-colonialism via academic ties through including but not limited to Fulbright Israel as well as hosting any Zionist speakers amplifying settler-colonial propaganda.”
  • The Rutgers University student government approved inclusion of two anti-Israel questions on the spring referendum, one related to divestment and the other demanding the university cut ties with Tel Aviv University. The first question demands “Divestment from any firm or corporation materially participating in, benefitting from or otherwise supporting the government of Israel’s settler colonialism, apartheid and genocide of Palestine and the Palestinian people…”
  • The MIT ‘Coalition Against Apartheid,’ which has been suspended from campus, put forward a BDS referendum which was voted on by the undergraduate student government.
  • At Oberlin College a board of trustees representative met with pro-divestment students to advise them on how to submit a formal proposal.
  • At the Université du Québec à Montréal the management sciences student union voted for a BDS resolution.
  • At Washington University in St. Louis the student government approved a divestment resolution. The resolution was aimed specifically at investments in Boeing so as not to appear as a BDS resolution.
  • At Williams College a coalition of minority and left wing groups demanded the college divest from Israel, hire “faculty of color,” and commit to land reparations to the Mohican nation.
  • Anti-Israel groups at the University of Minnesota petitioned to have divestment questions included on campus-wide ballots.
  • After meeting with pro-BDS students the Michigan State University board of trustees stated it would conduct a review of its investments but noted that this was a “normal” business move.
  • Vanderbilt University administrators canceled a student government vote on a BDS resolution after warning the measure would contravene state law regarding divestment from Israel. In response protestors occupied an administration building for 22 hours where they reported “inhumane” treatment by police, including denial of bathroom access. Twenty five students were arrested and 16 were suspended.
  • The Cornell University student government approved a referendum on divestment to be present to the student body.

At MIT Jewish graduate students have sued their union claiming that they were denied religious exemptions from paying mandatory dues to an organization that has officially endorsed BDS. The graduate student union is affiliated with the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America and has refused any accommodation, claiming the Jewish students objections were strictly political rather than grounded in religious beliefs. The BDS supporting graduate student union at the University of Chicago Law School is also demanding a closed shop rule that would force Jewish and other members to subsidize anti-Israel activity.

Protests demanding divestment were held at other campuses including a disruption of the annual Honors Convocation at the University of Michigan (which was terminated by senior administrators leaving the hall), the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of California at Los Angeles, Edinburgh University (where a building was occupied overnight), at University College London (where a room was occupied, demands for divestment issued, SSmith College (where protestors occupied a building, and displayed Arabic signs reading “from the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab),” at La Sapienza University in Rome (where a dean’s office was occupied), and at Emerson College, where 13 students were arrested protesting the inauguration of the new president.

Pro-Israel speakers were harassed and canceled at a number of campuses:

  • At the University of Kentucky protestors disrupted a speech by pundit Ian Haworth, who shouted him down, causing the police to clear the building, after which protestors pulled a fire alarm. No arrests were made. One protestor was quoted as saying “Wow, okay, we disrupted it successfully.’ That was our whole thing, we don’t want this individual to even have space to speak at our institution.”
  • At the London School of Economics (LSE) a talk by Israeli professor Benny Morris was heckled by students who claimed his presence was “endangering your Palestinian students.”
  • Death threats forced cancelation of a talk by a British-Israeli speaker at University College, London.
  • At the University of California at Irvine the Jewish Studies program head stated that he could no longer hold public events related to Israel due to persistent harassment by pro-Hamas protestors and that even talks on Yiddish and the Holocaust had been disrupted. No disciplinary measures have been taken by the university.
  • A talk at Indiana University by former Hamas member Mosab Hassan Yousef was also canceled after the SJP chapter accused him of ‘Islamophobia’ resulting in threats from the local Muslim community.
  • A talk at Georgetown University Law School by an Israeli reservist was disrupted by pro-Hamas protestors who warned the speaker’s “proximity to these crimes make it likely that he contributed to the war crimes and genocide in Gaza.”
  • An Australian mental health association canceled a presentation by an Israeli physician after threats from BDS activists. The organization stated that the threats “necessitated that we prioritize our duty of care above all else.”

