ISRAELI DIPLOMAT PRESSURED UNC TO REMOVE TEACHER WHO CRITICIZED ISRAEL

An Israeli consul general baselessly accused a graduate student of antisemitism and said she shouldn’t teach a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


The University of North Carolina campus in Chapel Hill, N.C., on April 21, 2013. Photo: Lance King/Getty Images

Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, September 28 2021

This August, Israeli consular officials in the southeast U.S. arranged meetings with a dean at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to discuss a graduate student teaching a course on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to two UNC professors with knowledge of the meetings, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, the Israeli official accused the Ph.D. student of antisemitism and said she was unfit to teach the course.

The intervention by an Israeli government official, Consul General to the Southeastern United States Anat Sultan-Dadon, followed a pressure campaign by right-wing pro-Israel websites and an advocacy group to remove the graduate student, Kylie Broderick, from teaching the history department course called “The Conflict over Israel/Palestine.” The websites and pro-Israel advocacy group pointed to postings Broderick had made on Twitter that criticized Israel and Zionism and, without evidence, cited the postings as evidence of antisemitism.


UNC Ph.D. student Kylie Broderick.
Photo: Courtesy of Kylie Broderick

In addition to the intervention by the Israeli government, the school faced pressure from a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the two UNC professors told The Intercept. The professors said Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., also met with the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to exert pressure over Broderick’s course.

“It is not a new phenomenon where outside parties have tried to stifle academic freedom on this subject,” Broderick said. “But these people have never seen me teach, never seen my past evaluations which have said that I treat students fairly, and thus have no right to dictate what I say inside the classroom.”

Israel-Palestine has become one of the most politicized areas of academia, with periodic firings of professors, prosecutions of students, and even the maintenance of public blacklists helping impose an atmosphere of fear and self-censorship over the topic. Even by that standard, the intervention of Israeli government officials directly with an American university over the teaching of a course represents a troubling new threat to academic freedom.

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When anti-Black and anti-Palestinian racism converge


In his resignation letter Dr Cornel West warns of ‘an intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy’ in US academia [Getty]

Sahar F. Aziz, The New Arab, 23 Jul, 2021

It is no secret that Palestine is taboo in US academia. Harvard’s recent denial of tenure to renowned race scholar Cornel West is the most recent instance. 

For decades, Arab American faculty have faced tenure denial or termination; students have been reprimanded and some even criminally charged; and Middle East studies programmes are under constant threat of defunding.  All based on the fallacious claim that teaching, research, and activism that brings to light Israel’s rampant violations of Palestinian human rights is axiomatically anti-Semitic

Big donors, alumni, and well-funded legal advocacy groups unabashedly command university administrators to cancel classes and programmes aimed to provide students with the experiences and voices of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Never mind that cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom. 

“Cowering to such demands undermines a university’s most fundamental tenet: academic freedom”

As they become ever more dependent on private donations and external grants to cover operational expenses, university administrators often oblige

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Israeli forces raid DCIP office, confiscate computers and client files


Israeli soldiers confiscated computer equipment and client files in a dawn raid on Defense for Children International – Palestine’s main office in Al-Bireh on July 29. (Source: DCIP)

Defense for Children Palestine, July 29, 2021

Ramallah, July 29, 2021—Israeli forces raided Defense for Children International – Palestine’s headquarters in the central occupied West Bank, confiscating computers and client files, early Thursday morning.

Israeli paramilitary border police forces raided DCIP’s headquarters located in Al-Bireh’s Sateh Marhaba neighborhood, located just south of Ramallah around 5:15 a.m. on July 29. More than a dozen Israeli soldiers forced open the office’s locked front door and confiscated six desktop computers, two laptops, hard drives, and client files related to Palestinian child detainees represented by DCIP’s lawyers in Israel’s military courts. No documents were left in the office to give any indication of the reason for the raid, and they did not leave behind any receipt of materials seized.

“This latest act by Israeli authorities pushes forward an ongoing campaign to silence and eliminate Palestinian civil society and human rights organizations like DCIP,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director at DCIP. “Israeli authorities must immediately end efforts aimed at delegitimizing and criminalizing Palestinian human rights defenders and civil society organizations, and the international community must hold Israeli authorities accountable.”

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Seattle Port Demonstration Against Apartheid

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Aisha Mansour‎, The Palestine Solidarity Committee – Seattle, June 13, 2021

Thank you for your readiness to mobilize Seattle! After our successful action yesterday and rally today, we have prevented the ZIM San Diego from unloading for another day!

SSA President Edward DeNike has asked the ZIM San Diego to leave the Port of Seattle but ZIM is refusing. Let’s show apartheid profiteer ZIM what people power can do! Stay tuned for more updates. No mobilization tomorrow morning. Text to subscribe to our alerts (833) 584 – 1948.


