The University of San Francisco is a Jesuit college. One thing of interest is how the Catholic Pope during World War II did nothing to help the Jews during the Holocaust. In following tradition, USF’s campus President and Reverend Stephen Privett is no better. Alerted that one of his faculty, the virulently anti-Israel and anti-US Stephen Zunes arranged for a recruiting session to boycott the Jews on the Bay Area campus sponsored by Global Exchange, a non-profit group that gave $600,000 in aid to al Qaeda while our marines were fighting in Fallujah and provides aid to Hamas, Pruitt followed the example of the World War II Pope: He did nothing to stop it. In fact, he stonewalled any communication with the Jewish community.
Lying by omission: University of San Francisco’s Middle East Studies Department hosts Dalit Baum’s lecture to recruit more BDS activists and financially ruin the Israeli economy
By Lee Kaplan, investigator, analyst
On November 9th, 2011, the University of San Francisco’s Middle East Studies Department and International Studies Professor Stephen Zunes, the school’s Muslim Students Association (MSA), as well as the Bay Area non-profit Global Exchange all sponsored little more than an indoctrination session against the Jewish state of Israel and Jewish businesses. The event promoted the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement against Israel while trying to pass itself off as an academic event. Professor Zunes has a long history of antipathy against Israel as a US ally.
The guest speaker for that evening was Dalit Baum , who runs the website Who Profits? and is an Israeli leftist who in the past has called for the dismantling of the Jewish state and who boasted she has already cost the Israeli economy in excess of 1.5 billion dollars in promoting BDS against Israeli firms worldwide. Baum bills herself as a “feminist scholar” and was introduced as such by Zunes, even though she holds only a degree in math and has never published any academic work regarding feminism. Baum made clear during the evening she was at USF to present to the students “information” and “tools” they could use to boycott and divest from the Jewish state. Zunes remarked at Baum’s courage speaking at USF because of Israel’s new law allowing lawsuits by companies affected by BDS against activists like Baum.
As a form of perversion, the BDS Movement gets touted on college campuses by the likes of Zunes and Baum as some form of fighting “oppression” and “human rights abuses” when it is actually an extension of the Arab League Boycott against Israel that was created in 1950. Boycotting was the first political action step taken by the Nazi Party in 1933 that led to the Final Solution. It is a form of economic warfare to force Israel’s government to capitulate to Arab demands. Zunes and Baum also tried to conflate their boycott efforts by fallaciously comparing Israel today with the 1980’s apartheid South Africa in order to instill in those attending the idea that they were fighting “oppression.”
Global Exchange, Baum’s main sponsor, is the fundraising arm for Medea Benjamin’s Code Pink, an NGO that routinely provides monetary and physical aid to the terrorist group Hamas whose charter calls for not only the killing and dispossession all of Israel’s Jews, but the complete annihilation of all world Jewry, so already the event was off to a shaky start. Code Pink/Global Exchange also sent $600,000 in aid to the “Iraqi Resistance” while US marines were fighting in Fallujah.
A photograph of Medea Benjamin was flashed on the screen demonstrating against Israel overseas, but few in the audience would have seen the connection or recognized her and Zunes mentioned the organization as if it were a purveyor of brotherly love. Dalit Baum also condemned the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan suggesting it was mainly for profits and like the dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority a form of “neo-colonialism.”
In order to put some distance between the event and itself after some Jewish groups expressed alarm the event would be held on the Jesuit campus, the administration required the head of the Muslim Students Association read a disclaimer that stated, ”The presence of a guest speaker on the campus of the University of San Francisco does not necessarily imply approval or endorsement by the University of the views expressed by the guest speaker or by anyone present at the event.” A communiqué also went out assuring critics that a question and answer session would follow to allow for differing points of view. 2 x 4 cards were passed out with instructions to write questions down that would be addressed later that evening.
