Penn law students launch anti-Israel club

Students at the University of Pennsylvania’s Carey Law School started a club to encourage the end of university-sanctioned trips to Israel.

A rise in anti-Semitism occured across campuses this year following the violence between Israel and Hamas in the spring.

Law students at the University of Pennsylvania’s launched a club dedicated to ending school-sponsored trips to Israel.

Penn Law Students for Justice in Palestine issued a statement on July 2 encouraging fellow students to sign a petition against iTrek — a Penn-sanctioned trip that exposes students to Israeli business practices. However, the students billed the opportunity as “a politically motivated endeavor, meant to whitewash and perpetuate Israel’s decades-long oppression and dispossession of Palestinians.”

“Israel & Co., the entity behind iTrek, was founded by a former Israeli government official and has received funding from the Israeli government,” wrote the students. “While the organizers of these trips are savvy enough to provide a semblance of balance, for example by including a meeting with a Palestinian professor or a visit to Ramallah, such activities do not negate the trips’ fundamental purpose. This approach is consistent with a strategy advanced by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, which aims to appeal to ‘progressive,’ ‘social justice oriented’ students by promoting a pro-Israel message while avoiding overt propaganda.”

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Beyond stating that “traveling in and of itself is a concern” due to COVID-19, Penn Law Students for Justice in Palestine said that their classmates ought to consider their “complicity” in the purported oppression of Palestinians by their involvement in the trip.

“We understand and share the desire to visit Israel and Palestine without ignoring the  experience of Palestinians,” concluded the letter. “We at PLSJP are working to understand and discuss whether such options exist coming off a global pandemic and while an apartheid regime continues to hold  power and inflict violence.”

As of July 23, there are 56 students and community members who have endorsed the statement.

Across the United States — especially after Israel conducted anti-terrorism operations against Hamas — Students for Justice in Palestine chapters have dubbed Israel an “apartheid state” and encouraged their universities to denounce the world’s only Jewish state.

At Pomona College, for instance, the student government approved a resolution with the goal of defunding campus clubs that support Israel.

[RELATED: Pomona College student government passes resolution supporting the defunding of clubs supporting Israel]

The resolution cited the United Nations’ condemnation of Israeli settlements in “Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” as “unlawful and in violation of international law.”

Campus Reform reached out to Penn Law Students for Justice in Palestine and the University of Pennsylvania for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft