August 19, 2016

The Post The Forward Pulled

The following article was pulled from the Jewish Daily Forward.  Here's the link:
Here's the link to Google cache.  The cache doesn't hold for long so here's the article in full:

An Israeli Politician Smeared Students for Justice in Palestine — and the Media Fell for It

On Aug 15, an Israeli lawmaker accused the pro-Palestinian campus group Students for Justice in Palestine of compiling lists of Jewish students and their dorm room addresses.
Addressing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, member of Knesset Anat Berko said that SJP is “collecting information on where Jews live at New York University among others,” reported The Times of Israel. Berko later reiterated her claims on Israel Radio, adding that the Israeli advocacy organization Reservists On Duty had told her “about the marking out of Jewish dorms, of rooms of Jewish students (on campus), for example at New York University and other campuses.”
However, Reservists on Duty denied informing Berko’s original inflammatory statement. “To be honest,” Social Media Coordinator Ofir Ohayon told the Forward on Aug 17, we don’t really know for sure that SJP did compile lists of Jewish students. Although we did talked [sic] with Anat Berko yesterday she didn’t mentioned such thing. What we do know is about the eviction notice incidents, we’ve talked with various students from Florida Atlantic University, UCONN, NYU and Vassar who received this eviction notice.”
While The Times of Israel’s original live blog entry and follow up article have been shared over 4,000 times on Facebook alone, officials from the Zionist Organization of America and Stand With Us, two large national groups that work to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses, told the Forward on Aug 16 they had no knowledge of this sort of activity taking place.
Rabbi Yehuda Sarna, the Executive Director of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU, told the Forward on Aug 17 that MK Berko was “well intentioned, but mistaken.”
“We have many problems with Israel discourse at NYU,” he acknowledged, “but they tend to be localized. We have problems with the Graduate Student Union and certain departments in the humanities and social sciences, but the stalking of Jewish students on campus is thankfully not a problem.”
National Students for Justice in Palestine, an informal, volunteer-run network composed of current students and recent graduates of Students for Justice in Palestine, told the Forward that they “have never heard of such cases,” but added that “all SJP chapters on campuses across the country are autonomously run. However, as a national organization, NSJP is firmly against all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism.”
According to Lahav Harkov, Senior Knesset reporter and analyst for The Jerusalem Post, Berko’s comments were related to the 2014 incident (Full disclosure: written by this reporter in 2014 for The Times of Israel) in which NYU SJP members slipped thousands of mock eviction notices protesting Israeli home demolitions into student rooms inside two dormitories, one of which contained a Sabbath elevator (which operates on a special automatic mode during the Jewish Sabbath to facilitate the strict observance of Jewish law).
Following NYU SJP’s 2014 actions, NYU spokesperson John Beckman said that a “flyer titled ‘eviction notice’ anonymously slipped under doors at night is not an invitation to thoughtful, open discussion; it is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community.”
Beckman also noted that “it is unclear why the flyering took place in this particular dorm; we don’t believe there is perception of this dorm as having an a high percentage of Jewish students (the presence of a Sabbath elevator is the result of a stairway that empties to the street and cannot be entered through the lobby behind the security desk, not because of a disproportionate presence of Jewish students in the building). However, were it to be the case that the flyering was done there because it was perceived be a dorm with a higher proportion of Jewish students, that would be troubling, dismaying and a matter of deep concern for our community.”
On Aug 17, The Times of Israel spoke with MK Berko’s aide and updated their story with her comments: “An aide to Berko said Wednesday that anti-Israel groups collect information on where Jewish students live, and that there had been ‘several incidents’ in which ‘eviction notices’ were placed in dormitories where Jewish students live — not necessarily Jewish-only residences, she said, but residences where ‘there are mezuzas’ and it is clear that Jews live there.”
Oren Segal, Director of the Anti Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, told the Forward on Aug 16 that “According to our research, there is no evidence pointing to Students for Justice in Palestine compiling specific lists of Jewish students. However, we have long expressed our concerns over SJP’s campus efforts, which have resulted in troubling tensions between students and have fostered a hostile atmosphere for pro-Israel and Jewish students.”
According to the ADL’s 2015 audit, 10% of anti-Semitic incidents reported nationally took place on college and university campuses. 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, up from 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014.
Major Jewish organizations have been ramping up efforts to highlight anti-Semitism on college campuses, primarily focusing their efforts on Students for Justice in Palestine, which the Zionist Organization of America calls a “hate group.”
The New York University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine was not available for comment.
This piece has been updated with further reportage and additional information.
Laura is the Forward’s Contributing Network Editor. Contact her at or on Twitter @Laura_E_Adkins.
Sorry about the haphazard layout. I was in a rush.


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