The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conference held at the University of Pennsylvania last weekend featured speakers representing a wide range of strategies used to delegitimize Israel. As expected, many of the speakers promoted mistruths and biased narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and offered strategies on how to advance BDS initiatives and to further delegitimize Israel.
- Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, claimed that Israel is governed by an “extremist ideology” and that it is a “racist oppressor” and an “apartheid state.” Barghouti also made reference to the disproportionate role “Israel’s lobby groups” play in the U.S., adding that “it is crucial to reveal how Israel is right at the center of the 1% agenda,” referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
- Cyrus McGoldrick, Civil Rights Manager of the New York branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), reportedly said, “Zionism depends on Islamophobia.”
- Ali Abunimah, the founder and executive director of “Electronic Intifada,” an anti-Israel Web site, reportedly said, “Nakba denial is the equivalent of Holocaust denial.”
- Professor Amy Kaplan, professor in the English department at the University of Pennsylvania, offered suggestions in a Q&A session on how BDS could be integrated into the classroom. According to an audio recording of her response, Kaplan said, “you take a thematic course and you bring in themes from this issue [BDS], and literature is really a great way to teach students about what’s going on.”