Friday, April 19

Submission: SJP-hosted film screening endorses attempt to normalize anti-Semitism



Correction: The original version of this submission incorrectly attributed the quote "Jewish lobby in America" to the film "The Occupation of the American Mind." In fact, the correct quote from the film is "Israel lobby in America."

Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA hosted its widely advertised screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind” on Wednesday, followed by a discussion with executive producer Sut Jhally and an appearance by famed Pink Floyd musician Roger Waters. The purpose of the film is to warn viewers that somehow, unbeknownst to them, they have become casualties of Israel’s public relations war in the United States.

More specifically, “The Occupation of the American Mind” alleges that Israel manipulates the minds of politicians and ordinary Americans by turning American media outlets into well-oiled propaganda machines. By exerting their influence through the “Israel lobby in America,” conniving Zionists have managed to divert attention from “apartheid” and “genocide,” and instead, rewrite a tale of victimhood by dramatizing the storyline of Jewish oppression.

The film is an intellectualization of the centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a group of powerful, manipulative and domination-obsessed Jews have gained control of politics and media through a combination of wealth, power, influence and deceit. The film asserts that through sheer mendacity and careful scheming, Jews concocted stories of suffering, when in reality, they were the true oppressors.

By choosing to screen this film, Students for Justice in Palestine has unabashedly endorsed and legitimized this perception of the Jewish people. One is left to wonder: What conclusion is the campus community left to draw from this event? Are we so distanced from the shadows of history that we are unable to detect echoes of anti-Semitic conspiracy when it is brought to our very doorstep?

The attempt to normalize anti-Semitism by conditioning it to the times is an old – and unfortunately effective – strategy. For generations, Jewish people have been accused of conspiring to control the media, the economy, the government and other social institutions. It was articulated in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” in the 1900s, in “Mein Kampf” in the 1920s and it is echoed in this film in 2016.

That is not to say that all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Critique of Israeli policy can be legitimate and productive, and should not be conflated with prejudice. Freedom of speech, academic freedom and viewpoint neutrality are not issues that are new to our campus community. Students for Justice in Palestine has the constitutional right to screen this film – and whether we like it or not, our student fees might have been used via student government programming funds to help pay for the event.

However, rather than initiate a constructive dialogue about the role of the media in this conflict, The Occupation of the American Mind devotes its energy to flirting with and perpetuating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Our interest in writing this piece is not to silence the viewpoints put forth by the film. Rather than silencing voices, our goal is to combat “bad speech” with constructive speech. Along with their right to screen this film comes our moral responsibility to call it what it is: inflammatory, anti-Semitic propaganda.

The movie is eager to position itself as an expose of one-sided propaganda, but employs the very tactics it seeks to condemn. It is so willing to nurture dissidence that it ironically forgets to invite that very concept of debate into its own movie.

Our disappointment, however, is directed not only towards the creators of this film, but at the students who have pushed to screen it. In doing so, they have provided a platform for the legitimization of identity-based hatred that is completely out of line with our True Bruin Values and the UC Board of Regents’ Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.

Brazen actions have consequences, and broadcasting a movie that perpetuates offensive perceptions of Jewish and Israeli communities does nothing to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or bridge the gap between communities at UCLA. Films like this enable the normalization of anti-Semitism on our campus, and it will not go unchecked. We will not be pawns in a game of intellectual distortions.

 

As Bruins, we inherit the legacy of some of the greatest innovators and trailblazers in human technology and progress. If we hope to apply any bit of that ingenuity to this conflict that is thousands of miles away, yet clearly so close to our hearts, we must not engage in fruitless proxy wars that only advance the legitimization of hatred and bigotry on campus.

Jackie Schaeffer is the strategic policy director of the Bruin-Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Amir Kashfi is the legislative director of the Bruin-Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Arielle Yael Mokhtarzadeh is the president of Bruins for Israel.
Noah Wallace is the finance chair of the Hillel at UCLA Student Board.
Hannah Tudzin is the president of the Hillel at UCLA Student Board.
Ariel Rafalian is the financial supports commissioner of the Undergraduate Students Association Council.
Inbar Goren is the president of Students Supporting Israel at UCLA.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneShare on Google+Share on Reddit

Comments are supposed to create a forum for thoughtful, respectful community discussion. Please be nice. View our full comments policy here.

