See you there and then!
See you there and then!
UVM is supposed to be a community where bigotry can find no sanction. Countless student organizations as well as faculty and staff have worked tirelessly to realize this ideal. As things stand, there is work to be done. Oppressive systems and attitudes still manifest themselves internally to our campus, but some of the most virulent hatreds we see in our community are external to it, from the fire and brimstone preachers that occasionally section off a portion of our quad to spew their dogma to the white supremacists leaving provocative signs around our campus over the last year. Rarely are actions and organizations so harmful to student health and security endorsed by a campus organization. This time, things are different. UVM Hillel has accepted funding for Pro-Israel programming on campus from the right wing Zionist organization Maccabee Task Force. Cloaking its agenda in the language of balance and nuance, Maccabee Task Force seeks to create a favorable climate for Israel in campus discourse through concerning means. To student leaders who are receptive to considering their message, MTF offers a guided tour of Israel designed to bewilder them with the complexities of the region so they will step back from any on-campus activism and “leave it to the experts.” This insidious tactic is designed to obscure the ease of access that we all have to information in the internet age and is rooted in a refusal to listen to Palestinian voices, many of whom have lived in occupied territory for most or part of their lives, and who share their experiences freely and fully online and on campuses throughout the country. Beyond this, more information leaves Israel and Palestine through the airwaves than will ever be available on a guided tour. Anyone can see Israeli tear gas being used against protestors in Gaza on Snapchat’s maps feature. In 2014 at the height of Israel’s second major invasion of Gaza during this century, Palestinians participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge using only the rubble from bombed out buildings after Israel shut off their water. These videos are still on YouTube. This information is already in front of our eyes. While Israel may decide that student leaders can enter its borders even as Palestinians who were born there cannot, walls and barriers can no longer contain calls for an end to oppression and testimony of human suffering. What they can do is provide a limited experience. They can show the kindness of Israel, while its malice is out of sight. They can tell a constrained story of a beautiful land, and show none of the violence that underpins it. These tours are unhelpful at best, and harmful propaganda at their worst.
The students that reject this narrative and its empty promises will be targeted for doing so. In addition to its own projects, Maccabee Task Force donates some of its funding to other far right groups including ones classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups such as the Horowitz Freedom Center, and organizations like the Zionist Organization of America who were more than happy to invite an open white supremacist, Steve Bannon, to their awards dinner as a keynote speaker. It also works closely with organizations like Canary Mission and CAMERA to create a surveillance network on American campuses and create a climate of fear around Pro-Palestinian activism underpinned by a blacklist which slanders student activists as anti-Semites through invasive and rigorous searches of any public documentation pertaining to their work and personal lives. The goal of these organizations is to ensure that students who speak out against Israeli atrocities cannot find jobs or further their education after they graduate. Both Jewish and non-Jewish students are targeted by these tactics. Internally, UVM Hillel’s alliance with the far right wing of Zionism will make it an unsafe environment for Jews of Color and queer Jewish students, many of whom dissent against Zionism in some capacity. Even if the Zionist right is willing to accept these students, its presence on campus acts as an open door for white supremacists and other right wing extremists who are not. Furthermore, non-Zionist and anti-Zionist Jews are at risk of ostracization from their communities for their refusal to support apartheid carried out in their name. As a faith organization, Hillel should not predicate its inclusion on adherence to any political stance. Its coordination with a network of Zionist organizations willing to doxx and harrass some of its members is at serious odds with UVM Hillel’s image of itself as an inclusive space. Externally, the Zionist right and Hillel through its unfortunate complicity threaten some of the most vulnerable students on our campus. Websites like Canary Mission especially target black and brown organizers and student activists, relying on stereotyping and racism to portray them as violent, crass and harmful. Students already targeted by a carceral surveillance state which fears and disdains their bodies and lives should not have to feel especially targeted if they speak up against injustice on campus and around the world. In fact, no student activist should fear paying a personal price for their advocacy.
It is not enough for UVM Hillel to simply decline this funding. At SJP, we express a commitment to combating anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry both within our own movement and in our broader community. This commitment is unconditional. More than that, it is essential to our vision for the collective and cooperative liberation of all people. We need to see some reciprocity. We need to see not just an end to association but a denunciation of the far right, of white supremacy, of the doxxing and harassment of student activists, by UVM Hillel. We will not rest until we do. We express our full solidarity with activists working inside Jewish institutional life to make these necessary reforms happen. Our liberty is bound together.
Students for Justice in Palestine
We gives thanks to the indigenous peoples of the Americas, for they show us how to resist. We are thankful because they have been resisting colonization everyday since the first colonist set foot on these shores. We know that “Thanksgiving” is a racist holiday that painfully targets the identity and history of the indigenous peoples in North America. However, the attempts to completely erase their identities are failing as we join in decolonizing and celebrating the very concept of human rights and equality that takes roots in many of the cultures of the indigenous peoples of the United States.
We will always stand to protect native peoples’ identities, their cultures, their philosophical traditions, and their history, until justice and reconciliation is done.
We are thankful for the gift of resistance, today, and everyday.
Students for Justice in Palestine – UVM
At modern day Plymouth, MA
On Saturday, November 17th, the “We The People Rally” is set to be held in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This rally, according to its facebook page, is for “all Patriots, Militia, 3%, constitution loving Americans, pro good cop, pro ICE, pro law and order, pro life, pro American value[s], pro gun and anti illegal immigration.” In other words, this gathering of people is politically motivated, and their presence here is intended to make people in the city, in particular marginalized and historically oppressed groups, feel unsafe in their homes and communities.