After the disclaimer was read, Professor Stephen Zunes immediately stood before the room and stated he felt obliged to “declaim” the disclaimer. “I’ve been teaching here for 15 years, “ he said, “and it’s the first time I’ve ever heard it explicitly said. Why it had to be said is an indication it’s a challenge to raise human rights issues when you are dealing with a strategic ally of the United States [Israel]. Zunes reminisced about his own activism in boycotting South Africa and tried to conflate what when on there in the 1980’s with what Israel is dealing with in the Palestinian Authority. While he mentioned whites discriminated against blacks in South Africa, he avoided mentioning that Arabs who are Israeli citizens enjoy full civil rights the same as Jews and even have affirmative action programs in Israeli universities, own businesses and serve as judges, policemen and even in parliament . “There is much to be said,” he continued, about boycotts, divestment and sanctions as a way to raise a challenge to the Israeli occupation.” However, he made no mention that the Palestinian Authority does practice genuine apartheid against Jews (not to mention terrorism) and even has a law on the books that metes out a death penalty for selling land to a Jew, even retroactively, and a constitution modeled after those of Iran and Saudi Arabia that do discriminate against religious minorities.
Zunes then introduced Baum as an “outstanding scholar” and “human rights activist.” Baum began her lecture by first asking the audience how many of them had heard of the BDS movement or participated in it. She remarked that few in the audience knew about it as she thanked specifically Zunes and the MSA for inviting her explaining that her purpose there was to “report back” to USF students on the BDS movement and give them “tools” by which to engage in boycotting Israel “over here.” She thanked specifically Zunes and the MSA for inviting her.
Baum’s lecture could only be described as a form of “lying by omission”; that is, a style of presenting just enough information about a topic to elicit a positive or negative reaction without presenting all the facts just as Professor Zunes had done in trying to conflate South Africa’s apartheid years with Israel’s current dilemma with the Palestinian Authority. In some instances she just outright lied.
Baum began by saying, “The idea of having a Jewish only organization in Israel is like having a whites only racist organization here in America.” She explained how the activist organizations she belonged to had been fortunate enough to join Arab groups “in solidarity” to oppose Israel’s current existence as a Jewish state. She spoke of an Arab civil society of women’s groups, educators, unions, Muslim groups, even communists that was working to “end the occupation” (she made it a point not to mention the myriad terrorist groups that make up the Palestinian Authority government-to-be or that these “civil groups” support the terror groups in their activities). She claimed she would speak only of the 1967 occupation of the West Bank but alluded many times to events in Gaza without mentioning rockets fired on Israeli communities. Baum began by showing a map of Israel and the Palestinian Authority then saying that Israel has no borders. She claimed that 3.5 million Palestinians live in the area but that the Israeli communities (settlements) had control over the main roads and implied only Jews were allowed to use them. She referred to the areas around the settlements as being “ethnically cleansed,” to suggest racism when the Arabs and most Israeli Jews are racially the same, but practice different religions. She made no effort to point out that Arabs who are Israeli citizens are the same ethnic and religious makeup as Arabs in the Palestinian Authority nor about how various security measures were needed because Palestinian terrorists routinely attack Israelis who use those roads. Nor did she say Arabs from the PA can use those roads after getting security clearance, such as taxi drivers. She told her audience, “If you are Jewish you can go to some areas and if you’re not you can’t go to other areas all in a country that has no borders.” This was an example of leaving out just enough information to make a false impression. The truth is that if a person is an Arab and an Israeli citizen he is permitted to go anywhere any Jewish Israeli citizen goes.
Palestinian Authority Arabs are restricted due to terror attacks on Israelis. Israel’s lack of permanent borders is because the Arab states back in 1967 all agreed to refuse to make peace with Israel so the “borders” are in fact temporary armistice lines subject to final negotiations as part of a peace deal. None of the students attending her lecture would have known this and clearly Baum and Zunes didn’t want them to.
Baum then accused Israel of “profiting from the occupation” by selling inferior goods to the Arab population in the West Bank such as spoiled food, what she attributed to “neo-colonialism” . She later tied this profiteering as being behind the security costs in the West Bank. “The security costs are the costs of the Palestinian resistance” she said. Meanwhile, she made no comment of terror attacks on Israeli citizens both in or outside Israel. She made no attempt to suggest that the Palestinian Authority government is run by a terrorist organization (Fatah) and myriad such organizations run things there such as Hamas and even the PFLP that works with her organizational network in Israel. Nor but did she mention that the Oslo Accords sought to set up an independent Palestinian state there years ago but terror attacks against Israelis had made this impossible. Through some twisted logic she determined that Israeli corporations that provide jobs for Palestinian Arabs should be boycotted in order to make Israel leave the area to the Palestinians, without once explaining how any such activity would benefit the average Palestinian Arab.