  • OhioAhmad

    Ummm did you even see the movie?

    It’s evidence based to the brim.

    The movie Occupation of the American Mind is an important contribution to today’s knowledge base about what is really going on in Palestine that so few Americans really and truly know about and understand.

    • peepsqueek

      I did not see the movie, but I know there has been injustice on both sides of the issue. So to balance the scale: The banner of Islam flies over 99.9% of the Middle East land mass, and 1.5 million Palestinians live in Israel proper as citizens on land that hypocritical activists claim are ethnically cleansed. Every last Jew was removed from Gaza 11 years ago and Hamas rockets rained down on Israel within weeks. Lesson learned! Hypocritical activists say it would be better for peace if the West Bank (birthplace of David, Solomon, and Jesus) were free of Jews. The fact is that before 1967, Israel was a constant target for Arab terrorism before there was a single Jewish settlement in the West Bank or Gaza.

      Be honest OhioAhmad, wouldn’t you like to see the banner of Islam fly over 100% of the Middle East land mass. Hamas: ‘No Muslim shall rest until the banner of Islam flies over every inch of the land.’

      The main factor that made it possible for a religious and ethnic minority in the Middle East (the Jews), to achieve their present status and affluence, free of the persecution or discrimination to which they were subjected in the past are some of the strongest reasons that justify Israel’s stance. Can you name another religious or ethnic minority in the Middle East that has the full right of self determination?

      • Dre_loves_Trump

        Peep – you can argue w/ him all you want. Mr. Ahmed knows nothing but hate and can not be reasoned with. All the data in the world can not suffice a people living 1000 years behind everyone else. All they know is how to breed and kill….

        • peepsqueek

          I try not to put up walls with people’s initial emotional responses. As you know, their are plenty of far right Orthodox Jews, Islamists, and Christians that are emotional bout their historical positions, and would gladly live in the past and submit to religious laws if given a chance. But there are a lot of young readers out there who read these websites, so I just want to make the best communication possible. Thanks for the thumbs up.

      • Andee

        Maybe you should watch the movie, THEN come here to comment your thoughts. You can stream it online for a small donation.

      • OhioAhmad

        Why do Palestinians have to give up their homelands just because of what the Jews went through in Europe?

        As one author said: Jews couldn’t be European in Europe, so they became Europeans in Palestine.

        Get that ?

        • peepsqueek

          To answer your question, it was not just European Jews the fled to the newly formed tiny Jewish State. There were Russian Jews, Moroccan Jews, Persian Jews, Arab Jews, Kurdish Jews, etc that fled to the only and only Jewish State. I am an atheist or mixed race and cultural heritage, but where do you think a Jewish homeland should be? The West Bank is the birthplace of David, Solomon, and Jesus. Have you ever seen a non-Muslim try to get near the birthplace of Muhammad? It is illegal in the 21st century. Palestinian Arabs have applied or statehood, to be a 23rd “Arab” State, and Jerusalem to be a 23rd Arab Capital. It is kind of hypocritical for a people who do not be live a Jewish State has a right to exist in the Middle East.

          The term Semitic is used to describe attributes pertaining to Hebrew or Jewish culture. They were an ancient nomadic people in the Middle East who people referred to by their religious affiliation, the Jews. When they conquered the land of Canaan they embraced a national identity with the term Israelites. The term Semitic also refers to Jewish people living outside the Middle East region with Jewish traditions based on the Torah. Hitler described Jews as an inferior semitic race, even though we all know that Jews are not a specific race.

          Had the the collective Arab States accepted the 1947 UN Partition Resolution, not a single Palestinian Arab would have become a refugee.

          UNRWA definition of a Palestine refugee in 1952: “A Palestine refugee is [a person] whose normal residence was Palestine for a [minimum period of two years] preceding the outbreak of the conflict in 1948 and who, as a result of this conflict has lost both his home and his means of livelihood.”

