Katherine Franke and her BDS-supporting colleagues were back with yet another event on December 5. Once again hosted by Columbia University’s Law School, the event, “In the Absence of Justice: Embodiment and the Politics of Militarized Dismemberment in Occupied East Jerusalem,” featured a speaker from the United Nations and speakers active in BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) campaigns, both on and off campus.
The event was co-sponsored by the Center for Palestine Studies (See NGO Monitor’s blog: Lawfare Activists Take the Stage at Columbia University Law School); the Institute for research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality – an Institute where two of the event’s speakers, Katherine Franke and Lila Abu Lughod, are also on faculty; and the non-profit organization, UN Women.
Professor of Law Katherine Franke, who has been involved in sponsoring various BDS related events on campus and is also a member of the Steering Committee for Jewish Voice for Peace’s Academic Advisory Council, was (again) a discussant at the event. Franke is also the Chair of the Center for Constitutional Rights’ Board of Trustees, an organization that brings lawfare suits against Israeli officials and is active in BDS campaigns.
Dr. Lila Abu Lughod, Professor of Social Science in the Department of Anthropology, was also one of the discussants. Lughod’s name appears at the top of the list of 79 professors (Franke’s is tenth) who signed a letter supporting the BDS Movement at Columbia University. She was also responsible for submitting the endorsed 2015 American Anthropological Association “resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions.”
Opening remarks were provided by Mario Noel Vaeza, UN Women’s Director of Programming, and a presentation report was given by Professor of Law at Hebrew University Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian. Shalhoub-Kevokian is also affiliated with the anti-Israel, pro-BDS NGO Mada al-Carmel (Haifa). Representatives from the NGOs Human Rights Watch and Independent Diplomat also attended, although the names of the specific speakers were not provided on the event’s advertisement.
This event highlights the regularity of meetings taking place at Columbia University that focus on a one-sided representation of the Arab-Israeli conflict and further showcases who is sponsoring such events – namely faculty members using their privileged positions to further their own political agendas. The occasion also again raises the question as to why UN and NGO officials are choosing to associate themselves with actors known to support BDS campaigns against Israel.