Baum displayed a photo of boys at a weekly demonstration in the village of Bi’ilin. She urged people in the audience to boycott an Israeli firm that manufactures tear gas because “tear gas” can make you very sick and you could die”, but she completely ignored that the Arab population in B’ilin every Friday stages a riot at the Security Fence where rocks, Molotov cocktails and other incendiaries are thrown as Israeli soldiers. She called these riots demonstrations and declared them “nonviolent”. then said she never attends them physically herself because she is scared of the violence that goes on only from the Israeli police.
Baum then explained the three purposes of her movement and BDS: The first one was Repression which she explained was Israel’s need to control the population in the West Bank. She complained that security companies in the West Bank were profiting from the occupation and this was why the “occupation” would not end (no mention of Arab terror attacks on Israelis or the recent murder of an Israeli father of four on the highways which is an almost weekly occurrence). Baum displayed a photo of a section of the Security Fence that comprises large security walls and towers around Jerusalem but is really only about three per cent of the entire fence that is mostly barbed wire. The fence in the photo was set up to block sniper shots into the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo in Jerusalem from the surrounding hills. Nobody in the audience would know
this and apparently Baum didn’t want them to. Attempts to raise this information denied and referred to the 2x 4 cards to be answered “later.”
Baum explained her own history as beginning with the anarchist lesbian group Black Laundry is Israel. She elicited giggles from audience as she explained “funny” things her group would do in near weekly demonstrations against the Israeli military. None of her audience would have known that just for being lesbian in a Palestinian state she would subject to murder, let alone practice her sexual orientation openly as in Israel, nor that homosexuals in the PA routinely flee to Israel for refuge. She described Black Laundry as “the first time part of a huge nonviolent movement that was facing a very violent Israeli military” had done anything.” She continued, “being a nonviolent activist, I don’t’ like violence” (yet she had no qualms about stopping the Israeli military that protects Israelis from violence).
Baum next tied Israeli security companies, some that do business in the US because Israel profits from US subsidies. She declared this was done to provide Israel with free security products.
It was at this point that Baum also began explicitly lying in her presentation, not just omitting facts for an unknowing audience she and Zunes hoped to recruit. She displayed a photograph of Ofer Prison in the West Bank where the military and police incarcerate terrorists or violent rioters. She described it as “a very terrible prison for Palestinian “political prisoners.” She later said that she had never been inside or toured the prison herself nor that Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s system routinely earn even Master’s degrees and PhD’s while in prison at the expense of the Israeli taxpayer.
She described the administrative courts near the prison and accused Israel of arresting “13 year-old kids dragged from their houses in the middle of the night” and brought there.” Nobody in the audience would know these are the same rock throwers who attack Israelis on the highways and at riots such as in Bi’lin.” The implication was
that Israeli police just raid homes for no reason at all.
She objected to an unmanned robot vehicle Israel builds and uses that patrols the border urging the manufacturer be boycotted. She talked of Caterpillar and Rachel Corrie and Gaza and told the audience Israel routinely bulldozes homes with people in them. She falsely claimed the Israelis just pull up to civilian homes for no reason and give the occupants only a few moments to flee. “if you are very old or unlikely you die.” This was blatant lying. Home demolitions only are used to destroy homes that were used as bomb factories or homes of suicide bombers and they are not random.
Settlements was her second issue she said “because they are illegal”…She said that since WWI international law consensus was it’s not a good idea to let states hold onto what they occupy of other countries in a war, because it leads to later wars. She never told her audience that Jewish settlements were in the West Bank and Gaza before the war in 1948. She claims to cite international law by the 4th Geneva convention which states no state can take over another country’s land by force. “Such occupation it says must be temporary until agreement reached over time.” But this is exactly what Israel has been doing all along Baum has no international law degree nor is the Geneva Accords even applicable as it only is between established states that are signatories to the accords. There was no Palestinian state in 1967 and the West Bank and Gaza were Jordan and Egypt who ceded the land to Israeli control after the war, in essence dumped the Palestinian population in Israel’s lap.