          The definition of “refugees” omitted the reference to persons of Arab origin in the 1948 General Assembly proposal, and opened the possibility of including stateless persons who had been residents of the geographical area of Palestine.

    • First-Light

      I saw the film – what evidence, only a crazy fool would call anything presented in the film as evidence.

      • OhioAhmad

        Then read the book the Israel Lobby or the If Americans knew book.

        Both are heavily cited and are becoming important resources to counter the propaganda of the Israel lobby.

    • PurpleNurple69

      I agree, “Smurfs: The Movie” provides invaluable information about what is really going on in Smurf Village.

      • OhioAhmad

        There’s also 5 broken cameras. Occupation 101. And anything from Jewish olive for Peace

    • Jim Moritz

      Clearly, you have not been to Judea or Samaria…the people are certainly oppressed…by the power-hungry and corrupt PLO and Hamas who perpetrate hatred for their personal benefit. You have apparently fallen for their invented “facts”.

      You must attend UCLA!

      • OhioAhmad

        I actually lived and worked in a kibbutz before you were born kid.

        Back when Israel actually stood for liberation, now it just stands for ethnic supremacy and religious extremism.

        We have missed countless opportunities to make peace with the indigenous Palestinians.

        The Palestinians have had their kind and stories stolen.

        If I knew then what I knew now I would have never given my body and time to the kibbutz.

        I find it shameful what Israel has done with my labor

        • Jim Moritz

          The palestinian arabs owned little land (squatters don’t own) and certainly have a short and parasitic history . You must be confused; ethnic supremacy and religious extremism are arab/muslim hallmarks that are foreign to Israel. One final correction…the terms “indigenous” and “palestinians” are mutually exclusive . Clearly, your version of history is a fantasy.

    • Leslie Benjamini

      Spoken like like a true biased Arab.

      • OhioAhmad

        Sound like you don’t like Arabs.

        By the way Palestinians are not all Arabs.

        But they probably didn not tell you that in your hasbara misinformation classes .

        Palestinians have been bullied by Israel and Very few people in America know about Palestinians

        • Jim Moritz

          Corrupt Palestinian leaders, like Arafat, Abas and hamas have rejected peace with Israel multiple times. All they want is the destruction of Israel and the death of Israeli Jews. Get your facts straight, and good luck with that.

  • First-Light

    Ultimately, the film askes the question – are Jews American and are American values being distorted by Jews. If one looks at the Middle East today, every single Arab country is at war with its neighbors, most Arab countries have little if any legal protection for women, almost no legal protection for non-Arabs and limited legal protection for Muslims that are not Arab. In some countries women can’t drive and can be flogged for the offense. In many Arab countries if a women is not veiled, she can be killed.
    Israel is the only country in the middle east that has a democratically elected government that has smooth transition of power between one administration and the next. The film would have you supporting Syrian barbarians killing everyone. The answer to the film is that Israel is the only country in the Middle east worth supporting.

  • Howard Amonick

    Has anyone ever considered whether the reason why Israel and the Jews are generally supported by the American public… is because they’ve made better arguments than the Arabs for the establishment and continued existence of Israel?

  • slresnick

    In the Arab lands there lived 850,000 Jews prior to 1947. Expect for a few thousand there are basically none left. They were forced to leave areas where they lived for thousands of years. They were often killed, beaten and treated very harshly. Their real property and other valuables were confiscated. The amount of land stolen is five times the size of present day Israel. There has been no recognition of this travesty by the Arab governments and course no compensation. The 850,000 exceeds those Palestinians who left the area in 1947-48. The vast majority of the 850,000 went to Israel where they were incorporated into that society while the Palestinians in the Arab lands were put in camps where many remain today.