In a unique move, the Muslim Student Association at Concordia University demanded the institution ban “Islamophobic language” and also provided a long list of terms that would result in a group being banned. These included “jihadist,” “Hamas supporter,” “rape apologist,” “Islamist,” “Shariah,” and many more.

Harassment of Jewish and Israeli students also continued on campuses.

The increasing radicalization of campuses was displayed at a number of schools:

  • Students at the University of South Florida announced a hunger strike at a board of trustees meeting and demanded the university divest from companies they associated with Israel. Police removed them from the trustees meeting. The hunger strike coincided with Ramadan when Muslims traditionally fast during the day. The university announced it would not respond to the group’s demands.
  • In the aftermath of an incident last month at the California State University Long Beach where a Jewish studies speaker supporting a two state solution was shouted down and had to be evacuated by police, flyers appeared on the campus stating “CSU accepts violent zionists, white supremacists, colonizers and genocide deniers.” Invective was directed not only at the speaker but also the university president who was described as a “genocide denier” who “disrespects Indigenous culture.” The president denounced an earlier series of flyers, which she described as an “outrage,” and stated “We must also reject Islamophobia and antisemitism.”

Universities remain largely unwilling or unable to enforce regulations regarding protests and disruptions of campus operations while demands for complete impunity have increased:

  • At the University of Pennsylvania protestors facing disciplinary action for a February sit-in at a library issued a petition demanding their cases be dismissed.
  • Protestors at Cornell University briefly occupied an administration building and demanded divestment in advance of a board of trustees meeting. University police removed the protestors who were charged with trespassing. Over 300 Cornell faculty, staff, students and alumni later signed an open letter supporting the protestors and decrying “corporations that are linked to Israeli militarism, occupation and collective punishment” and asserting “Efforts to smother critiques of the state of Israel have dovetailed with attacks on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, ethnic studies and other vital dimensions of modern education.”

University facilities vandalized by pro-Hamas protestors include a computing laboratory at Cambridge University and inside a student union at Manchester University where “kikes out” and “up Hamas” were scrawled. Jewish institutions on campus also continued to be vandalized, including the Queens College Hillel (which also received threatening messages). the University of Texas at Austin’s Hillel building, along with buildings associated with ‘Zionists’ including the Golda Meir Library at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, which was vandalized with “Free Palestine.” Consistent with the institutional demand to downplay antisemitism by automatically pairing it with ‘Islamophobia,’ the university noted that “To be very clear, neither antisemitism nor Islamophobia has any place on our campus or in our community.”

In response to the campus situation which includes violence, harassment, and intimidation, documented by testimony by Jewish students to House committees, anecdotal evidence indicates that Jewish students are taking personal safety into consideration when selecting schools. Others are being actively discouraged from applying to specific hotbeds such as Cornell University.

One new study shows that Jewish students already enrolled are hiding their identities and pay a social penalty for supporting Israel, while at the same time increasing participation in Jewish activities. Another study indicates that very liberal students know they are expected to not be friends with Israel supporters but at the same time know they are not supposed to discriminate. Overall the conformist culture of elite schools in particular helps amplify anti-Israel attitudes.

Additional reports from Jewish students at schools such as the University of California at Berkeley have detailed the harassment and intimidation directed at them by faculty and fellow students and the manner in which this is disregarded by administrations. The eagerness of graduate students to subscribe publicly to calumnies regarding Israel’s ‘genocide’ against the Palestinians indicates that the next generation of faculty members will be implacably hostile to Israel and anyone perceived as a supporter, and that research and pedagogy will be irremediably skewed towards ‘proving’ Israel’s unique evil.