BDS Is Gaining Momentum With #BlockTheBoat Actions in Oakland and Seattle, Yoav Litvin, Truthout, June 11, 2021

Israeli soldiers killed 16-year-old Mohammad today

Defense for Children Palestine, June 11, 2021

Israeli forces shot and killed 16-year-old Mohammad Said Mohammad Hamayel with a live bullet to the chest this afternoon in Beita, a village southeast of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus.

When Mohammad was killed, Beita village residents were protesting against a new illegal Israeli outpost recently established on the village’s land. In the last month, Israeli settlers have established a new illegal outpost, Evyatar, on lands belonging to Beita and two other Palestinian villages.

Read and share Mohammad’s story »

Palestinian children grow up in a hyper-militarized context, where Israeli soldiers confront protesters with live ammunition and armed settlers take over land that has belonged to their families for generations. Too often, Palestinian children’s lives are cut short by Israeli forces who kill with impunity. Systemic impunity has fostered an environment where Israeli forces know no bounds.

Mohammad is the eighth Palestinian child shot and killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank this year. We mourn with his family and community and remain committed to documenting and exposing these grave human rights violations against Palestinian children. Thank you so much for your solidarity and support.

In solidarity,

Ayed Abu Eqtaish
Accountability Program Director
Defense for Children International – Palestine

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Rep. Pocan on Israeli police violence at Sheikh Jarrah


Israeli forces detain a man after storming Palestinian houses whose families face eviction in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, 4 May 2021 (AFP)

Lubna Masarwa, Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Middle East Eye, 5 May 2021

Israeli military police stormed Palestinian houses in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, attacking activists taking part in a sit-in solidarity protest with residents facing imminent eviction.

Three Palestinians were arrested and six injured, local sources told Middle East Eye. The Red Crescent reported that two Palestinians had been hospitalised.

Since the beginning of 2020, Israeli courts have ordered the eviction of 13 Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, a residential area less than a kilometre away from the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.

Muna al-Kurd, who was attacked on Tuesday evening, told MEE that if Israeli police and settlers take over their houses, “then they will take the whole neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah”.

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Cornel West on Palestine

Useful Idiots, Apr 30, 2021

Friend-of-show Dr. Cornel West has been in the news a lot of late, and not always in a happy way. At the end of February, the brilliant professor of Philosophy, Divinity, and African-American studies announced he was leaving his longtime employers at Harvard University, and moving back to Union Theological Seminary, where he began his teaching career back in 1977. Harvard denied his request to be considered for tenure, apparently for political reasons.

On Useful Idiots, West talked about the likely reasons behind Harvard’s decision (outspokenness on Palestine?), Joe Biden’s first 100 days, and the influence of his late mother Irene B. West.

Also: Matt and Katie debate how many Secret Service agents it takes to get Mike Pence up a ski hill, we denounce the deeply unfunny campaign against the #YangGang​, and we give detailed reviews of all of the movies nominated for Best Picture from this year’s Academy Awards ceremony (without seeing them of course). Is Nomadland a space adventure? Is Mank a misspelled fur-bearing animal? What’s the over/under on debilitating-disease themes for next year’s Oscars?

We explore all these important questions, and more, on this week’s Useful Idiots.

April 14, 2021
Webinar: The Movement Will Not Be Censored

On Wednesday, April 14, join us for a powerhouse event on Palestine advocacy and how to push back against attacks on the movement.

The panel will feature Sumaya Awad of Adalah Justice Project, Beth Miller of Jewish Voice for Peace Action, and Palestine Legal client and Florida State University student Ahmad Daraldik. Senior staff attorney Meera Shah will be moderating.

Register Here to receive a reminder and link to the webinar and to submit your questions for the panel.

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The Eighth Circuit’s Narrow Decision About Arkansas BDS

One provision has been invalidated, but the general ban on boycotts of Israel by most state government contractors still stands.

An Arkansas statute generally bans the government from contracting with companies that are boycotting Israel. It defines such boycotts as

  • “engaging in refusals to deal,
  • terminating business activities,
  • or other actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel, or persons or entities doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories, in a discriminatory manner” (bullets added).

District Court Judge Brian S. Miller refused to issue a preliminary injunction against the statute, and granted the state’s motion to dismiss the challenge. The court concluded that “other actions …” should be read as dealing with other commercial behavior, and not, say, speech urging boycotts:

While the statute also defines a boycott to include “other actions that are intended to limit commercial relations with Israel,” this restriction does not include criticism of Act 710 or Israel, calls to boycott Israel, or other types of speech. Familiar canons of statutory interpretation, such as constitutional avoidance and [ejusdem] generis [“[w]here general words follow specific words in a statutory enumeration, the general words are construed to embrace only objects similar in nature to those objects enumerated by the preceding specific words”], counsel in favor of interpreting “other actions” to mean commercial conduct similar to the listed items.

And as thus limited to commercial behavior, the court held, the statute likely didn’t violate the First Amendment. (Michael Dorf, Andrew Koppelman, and I filed an amicus brief on appeal agreeing that the law is constitutional if read as limited to commercial refusals to deal.)

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