On October 25, the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University (CPS) co-hosted with Columbia’s Law School an event titled “Human Rights, International Law, and the Israeli Occupation of Palestine.” As evidenced by the speakers at this event, the topic of conversation had no hope of being anything but yet another one-sided anti-Israel tirade.
This event is part of a wider trend of regular BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) events at the university, often linked to CPS and the law school. These efforts are amplified by the work of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), whose joint effort Columbia University Apartheid Divest (CUAD) launched in February 2016. Jewish Voice for Peace considers itself to be the “Jewish wing” of the Palestinian solidarity movement, and on campus provides cover for BDS and tries to shield activists from accusations of anti-Semitism. These groups have intensified the frequency of anti-Israel events on campus in the service of convincing students and administrators to divest from Israeli companies.
Despite the prestige and academic aura provided by Columbia University, the event with the UN Special Rapporteur was an echo chamber. The speakers and moderator may come from different organizations, but they all share a common support for legal warfare against Israel. And with the help of CPS and professors like Katherine Franke, there will be many others like this throughout the year. As students and alumni know all to well, this is has become the norm at Columbia University.