A major anti-Israel conference took place from February 3-5, 2012 at the University of Pennsylvania. Three hundred activists and more than 50 speakers, many of whom are significant players in the domestic anti-Israel movement, were scheduled to attend the conference, which focused on strategies for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) initiatives against Israel.
Several of the scheduled speakers have a long history of virulent anti-Israel rhetoric, including expressions of support for terrorist groups that violently attack Israeli civilians, comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany, and blanket statements about Israelis in general that appear to border on anti-Semitism.
The Anti-Defamation League has consistently advocated against various BDS campaigns in the U.S. and quickly reacted to this conference as well, including:
- Briefing key Jewish leaders, Hillel representatives and Penn students about the extreme records of some of the invited speakers
- Educating the public about the conference with extensive background materials.
- Joining several other organizations in a Statement of Solidarity expressing our concern with the goals of the conference.
- ADL's Philadelphia Regional Office issued a statement expressing opposition to the conference because it would serve as a venue for engaging in an "unfounded, vicious and relentless assault" against Israel. The statement also commended Penn's president Amy Gutmann for the university's statement clarifying that the conference was not sponsored by the university and reiterating that Penn does not support or sanction boycotts against Israel.
- Supporting pro-Israel Penn students who have been organizing positive programming about Israel, placing op-eds and educating the Penn community about Israel and the campaign to delegitimize it.
Five of the most anti-Israel speakers scheduled to attend the conference have been profiled on the League's Access ADL blog.