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Allegation: University of Vermont is infested with antisemitism
But apparently not.
Rally at UVM – September 21st, 2022
Rally at UVM – September 21st, 2022
Speech on UVM campus, read by John Heermans, September 21st 2022 here
In October 2021, a complaint was presented by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and Jewish On Campus to the Department of Education claiming that the University of Vermont (UVM) has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The complaint is based on documentation of alleged incidents and social messaging on campus. It claims that “Jewish students at the University of Vermont (“UVM”) have been subjected to a campaign of intimidation, harassment and discrimination targeting them on the basis of their Jewish ethnic identity – This has created a hostile environment on campus in which Jewish students are being excluded from clubs and support groups”. The complaint details alleged vandalism of UVM’s Hillel building, online harassment of Jewish students by an unnamed teaching assistant and exclusion of Jewish students supporting Israel from a sexual assault survivors’ group. Further, it is claimed that UVM has not adequately addressed the alleged campaign of intimidation.
The complaint implies that criticism of Israel is antisemitic and asserts that “for many Jewish students at UVM, Zionism is an integral component of their Jewish identity”.
On Sept. 13, 2022, The Vermont Digger reported that the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has opened an investigation into this complaint. On September 15th 2022 UVM’s President Suresh Garimella issued a statement contesting the veracity of the alleged antisemitic occurrences, and defending UVM’s response.
The complaint proposes several “Suggested Remedies” including:
– UVM must adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of Anti-Semitism and its contemporary examples
(Note: the examples in the IHRA definition are problematic)
– UVM must issue a statement denouncing anti-Semitism in all its forms and recognizing that Zionism is a key component of Jewish identity for many students at UVM.
– The University must conduct mandatory training for the University community regarding its revised Policy that includes a specific focus on the different manifestation of anti-Semitism including anti-Zionism and national origin-based discrimination.
What is VTJP’s position?
VTJP is concerned that the complaint is part of a larger-scale, bad-faith attempt to weaponize the reality of antisemitism in order to advance a goal of silencing a conversation about justice for Palestinians.
There is a pervasive atmosphere of fear and surveillance surrounding those who speak out for justice for Palestinians. Groups such as Canary Mission seek specifically to target students, faculty, and staff at colleges and universities, as witnessed nationally, at UVM previously and at peer institutions including Middlebury College. McGill University has been sued because 71% of undergraduate students voted for a policy committing the Student Society to actions favorable to Palestinian people. The stakes are already incredibly high for pro-Palestinian activists, and adopting definitions of antisemitism that paint any criticism of Israel and Zionism as antisemitic raises those stakes and risks seriously encroaching on the free speech rights of any individual. These smear campaigns are simply intended to distract from the ongoing suffering of Palestinians.
UVM has done its part
UVM investigated the complaints and determined either that antisemitism was not part of the reported actions, or acted within its control to resolve the situation. This should be the end of the story. Instead, the complainants are following their strategy: they are attempting to use any allegation of antisemitism to scares universities into adopting a highly-contested and condemned definition of antisemitism that is being used to target Palestinians and their allies–not to keep Jews safe.
Students who speak up and organize for the rights of Palestinian people put themselves at risk of being labeled as antisemitic; meanwhile those who feel intimidated by anti-Zionist sentiment are adequately protected by University policies and procedures and can seek redress.
Related: Pressure is being applied to the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont to identify anti-semitism specifically and to adopt the IHRA definition. The Coalition is advising the State on developing and promoting Ethnic studies, Disability studies, Native American Studies, and LGBTQIA+ curriculum and pedagogy.
Reports and links
– Vermont Digger article (September 13th, 2022)
– Link to the Brandeis complaint (link from the Digger article) October 2021
– UVM President Garimella statement (September 15, 2022)
– UVM Provost Prelock statement “Supporting Jewish students in our community” (September 22, 2022)
– Local advocacy group hosts rally on campus in support of Palestine Vermont Cynic (UVM Student Newspaper). by Andrew Gould, September 26, 2022.
– American Jewish Committee Criticizes University of Vermont Response to Antisemitism Complaints September 16, 2022.
– Wikipedia – about revocation of UN Resolution identifying Zionism as racist
– Kenneth Marcus: UVM’s president is making a bad problem worse VTDigger Commentary Sep 25 2022.
– Felicia Kornbluh: On UVM President’s response to charges of antisemitism VTDigger, Commentary Sep 26 2022.
