J Street U Statement on “Israel Apartheid Week” and Recent Censorship Attempts

J Street U is concerned about the counterproductive rhetoric often associated with “Israel Apartheid Week” (IAW) happening on campuses across the country.

We are fundamentally committed to ending the occupation through a two-state solution leading to a secure and prosperous Israel living next to a vibrant and sovereign Palestine. The occupation is catastrophic to Palestinians and simultaneously corrodes the democratic fabric of Israel. It is an untenable situation that demands immediate change. It is not, however, apartheid.

Rather than shout down those with different perspectives, J Street U seeks to focus its energy on building a serious strategy to hold our elected officials accountable to their support for two-states. We feel this offers a greater chance at helping our friends and family in the region see a better future.

At the same time, our concern over the arguments and tactics of those with whom we disagree must never lead to censorship, especially on American college campuses. We are deeply concerned to see a recent rise in attempts to shut down those with different perspectives, even when we deeply disagree with those perspectives and work towards different outcomes.

When the Jewish community kept Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) out of the Hillel at Brandeis, even as we opposed JVP’s work around BDS, we vigorously protested. When Barnard College removed a Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) banner from public display just a few weeks ago, we voiced our opposition, despite our disagreements with the content of the banner. And troubled as we are by many of SJP’s tactics at Northeastern University, we are simultaneously troubled by the University’s deeply problematic suspension of the chapter.

No matter how much we disagree, censorship of opponents is against our core principles and emboldens an already unproductive campus conversation too often dominated by those on the extremes.

Ending this conflict requires recognizing that this is not a zero-sum game. Too often, “Israel Apartheid Week” and the responses to it pit the future of Israelis or Palestinians against one another. We reject this zero-sum perspective and will continue to fight to hold our political and communal leaders accountable to reaching a just two-state solution to see both Jews and Palestinians attain self-determination, dignity, and sovereignty.