Faculty members continue to take aggressive stances attacking Israel and in defense of Palestinians and Hamas. ‘Faculty for Justice in Palestine’ (FJP) chapters dedicated to supporting SJP chapters continue to spread to “raise awareness about settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing, genocidal policies and actions, and everyday violence against Palestinians” and invariably accompanied by claims that “pro-Palestine speech” is being ‘silenced.’

In turn, FJP chapters have also complained about external investigations of their behavior. The University of Pennsylvania FJP chapter has also sued the university to prevent it from turning over documents to the House committee investigating antisemitism, calling the request ‘McCarthyism.’ FJP chapters in the University of California system also complained about a proposal in the board of regents to limit departmental discretionary statements which have typically targeted Israel, calling the restrictions a “threat to academic freedom.

One example came from the “Center for Racial Justice” at UC Santa Cruz which claimed “We are now into the sixth month of Israel’s genocide of the Palestinian people… On a campus famed for its activism, we have witnessed our students galvanized by the horrifying extermination of life into extraordinary, moving organizing—holding numerous teach-ins, rallies, sit-ins, protests, and community events every single week for almost half a year now.” A new report indicates that antisemitic incidents on California campuses have increased by 1000% since October 7, a figure largely attributable to faculty agitation.

Faculty are also at the forefront of normalizing pro-Hamas viewpoints. One example at Barnard College is a session called “Resistance 101” hosted by the Barnard Center for Research on Women which featured Nerdeen Kiswani of the communist-Islamist group ‘Within Our Lifetime’ alongside Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) leader Khaled Barakat. Upon questioning Columbia University canceled what it called an unsanctioned event which was then moved to a private space on campus. Observers argued that the event constituted material support for terrorism since the PFLP is a designated terrorist organization.

Anti-Israel and antisemitic faculty members continue to be hired despite statements that imply they will discriminate against Israelis and Jews. One new hire at Cornell University, Wunpini Muhammad, stated on social media that “If Jewish folks don’t want to be incorrectly associated with Israel’s barbarism, the answer is to be vehemently anti-Zionist & work to dismantle Israel+Zionism.” Muhammad joins other Cornell faculty who have expressed support for Hamas and opposition to the existence of Israel.

Another example is a recently hired visiting professor at Columbia University, Mohamed Abdou, a self-described “Muslim anarchist,” has repeatedly expressed support for the “resistance” “be it Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.” In March Abdou participated in an event entitled “Debunking Zionist Hasbara” along with Cornell professor and BDs supporter Eric Cheyfitz.

By promising unconditional support for Palestinians the explicit political stances espoused by FJP chapters and individual faculty members contradict any notion of academic integrity or fairness with regard to Israel, Palestine or Jews. Their ability to teach these subject is inherently compromised.

More positively, the Michigan State University faculty senate voted down a divestment resolution.

Anti-Israel activism increased in the medical profession, particularly in Britain, which has seen a profusion of pro-Hamas statements from medical students, individual physicians and nurses, unions and in medical journals. In March at Harvard Medical School some 50 faculty and students protested the presence of the American Medical Association’s president and held banners stating “Let Gaza Live!” and “AMA is complicit in genocide.”

In one horrific example of the antisemitic discrimination at a Manchester (UK) hospital, a visibly Jewish boy receiving a transfusion was moved from a bed to the floor by nurses with ‘free Palestine’ badges. Overall pro-Hamas activism in medicine is reminiscent of the key role physicians played in the formation of Al-Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The eagerness of mainstream media to repeat anti-Israel accusations from physicians in Gaza also points to how the medical profession leverages its credibility to support Hamas.

The ability of pro-Israel faculty to challenge unions which take anti-Israel stances was undermined in March by a Federal appeals court which held that six City University of New York (CUNY) faculty members did not have their free speech and associational rights infringed by compulsory membership in a public sector union. The leadership and members of the Professional Staff Congress representing CUNY faculty are well-known for their hatred of Israel and support for BDS.