  • L Inbar

    I went to this film screening, and there was absolutely nothing anti-semitic about the documentary or the people who promote or created it. In fact at least a third to half of the people interviewed in the documentary were Jews or Israelis. Former members of AIPAC, professors, even an Israeli journalist who is the child of holocaust survivors. It is a fact that AIPAC, like other special interest lobbyists, use money to essentially legally bribe politicians. To take a critical look at groups that participate in such bribery is valid and not racially motivated, but ethically motivated. You know what the main message was of the speakers at the screening? Love. Love and cooperation. There was time for open discussion after the film, where people who dissented could raise questions on index cards. They took questions from both sides.
    Additionally, from a more personal stance, I take issue with the idea that criticizing these organizations and Israeli government officials in the way the film does is anti-semitic. I am a Jewish Israeli and I believe and support what I do with regards to the occupation because I care deeply for all life and Israeli life specifically because of my family. In order to come to peace, we have to take a hard look at ourselves as well as the Other.
    If those who claim that the Palestinians do not suffer under racial prejudice and occupation really think they stand on the side of right, why do they discourage the presentation of academic evidence and journalistic evidence of mistreatment? If you watch the film and find fault with it, take an academic and logical approach and bring evidence to negate the film’s claims. Write a point-counter-point. There were some points the film made that I questioned, so I did the research to verify it. Stating the film was anti-semitic without even mentioning the specific arguments made by people in the film (again, academics, journalists, former lobbyists, many of whom are Jewish) is not academically sound and it causes more chaos and promotion of “proxy-wars” than the film. I think logical discourse and academic appreciation of both sides is more in line with “True Bruin Values” than throwing slander at a group and event that was peaceful and accommodating to dissenting opinions and did not once promote blame or hate towards Jews, Israelis, or any peoples, contrary to what the moniker “anti-semitic” suggests.

    • Andee

      Yes!! Thank you, ask questions and be open, look up the facts or other side of things you question! Thanks for having an open mind! It’s people like you that will help this conflict eventually be resolved !

      • Justactsplease

        Nobody can have a mind open to the denial of human rights of Jews as epitomized by Hamas, SJP and “BDS.”

    • Justactsplease

      “The film is an intellectualization of the centuries-old anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a group of powerful, manipulative and domination-obsessed Jews have gained control of politics and media through a combination of wealth, power, influence and deceit. The film asserts that through sheer mendacity and careful scheming, Jews concocted stories of suffering, when in reality, they were the true oppressors.”

      You need to wise up.

      • L Inbar

        There are groups of manipulative people perpetuating this war, some of those people and groups happen to be Jewish. That’s not a secret.

        Again, please take a moment to refute actual points from the film and not regurgitate a slanderous interpretation made by authors with a clearly biased background. A background I actually come from… and have “wised up” from. One that is hard to refute because the Jewish suffering is real, and the people of Israel are scared of real things. Human conflict, however, is never one-sided. Looking back at history, there always arises more to show everyone trying to protect their own and acting in the ways, even if misguided and violent, they think will bring their people safety and quality of life. We gain more from understanding the myths we were told and the myths others are told and come to a common ground of understanding in each others humanity.
        Here is a quote from the executive producer, Professor Sut Jhally: “I think most people, regardless of where they stand on this issue, would agree that democratic societies shouldn’t allow powerful interests to distort public information, silence meaningful debate, and vilify legitimate opposition to official government policies.”
        And that is the real point of the film. That lobbyists are manipulating the narrative told to the American people, that students are silenced and villified automatically, and that this is seen very much so with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

        From my recollection, the film never once suggested that Jewish suffering was not real. Like I said before, there was a part of the film when Amira Hass was interviewed that effected me personally. As biased as this is, it always hits me more when fellow Israelis and Jews argue for Palestinian rights and bring up this information. They only face condemnation and name-calling like “self-hating Jew” yet they do it anyway… that shows something. I think I would have remembered if the film seemed to demonize Jews and I would have taken that personally.

        Unfortunately, the Jewish history of suffering does not make them immune to racism and prejudice. Even treatment of fellow Jews of other ethnic backgrounds is a common pattern in Jewish and Israeli history. So maybe the suffering of the Jews doesn’t have to detract from the suffering of others, or vice versa?

