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Is there a Nationwide Muslim Student boycott of Israel?

In addition to an attempted boycott, Jewish students were taunted, harassed and verbally assaulted during protests at CSU Long Beach sponsored by Answer-LA and the local Muslim Student Association.

Protesters from Answer-LA and CSU Long Beach's Muslim Student Association staged a series of protests in February. Jewish and israel students were taunted, harrassed and verbally assaulted.


Is there a nationwide boycott effort underway on college campuses? Our experience at CSU Long Beach would seem to say, “yes.” And it may be illegal.

On March 18th, Zo Farooqui, an assimilated Muslim student senator (whose Facebook page features the quote “Kiss French. Wear Italian. Drive German. Drink Russian.”) submitted a sophisticated, albeit totally false set of accusations against Israel, and nearly got the Student Senate to pass the resolution.

Title: Resolution in Support of the Call for the Immediate End to the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and a Boycott of Goods and Services that Maintain Business Relations with Israel

Sponsored by: Senator Zo Farooqui

Date Submitted: March 18, 2009

WHERAS from December 27, 2008 to January 22, 2009 attacks launched by the Israeli government on Gaza have resulted in over 1,300 deaths and 5,300 injuries, with more than 60 percent of the victims consisting of women and children;1

WHEREAS schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, civilian infrastructure, and UN compounds have been targeted; (read the whole resolution below)

Thanks to some quick thinking Senators, they did not let their campus be a tool in the hands of the MSA – and the effort failed on the second reading.

Jewish students alerted to the issue rallied at the meeting for Israel. Community members sent dozens of letters within hours to the Senators when the word went out about the boycott effort.

Farooqui attempted to change the resolution to only target future contracts with Motorola and Caterpillar – when faced with the charge by Student Senate Treasurer, Brian Troutner, that breaking the existing contracts would cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Senator Everett Bryan of the College of Engineering spoke up and said that asking the school to boycott companies won’t have an impact on the situation in Israel, and instead there are financial side effects and social side effects. The Associated Students can’t take a side on a conflict between two groups because it is a student organization which represents both groups. The negative effect of the boycott will be felt on students, not companies. He was also bothered that there was no end-date, doesn’t think resolution is humanitarian based, instead it’s politically charged, and recommended rejection. He suggested that the MSA and Hillel to write a resolution together that isn’t a boycott and addresses loss of civillian life. (notes courtesy of Sheryl Cohen)

Congress passed a law in 1977 creating the Office of Antiboycott Compliance within the Department of Commerce, in response to the Arab boycott of Israel. It specifically makes illegal agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.

If there is a nationwide effort among Muslim Student groups, part of the larger boycott movement against Israel, they might be breaking the law. If they are going across state lines with communications that in effect commit a crime, they can be guilty of some other nasty stuff.

And more so, if they conspire together to deprive Israel and Israelis of certain rights in the US, be they business dealings or any other, they may be guilty of racketeering and conspiracy charges too

Title: Resolution in Support of the Call for the Immediate End to the Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and a Boycott of Goods and Services that Maintain Business Relations with Israel

Sponsored by: Senator Zo Farooqui

Date Submitted: March 18, 2009

WHERAS from December 27, 2008 to January 22, 2009 attacks launched by the Israeli government on Gaza have resulted in over 1,300 deaths and 5,300 injuries, with more than 60 percent of the victims consisting of women and children;1

WHEREAS schools, mosques, hospitals, ambulances, civilian infrastructure, and UN compounds have been targeted;

WHEREAS this recent act of blatant violence contributes to the 18-month blockade enforced by the Israeli government on the Gaza strip through strict patrol of its borders. The aforementioned act has resulted in the devastation of Gaza’s infrastructure up to and including the collapse of its economy, causing 80 percent of the population to rely on international aid for the basic means of survival;2

WHEREAS Israeli occupation forces have demolished electricity, gas, and water resources of the region, leaving half of the Gaza population consisting of children in an open-air prison with no option of becoming refugees;3

WHEREAS Israel’s continuous denial of medical supplies in the region constitutes a violation of their signatory obligation to the First Geneva Convention, and causes an inability to treat the wounded, resulting in otherwise preventable deaths;4

WHEREAS Human Rights Watch has found that the Israeli government has used the controversial chemical weapon white phosphorus which “sticks to human skin and will burn right through to the bone” in areas of high civilian density;5

WHEREAS the Fourth Geneva convention renders Israel’s actions a war crime based on its intent and grotesque disproportionate use of military action;6

WHEREAS arbitrary damage of property, denial of rest areas (shelters), and discrimination based on political ideology and other actions put the Israeli Government in direct violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Articles 5, 12, 13, 15, 17, 21 and 24; be it

RESOLVED that the Associated Students of California State University, Long Beach stand in solidarity to condemn all violence against civilians in the region and demand the removal of the blockade on Gaza, including the opening of its borders, while condemning Israel’s disproportionate aggression toward the Palestinian people; be it further

RESOLVED that ASI participates in a boycott of companies that have any economic ties to the Israeli state, be it finally

RESOLVED that ASI urges California State University, Long Beach, its foundation and its auxiliary to end all business action, including investments, and procurement with companies that maintain business with the state of Israel.

