14 July '16..
Do NGOs that work in and around Israel use their volunteers for propaganda?
The “brutality” of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a central pillar of the BDS movement, which regularly claims that the people of the West Bank and Gaza are being dehumanized, massacred, and expelled. I am familiar with these claims, because I regularly attend BDS events. For example, on March 10, during “Israeli Apartheid Week,” I was at the University College London to hear two Palestinian university students, sponsored by an NGO called CADFA, speak about their experiences. CADFA—which stands for “Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association”—receives frequent criticism because of its open bias against Israel and tendency to lionize terrorists.
The primary purpose of CADFA’s presentation was to bombard the UCL community with stories of soldiers constantly entering classrooms, of interruptions during the school year, and of students being arrested simply for not being Jewish. This alleged denial of Palestinian academic freedom is a driving force behind the academic boycott of Israel. This from the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) website:
It is Israel—not those who participate in the academic boycott of Israel—that denies academic freedom and more fundamental freedoms to Palestinians.
And again from the recent BDS vote at the Doctoral Students’ Council (DSC) at the City University of New York (CUNY):
The endorsed resolution calls for solidarity with Palestinian institutions, academics, and students who have been denied their academic and other freedoms by Israel.
Yet, in the real world, none of this is true. How do we know this? Because my colleagues and I asked the Palestinian institutions directly, and they told us that these claims are false.
In January, Sheri Oz ran a piece on her blog, Israel Diaries, titled “Situation in Palestine is Normal—No Need for BDS.” Sheri wanted to address the idea of the hypocrisy of the Academic Boycott, and contacted universities in the Palestinian areas asking them for basic safety information about studying there:
Can you please send me information about the course—times, costs, accommodations, travel instructions and, of course, information for my parents as they are worried about the safety of going to Palestine. (email sent to An-Najah University in Nablus on 22/12).
An-Najah sent this response:
I meant there is nothing inside Nablus some problems happened on checkpoints. any way we live a normal live, the media exaggerate the news and media amplifies this news —(from email received from An-Najah University in Nablus on 23/1.)
Other universities responded in similar fashion. This from the University in Bethlehem:
Since the establishment of the institutions hundreds of students came from different countries and nothing happened to anyone of them. No one can guarantee that Paris, America or any other country is saver than here in these day. At the end it is personal issue. If one is careful, he could survive everywhere. Salamat
Sheri also received responses from Birzeit University in Ramallah and the Arab American University in Jenin (the two students giving their presentations at UCL were both from Birzeit). No institution contacted suggested that safety was an issue or that the academic year might be threatened by reality on the ground. The response from Bethlehem was especially interesting because it seemed to imply that getting into trouble was “a choice.” The issue of “choice” was to resurface far more forcefully later on in our investigation.
(Continue to Full Article)
David Collier is a freelance journalist based in London.
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