Faculty members have taken the lead in demanding their universities terminate relationships with Israel. University of Turin faculty members voted to end a research agreement with Israeli universities. Students had demanded the university end all research collaborations but only one was terminated. The University of Montreal’s SGPPUM faculty union also voted to demanded the university cut off relations with Israeli universities as well as an arms embargo and a ‘ceasefire.’

The role of professional organizations in institutionalizing BDS related antisemitism in various disciplines was reinforced by a statement from the Middle East Studies Association accusing Israel of ‘genocide’ and a proposed resolution in the American Sociological Association condemning Israel which fails to even mention Hamas.


University administrations remain under unique pressure and scrutiny regarding their responses to the antisemitism crisis on campus. The donor rebellion has caused financial problems for Ivy league universities while the expanding investigations by the House of Representatives continues to provide bad publicity.

University ‘investigations’ and ‘task forces’ continued in March but with few results. Reports indicate the Columbia University antisemitism ‘task force’ has stalled over its reluctance to formally include anti-Israel bias as a component of antisemitism. Anti-Israel faculty and students have also demanded the ‘task force’ “include” their views, which inherently short-circuits the undertaking.

Minimal sanctions against anti-Israel groups also emerged in March:

  • At the University of Pennsylvania ‘Penn Students Against the Occupation of Palestine’ was temporarily forbidden from on-campus activities after a series of incidents, which were also outlined in a lawsuit against the university.
  • The Case Western Reserve University SJP chapter was given an ‘interim suspension’ for gluing flyers to campus buildings. Members complained that “The relationship between CWRU administration and its students is forever tainted by its deliberate creation of a hostile and unsafe student environment as a way to ignore their own complicit role in shedding Palestinian blood.”
  • The MIT ‘Coalition Against Apartheid’ was suspended by the administration after the group held repeated demonstrations without prior authorization.
  • The Arizona State University MEChA chapter was suspended after a social media posting with the caption “Death to boer. Death to the Pilgrim. Death to the zionist. Death to the settler.”

As a result of continuing anti-Israel unrest and incidents of harassment and intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students, administrations continue to refine their codes of behavior for students. Restrictions are also being aimed at departments and programs which have routinely published accusatory statements aimed at Israel that are evidence of intent to discriminate against Israeli and Jewish students.

In response, faculty and student opposition to any restrictions on or condemnations of anti-Israel activities also continues:

  • The Cornell University ‘Coalition for Mutual Liberation’ announced it would continue to violate the university’s ‘expressive behavior’ rules and Student Code of Conduct until the trustees vote to divest from Israel. Near Eastern Studies faculty condemned the rules which it stated “cultivates instead an atmosphere of intolerance and surveillance put into place through authoritarianism and overreach.”
  • The Brandeis University SJP chapter which was derecognized by the university in late 2023 has apparently rebranded as the unsanctioned ‘Revolutionary Socialist Organization’ and continues to hold unsanctioned events on campus.
  • Columbia University president Minouche Shafik condemned an incident at Columbia Law School where pro-Hamas students disrupted an event for admitted students which “left many Jewish attendees feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome. Not only was this disruption a violation of our policies, it was an affront to our commitment to be a welcoming community to all of our students.” Disciplinary proceedings were threatened by the president and dean of the law school but the “Columbia Law Coalition for a Free Palestine” stated it would “continue to disrupt” university operations.
  • The ‘Department of Black Studies’ at the University of California at Santa Barbara joined with the school’s SJP and JVP chapters to declare a ‘Day of Interruption’ after the school temporarily suspended the ‘MultiCultural Center’ following the posting of anti-Zionist and pro-Palestinian signs. Protestors demanded divestment and speakers called for incorporating ‘Palestine’ into classes.
  • Brown University placed 41 students who had participated in a sit-in on “academic probation” and other violations of the code of conduct. They will be required to write a minimum 500 word statement on “the University’s values and how they were at odds with (the students’) behavior.” Students expressed frustration with these requirements.