13 Comments

  1. Eden Banarie

    4/1/2009 at 1:16 am

    Rabbi, I’ve been meaning to send you this article – it really pinpoints the situation going on on our campuses, as you and I have both seen. http://www.hudsonny.org/2009/03/on-campus-the-pro-palestinians-real-agenda.php

  2. Rabbi Yonah

    4/1/2009 at 1:35 am

    Thanks Eden, yes I saw it. He is a fantastic guy – I hope he wears body armor. He makes the Jew haters very mad.

  3. themiddle

    4/1/2009 at 1:44 am

    Just so you know, we do have a post about the abu Toameh article.

    http://jewlicious.com/2009/03/khaled-abu-toameh-on-american-universities-and-the-pro-palestinian-movement/

    Rabbi, what do you mean that this student senator is assimilated? He’s not a devout Muslim? Anyway, we should all be expecting more of this, but the lawbreaking angle is interesting.

  4. Eden Banarie

    4/1/2009 at 1:51 am

    Wow, I need to be following Jewlicious more closely, obviously 🙂 You guys rock!!!

  5. Jack

    4/1/2009 at 2:07 am

    It is worth investigating whether they are doing so or not.

  6. Rabbi Yonah

    4/1/2009 at 2:45 am

    TM – Very assimilated. Non-threatening, a regular guy, but a Senator who is running for Vice President of the school next month.

  7. Tom Morrissey

    4/1/2009 at 3:39 am

    I fail to see anything that remotely rises to the level of criminal activity in the resolution. The rabbi may want to read the Bill of Rights.

    If Jews and Muslims insist on importing their quarrel to America (something that Croatian and Serbian-Americans, for example, or Irish Protestants and Catholics, had the good sense not to do), please do the rest of us a favor– leave our Constitution and system of laws out of it.

  8. themiddle

    4/1/2009 at 6:24 am

    Whoa there Tom, how did I import anything here? I know you’re being politically correct, but I have to stress that the Conflict as it exists on North American campuses is hardly the work of the Jewish side. Quite the opposite.

    Even in this instance, the post isn’t about an action Yonah took but rather his reaction – in this case one of reporting, even is his assertions about criminal law are off-base – to a real action taken by someone who is affiliated with the Muslim students on a campus.

  9. Tom Morrissey

    4/1/2009 at 6:55 am

    He’s entitled to his reaction, but to look at it practically, Middle, since the principles involved fail to move you– how would it look if US Jews tried to prosecute Arabs for “urging” the government (here, in the guise of a public university) to boycott Israel?

    I’m sorry you think sticking up for free speech is ‘politically correct’.

  10. themiddle

    4/1/2009 at 7:37 am

    No, what I think is “politically correct” is equating the Jewish and the Muslim actions regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict on campuses. These actions are far from equal from the micro to the macro all across North America.

    Your other point about “how would it look if US Jews tried to prosecute Arabs for “urging” the government (here, in the guise of a public university) to boycott Israel?” is entirely different and worthy of a discussion. I also appreciated your input regarding whether this would amount to criminal acts, although the Rabbi raises an interesting point since boycotts against Israel are illegal in the US.

  11. Tom Morrissey

    4/1/2009 at 7:44 am

    I don’t think Jewish students should take this sort of thing lying down, but let’s be smart about how we fight back. In particular– since this is America, not the Middle East– who’s your audience? It’s the gentile kids, and if you advocate extreme steps, those kids will conclude, ‘they’re all crazy,’ and you’ll then have your moral equivalency.

  12. themiddle

    4/1/2009 at 7:49 am

    I think the current method of fighting back which is to have groups like Stand with US provide information materials to campuses is useful. It’s also imperative that students who care about Israel not be afraid to tackle the hostility on the other side, although they will be outnumbered.

    What bothers me about this, however, is that somehow we’re back in tribal mode. Most students don’t want to be “gentile” or “Jewish” or, I assume, “Muslim.” They want to be students. By bringing the conflict into the campuses, it is creating little tribal confrontations and heightening differences.

  13. Tom Morrissey

    4/1/2009 at 8:06 am

    Yes, but the gentile kids can figure out who’s to blame for that. I mean, America is not a fertile environment for Muslim tribal politics…. The CSULB Student Senate is not all-Jewish, right?

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