What do radicals of different generations have in common? For one, some believe that Israel is an imperialist Zionist state intent on the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
“I’ll get started because I think in talking about anything having to do with Israel-Palestine we need to understand that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, which is what’s going on, is not [this] aberrant policy of a particularly right-wing administration inside of Israel but in fact is actually the logical ramification of a colonial settler state and I would not ask you to take my word for it,” said activist Sherry Wolf at a February 27 forum arranged by the University of Rochester (UofR) Students for a Democratic Society (SDS).
Wolf, who is an editor for the International Socialist Review, a publication of the International Socialist Organization (ISO), told the students that the natural consequences of all settler states, including Israel, are “dispossession, racism, and brutal suppression of the indigenous population” and compared the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza to South African apartheid. She said that as a student in the 1980s she had organized against apartheid in that country.
As Accuracy in Academia has previously reported, former leaders of the 1960s Students for a Democratic Society and its violent splinter group, the Weather Underground, are now involved with the “new SDS,” a group launched in 2006.
“Oppressed people are at the forefront of movements for liberation,” states the new SDS website.
“We understand that our work must target structures of domination in order to build powerful diverse movements for change. We realize that lines of power cut deep in our society, and we must be grounded in the work of combating systems of white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism, heterosexism, transphobia, and the many other forms of oppression thoughtfully and strategically.”
The anti-Israel roots of the old SDS and WUO are well-documented. Two members of the Weather Underground were trained by the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Lebanon, said former Congressional investigator Herbert Romerstein at a recent press conference. They were Jennifer Dohrn, Bernardine Dohrn’s sister, and convicted U.S. Capitol bomber Linda Sue Evans. (Evans received a pardon for her crimes from the Clinton Administration).
Romerstein said that the Weather Underground “went to Cuba, they went to North Vietnam, they went with PLO camps in Lebanon, and these people received training in Cuba and Lebanon, out of the PLO which was in turn receiving its support from the KGB, and the Cuban communist government that was giving its people training was also receiving the same KGB support.”
According to newmds.org, Mark Rudd was elected a board member of the Movement for a Democratic Society (MDS) in 2007; he has applauded the efforts of the “new” SDS on his website, describing them as “very savvy.” “Also, quite generously, they are actively seeking help and support from old SDS’ers, who are now organized into a new parallel organization, the Movement for a Democratic Society, or MDS,” Rudd reportedly said at a Drew University conference.
Rudd told the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society in 2005 that “Israel is America’s future: militarized, racist, religio-nationalist, corporate, riven with so many internal splits and hatreds that only the existence of a perpetual enemy keeps the nation from exploding. If we don’t organize to stop the current direction in this country, thirty years from now we will be Israel.”
“The Weather Underground was still writing in 1982, ‘Zionism is White Supremacy. Zionism is an integral part of white supremacist movement in the U.S. It is rooted in the defense of white privilege over colonized people,’” reported Cliff Kincaid for Accuracy in Media.
The UofR chapter has become active within the divestment movement. Prior to Wolf’s visit, this chapter organized its own “occupation” of the campus and then sent SDS members to participate in Take Back NYU!’s multi-day occupation of New York University’s Kimmel student center. (Take Back NYU!’s demands included the construction of a “student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee” whose “first two orders of business” would be
“a) An in-depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories,” and
b) “A reassessment of the recently lifted of the [sic] ban on Coca Cola products.”
At the end of a YouTube video of the UofR activities, viewers are encouraged to visit the Facebook page of the “National Campaign to DIVEST FROM ISRAEL” [sic].
As of this writing, the group’s profile picture is of a poster which reads “Zionism=Racism, Ethnic Cleansing.”
The video was posted by Youtube user “dylanof theroc” and advertised on Facebook by School of the Visual Arts (SVA) alumnus Dylan Toombs.
The video incorporates a short clip from Dr. Mads Gilbert. As Fox News reporter Jennifer Lawinski wrote on January 8, “International media reports, including those from the BBC, CBS, CNN and FOX’s sister station Sky News, present Gilbert as an ordinary doctor.”
“But a look at his record shows that Gilbert, 61, is a political activist and member of the Norwegian Maoist ‘Red’ party, and he has been involved in solidarity work for the Palestinians since the 1970s,” wrote Lawinski. In addition, she reported, Gilbert has “voiced support for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks” and “Israeli government officials have said Hamas hides weapons in the hospital where Gilbert works.”
The Investigative Project on Terrorism identified the first two minutes of audio as music by Dam, an Israeli Arab rap troupe. Dam captured the media spotlight when they produced the single “Who’s the Terrorist?” Lyrics for the song include,
Who’s a terrorist?
I’m a terrorist?
How am I a terrorist when
You’ve taken my land?
Who’s a terrorist?
You’re the terrorist
You’ve taken everything I own while I’m living in my
You’re killing us like you’ve killed our ancestors…
…You’re a democracy?
Actually it’s more like the Nazis
Your countless raping of the Arabs’ soul
Finally impregnated it
Gave birth to your child
His name “Suicide Bomber”
And then you call him a terrorist?…
Tamer Nafar, a member of Dam, told Nextbook writer Lisa Goldman in 2007 that “I never said I supported terrorism. I said I understood the rage that motivated the terrorists.”
According to the Campus Antiwar Network (CAN) website, members of the UofR SDS Chapter have been working with other members of the divestment movement. According to Leia Petty, writing on the CAN website, CAN held a conference call to coordinate further action between
• “Meaghan Linick from the Radical Student Union at the New School,”
• “Maria Lewis from CAN and Take Back NYU,”
• “Harry from [the] Autonomous Center at University of Edinborough,”
• “Po and Ryan from …SDS” and “Kyle from the…ISO,” who spoke about the occupation at the UofR, and
• “Matan from Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Hampshire College.”
But, according to IPT news, a publication of The Investigative Project, the UofR occupation wasn’t all that successful. “In fact, no decisions have been made at the University of Rochester, spokeswoman Sharon Dickman said,” states IPT News. “She categorized the university’s agreement with the students as a promise to continue talking.”
Bethany Stotts is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.