Evidence continues to accumulate showing how university administrations have discriminated against Jewish students. At Middlebury College a new lawsuit alleges that administrators demanded Jewish students remove the word “Jewish” from publicity for a vigil commemorating victims of the October 7 massacre.

At the same time universities continue to claim, somewhat implausibly, that they are protecting the rights of Jewish students. For example, New York University that a Federal lawsuit against it filed by students should be dismissed, saying that reports of antisemitism had dropped to nearly zero and that student had no standing to file suits.

Rather than sanctioning students or faculty, administrators themselves have become the targets of sanctions. In one case, San Antonio College President Naydeen González-De Jesús was ‘reassigned’ as a result of a “Teach-in for Palestine” having been abruptly canceled last October. The event was held shortly thereafter.

Events designed to mitigate campus antisemitism have been undercut, as Jewish or Israeli speakers continue to be paired with those focusing on ‘Palestine’ and ‘Islamophobia.’ At MIT a series of talks originally designed to discuss antisemitism were replaced by a talk on ‘Islamophobia’ given by Hamas supporter Dalia Moghahed. In contrast, a talk proposed by Jewish alumni which would have featured former State Department official Dennis Ross was not approved. At Harvard University a series of talks pairing the two concepts was canceled after participants were criticized and dropped out.

The US Department of Education continues to open investigations of antisemitism at colleges and universities as well as public schools, and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce expanded its own investigation to include UC Berkeley. Committee chair Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) noted that Harvard’s failure to comply with a subpoena for documents could result in a cutoff of some $625 million in Federal funding.

At the same time a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House with the aim of increasing students’ awareness of their rights to report antisemitism and other forms of discrimination and instructing the Education Department to undertake a corresponding public awareness campaign. Other bills introduced in the House purport to address antisemitism and free speech issues.

For its part the Columbia University SJP warned that “Columbia Wi-Fi & services are being surveilled in a McCarthyite program to provide evidence for the House committee investigation.”


Anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda from K-12 teachers remained a focal point in March. Elementary school indoctrination was one focus, as was targeting Jewish teachers:

The decaying environment for Jewish students was reflected in the Fairfax County Public School System where reports indicated that parents were given the option to keep students from attending a talk by a Holocaust survivor. The option was presented ostensibly to protect Jewish students from the possibility of being bullied and harassed, presumably by Muslim and other students.

The systemic nature of antisemitism at the K-12 levels and the manner in which teachers’ unions have been coopted by anti-Israel activism was demonstrated in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Teachers Association hosted a webinar, developed with the help of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace,’ entitled “The Struggle Against Anti-Palestinian Racism” which was described as an exploration of questions including “What is anti-Palestinian discrimination? How does Palestine fit into the larger framework of colonialism and imperialism? What are Zionism and anti-Zionism, and what are their histories? Why is anti-Zionism not antisemitism?” The union president defended the event and noted that his father was a Jewish refugee from Germany. Local branches have begun to voice opposition to the imposition of foreign policy issues by the state union.

The manner in which pro-Hamas propaganda is being incorporated into K-12 curriculums by teachers unions was also displayed as the British Columbia Teachers Association passed a motion to lobby the Education Ministry to include the ‘Nakba’ and Israeli ‘occupation’ to the provincial curriculum. The effort was spearhead by Samidoun and the Palestine Youth Movement.

But the instrumental role of ‘Palestine’ in teachers’ unions’ strategy was also made clear at a public meeting in Berkeley (CA) where students, parents and teachers commented on the need to teach about the Gaza war, implement the ‘liberated ethnic studies curriculum, and for higher salaries for teachers.


Mass public protests aimed at disrupting transportation and commercial activities continued in March. Protestors demanding a ‘ceasefire’ blocked San Francisco Airport, the New York Times and New York Post printing plantLondon’s Liverpool Station, and the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum. Britain’s leading counter-extremism official warned that pro-Palestinian protests were making London a no-go zone for Jews and that radicalization was spreading throughout British society.