– UVM president rejects antisemitism charges, but university remains target of pro-Israel groups. Pro-Israel groups claim that recent incidents at the University of Vermont constitute antisemitism because for some Jewish students, “Zionism is integral to their Jewish ethnic identity.” Mondoweiss, By Michael Arria, September 30, 2022
Antisemitism – Various Definitions
– Intenational Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) ‘Definition’ (pay attention to examples).
– The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism and why people are fighting over it, explained. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, by Ben Sales, January 15, 2021.
– The Jerusalem Declaration On Antisemitism
– A Palestinian civil society critique of the Jerusalem Declaration on Antisemitism March 25, 2021. Palestinian BDS National Committee.
Anti-Semitism and the Department of Education
– Combating Discrimination Against Jewish Students U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
– Questions and Answers on Executive Order 13899 (Combating Anti-Semitism) United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights – Enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
– Amnesty International about the Crime of Apartheid
– This is Apartheid B’Tselem. The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
A Commentary in the Digger by VTJP people here
Anthony Apodaca: Why support boycott and sanctions for Ukraine, but not Palestine?
On Land Day, March 30th 2022,Vermonters for Justice in Palestine hosted a special presentation by Alison Weir
“The world’s longest occupation: Palestine”
Recording can be viewed here
Land Day commemorates the events of March 30, 1976, when a general strike took place in response to the Israeli government’s announcement of a plan to expropriate lands in the Galilee for official use. Protests took place throughout the Arab settlements in Israel, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and refugee camps for Palestinians in Lebanon. The riots were suppressed by the Israeli Defense Forces and Police. Six Arab citizens were killed, and about 100 were injured.
Alison Weir guided us through the history of the “Longest Occupation”. Palestine has been occupied since Roman days at least, and Palestinian people have always resisted. Alison saw that resistance first-hand by traveling alone throughout the West Bank and Gaza as a freelance journalist at the height of the Second Intifada. Since then she has committed her life and energies to showing Americans how we have been complicit in the invasion, occupation, and colonial settlement of Palestinian land, and more importantly the oppression, yes, and killing of Palestinian people.
In the recording, there are three videos (from Alison Weir’s Youtube channel). The recording was not able to capture the videos properly (sound OK, but video doesn’t ‘flow’ properly)
So those three videos can be viewed at these links:
Video 3 (You have to confirm your age for this one)
Materials from If Americans Knew
The YouTube Channel
YouTube: How Pro-Israel Neocons Pushed Iraq War (Alison Weir)
Youtube: Pro-Israel officials in the U.S. government pushed war against Iraq – Dahlia Wasfi
Book: The Road to Iraq: The Making of a Neoconservative War
Book: The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel
Article: About US interests, and the Israel Lobby Organizations.
Article: Israel loyalists embedded in U.S. government pushed U.S. into Iraq War
Article: Israel escalates efforts to get US to attack Iran, as it did Iraq
Article: Pentagon officer described how Israelists manufactured anti-Iraq disinfo that led to war
Open Letter to Burlington Mayor, City Councilors, and Burlington Rabbis
In September 2021, VTJP and seventeen other organizational sponsors brought a Resolution in solidarity with the Palestinian people to the Burlington City Council – and they held a hearing on September 13th 2021. Opponents of the the Resolution mounted a fierce opposition fueled by an article by four Burlington rabbis in the Vermont Digger. The Rabbis’ position was echoed in some respects by Mayor Miro Weinberger. This letter
addressed to Mayor Weinberger, the twelve City Councilors and the Rabbis addresses the diversionary issues raised by the opponents of the Resolution.
The resolution was withdrawn by the Councilors, apparently the result of public and private emotional response and harassment by supporters of Israeli policies, and diversionary accusations of divisiveness by Mayor Weinberger, and rabbis from Vermont and elsewhere. AT the hearing opponents attacked the resolution using every justification possible to oppose BDS, including arguments evoking the horror of the Holocaust, antisemitism, and blanket condemnation of Palestinian missiles launched by Hamas, largely in self-defense. It is deeply disturbing to see the history of antisemitism in Europe used by the rabbis as justification for their opposition to BDS, and in support of Jews inflicting violence and terror on Palestinians.
44th UN-declared “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” November 29th 2021
Reading a letter
addressed to Vermont’s Senators and Congressman to recognize the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and to demand an end to US military funding for dispossession, oppression and killing of Palestinian people. The letter provides several ways that the money could be used instead to help Vermonters by funding 76 elementary school teachers, or 4,085 people receiving food assistance, or 1,057 students receiving a Pell grant, or 2,593 children receiving healthcare, or 83 clean energy jobs. (From uscpr.org/militaryfunding
).Read the letter to VT Delegation here.