Especially in the wake of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in the very same town, as well as rising global anti-Semitism and racism, this demonstration exemplifies and perpetuates the bigotry and xenophobia that is inherently imbued in white supremacy.
This same ideology was at the core of the ethnic cleansing of the Americas by European settlers. It was also instrumental in the targeting and eradication of Jewish populations in Europe. Today, the colonial legacy of ethnic cleansing continues this oppression against the Palestinian people, who are the targets of institutional violence and injustice, and who are deprived of the equal status and consideration they deserve as human beings. All these struggles are united, and all those who resist these hateful ideals must come together in opposition to those who espouse them.
We stand with the PushBack Campaign and the attendees of the counter-protest tomorrow in their efforts to defend against hate.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UVM
On Monday morning, the Israeli flag was flown from third flagpole in front of the Davis Center. Its placement was approved by administration in a misguided attempt to show support for Jewish people following the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh on October 26th. In fact, the displaying of the Israeli flag is a symbol of supremacy, not solidarity. The flag of Israel does not represent all Jews, though it is often conflated as doing so both by hardline Zionists who want to promote a one-sided narrative, and by the uninformed. What it does represent is a violent and oppressive history carried out by the state of Israel as a settler-colonial entity.
Israel is an apartheid state, built on the expulsion and erasure of the Palestinian people, and flying its flag is a poor example of solidarity with the oppressed people of the globe. The fact that Zionist students felt it appropriate to fly this flag is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of Zionist ideology, which seeks to liberate the Jewish people exclusively through a colonial project which continues the morbid legacy of the last three centuries of Western imperialism. This is not solidarity.
We will not stand for the defense of apartheid, colonialism and imperialism couched behind the false assertion that criticism of Israel’s colonial project is anti-semitic, especially considering Israel’s close relationship with the progenitors of this wave of far right violence against innocent people in the United States, in which this recent attack is one of the most deadly. We will not stand for the erasure of Palestinian and Pro-Palestinian voices on campus, or attempts to claim the Israeli flag as a symbol representing all Jews, which silences the voices of Jews across the globe who are openly opposed to Israel, and targeted for it.
We implore the student body and the university community – faculty, administrators, and staff, to stand in solidarity with our mission to resist fascism, colonialism and ethnic cleansing at its high tide in Israel, not just because it matters to and in Palestine, but because all of our liberation is inextricably bound together. Because our anti-fascism, our anti-racism at home must have a global view. Because no one group of people can be liberated at the expense of others. We must stand together, on campus and across the world.
Students for Justice in Palestine
Statement Regarding Tree of Life Synagogue Shootings on 26 October 2018
Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Vermont sends their unending support and solidarity to the Jewish community after this weekend’s atrocity. The uptick in right wing violence in the past several years has targeted Jews, Arabs, Muslims, people mistakenly classified as Muslims, and activists on the political left. All of our members fear and disdain these acts of violence and the reprehensible ideologies underpinning them. We must come together to fight neo-Nazism, white supremacy and antisemitism in America and around the world: and it begins here, on this campus. We stand with you against alt-right encroachments at our university and in our community. Bigotry and persecution will find no sanction with us.
We wish the Jewish community strength and healing. If you feel so inclined, please do not hesitate to reach out via message or email (email@example.com) if you feel as though you would like to chat. As always, SJP welcomes students of all colors, classes, religions, and opinions at our meetings. SJP is a safe place for you to be who you are.
Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Vermont
On Indigenous People’s Day, we commemorate centuries of indigenous resistance to settlement and land theft since Columbus’ landing on October 12th 1492 and subsequent attempts at the occupation of Taino and Carib lands and the enslavement of their people. We condemn the continued oppression of the First Nations of the Americas, especially the funding of the Black Snake Keystone Pipeline through Sioux lands in South Dakota. The struggle against settler-colonialism, extraction and exploitation spans many miles and centuries, from Palestine to the Americas and in all the lands presently and formerly colonized. SJP stands in solidarity with the Abenaki, Navajo, Lakota, and all the peoples who survived the 300+ years of Columbus’s legacy of ethnic cleansing until today and abides by a constructive vision for reparations and decolonization for the internally repressed nations of the United States, Canada and all remaining settler regimes. There is no such thing as a conquered people. Existence is resistence. Free the Americas!
We seek to address our poor scheduling in planning a high interest event during our regular meeting time. All meetings are planned for every Tuesday at 7pm, and as such, this week’s event coincides with Kol Nidre on September 17th, Erev Yom Kippur.
We would like to apologize to any members of the UVM Jewish community who were not able to attend this meeting due to the time conflict. Upon notification of the conflict, a member of SJP has volunteered to take notes of the event to distribute, so as to increase accessibility for those who cannot attend. We might be able to produce an audio recording of the talk as well with the speaker’s permission. Furthermore, we are committed to identifying important holidays of major religions throughout the year (specifically those which don’t close school facilities) so this issue does not reoccur.
We don’t want the scheduling here to be interpreted as intentional or provocative, and it is not meant to exclude Jewish students from the meetings. Our meetings welcome students of any faith who align with our core program, which follows:
We also encourage the attendance of those undecided or decided against our program who are willing to take on a listening role from an open minded and good-faith perspective. We don’t intend to debate our core program at our meetings or at this gathering, but we believe in discourse and are working with UVM’s debate team on coordinating a debate later in the semester. We do not demand adherence to our program by any individual or group to foster understanding between SJP and UVM’s Jewish community, because we believe the mission for justice in Palestine is fully compatible with the Jewish faith.