Israel is demonized on college campuses and in international courts

Lawsuits are emerging while Congress continues to take action against the behavior of prominent universities.

The exterior of Gerri C. LeBow Hall, the home of Drexel University's LeBow College of Business in Philadelphia. Credit: Jmh485 via Wikimedia Commons.
The exterior of Gerri C. LeBow Hall, the home of Drexel University's LeBow College of Business in Philadelphia. Credit: Jmh485 via Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defense minister could be subject to arrest if an international court has its way. Three leaders of the notorious Hamas terrorist organization also have been accused. This equal footing overlooks the fundamental differences between a democratic state defending its citizens and a terrorist organization targeting civilians.

International courts are increasingly being used as tools to demonize Israel, setting a dangerous precedent and further fueling campus protests across the United States. The courts are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement’s scheme to isolate the Jewish state and deprive it of support from Jews and their allies.

Anti-Israel nations and groups are using international courts to target Israel in an unprecedented attack on a democratic nation engaged in a war against terrorists. The International Criminal Court is the stage for a global campaign to demonize the Jewish state.

The ICC chief prosecutor recently announced that he is pursuing arrest warrants for three Hamas terrorist leaders—and Israel’s prime minister and defense minister. The ICC prosecutes individuals for war crimes and its verdicts have teeth—traveling abroad would subject them to arrest. The ICC charges levied against both Hamas and Israeli leaders include claims of extermination and murder. Israelis want to live in peace while Hamas is dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of all Jews.

Israeli leaders also are accused of intentionally starving Gazans. An Israeli expert asserted that Hamas has earned $500 million since the start of the war by raiding aid trucks entering Gaza and reselling the supplies to its own citizens. Reuters reported that 70% of aid was stolen from a U.S.-built pier before reaching a U.N. warehouse. Israel has facilitated aid into Gaza by land, air and sea. On May 20, 376 trucks carrying food and 27 trucks carrying water entered Gaza.

Israeli leaders from the political left to right have condemned these false charges. The Labor party leader called it “a scandal to put the Israeli leadership in the same category as a vile, cruel terrorist organization” and the foreign minister stated that the “decision is intended to prevent Israel from exercising its right to self-defense.”

U.S. President Joe Biden asserted: “Contrary to allegations made against Israel in the ICJ, what’s happening is not genocide.” The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations: “The prosecutor created a false equivalence between leaders of a democratic country and a genocidal terrorist organization.”

BDS launched at U.N. conference: ‘Total isolation of Israel’

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions strategy started at a 2001 U.N. conference against racism and bigotry in Durban, South Africa. International organizations attending the conference published a final statement: “We call upon the international community to impose a policy of complete and total isolation of Israel.” Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell denounced the “hateful language that singles out only one country in the world.”

The BDS movement presents itself as an advocacy organization to help Palestinians. In reality, the movement calls for the economic isolation of Israel and spreads evil lies that spark an increase in attacks. Its mission is to paralyze Israel’s economy and poison support for the Jewish state. Its ultimate goal is the elimination of the State of Israel.

The president of Sonoma State University in California recently agreed to protester demands for boycotting Israel, stating: “The university will not engage in any study-abroad programs, faculty exchanges or formal collaborations by Israeli state academic and research institutions.” He retired the day after the California State University system suspended him for insubordination.

‘University intifada in America should be emulated’

Palestinian leaders are celebrating the attacks by anti-Israel students. A leader of a Palestinian terror group made a direct connection between BDS, the international court and university protests: “The achievements of the international popular boycott movement have been notable with the university uprisings being a significant highlight. Israeli leaders are facing arrest. The university intifada is isolating Israel.” The intifada refers to the restaurant, hotel and bus bombings in Israel perpetrated by terrorists about 20 years ago. A Palestinian government official also praised the student protests in the hope that it will lead to the destruction of Israel.

A professor at California State University, San Bernardino announced a strategy to continue the campus protests indefinitely: “We are telling students: What are the alternatives throughout the summer? How are you going to continue the movement in the fall? There is a very important discussion that is taking place in many universities in the U.S. with the help of professors. We are coordinating a long-term strategy.”

Campus chaos continues

An assailant launched a rock through the dorm room window of a Jewish student at Oregon’s Reed College, smacking her in the head. Only one day before this incident, the student’s mezuzah was removed from her door and destroyed. Students described the college as a “hostile environment” and two Jewish students plan to transfer.

Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life recently surveyed Jewish students. A majority feel less safe on campus since the encampments began and witnessed protesters directing threatening language towards Jews. Protest leaders at Drexel University in Philadelphia demanded the “immediate termination of Drexel’s chapter of Hillel and Chabad.”