Rural VT Statement of Solidarity with Palestine & Support for Actions by Ben & Jerry’s Inc. October 2021
“Rural Vermont stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people and condemns the Israeli State’s systemic human rights violations, discrimination, and the illegal occupation and blockade of Palestine which has now affected generations of Palestinians and the lands of Palestine.”
Read the full statement here.
Burlington City Council’s Resolution in Solidarity with Palestine
Photo: Luke Awtry for Seven Days
The Burlington City Council held a hearing on September 13th 2021 about the Resolution in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine (VTJP) and seventeen other organizational sponsors brought the Resolution proposal to Burlington City Council and it was approved by the Racial Equity Committee.
Read more here
July 19th 2021 – Ben & Jerry’s announce that they will end sales of their ice cream in illegal settlements, and and terminate the contract with their license holder when it expires in 2022!
VTJP statement about the July 19th 2021 announcement from Ben & Jerry’s here
Combined Statement (August 12th, 2021) “Where We Stand on Ben & Jerry’s” by Adalah Justice Project, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), Vermonters for Justice in Palestine, Palestine Legal, American Friends Service Committee, BDS Movement, Jewish Voice for Peace.
Official Statements and Media Coverage Links
(Work in Progress) here
Our Statement here
about vile charges of anti-Semitism and death threats against Anuradha Mittal, chair of Ben & Jerry’s Independent Board of Directors.
And can’t they do better than this?
Extremist Zionists make wild accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorism, instead of confronting the real issues: Samples: here and here and here
Frequently asked Questions here
Ben & Jerry’s has been under Renewed Pressure
to Stop Doing Business in Palestine/Israel
An Instagram posting by Decolonize Burlington promoting the boycott of Ben & Jerry’s received thousands of ‘likes’, and prompted this coverage in the Burlington Free Press.
A new Press Release by VTJP about Ben & Jerry’s complicity in Israeli Apartheid sent to local and national news outlets.
In response to a new Petition drive about Ben & Jerry’s business in Palestine/Israel 614 people have sent emails to CEO Matthew McCarthy, and Global Social Mission Officer Dave Rapaport, and 204 people signed at the Rally/March in Burlington, May 15th 2021. See the letter to Ben & Jerry’s here.
Rally and March for Palestine Nakba Day May 15th, 2021
As the March passed Ben & Jerry’s, people stopped and chanted “Shame on You!” because of their ice cream business in Palestine/Israel
Speakers at Burlington’s City Hall – representing the participating organizations.
Hundreds of people in Vermont joined the international outcry against the violence in Palestine and Israel, routed in 73 years of oppression, occupation and Apartheid.
The rally/march in Burlington VT started at Battery Park and proceeded to City Hall.
It was an amazing experience – a huge coalition of mostly young people many of whom have experienced discrimination and being marginalized (Women, non-white, immigrants and others).
Wafic Faour – VTJP; Hannah Rose – Decolonize Burlington; Asma Elhuni – RAD; Mark Hage – VTJP; Sara Brooks – VTJP and PSL; Rajni; Amanda Garces – Education Justice Coalition of Vermont; Zanevia Wilcox – The Battery Park movement; Rick (Spontaneous speaker); Mohsen Mahdawi; Dima; Marita Canedo (Migrant justice); Ashley Smith – DSA
Press Release Prior to the event
“Burlington rallies for Palestine” A short report by local media
Vermonters for Justice in Palestine; Decolonize Burlington; Jewish Voice for Peace, Vermont-New Hampshire; Community Voices for Immigrant Rights; Red Banner Anti-Imperialist Collective; Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL); Party of Communists USA; Rise Upper Valley; Education Justice Coalition of Vermont; Vermont Workers’ Center; The Battery Park Movement; Will Miller Social Justice Lecture Series; The Peoples Kitchen; The Center for Grassroots Organizing; VT National Lawyers Guild
US Police train with the Israeli occupation forces
Israeli knee on Palestinian neck
Israeli knee on Palestinian neck
Israeli knee on Palestinian neck
Does this look familiar?
As explained here
about 100 Minnesota law enforcement officers attended a counter-terrorism training conference in Minneapolis put on by the Israeli consulate in Chicago, the FBI and Minnetonka police in 2012.
There they learned the violent techniques that Israeli forces have been seen to use as they terrorize people in the occupied Palestinian territories under the guise of security operations.
