Anti-Israel campus groups shifting tactics; streamlining efforts
WASHINGTON—A report released today by the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC) details how anti-Israel campus groups in the United States made significant efforts to strengthen ties with allies on campus and in their communities during the fall 2015 semester. ICC observed a shift away from Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolutions in favor of theatrics and disruptive tactics.
Anti-Israel activists from Minnesota to Texas to Maryland employed disruptive tactics on campus this fall, staging dramatic protests at pro-Israel events and at campus lectures featuring Israeli speakers. In a number of cases, SJP filmed these protests and published altered videos that generated vicious attacks against campus supporters of Israel.
The study also shows that despite increased collaboration and coalition-building among BDS advocates, the fall 2015 semester marked a period of considerable division in the anti-Israel campus movement. A growing number of student activists, primarily on the East Coast, began to challenge the role of BDS initiatives in anti-Israel advocacy. Criticism of the divestment strategy sparked tense debate among Israel’s detractors, with campus groups engaging in public arguments over the value and efficacy of BDS efforts. Alongside these vocal disagreements, subtle ideological differences created rifts among anti-Israel activists, dividing students over the Syrian civil war and other geopolitical issues.
These developments coincided with broad structural changes in the anti-Israel movement. During its national conference in October 2015, Students for Justice in Palestine revamped its leadership model and strategic orientation. By creating an executive board and adopting its first national agenda, SJP initiated its transition to a well-organized movement. This shift marked an important change for the student group, strengthening its ability to advance coordinated campaigns across the country.
“Today, anti-Israel student activists benefit from an array of professional resources and are constantly shifting tactics,” said ICC Executive Director Jacob Baime. “And Israel’s detractors on campus are deploying more sophisticated tools and more expansive networks than ever before.
“Pro-Israel campus activists are up to the challenge, and they are focusing on positive and proactive ways to express support for Israel on campuses across the country. And pro-Israel students know they are backed by a national coalition of organizations with the resources to help them level the playing field and build support for Israel on campus.”