Oliver Brown was an African American pastor and welder living in Topeka, Kansas. In 1951, Oliver attempted to enroll his daughter into an elementary school near his home and his request was denied. Instead, he was instructed to send his daughter to a segregated black school farther away. In response, the Brown family joined a class-action lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education, alleging that the segregation policy was unconstitutional. In 1954, the Supreme Court issued a decision in favor of the Brown family. The Court ruled that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” This court ruling ultimately led to the end of segregation in the public school systems. In sharp contrast, the anti-Israel protesters are demanding that universities re-establish segregation in the education system.

1. What do the anti-Israel protesters want?

It is important to understand that the anti-Israel protesters make several demands. The anti-Israel provocateurs are led by several organizations. The most prominent leader is Students for Justice in Palestine. The group has published many written statements listing their ultimatums. The most popular proclamation is a call for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. In addition, Students for Justice in Palestine support something called the boycott, divestment, and sanction movement against Israel. They call for universities to boycott every Israeli business and for the universities to cut all ties with Israeli universities. For example, the UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine statement pleads for “a complete academic boycott.” The statement goes on to request that the university “cut ties” with “all zionist institutions – including study abroad programs, fellowships, seminars, research collaborations, and universities. Cut ties with Helen Diller Foundation, Koret foundation, Israel Institute, and Hillel International.”

The hope for the cancellation of academic relationships with Israel means that the university cannot hire any Israeli professors. It means that there cannot be any exchange programs with Israel. It also means that the university cannot allow any Israeli kids to enroll. If a university agrees to implement the full requirement to boycott against every Israeli worker, professor, and student, then in practical application the university would have to treat Israel as if it does not exist as a country. This means that in order to meet the full requirement of the demand, then the university has to create a campus that would be free from any human being who is from Israel.

I took this picture of an anti-Israel flier hanging on a billboard at the University of Missouri. This flier accuses Israel of committing climate apartheid against the Palestinians. I want to share this flier to show that Israel is accused of committing every conceivable evil by these protesters, including being responsible for climate change. (Photo: Daniel Swindell)

2. The anti-Israel protesters want to create Israeli-Free Zones.

Every protest makes a demand to change the status quo. Ella Ward is studying at the University of Leeds and joined the choir of the dissenters. During a news interview, she exclaimed, “disruption is absolutely essential to create change.” In this case, the situation the students want to change is allowing Israeli citizens to be allowed equal access to education at universities. This goal is expressed by the anti-Israel agitators entering campus in order to gain control over a piece of physical territory on campus in order to create a zone where Israelis are not allowed to enter. The mission is to pressure the university until they will not allow any Israeli person, student, business, or product anywhere on the university campus.

The demonstrations are carried out by agitators going on campus and setting up a perimeter. For example, most of the time they choose a courtyard. The occupation of physical space is the central feature of the anti-Israel agitators. For example, the first step might be to create an area in a courtyard that is fifty feet long by fifty feet wide. The agents block off the zone. Often, the zones are described as “liberated.” In some situations, the students set up tents, or drag over trash cans and bike racks to try to establish a barricade. In the more well funded encampments, they have even brought in zip ties, plywood, and expensive portable metal fences. Once the border is established, then Israelis are not allowed to enter.

The border of the liberated area is supposed to increase until it grows from taking over a lawn to taking over a building, such as in the case when the insurgents took over a building at Columbia University. After one building is taken over, then the mission is to continue until another building is controlled, until eventually every building does not allow Israelis to enter; and then ultimately the entire university will not allow Israelis to enter. So the publicly stated ambition of the insurrectionists is to expand from an Israeli-Free lawn, to an Israeli-Free building, and finally to an Israeli-Free campus. The pinnacle achievement of the anti-Israel protesters is to cleanse the campus of Israelis.

3. A concrete example:

At the University of California, Los Angeles, the students set up a large encampment in a courtyard. They constructed entrances and even created armbands and passes which would allow students to enter and exit. The Los Angeles Times reported on the erection of the barricade. The paper depicted the scene: “Hannah Appel, an assistant professor of anthropology, stood at one entrance, where people dropped off medical supplies, face masks and water bottles. Only students with wrist bands indicating they were previously in the encampment and those who had someone on the inside vouching for them were allowed to enter.” The paper illustrated how Professor Appel stood guard at the checkpoint, and that she had to step “aside to let a student squeeze through the barricades.” Appel emphasized her diligence, “we have to be very vigilant and careful about who can come in and out.”

Milagro Jones is an African-American student with bright yellow dyed hair, who does not speak Hebrew. Jones was trying to walk through the encampment when the people in the camp accidentally mistook Jones for an Israeli citizen. “They mistook me for Israeli,” Jones explained. Although their reason for declaring Jones to be an Israeli citizen seems to be unclear, the crowd started shouting that he was an Israeli, and then they formed a human circle around him to try to prevent him from moving. In Jones’ own phone recording of the interaction, a student said to him, “we need to give you a pass to exit.”

Kaia Shah is a postgraduate researcher who has acted as a spokesperson for the encampment. Shah bragged openly about the tactic, “What we do is we just try to surround them.” Jones anxiously recounted how Students for Justice in Palestine members, “held me against my will for over an hour.” Put simply, a black college student was physically held against his will because he was accidentally mistaken for being an Israeli student. Hence, this incident reveals that the dream of the anti-Israel protesters is to establish a university that will deny Israeli students access to enter campus.

4. The comparison of the anti-Israel protests with the civil rights protests is not accurate.

The civil rights protests were designed to eliminate spaces where black people could not enter. In contrast, the anti-Israel protests are designed to create spaces where Israelis cannot enter. The spirit of the civil rights movement was that no one can be denied access to education based on skin-color, ethnicity, or nationality. Dissimilarly, the spirit of the anti-Israel protests is that Israeli citizens should not be allowed access to education.

5. The comparison of the anti-Israel protests with the Vietnam War protests is not accurate.

During the Vietnam War, the student protesters simply wanted the American government to withdraw from the war. They did not argue that the universities should prohibit Vietnamese professors from being employed and prevent Vietnamese students from being enrolled. The Vietnam War student protesters did not hunt for Vietnamese students on campus to encircle them.

6. The anti-Israel protests are also an anti-civil rights protest.

The anti-Israel protests are trying to establish the legal precedent that one group of students can decide for themselves to pick another national group of people who cannot be allowed to enter campus. In the exact same way, next month, a group of white supremacists students can say that Mexicans are contaminating the purity of the white blood stream and erect a Mexican-Free Zone. They can erect checkpoints, ask for free food to be delivered to them, issue ultimatums, and negotiate with the administration until the administrators meet their demand to refuse to allow Mexican students to be enrolled in the school. The people defending the anti-Israel protesters cannot say that the request is wrong, because they already upheld the same petition to prevent one national group of people from being allowed on campus.

If the demand of the anti-Israel protesters is implemented in practice, then the anti-Israel protests are calling for the reinstitution of the segregation system back into the education system; and thus for a cancellation of the civil rights movement. Of course, the people supporting the anti-Israel protesters have to support the legal precedent that people should be denied access to education based on nationality or race. You cannot support the anti-Israel protesters and still claim that you support equal access to education for everyone regardless of race or nationality, because the specific demand of the protesters is that one national group be denied equal access to education. Thus, the anti-Israel protests are also an anti-civil rights protest.

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