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Anti-Israel Activists Hold National Conference at UPenn

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One of the images used to promote last week’s BDS conference.Jewish Reporter Barred from Attending

The University of Pennsylvania played host this weekend to what many are calling a “three-day hatefest” of anti-Israel activities, in the form of a national conference for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement against Israel. The movement, which supports an economic campaign whose ultimate aim is the dissolution of the Jewish state.

Writing for Israel’s Arutz Sheva news service, Great Neck-based lawyer Elizabeth Berney offers some perspective on the conference. “Twenty-eight years ago, intending it to be a joke, the members of a fraternity at the University of Pennsylvania dressed up as ku klux klansmen, in white sheets,” she says. “The university’s president was so outraged by this that she closed down the fraternity house, forcing all the fraternity’s members off campus.”

“Fast forward almost three decades: This weekend, the very same University of Pennsylvania hosted a major national three-day ‘Penn BDS’ conference aimed at dismantling the State of Israel.”

According to local press, the conference was held without any major incidents. The Daily Pennsylvanian does note, however, that on Thursday, PennBDS revoked The Jewish Exponent’s press pass after reading a previous article written by the Exponent reporter assigned to cover the conference.

Says Lisa Hostein, The Jewish Exponent’s executive editor, their reporter Bryan Schwartzman, was disinvited because the BDS founders “didn’t like the way he wrote the story.”

Prior to the conference, a coalition of Jewish communal leaders from throughout the region released a joint statement of solidarity, condemning the anti-Israel conference. Presented below is the original text of the statement, offered for our readers without additional comment.

This February, a national conference of BDS supporters (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) will
be held in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania. The conference is being brought to campus by a student
group called PennBDS, which is sanctioned and funded by the Student Council at Penn.

This conference will assemble academics and professional activists with the sole purpose of pursuing a delegitimization
campaign against Israel. The speakers and panelists are part of a larger global effort to undermine the Jewish
people’s right to self-determination in their homeland. The BDS campaign is, in fact, contrary to the goal of two
states—Jewish and Palestinian—living side-by-side in peace and security.

Leaders from a cross section of local Jewish community organizations expressed our concerns to the University
about the conference and the extreme rhetoric of BDS speakers. The President of the University of Pennsylvania is
on record clarifying that this is “not an event sponsored by the University” and that the University has “clearly stated
on numerous occasions that it does not support sanctions or boycotts against Israel.” Still, we feel that, rather than
encourage discourse, the conference is likely to create deep divisions among students and promote an atmosphere
of intolerance on campus. We believe that the outrageous claims of BDS campaigns do not stand up to the rigors of
academic inquiry and as such, go against the sophisticated civil discourse that is a core element of the mission of the
University of Pennsylvania.

We, the undersigned members of the Jewish community, stand united in our condemnation of the corrosive nature
of this BDS conference and its calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel.

We also stand united in our support of the students’ efforts on campus to:

• Transform this challenge into an opportunity to help fellow students grow as leaders and advocates for Israel.
• Educate more students about the realities of the State of Israel and the false claims of the global BDS campaign.
• Expand the on-campus coalition of Israel supporters among both Jews and non-Jews.

Abrams Hebrew Academy **Aish HaTorah Philadelphia **American Jewish Committee ** Anti-Defamation League
Rabbi Ira Budow, Director Rabbi Yaacov Couzens Rabbi mark Robbins, Director Barry Morrison, Reg. Dir.

Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia ** Friends of IDF, PA and Southern NJ Chapter ** Gratz College
Executive Committee Tzvia Wexler, Director Joy W. Goldstein, President

Hadassah of Grtr Philadelphia ** Hillel of Greater Philadelphia ** Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy
Roz Holberg, Presidnet Rabbi Howard Alpert, Exec. Dir. Sharon Levin, Interim Head of School

JCRC of Greater Philadelphia ** JCRC of Southern NJ** Jewish Feds of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem Counties
Adam Kessler, Exec Dir David Snyder, Exec. Dir. Steven Schimmel, Executive Director
Jewish Fed of Greater Philadelphia** Jewish Fed of Southern New Jersey** Kellman Brown Academy,NJ
Ira M. Schwartz, Chief Executive Officer Joel M. Kaber, Chief Executive Officer Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, Head of School

Kohelet Yeshiva High School ** Perelman Jewish Day Schools * * Politz Day School, Cherry Hill, NJ
Rabbi Elchanan Weinbach, Head of School Jay Leberman, Head of Schools Rabbi Avraham Glustein, Head of School

Republican Jewish Coalit ** Scholars for Peace in the Middle East ** Torah Academy of Greater Philadelphia
Scott Feigelstein, Director Asaf Romirosky, Acting Exec. Director Rabbi Shmuel Jablon, Menahel (Principal)

Tri-Cty Board of Rabbis of S. NJ ** Zionist Organization of America, GPD ** Z STREET
Rabbi Micah Peltz, President Steve Feldman, Executive Director Lori Lowenthal Marcus, President

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