Most shocking, however, was a firebomb thrown at the Israeli embassy in the Hague and an arson attack on a Jewish home in London by an unidentified man who was arrested and then made antisemitic statements to the police. Two Jewish individuals were also assaulted on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

Protestors repeatedly vandalized locations associated with Israel, such as Effy’s Cafe on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and Nanas Kitchen in Narberth (PA). Protestors also disrupted the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council gala, the opening of the Amsterdam Holocaust museum, which was attended by Israeli president Isaac Herzog, and an Israeli speaker at the Los Angeles Holocaust Museum.

Private dwellings were attacked, including a rock thrown through a window of a home and mutilation of hostage posters displayed outside a home in Newton (MA). A protest at a real estate fair in Teaneck (NJ) synagogue which purportedly advertised homes in the West Bank was protested by Palestinian-Americans who drove from nearby Paterson. Several bottles were thrown at attendees and at police. A similar real estate fair in Brooklyn was canceled due to security concerns.

The result of continued protests, harassment and vandalism targeting Jewish individuals and institutions is a growing need for security measures including physical protection and secrecy regarding venues.

Arts and Culture

A notable BDS development in March was the growing exclusion of Israelis and Jews from artistic and cultural life including music and literature.

One incident was the posting and then swift removal of an article by a left wing Israeli writer and peace activist in the small literary journal Guernica after a series of resignations by staff members who complained the piece was “horrific settler normalization essay” and “eugenicist white colonialism masquerading as goodness.” The magazine stated “Guernica regrets having published this piece, and has retracted it. A more fulsome explanation will follow.” The article was later posted at the Washington Monthly.

A number of Jewish and Israeli artists and performances were canceled in March:

Anti-Israel protests by artists and museum workers workers continued in March:

Active measures aimed at widening cancelation of Jews and Israelis continued in March. It was revealed that an Australian activist, Elsa Tuet-Rosenberg, who had publicized the names and identities of 600 Jewish creatives from a private Whatsapp group, had received a contract from the Australian Human Rights Commission to provide “anti-racism teaching resources for primary schools.”

Pro-Hamas protestors harassed attendees entering the Academy Awards presentation, during which one winner, director Jonathan Glazer, criticized Israel’s treatment of Palestinians saying “’Right now, we stand here as men who refute their Jewishness and the Holocaust being hijacked by an occupation which has led to conflict for so many innocent people.” Response came quickly including a letter signed by almost 1000 Jewish creatives which stated “We refute our Jewishness being hijacked for the purpose of drawing a moral equivalence between a Nazi regime that sought to exterminate a race of people, and an Israeli nation that seeks to avert its own extermination.”

In one especially egregious incident at Trinity College, Cambridge, a portrait of Sir Arthur Balfour was covered in paint and slashed by a pro-Hamas protestor. The group Palestine Action stated that “Arthur Balfour, then UK Foreign secretary, issued a declaration which promised to build ‘a national home for the Jewish people’ in Palestine, where the majority of the Indigenous population were not Jewish. He gave away the Palestinians’ homeland—a land that wasn’t his to give away… Britain’s support for the continued colonisation of Palestine hasn’t wavered since 1917.”

The effects of art protests are to expand exclusion of Israelis from global life and to establish litmus tests for Jews and others to be admitted to these spaces. The unintended effects are to attract growing public attention to the depths to which arts and literature have been politicized and forcibly center “Palestine.”

Politics and Economics

In the political and economic spheres the focus remains on the Biden Administration’s efforts to maintain its electoral appeal with Muslim and Arab voters in the upper Midwest and with younger voters national while supporting Israel’s effort to destroy Hamas. Outreach efforts to Muslim and Arab voters have been repeatedly rebuked, including in Chicago where Muslim and Palestinian leaders cited the Gaza war and refused to meet with administration representatives. Despite White House denials, CAIR leaders had been invited to the meeting despite the organization having been disavowed for its leaders’ support for Hamas. The outreach efforts, which are paired with demands that Israel cease its offensive in Gaza, have been met by forthright statements from CAIR and other Islamist groups that American Muslims will not vote for Biden.