She complained Israel held land 44 years without mentioning the “3 no’s” announced by the Arab League after the ’67 war: “No negotiations, no peace, no Israel. The settlements she claimed are illegal by international law but again they are not since UN Resolution 242 of the UN allowed Israel to regain land lost in 1948 as part of a negotiated peace settlement and final borders. “We have the law on our side,” she said but the audience would never know she was referring to kangaroo courts that routinely find fault with anything dominated by totalitarian regimes that condemn anything a democracy like Israel does. Baum is not an expert in
Baum then mentioned Israeli companies the BDS movement was targeting such as Lev Leviev. She showed photos of activists picketing the store in New York and crowed how successful they were, that they had allegedly getting his company to stop building settlements in the West Bank.”This is a huge victory for a small group singing and dancing in New York.
Her third issue was “Land Exploitation” she said as she accused Israeli companies of exploiting “cheap land.”. ”Why is it cheap?” she asked the audience. An MSA student blurted out “It’s stolen!” “Right!” she replied. In fact, land taken by Israel for industrial uses or settlements is only former government land that belonged to the Jordanian government or Egypt’s. No private property of Palestinians is taken. Baum directly lied to the audience suggesting Israel just takes Palestinian private homes for its own use, taken with no legal
Baum specifically targets the Ahava Company in the West Bank that makes cosmetics from Dead Sea mud boasting that the BDS campaign had forced the closure of the Ahava store in London . The audience would never know that the store closed not because people boycotted Ahava products but because BDS activists prevented the surrounding stores from doing any business so the landlord refused to renew Ahava’s
lease due to riots.
Again, playing international lawyer, Baum accused Israel of conducting “pillage” for selling mud. Israel employs Arabs in the West Bank, and is trying to set up an independent Palestinian state that applauds murdering Jews and repeatedly says it will take over all of Israel, but the Jews are responsible for pillage.
Baum also attacked Soda Stream, boasting how BDS activists got the. European Court of Justice to force them from saying Made in Israel on their products because their factory was in the West Bank. “You should educate people about that” she said, ”the most important category is exploitation of resources and the
Palestinian labor. At this point Professor Zunes recommended a film called the Bottomline about corporate exploitation of blacks in South Africa under apartheid. This was another false allusion to apartheid South Africa.
“Maybe you should have a training night one night where you can screen this film,” said Baum,” It shows how corporations supported the S. Africa apartheid regime” and she suggested this scenario be used to attack Israel.
A training night? For an academic lecture?
“Try and find something around you that connect to the crimes in Palestine. And try to find something you can do over here that will influence the bottom line over there…..you can be effective.”She urged students to … “ want to know how I am implicated, how products I buy are related to ‘crimes’ over there. Not
to make them feel guilty but to make a difference.”
She concluded with a swipe at Ariel Sharon who decided to build the Security Fence and said that years of Likud governments had exploited the West Bank. She made no mention of the horrendous bus bombings and terror attacks and murders of Israelis, may paid for by the late Saddam Hussein for the PLO and other
Palestinian terror groups that necessitated the fence, nor how terror attacks dropped 97% since its installation.
I raised my hand at the conclusion and to ask Prof. Zunes if I could ask him a question about bringing in a lecturer who could show how many falsehoods were just presented….Zunes replied I should fill out a 2 x4 card with my question for the question and answer session that was now to begin. I did so and handed him the card with my business card. Baum took all the 2 x 4 cards and each time she came on a question by a pro-Israel member of the audience she simply said, “I don’t want to answer this question.” She then answered questions that only supported what she said earlier, ignoring any questions that might elicit discussion. Zunes ignored my question.
Threatened with arrest… for daring to ask a question?
When the event broke up I approached Zunes at the front of the room and politely asked him, “Professor Zunes, you didn’t answer my question. Can I bring in a lecturer to lend balance to what was presented to your students here tonight?”
“You’re a liar!” Zunes screamed at me. A plainclothes security guard from USF stood next to me and threatened to handcuff me and throw me out of the room if I did not leave immediately. I asked the guard, “What? For asking him a question? He’s the one who is yelling.” I left. A complaint to the Administration with
recording and eyewitness by me the next day was only stonewalled.
This is the state of Middle East Studies at the University of San Francisco. Welcome to 1933 where students are taught to boycott, divest from and sanction Jewish businesses and it passes as an “academic lecture.” Reverend Privett should be proud of upholding the tradition on the Jesuit campus.