We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the attempts to smear those advocating for Palestinians’ rights to racial equality and freedom from occupation with false charges of anti-Semitism.
Professor Bill Mullen of Purdue University was recently the target of a vicious smear campaign that linked him to swastikas and anti-Semitic slurs found outside the American Studies department office at Purdue. Professor Mullen is an American Studies scholar who is nationally renowned for his leadership in the Palestine solidarity movement, for his advocacy for the academic boycott, as well as for his social justice activism at large. Professor Mullen is an organizer with USACBI (the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) who helped spearhead the academic boycott resolution in the American Studies Association. He is known for his principled positions against any forms of hate or oppression. The unfounded attacks on him can only be explained as a response to his activism.
The smear campaign against Professor Mullen appears to be part of a national pattern. There has been a troubling uptick of incidents at campuses around the country that appear to be part of a campaign to associate BDS and Palestine solidarity activists with public expressions of blatant anti-Semitism, including swastikas.
Recently, organizers of the divestment campaigns at the University of Indianapolis and the University of Minnesota have also have been targeted with accusations of anti-Semitism and blamed for appearances of swastikas. In 2015, after the divestment resolution at UC Davis was successfully adopted by the student government, swastikas were found on campus and also falsely attributed to Students for Justice in Palestine-Davis and the divestment campaign. SJP and other student activists supporting Palestine were subsequently subjected to a torrent of hateful attacks.
These attacks all share the same spurious logic that equates advocacy for BDS—that is, support for racial equality for Palestinians, an end to the occupation, and refugee rights—with anti-Semitism. These false charges are used to undermine those who protest the Israeli state’s ongoing human rights violations and unstoppable violence, and they cheapen the history of actually existing anti-Semitism. Jewish American groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace have condemned such spurious and damaging accusations of anti-Semitism.
We view these manipulative charges of anti-Semitism as a tactic of right-wing groups who are escalating their campaign of repression and backlash against the BDS movement, as it spreads rapidly at campuses across the nation. For example, groups such as the Academic Engagement Network, the Israel on Campus Coalition, and Students Supporting Israel have emerged to shut down criticism of Israel, joining other Israel lobby organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC in endangering the academic freedom and free speech rights of students and faculty.
We stand in solidarity with those facing defamation, blacklisting, hate mail, harassment, and intimidation for their global justice activism. Solidarity with Palestine means standing against all forms of oppression, racism and colonialism—including anti-Semitism, and anti-Black, anti-Arab, and anti-immigrant racism. We stand together with Bill Mullen in solidarity, and in support of the Palestinians in their steadfast struggle to end decades of racism, occupation, and warfare.
CDC4P, the Campus Defense Coalition for Palestine (including the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network [IJAN], Jewish Voice for Peace [JVP], and the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel [USACBI])
Association des Universitaires pour le Respect du Droit International en Palestine (AURDIP)
California Scholars for Academic Freedom (CS4AF)