Similar outreach efforts at Arab and Muslim voters are underway at the state level. A message from California Governor Gavin Newsom addressed to the state’s “Muslim, Palestinian American, and Arab American Communities” which supported Biden’s call for a ceasefire should also be seen as an election year move by a potential presidential candidate. Local pressure from Islamic organizations is also increasing, as in New Jersey where local Muslims threatened to boycott a Ramadan gathering if governor Phil Murphy did not demand a ‘ceasefire.’

In a sign of a growing disconnect between President Biden and his staffers, unconfirmed reports indicate that Biden swore and shouted at aides about dropping poll numbers and rejected the suggestion that US support for Israel was behind it. At the same time, Democratic insider James Carville stated that “if it don’t get calmed down before the Democratic convention in Chicago it’s going to be a very ugly time in Chicago. I promise you that. They’re gonna have to tell Bibi Netanyahu, ‘Hey dude, we’re not gonna lose our election because you’re scared to go to jail.”

These threats were also backed by a speech from Senator Chuck Schumer attacking Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and calling for regime change, which was supported by President Biden. This perspective was also reflected in comments from Sen. Mark Warner that “Netanyahu’s war” “threatens to undermine” support for Israel, and a report regarding major Democratic Party donors who complained about Biden’s “unconditional support” for “Netanyahu” leading to progressive anger, desertion from the party, and a Trump victory.

The threats appear part of a larger messaging campaign against Israel. A statement from Assistant Secretary of State Bill Russo that Israel is making a “major strategic error” and doing “major, possibly generational damage,” reports that an unnamed State Department official accused Israeli soldiers of raping Palestinian women, echoing a story retracted by Al Jazeera, and the US abstention on a UN Security Council vote that failed to link a ceasefire with hostage release, might be seen as efforts not simply in limiting Israel’s war aimed but pushing regime change. Overall the promotion of Israel as a wedge issue by the Biden administration is part of a larger policy realignment begun under the Obama administration to shift the US away from Israel and Saudi Arabia and towards Iran and its “equities” as the regional hegemon.

Consistent with political threats are efforts to isolate individual Israelis. Building on slowly expanding US and British sanctions directed at “violent settlers” and settlements in the West Bank the European Union hinted it might also initiate sanctions.

Complementing political pressure was direct intimidation of political leaders by pro-Hamas demonstrators. In Britain a new report indicated that dozens of Members of Parliament have been subjected to harassment in their offices and in official meetings. Local councils, such as in Newcastle and Manchester, which have no foreign policy role, are routinely disrupted by protestors. Politicians are also increasingly promoting antisemitic policies that reflect their own prejudices and those of their constituents. One example was Susan Rae, a councillor for Leith Walk in Edinburgh, who promoted a Palestinian event and declared that her district should be a “Zionist Free Zone.”

Similar efforts in the US are continuing to promote ‘ceasefire’ resolutions in city councils and to harass local politicians perceived as favorable to Israel with accusations they are ‘complicit in genocide.’ Much of the effort is organized by the ‘Democratic Socialists of America’ which has taken over large swaths of the Democratic Party in left wing and progressive communities including New York City. Threats to disrupt events also continue to force cancelations, such as a talk by an Israeli Consul General sponsored by the Houston Young Republicans.

As demonstrated at four cities in North Carolina, techniques pro-Hamas protestors have employed include disrupting sessions, signing up dozens and sometimes hundreds of speakers for public hearings, as well as violent assaults. Reports indicate protestors became enraged when Hamas’ October 7 atrocities were recounted. In Sacramento (CA) twelve pro-Hamas protestors were arrested when they refused to cease disrupting a long ‘ceasefire’ debate. At a Berkeley City Council debate an elderly Holocaust survivor was heckled by Muslim protestors who denied that Hamas had committed rape and torture. In response to persistent disruptions the Bethlehem (PA City Council is considering limits on public comments after protestors chanting “ceasefire now” stymied a meeting until midnight.

