Students for Justice in Palestine chapters around the country have recently been hosting lectures entitled “Palestine 101.” These “Palestine 101” events have taken place at Columbia University, UVA, Berkeley Law and CUNY John Jay, to name a few institutions.
With antisemitism rising around the country, it is incredibly concerning for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) to spread misleading information about Zionism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel through these lectures.
On October 8, 2022, the SJP Chapter at CUNY’s John Jay College posted a slide from Palestine 101, a lecture taught by anti-Zionist Professor Corinna Mullin. In 2019, CAMERA Fellow alumna Tzvia Waronker documented Mullin’s tendency to promote antisemitic tropes and promote less-than-reputable sources in her lectures. A 2019 op-ed by Waronker on jns.org revealed that Mullin included sources from the website Mondoweiss in a course syllabus. As Waronker pointed out, “Editor Philip Weiss talks about Jews being greedy, as well as compares Israelis to Nazis. He also believes that the Jews had a contract with the American government ‘to drive the economy in the 1970s,’ a statement akin to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Mullin has also made such reprehensible comments herself. In Monthly Review, a socialist magazine, she claimed that “Israel … [is] capitalizing off Jewish suffering, the Zionist political project has employed these funds to dispossess and ethnically cleanse the land of the native Palestinian population, perpetuating atrocities that many Jews themselves had been subject to by the Nazis.”
While the SJP chapter at Binghamton University did not hold a Palestine 101 this year, the group’s linktree includes a “Palestine Learning Library” that features many of the same falsehoods in Mullin’s lecture.
The first claim on the slide is that “Zionism is a settler-colonial political movement,” a falsehood propagated by anti-Zionists on college campuses.
Typically, settler-colonialism refers to European empires invading and conquering land, often ethnically cleansing and subjugating indigenous people. Anti-Israel activists falsely argue that European Jews “colonized” Palestinian land.
Anti-Zionists fail to acknowledge the path to Jewish statehood when making such arguments. Firstly, Jews from across the Diaspora, including the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and beyond are spiritually, culturally and historically the indigenous people of the land.
Across the world, Jewish prayer, language, text and tradition are embedded with references to “returning” to the homeland, to Jerusalem.
If you take all of this into account, it isn’t difficult to see that Zionism is a form of decolonization; Jews were liberated from foreign rule and the injustices committed against them that led to the Diaspora in the first place.
Mullin also fails to mention that the Zionist movement and the resulting State of Israel have a long history of promoting co-existence and extending peace offers which time and time again are met with threats of violence and intolerance.
Furthermore, Mullin accuses the State of Israel of being a “settler-colonialism” and “Jewish majority” state. Israel was founded as a country that honors the rights of all its citizens. Namely, the Israeli declaration of independence states that “it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture.”
Concerning minorities, 21 % of Israel’s population is Arab. Israeli Arabs have the same rights as Jewish Israelis. Israeli Arabs serve in the Knesset, in the Israel Defense Forces, and even on the Supreme Court of Israel.
Palestinians living in Gaza and Area B of the West Bank, however, live under the jurisdiction of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, respectively. They are not subject to Israeli civil law.
Mullin also claims that Zionism is “rejected by many Jews, supported by antisemites.” This is false. A 2019 study revealed that 95 % of Jews in the United States have a “favorable view” of Israel. A 2021 study by the PEW Research Center also found that 85 % of American Jewish adults feel that Israel is important.
Furthermore, Mullin’s claim that antisemites support Zionism is also false. Conveniently, it appears that Mullins makes these remarks without citing any examples.
Evidence for the opposite of what Mullin argues is abundant; antisemites have a long history of denying Jews the right to live in their indigenous homeland.
For instance, In the 1930s, Nazi Germany forged a partnership with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini. Husseini not only opposed the establishment of the Jewish state, but he was also against the presence of Jews in the Middle East, period.
From his appointment in 1921, Husseini incited widespread violence and discrimination against Jews in the Holy Land and across the Middle East, including pogroms, mass expulsions and institutional racism. This has not changed. Husseini’s successors, the current leaders within the Palestinian Authority and Hamas who spread antisemitism, are also ardent anti-Zionists who routinely call for Israel’s elimination.
Professor Mullin is using the imprimatur of John Jay College of Criminal Justice and, by extension, the City University of New York educational system to promote lies about the State of Israel and harmful canards about the Jewish people.
The falsehoods in “Palestine 101” should be especially concerning to students, faculty and administrators as SJP chapters organize lectures like this one across the country. When such an event comes to campus, it is crucial to stand for the truth and hold the students and faculty involved accountable to the truth and nondiscrimination policies that prevent the unfair targeting of minorities on campus.
* to read this article with hyperlinks, visit https://cameraoncampus.org/
Hannah Kirsch is a Jewish Link staff writer and a 2022-23 CAMERA Fellow. She just completed her junior year at Binghamton University.