A rebuke to the Israeli NE Consulate
Migrant Justice responded Dec 7, 2020 to Israel in Boston when they tried to create a PR event by offering Migrant Justice free hand sanitizers to “help communities most impacted by the pandemic.” Migrant Justice wrote: “If the Israeli government were sincere in that goal it would begin in Gaza, where cases had doubled in the last two weeks while the population suffers from blockade-imposed shortages of ventilators, PPE, and medicine.”
See Migrant Justice email to the Israeli Consulate:
Watch the documentary film “The Occupation of the American Mind”
The documentary film “The Occupation of the American Mind” can now be watched for free, via the link here. The link offers shorter, abridged versions of the film as alternatives, but the full 84-minute film is considered a MUST VIEW.
The film is narrated by Roger Waters and includes interviews with Phyllis Bennis, Noam Chomsky, Amira Hass, Rashid Khalidi, Youssef Munayyer, Henry Siegman and Stephen Walt.
More information: https://www.occupationmovie.org/
Recordings of Talks/Discussions organized by VTJP and JVP (VT-NH)
Through the Wall
View the recording of the online discussion held on Sunday, March 21,2021 with film director Anne Macksoud, Rabbi Dov Taylor, who is featured in the film and Moshen Mehdawi, a young Palestinian who grew up in the West Bank, now living in Vermont.
Talk by Rashid Khalidi and and subsequent discussion.
Professor Khalidi discussed the history of British and American initiatives to transform Palestine into a Jewish State and his most recent book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917- 2017 (2020).Rashid Khalidi is the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, the author of many books, and an esteemed scholar and activist. He was President of the Middle East Studies Association, and an advisor to the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid and Washington Arab-Israeli peace negotiations from October 1991 until June 1993.
What’s Happening? (Full Reports here)
Ben & Jerry’s in Israel implicated in Human Rights Abuses
They sell their ice cream through Shufersal supermarkets “that profit from Israel’s illegal settlement activity”
(From UN Human Rights Commission that reported on 112 major companies identified as operating in Israeli settlements in ways that violate human rights.)
Coalition Meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders’ Staff
A local coalition of VT/NH JVP Chapter, VTJP and others met with Senator Bernie Sander’s staff at his Burlington office on January 17, 2020. They thanked the Senator for supporting Palestinian rights in Gaza and the occupied territories and presented requests Read More.
VTJP and Migrant Justice walked together in Montpelier, July 3rd 2019.
Our Declaration was for hope and freedom, human rights and No Walls. The enthusiastic reception by the crowds lining the parade route was inspiring! Read More.
VTJP helps prevent Deadly Exchange training of VT Police
After a coordinated campaign with the JVP organization Deadly Exchange VT State Police canceling a trip to Israel to learn “counter-terrorism tactics”. Read More.
Palestinian flag flies at University of Vermont
On the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, UVM SJP raised the Palestinian flag outside the Student Center and held a candlelight vigil in solidarity with Palestine. Read More.
A remarkable video giving a voice to Palestinian people by Vermont’s own Bernie.
While Israel’s narrative dominates Congress, the White House and the media, Bernie stated: “The voices of the Palestinians are rarely heard. “ Read More.
The Short Life of Razan Al-Najjar, Paramedic: Human Shield or Human Being?
Razan al-Najjar, 21 was killed June 1st 2018 at the Gaza fence by Israeli sniper fire. She was clearly identified as a medic by her white uniform with a red cross. Read More.
Still selling in illegal settlements
In December 2017 these containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream were photographed by an Israeli citizen at the Shufersal Store at Moshe Dayan Street in the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
What we do
Boycott companies that are complicit in the occupation of Palestine
Collaborate with other Local and National Groups
See the archive of videos we’ve produced
Video of Public Events We’ve Organized
Action and Events
Get Ready for Free Cone Day April 2020
Ice Cream is Free – But Palestinian People are not!
100 years after the Balfour Declaration, the Zionist threat to Palestinians continues
Defend Free Speech
Your right to defend Palestinian Rights
Peace, love & occupation don’t mix.
Ben & Jerry’s wanted to stop sales in illegal settlements – Unilever considered that antisemitic!
Sponsored Art Projects
Najawa Street Art
Think of Others
Art Hop 2017
Cantastoria performed on Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry’s scoop shop: Burlington, VT
Palestinian Violin Project
Featuring the violin made by Shehada Shalalda at his workshop in Ramallah Tahta.
Get Involved & Stay Informed
Come to the Meetings
Peace and Justice Center, Lake Street, Burlington VT
Talk to people!
What if Vermont were Conquered, Occupied and Colonized by Israel?
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