Lawfare directed at Israel increased in March, notably efforts to restrict weapons exports, organized by ‘human rights organizations’ associated with pro-Hamas NGOs. Following a court in the Netherlands halting arms exports a similar suit has been filed in Denmark. Canada also announced a complete cutoff in arms sales (totaling $22 million) after a non-binding resolution was passed in the parliament, with fears growing that Germany might follow suit. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, which had previously banned Israeli firms operating in the West Bank, announced an investigation of firms that sell arms to Israel. Britain also threatened a European-wide arms embargo if the Red Cross was not permitted to visit Hamas prisoner in Israeli jails.

Additional reports suggested that the US was considering a cut off of arms sales to Israel over ‘human rights’ concerns as demanded by a number of left wing Democratic Senators. The Israeli government signed a letter assuring the US that it was following all conditions attached to use of US weapons but it was unclear whether these assurance would be sufficient for the Biden administration. Calls for arms embargoes also came from former US government and military officials who claimed Israeli tactics were ‘indiscriminate.’ The American efforts to cut off arms came as it promised to provide supplies to Gaza through a port subcontracted to Hamas’s patron Qatar.

Reports indicate the Scottish government was examining ways to prevent Israeli military flights from using a government owned airport, while protestors surrounded an Israeli owned arms factory in northern England which supplies the British military and demanded its closure.

Consistent with lawfare and protests in public venues has been a stream of harassment via internal communications systems such as Slack directed towards Israeli and Jewish employees particularly at large corporations such as Amazon, TikTok, and Apple. In many cases supervisors appear unwilling or unable to censure Muslim and pro-Hamas employees for fear of accusations of discrimination.

In a related development, the House debated and finally voted to demand that the social media platform TikTok be sold by its Chinese Communist Party linked owner in order to operate in the US. The platform, which collects information on users and disseminates videos based on a proprietary algorithm that feeds dysfunctional content to users, had previously been banned from US Government owned and many state owned devices.

In the debate leading up to the House vote the platform activated users to call their representatives to demand that the app not be ‘banned,’ while in the aftermath pro-Hamas voices stated that the result was due to pressure from AIPAC and Jews, which had criticized well documented anti-Israel content that is quickly returned by the algorithm.

BDS resolutions proliferate as universities lose control over campuses. Arts communities shun Israel while nations threaten weapons boycotts of Israel.

  • 0

Alex Joffe

Editor SPME / BDS Monitor

Alexander H. Joffe is an archaeologist and historian specializing in the Middle East and contemporary international affairs. He received a B.A. in History from Cornell University in 1981 and Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona in 1991. From 1980 to 2003 he participated in and directed archaeological research in Israel, Jordan, Greece and the United States. Joffe taught at the Pennsylvania State University and Purchase College, and has been Director of Research for Global Policy Exchange, Ltd., and The David Project, Center for Jewish Leadership.

Joffe's work is uniquely broad. Since 1991 he has published dozens of studies on the archaeology of the Eastern Mediterranean and is a leading figure in contentious debates over the relationship between archaeology and politics in the Middle East. He has also authored numerous works on contemporary issues, including Middle Eastern environmental security threats from pollution and weapons of mass destruction. His work on the problem of dismantling intelligence agencies is widely cited by experts and democratic reformers alike.

In the past decade Joffe has written and spoken on topics as varied as the future of American Jews, the Palestinian refugee problem, and nationalism. During that time as well he has been deeply involved with combating the problems of campus antisemitism, the ‘boycott, divestment and sanctions' movement against Israel, and in educating Jews and others about threats to Israel and the West. His current projects include a biography of a British World War II general and several novels. He and his family reside near New York City.

Read all stories by Alex Joffe