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Linda Sarsour and Roger Waters will lead a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions panel at UMass-Amherst on May 4.

UMass-Amherst to host pro-BDS panel

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UMass-Amherst to host pro-BDS panel

Linda Sarsour and Roger Waters will lead a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions panel at UMass-Amherst on May 4.

A roster of international leaders of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement – led by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters – will lead a panel discussion at UMass-Amherst next month.

The event, “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech, and the Battle for Palestinian Human Rights,” will take place at the UMass-Amherst Fine Arts Center on May 4 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be free, and open to the public.

According to its official website, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement or BDS, “works to end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law.”

The UMass event, which is being co-sponsored by the university’s Department of Communication, Department of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies and Resistance Studies Initiative UMASS, is not a UMass-sanctioned event, and no university or taxpayer funds are being used to support it, according to UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski. Blaguszewski said UMass does not support academic boycotts.

“Some departments have chosen to list themselves as co-sponsors to individually express their support for the event, but the departments have not provided any funding,” said Blaguszewski. “Some student organizations have expressed ‘support from’ for the event, but they also have not provided any funding. Their decisions are a matter of academic freedom and free speech.”

In a letter to UMass-Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy, Anti-Defamation League New England Regional Director Robert Trestan expressed his concern about the event taking place at the state’s flagship public university.

“The program, featuring speakers who engage in rhetoric that demonizes the State of Israel and seeks to marginalize its supporters, has raised significant consternation among Jewish students and many others on campus and in the community, who not only care about Israel but worry about civility on campus.

Film poster for the pro-BDS documentary “The Occupation of the American Mind” (2016).

“Regrettably, this event links the university with a discredited concept having a singular outcome: the elimination of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people. Our experience indicates that programs of this nature are highly divisive, impacting Jewish students’ sense of belonging, as well as their sense of safety and security on campus.”

In addition to Waters, the panel will include longtime Israel critic Linda Sarsour – a Palestinian-American and co-founder of the Women’s March. Earlier this winter, at the Women’s March in Washington, Sarsour advocated the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement against Israel during her speech. “We will protect our constitutional right to boycott, divest and sanctions in this country,” Sarsour told the marchers. In a previous note on Twitter, she wrote, “Nothing is creepier than Zionism.”

Over the years Sarsour has embraced the anti-Semitic messages of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. In 2015, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his 1995 Million Man March in Washington, Sarsour took aim at Israel supporters in a speech and implied that they should be held responsible for the troubles of Palestinians and the murder of young blacks. “The same people who justify the massacres of Palestinian people and call it collateral damage are the same people who justify the murder of young black men and women,” she said.

Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors will also be a panel member. After a trip to Israel several years ago, Cullors called Israel “an apartheid state” and said those who disagreed with her view were “part of the Zionist violence.”

The event is being organized by the Northampton-based Media Education Foundation, and the organization’s executive director Sut Jhally. Jhally is also a tenured professor of Communication at UMass-Amherst, and served as a producer of “The Occupation of the American Mind.” That film, which was shown by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead in 2017, caused dozens of local Jews and Christians to protest outside of the church. The film was narrated by Waters and painted a web of conspiracy theories – ultimately concluding that, Israel, through an organized public relations effort, has been able to control how the American media covers the conflict. In an interview before the screening, Jhally admitted that he had never traveled to Israel or the Palestinian territories.

The film’s narrative also borrows from anti-Semitic tropes. As Waters narrates, a song plays in the background with the words, “Money, money, money.” In the past, Waters has used anti-Semitic imagery in his concerts, and in a 2017 Facebook chat, compared the Israeli government to Nazi Germany, and said there were no harsher regimes in the world.

16 Responses

  1. No taxpayer money used for this propaganda event? Really? Who is paying for the big venue? The campus police overtime? And why is UMass taking anonymous private money (supplemented by taxpayer money) to fund pseudo-academic left-wing propaganda like “The Resistance Studies Initiative”?

    1. The event is being organized by the Northampton-based Media Education Foundation, and the organization’s executive director Sut Jhally. Jhally is also a tenured professor of Communication at UMass-Amherst, and served as a producer of “The Occupation of the American Mind.”

      So, yes… UMass pays the salary of this tenured professor.