        Be eager to view the truth for yourself by being open to information from both sides. Look at where the money is and who benefits from this sort of message that the SJP and BDS are automatically anti-semetically motivated and therefore can’t be approached (when the message was actually one of cooperation and care for the American Jewry which is threatened by the oncoming administration in the US). Who benefits from aggravating the opposition and delaying peaceful resolution or mutual understanding?

        Thank you for your passion, hoping we all can find a way to understanding and peace.

        • Think for yourself

          Argument: the film is anti semetic

          Counter argument:
          Its not anti semetic, there are many Jews and Israelis interviewed in the film…Amira Hass

          When phrased in simpler terms, do you see how your line of reasoning/method of making your argument comes off as specious? You may have very valid points, but it’s hard to trust a word you say when your first response is to point to the useful Jews included in the documentary.

  • Ossie Sharon, M.S., R.D.

    Thank you very much for speaking out about this.

  • OmricronPersei8

    SJP has become a hate-filled organization. They spew hatred as bad as the Nazi’s or KKK once did. They are a hate group and should be banned from campuses nationwide. They hate America, Israel, Jews, Whites, Conservatives, Republicans, the Police. Time to end SJP, along with their SJW supporters.

    • Andee

      What are you even saying??? How dare you equate sjp with KKK? You sound crazy

      • OmricronPersei8

        Are you saying that SJP is way worse than the KKK, which is why they should not be compared? Because they are both pretty bad IMO.

        • Andee

          I’m saying YOU are worse than the KKK, for targeting a group and promoting HATE.

          • OmricronPersei8

            LOL, you are accusing me of targeting SJP and promoting hate? SJP deserves to be hated on just as much as any other hate group. Why would you defend them, unless you are part of them? Do you know all the “targeting” and “hating” SJP has done? Do you even go to UCLA? I’ll give you just one of many examples of the harassment and targeting the SJP has done; the former president of the UCLA student body was a law student, a man of Indian decent, who was harassed so much by SJP that he had to quit UCLA and finish his studies elsewhere.

      • roccolore

        Fascist Democrat, SJP is anti-Jewish, just like the KKK.

  • Andee

    Its not talking about Jews, it’s talking about Israel, and maybe you should actually watch the movie with an open mind and ask the question, is what they are saying valid? Do we ever hear about the plight of the Palestinians in the media? Cuz the answer is NO. Ask questions and look at the other side too.
    You say not all criticism of Israel is anti Semitic, but you are saying that. No one can say ANYTHING against Israel without being labeled as anti Semitic. I’m curious what’s an example of criticism of Israel that isn’t anti Semitic? Please do provide one.
    I’m tired of hearing this is anti semitism, cuz arabs are semites too! It doesn’t make any sense. I am a Semite, but I’m not covered in this definition of semitism. Maybe pro Israeli and pro Palestinian groups can plan to have a friendly and calm debate to discuss issues instead of divide.

    • Jim Moritz

      The “plight of the palestinians” … Perhaps their Arab brethren could help…oh yeah, they don’t want them either…ever wonder why?

  • Hail Mohammed

    “a group of powerful, manipulative and domination-obsessed Jews have gained control of politics and media”

    A absolutely ridiculous idea, by god!

    http://i.stack.imgur.com/PPhcg.jpg

  • First-Light

    Ultimately, the film askes the question – are Jews American and are
    American values being distorted by Jews. If one looks at the Middle
    East today, every single Arab country is at war with its neighbors, most
    Arab countries have little if any legal protection for women, almost no
    legal protection for non-Arabs and limited legal protection for Muslims
    that are not Arab. In some countries women can’t drive and can be
    flogged for the offense. In many Arab countries if a women is not
    veiled, she can be killed.
    Israel is the only country in the middle
    east that has a democratically elected government that has smooth
    transition of power between one administration and the next. The film
    would have you supporting Syrian barbarians killing everyone. The
    answer to the film is that Israel is the only country in the Middle east
    worth supporting.

  • Justactsplease

    In a great joint Israel-USA ceremony, Israel has taken delivery of US F-35 fighter jets, which will assist its rebuff of the genocidal sponsors of “SJP.”