‘Divestment handbook' reveals anti-Israel group's strategies

A Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) guidebook was recently leaked, exposing the group’s plans to increase divestment activity on campus.

The “Divestment Handbook,” released by SJP Leaks, offers students tactics for starting a Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is considered to be anti-Semitic by the Anti-Defamation League.

According to the handbook, one of BDS’s three main goals is securing a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, a group now numbering 5 million from an original 750,000, since refugees pass their status on to their descendants.

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Additionally, the guidebook advocates granting Arab-Palestinian residents of Israel “full equality,” and “ending the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands” as other goals of the movement, offering students 52 pages of material on how to achieve those ends.   

However, the guide first warns students about the importance of intersectionality, asking them to consider if there are “more white students than students of color” in their SJP organizations.

“Race is always present in grassroots organizing,” the guide cautions. “Are there more white students than students of color in your organization? Are the opinions of pro-divestment Jewish students valued over those of Palestinians? Are you tokenizing the struggles of Black, Native, or Latino students, instead of carefully engaging with them?”

“Women and non-binary folks do the busy and behind-the-scenes work while men become the face of the campaign,” the handbook continues, stressing the importance of creating an “intersectional student movement.”

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Susan Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) Center for Law and Justice, told Campus Reform that “the handbook is a very clever, thoughtful, and detailed roadmap for organizing and carrying out an anti-Israel divestment campaign on campus,” calling it a “shrewd and potentially appealing way of manipulating students.”

“It’s shrewd because it doesn’t yell and scream about how horrible Israel is. Instead, the handbook very subtly sends the message that Israel is an oppressive occupier of Palestinian Arab land, and a human rights abusing country that deliberately kills innocent Palestinian Arab civilians,” she elaborated, noting that “however subtly delivered, the message is outrageous and couldn’t be further from the truth.

Similarly, Max Samarov, executive director of research and campus strategy at StandWithUs, an Israel education organization, blasted the handbook for “reveal[ing] that SJP relies heavily on outside political groups” despite its self-advertisement as an “independent grassroots organization.”

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“Students for Justice in Palestine is a hate group whose aim, through the use of anti-Semitic campaigns such as BDS, is to demonize the state of Israel, its people, and its supporters on campus, who are mainly American Jewish students,” added Aviva Slomich, international campus director of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

Tuchman, commenting on the guide’s claim of “establishing solidarity with fellow student organizations,” told Campus Reform that while SJP says it is committed to “social justice,” its actions reflect “exactly the opposite.”

“It tries to paint the divestment movement as a movement of socially conscious people,” she noted, but “the message is that if you don’t join or support the divestment movement, then you’re being complicit in violence and oppression.”

Tuchman concluded by calling the guidebook dangerous because “students without sufficient knowledge could be taken in by it.”

Slomich agreed, saying the handbook “only further emphasizes how far they will go to manipulate liberal-minded college students into thinking SJP's cause is just and actually deserves their support.”

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @mstein81