    2. Providing set up of hall? Bringing in extra chairs ?Janitorial services afterward?Extra utilities for heat or cooling? I am sure the University is providing these services and the people doing the work are not working free.

  2. Note, this is sponsored and endorsed by several U-Mass departments. Endorsing a festival with noted people who not only attack Israel, but have made blatantly anti Jewish comments. If not directly endorsed by U-MASS it is most definitely de facto endorsed. I guarantee you there will be an uptake of violence and hostility against Jews on campus before and after this event. Just ask the students at Duke, North Carolina, NYU, Emory, and the list goes on.

  3. I love that the Department of Women & Gender Studies is defending people who oppress women and kill gays instead of Israel where women have equal rights under law and gays are free to live in peace.

  4. this event is at a public institution… where I attended college… take it to Smith. how insulting to Jewish students to bring these haters to campus!

  5. BDS is simply a movement that promotes anti-Jewish racism. It wears a thin disguise of “disagreement” with Israeli policies but wherever it organizes, BDS meetings like this lead to anti-Semitic incidents aimed at students in their dorms (most recently Emory University), full professors (and junior professors) in their offices (at Columbia University Teachers’ College), and even students on their way to class (at Columbia and elsewhere). Openly racist activities against Jewish young women and men (students) and middle-aged faculty occurred during and in the days after a conference to support BDS held on University of North Carolina’s campus and sponsored by UNC Departments and Duke University Departments that promote “correct identities only” theories of politics, sociology, and history—just like the ones listed at UMass. Roger Waters and Linda Sarsour can be found all over the Internet linking up to and covering for pro-Hamas (Hamas as in “Jihad” as in “Kill All Jewish People Anywhere They Are On Earth”). Sarsour—with no academic background to speak of—styles herself a “public health” advocate but defends car rammings, stabbings, stonings, Molotov cocktail attacks on Jewish and other Israeli civilians by teenagers (trained by the terrorists of the PLO and Hamas). One would imagine that being alive would be a pre-requisite to health. Whatever can be done by Governor Baker, the Chancellor of the University System, the President of UMass, and the agencies that accredit the University to stop this hate-fest should be done—and done soon!

  6. Shame on UMass-Amherst! I’m not sending my child there for sure. I’ll be there to protest this hateful phony meeting.

  7. Sarsour has spoken at UMass 2 or 3 times in 2 years, with big speaker fees paid for by university departments. (And “Resistance Studies?” Seriously? Is this a Simpsons episode or something?) This is what our tax money and fees are going for…Call your state reps, people.

  8. The problem with this program is not its speakers but rather that as presented, it represents only one side of a very controversial issue. As a professor in higher education, I am a strong believer in academic freedom, and believe that almost all political views should be permitted on college campuses. However, for it to serve an educational purpose, it should have speakers on both sides of the issue, thus allowing the students to make informed decisions. If the group wants to further its own political agenda, it should rent its own hall, (not use a public university for its venue, even if they pay for it), and call it for what it is: an attempt to gain membership and support for its political agenda. Definitely not educational. Very dangerous.

  9. Wow, not one person here can admit that Israel can rightly be criticized for its policies and actions against the Palestinian people?

  10. This is a variegated pointillistic rant. Persons paid large sums for short speeches especially politicians? You know the list. Not one of them ought to be paid, out of the goodness of their belief in so-called humanity.
    Remove politics from the israel/isn’t real argument and there’s only religion to stand on. Lest we forget, the oldest professions of sacred prostitution and religion. We are all liars and, we are all guilty.
    There is no moral order in the universe. Don’t blame me, EyE voted for CTHULHU!

  11. I am deeply disgusted by UMass joining the ranks of other US universities by promoting anti-semitism and bigotry under the disguise of furthering human rights.
    In recent years, the liberal culture of the Pioneer Valley has been more and more under the influence of the far-left fringers, who are now controlling the discourse.
    As a UMass Amherst alum and long time Northampton, MA resident I am not surprised about what is taking place. Yet, I am profoundly troubled.

    1. I derisively call the “Pioneer Valley” “Happy Valley” for the outlandish POV out there. I am a UMass Amherst alum and I’ll be damned if I donate any more to that school. I graduated in 1979. There have always been issues on campus with anti-semitism but never as bad as it seems now.

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