Donate Shop Register


Commentary: Smear campaign launched against BDS opponents

COMMENTARY: SMEAR CAMPAIGN LAUNCHED 
AGAINST BDS OPPONENTS

SAN DIEGO JEWISH WORLD
By, Roz Rothstein and Roberta Seid
March 2012  

The University of California San Diego (UCSD) student government soundly defeated an anti-Israel divestment resolution presented by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on February 29 by a vote of 20 to 13.  For the past two years, the Associated Student government has debated and tabled divestment resolution, but this year they voted on it.  After seven hours of emotional public testimony, divestment was defeated.

The call for divestment at UCSD is part of the larger organized movement to delegitimize the state of Israel in what is known as BDS–the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. In the past, Israel’s fight for survival took place on conventional battlefields in the Middle East. Today, the war against Israel has expanded into a global campaign to demonize the Jewish state through BDS, most often on college campuses.

While student organizations like SJP and the Muslim Student Association claim that divestment from Israel is merely a neutral way to reduce violence in the region, the reality is that divestment is divisive and biased, and creates a hostile campus climate for students who support Israel.   During the debate, divestment advocates repeatedly tried to discredit their opponents, accusing them of “racism.”  They singled out UCSD Professor Dubnov as a racist. They continually charged that an opinion piece against divestment was signed by “racist” professors as if arguing against divestment made one guilty of the sin of prejudice. They argued that rejecting divestment would be divisive, and would make them feel unsafe on campus, overlooking the fact that they themselves had introduced the divisive measure.

While political losses often can lead to angry recriminations, in this case, after divestment was defeated, Students for Justice in Palestine launched a disturbing tactic.  They abandoned argument about the issue and turned solely to ad hominem attacks, publicly defaming their opponents. SJP, the Student Affirmative Action Committee (SAAC) and their allied groups sent a letter to the UCSD administration on March 2, accusing their opponents of “racism” and “harassment.”  They claimed that people who videotaped the event and the recipients of the footage were “racists, classists, homophobes, sexists and bigots.”

The letter also attacked specific individuals: Shlomo Dubnov, music professor and campus leader of the international faculty group Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME); a UCSD staff member; and Alyssa Wing, the president of the UCSD student government.  The sponsoring groups charged that Professor Dubnov harassed a student in the hall after she spoke. Dubnov denies the incident ever occurred and has brought charges of harassment against his accusers.   The appropriate campus office is now investigating the case.

They vilified Alyssa Wing as “corrupt,” and of using “offensive” rhetoric because she spoke out against divestment.   In a stunning violation of procedural rules and fairness, the board of the UCSD Faculty Association, a branch of the American Association of University Professors, accepted the accusations without waiting for the university to investigate, and issued a letter of condemnation on March 6.  The letter singled out Dubnov and the staff member, neither of whom was given the chance to defend themselves.

The letter was also presented at a March 8 meeting of UCSD’s Committee on Campus Climate, a branch of the UC-wide effort to reduce hate and inter-group tensions on campus. The SJP complaints were discussed even though the Dubnov case is still under investigation.

Divestment advocates have crossed the line from political debate into a smear and defamation campaign that can stain the reputation and jeopardize the careers of those who oppose them.   The divestment advocates should not be able to bully their current and future opponents into silence. We can only hope that the UCSD administration and UC authorities expose and address this travesty in which political disagreement is termed harassment, reputations are defamed and accusations are accepted without proper investigation.  Otherwise, the bedrock American valued of free speech and democracy will be undermined and free debate on campus will be suffocated.

*
Roberta Seid, PhD is the education director at StandWithUs, and Roz Rothstein is the CEO and co-founder.

READ ARTICLE HERE

Other stories
7/21/2016
For the tenth consecutive year, StandWithUs graduated Israeli students from around the cou...
7/21/2016
Former MK Dov Lipman goes on summer camp tour in the US to teach campers about the fight a...
7/21/2016
Such troubling times all around us. It seems the world knows no rest: Islamic terror reari...
7/21/2016
More than 1,000 high school-aged kids spending their summer at camps in the Pocono and Cat...
7/20/2016
Last summer, my family and I traveled to Israel. It was one of the most eye-opening and li...
7/20/2016
Last Tuesday, the award-winning investigative Channel 10 TV show, HaMakor (The Source), ai...
7/20/2016
Seventy years ago, in the wake of the Holocaust, the Jewish people took a vow: Never Again...
7/18/2016
In response to the tragic deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of po...
7/18/2016
Last week, Gov. Gina Raimondo scored a double win for Rhode Island by signing into law HB-...
7/18/2016
On a rainy Wednesday Shahar Azani nervously paces back and forth while a crowd gathers at ...
7/15/2016
Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo passed into law Thursday legislation that forbids doin...
7/14/2016
(Providence, Rhode Island - July 14, 2016) - StandWithUs - Rhode Island commends Governor...
7/13/2016
The Democratic and Republican parties will meet soon in Philadelphia and Cleveland and ado...
7/8/2016
A woman who was stabbed and left for dead by Palestinian terrorists who butchered her Amer...
7/8/2016
Help Democrats, Republicans and Independents get their facts straight about Jerusalem!...
7/8/2016
I just returned from Paris with the Jewish Agency For Israel, an Israeli national agency, ...
7/8/2016
Shahar Azani`s grandparents were taken from Yemen to Israel by Alaska Airlines over 60 yea...
7/7/2016
Earlier this year, Barry Chazan, professor emeritus of education at the Hebrew University ...
7/6/2016
En los ultimos anos mucho se ha hablado del creciente antisemitismo en América Lati...
7/5/2016
While millions of children got out of bed on the morning of June 30, 2016, excited for sum...

 

About Us
Get Involved
Resources
Shop For Israel
Social Media
StandWithUs Websites