City University of New York at Kingsborough canceled a Hillel student event marking Israel’s Memorial Day because of security concerns stemming from anti-Israel campus protests. Hillel Faculty advisor Susan Aranoff: “We felt saddened and dismayed that the college canceled our event instead of providing security to protect us from threats.”

The University of California at Berkeley chancellor ignored anti-Jewish acts on campus when she praised the anti-Israel protesters “professional, organized and productive approach.” San Francisco’s Jewish Community Relations Council condemned her for “appeasing encampment leaders and failing to address the Jewish community’s urgent concerns about safety amid violence.”

Civil-rights lawsuits: ‘Bullying, harassment, intimidation, threats’

The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law recently filed a civil-rights complaint against the University of California at Santa Barbara for failing to protect its own student government president, Tessa Veksler. Brandeis Center chair Kenneth L. Marcus: “The shaming, harassing and shunning of Tessa until she disavows a part of her Judaism is shameful and illegal.”

The Deborah Project filed a suit on behalf of Jewish students at Haverford College. Leading administrators at the suburban Philadelphia college “ignored, condoned or even praised” vile anti-Jewish hatred. Responding to a legal letter from StandWithUs, the University of Pittsburgh agreed to review a professor’s bias directed at a Jewish student.

These lawsuits are emerging while Congress continues to take action against the behavior of prominent universities. A House committee released an investigative update on Harvard University. It repeatedly ignored its own antisemitism working group. Leaders from Northwestern University, Rutgers University and the University of California, Los Angeles have been called to appear before Congress. The House Education Committee chair said, “UCLA’s leaders have allowed their campus to become a severe and pervasive hostile environment for Jewish students.”

All of Idaho’s U.S. senators and representatives are “demanding the education secretary provide Congress with an outline of how you are protecting Jewish and pro-Israel students from persecution.”

Points to consider:

  1. International courts are creating a false moral equivalence.

International groups are weaponizing courts against Israel, using legal systems to undermine its legitimacy and right to self-defense. The International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice are treating Hamas and Israel as equally responsible for the ongoing war. This misrepresentation overlooks the fundamental differences between a democratic state defending its citizens and a terrorist organization targeting civilians. The ICC and ICJ legal actions blur these distinctions, resulting in skewed perceptions and a parity that does not exist. The false equivalence provides propaganda for anti-Israel activists, undermines Israel’s legitimate self-defense and distorts the reality of this conflict.

  1. Legal warfare encourages attacks against Israel.

Lawfare against the Jewish state undermines its right to self-defense and emboldens its adversaries. Anti-Israel groups routinely bring unfounded charges before international forums. These legal actions encourage terrorists by signaling that their tactics can garner international sympathy and legal support. When international bodies accuse Israel of war crimes or genocide based on dubious evidence, it fuels the narrative used by groups like Hamas to justify their attacks and recruit more followers. These legal assaults also weaken the ability of Israel’s leaders to make decisive security decisions to protect Israeli lives.

  1. The United Nations has a perverse obsession with Israel.

The UN disproportionately targets the Jewish state through repeated condemnations. A clear example of this bias is the UN General Assembly’s passage of numerous resolutions condemning Israel every year, far exceeding the number of resolutions addressing all other countries combined. This fixation undermines the credibility of the United Nations as an impartial international body. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement was initiated at a 2001 U.N. conference and exemplifies how its actions can embolden anti-Israel activism on university campuses. The BDS movement relies heavily on supposedly legitimate grounds conferred by international organizations. This obsession not only distorts international perceptions of Israel but also perpetuates the Arab-Israeli conflict.

  1. Leaders of the BDS movement intentionally target Jewish students.

BDS campaigns create hostile environments of intolerance and fear on university campuses. The same groups that promote BDS also are likely behind the campus encampments. Under the guise of advocating for Palestinian rights, BDS campaigns often devolve into singling out Jewish students: protests, divestment resolutions and aggressive campus activism that intimidate and marginalize Jewish students. Incidents of harassment, vandalism and threats have surged in conjunction with BDS activities, making many Jewish students feel unsafe and unwelcome. The BDS movement infringes on free speech, undermines academic freedom and fosters division, rather than contributing to a constructive dialogue about Middle East peace.

  1. Dozens of civil rights lawsuits prove many universities fail to protect their students.

Lawsuits and Congressional investigations are becoming increasingly common because universities are failing to uphold their duty to protect all students. Many anti-Israel protesters and their leaders are marginalizing Jewish students, denying them the opportunity to express their cultural and religious identities freely. Some universities ignore or inadequately respond to harassment and discrimination against their Jewish students. Universities must take decisive action to protect Jewish students, ensuring that campuses remain safe and welcoming spaces for all students. Universities that fail to address these hostile actions are complicit in allowing a toxic environment to flourish.

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