Students for Justice in Palestine chapters around the country have recently been hosting lectures entitled “Palestine 101”. These “Palestine 101” events have occurred at Columbia University, UVA, Berkeley Law, and CUNY John Jay, to name a few institutions.
With antisemitism rising around the country, it is incredibly concerning for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to spread misleading information about Zionism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel through these lectures.
On October 8th, 2022, the SJP Chapter at CUNY’s John Jay College posted a slide from Palestine 101, a lecture taught by anti-Zionist Professor Corinna Mullin. In 2019, CAMERA Fellow alumna Tzvia Waronker documented Mullin’s tendency to promote antisemitic tropes and promote questionable sources in her lectures.
While the SJP chapter here at Binghamton has not held a Palestine 101 this year, the group’s linktree includes a “Palestine Learning Library” that features many of the same falsehoods in Mullin’s lecture.
The first claim on the slide is that “Zionism is a settler-colonial political movement,” a falsehood propagated by anti-zionists on college campuses.
Typically, settler-colonialism refers to European empires invading and conquering land, often ethnically cleansing and subjugating indigenous people. Anti-Israel activists falsely argue that European Jews “colonized” Palestinian land.
Anti-Zionists fail to acknowledge the path to Jewish statehood when making such arguments. Firstly, Jews from across the diaspora, including the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and beyond are spiritually, culturally, and historically the indigenous people of the land.
Across the world, Jewish prayer, language, text, and tradition are embedded with references to “returning” to the homeland, to Jerusalem.
If you take all of this into account, it isn’t difficult to see that Zionism is a form of decolonization; Jews were liberated from foreign rule and the injustices committed against them that led to the diaspora in the first place.
Mullin also fails to mention that the Zionist movement and the resulting State of Israel have a long history of promoting co-existence and extending peace offers which time and time again are met with threats of violence and intolerance.
Furthermore, Mullin accuses the State of Israel of being a “settler-colonialist” and “Jewish majority” state. Israel was founded as a country that honors the rights of all its citizens. Namely, the Israeli declaration of Independence states that “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.”
Concerning minorities, twenty-one percent of Israel’s population is Arab. Israeli Arabs have the same rights as Jewish Israelis. Israeli Arabs serve in the Knesset, in the Israel Defense Forces, and even on the Supreme Court of Israel.
Palestinians living in Gaza and Area B of the West Bank, however, live under the jurisdiction of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, respectively. They are not subject to Israeli civil law.
Mullin also claims that Zionism is “rejected by many Jews, supported by antisemites.” This is false. A 2019 study revealed that ninety-five percent of Jews in the United States have a “favorable view” of Israel. A 2021 study by the PEW Research Center also found that eighty-five percent of American Jewish adults feel that Israel is important.
Furthermore, Mullin’s claim that antisemites support Zionism is also false. Conveniently Mullins makes these remarks without citing any examples from what I can tell.
Evidence for the opposite of what Mullin argues is abundant; antisemites have a long history of denying Jews the right to live in their indigenous homeland.
For instance, In the 1930s, Nazi Germany partnered with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini. Husseini not only opposed the establishment of the Jewish state, but he was also against the presence of Jews in the Middle East period.
From his appointment in 1921, Husseini incited widespread violence and discrimination against Jews in the Holy Land and across the Middle East, including pogroms, mass expulsions, and institutional racism. This has not changed. Husseini’s successors, the current leaders within the Palestinian Authority and Hamas who spread antisemitism are also ardent anti-Zionists who routinely call for Israel’s elimination.
Professor Mullin uses the imprimatur of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and, by extension, the City University of New York educational system to promote lies about the State of Israel and harmful canards about the Jewish people.
The falsehoods in “Palestine 101” should especially concern students, faculty, and administrators as Students for Justice in Palestine chapters organize lectures like this one across the country. When such an event comes to campus, it is crucial to stand for the truth and hold the students and faculty involved accountable to the truth and non-discrimination policies that prevent the unfair targeting of minorities on campus.