by Bill Levinson
Dear President Botstein, cc: Board of Trustees c/o Amie McEvoy and Department of Student Activities, and posted online
We understand from http://clubs.bard.edu/ism/ that the International Solidarity Movement is using Bard College facilities and Bard College’s Web site. This organization may endanger the physical safety of your students should they take part in its activities abroad. Here is the executive summary, and independently verifiable details appear below.
(1) The ISM’s willfully reckless activities have already cost the life of one college student, Rachel Corrie of Olympia WA (Evergreen College). The ISM stated in context with Ms. Corrie’s death that it is helpful to their cause for foreign nationals, especially Americans, to be killed in confrontation with Israel’s security forces.
(2) The ISM is on record as advocating terroristic violence.
(3) The ISM acknowledges that it has contacts with organizations that are designated by the U.S. State Department as foreign terrorist organizations.
(4) The ISM, including the chapter at Bard College, is promoting a ship (U.S. Boat to Gaza, called the Audacity of Hope) that will attempt to enter Hamas-occupied Gaza in violation of Israeli law. Personnel on another such vessel, the Mavi Marmara, included armed and violent individuals whose attack on Israeli security personnel resulted in the use of deadly force for self-defense.
(5) The ISM has, outside U.S. jurisdiction, allegedly provided material support to terrorists in the form of “safe house” protection.
(6) As stated by Bard College’s own ISM at http://clubs.bard.edu/ism/, Federal law enforcement is investigating pro-Palestinian activists who presumably include the ISM. It is not a crime to advocate terroristic violence (outside a setting in which such advocacy would constitute incitement to riot) or to have contacts with Hamas terrorists (as long as one does not give them money or other material support), and the U.S. has no jurisdiction over non-U.S. nationals (per item 5) who allegedly give safe house protection to actual terrorists. Organizations that do these things should however not be surprised to come under increased scrutiny from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, and other agencies whose mission is to protect our country from another 9/11.
Item 1. The International Solidarity Movement knowingly, willfully, and recklessly endangered the life of Evergreen College student Rachel Corrie, thus causing her death in a confrontation with Israeli security forces.
How the International Solidarity Movement Caused Rachel Corrie’s Death includes links to Web sites in which ISM activist Joseph Smith, who was present when Rachel Corrie was killed and whose highest priority seemed to be to take pictures of her being run over by a bulldozer, is on record as acknowledging that the ISM knew that this form of civil disobedience was likely to result in death or serious injury, but went ahead and engaged in it anyway. We are not qualified to give legal advice but we understand that this meets the definition of recklessness. The fact that Ms. Corrie assumed the risk voluntarily, however, may have precluded Israel from prosecuting the ISM activists involved.
Smith’s statements include the explicit words, “We knew there was a risk” and he also, on two occasions, expressed a motive for wanting Ms. Corrie dead; it would bring good publicity for the Palestinian cause. So did ISM leader George Rishmawi, while a Palestinian journalist lamented only that nobody had a video camera to make a snuff film of Ms. Corrie’s death (again because this would bring publicity to his cause). The Electronic Intifada, a source friendly to the Palestinians, adds that Ms. Corrie was almost run over by a bulldozer earlier in the day, thus making the danger of this form of civil disobedience glaringly obvious to everybody involved, but the ISM allowed or encouraged Ms. Corrie to continue to engage in it.
Item 2. The ISM advocates terroristic violence.
Does Bard campus policy allow the use of campus facilities by organizations whose leaders advocate terroristic violence? Here is what ISM leader Adam Shapiro is on record as saying.
- The Palestinian resistance must take on a variety of characteristics – both nonviolent and violent. But most importantly it must develop a strategy involving both aspects. No other successful nonviolent movement was able to achieve what it did without a concurrent violent movement – in India militants attacked British outposts and interests while Gandhi conducted his campaign, while the Black Panther Movement and its earlier incarnations existed side-by-side with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
This is not from Bard’s ISM chapter but it would be reasonable to require, for example, that Bard’s ISM explicitly denounce and repudiate this statement as a condition for its continued use of Bard College resources and the Bard Web site.
Item 3. The ISM acknowledges that it consorts with terrorist organizations like Hamas
- When I “acknowledged” that the ISM “cooperates with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” I was offering concrete examples of the ways in which these groups were engaging in nonviolent resistance.
Both the ISM and the Palestine Solidarity Movement advocate nonviolent resistance to Israel’s human rights abuses — the ISM through organized action in the occupied territories and the PSM by promoting international divestment from companies that profit from occupation.
(4) The ISM, including Bard’s ISM, is involved with a “ship to Gaza” that seems to offer no guarantee that it will not, like the Mavi Marmara, carry armed and violent individuals as well as peaceful protesters.
http://clubs.bard.edu/ism/?m=201012 which is we believe your university’s Web domain.
None of the above suggests that the Bard College ISM is violent or that it is likely to do something on your campus that will endanger your students. Rachel Corrie was killed in Gaza and not at Evergreen College, but it was the ISM that recruited her and knowingly, willfully, and recklessly put her in harm’s way. Bard’s ISM is working in support of the U.S. Boat to Gaza and, given the Mavi Marmara incident, Bard students who join this expedition could easily come into contact with armed and violent individuals whose goal is to provoke a conflict with Israel’s armed forces—and the ISM has stated openly, as shown above, that it is in its interest to get American activists killed or injured in such confrontations because it makes Israel look bad.
(5) The ISM has, in places outside U.S. jurisdiction, allegedly provided material support to terrorists in the form of “safe house” protection.
“Susan Barclay, the ISM organizer deported by Israel after she hid Islamic Jihad terrorist Shadi Sukiya in the ISM office in Jenin, told the Seattle Post Intelligencer that, “she knowingly worked with representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad — terrorist groups that sponsor suicide bombings and exist, according to their charters, to demolish the Jewish state entirely.” (Seattle Post Intelligencer, Thursday March 20, 2003, Activist’s death focuses spotlight on Mideast struggle, By Sam Skolnik, Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter [ Ref12])”
In addition, “The immediate goal of the ISM is to hamper the ability of the IDF to prevent terrorist attacks on civilians. The ultimate goal is to eliminate the State of Israel. The ISM is “opposed to the existence of the apartheid colonial settler state of Israel” [Ref2]. It not only seeks to destroy the State of Israel, it endorses the “right” of Palestinian Arabs to work to eliminate the Jewish State “by any means necessary.” (Huwaida Arraf [ Ref3])”
Interference with the efforts of a law enforcement agency or army to protect civilians from terroristic violence is of course material support for terrorists.
The First Amendment gives the ISM the right to say pretty much whatever it wants, and the same goes for the Westboro Baptist Church, National Action Network, Ku Klux Klan, and White Aryan Resistance. The First Amendment does not however guarantee any of these organizations access to Bard College’s resources or student activity fees, and we are confident that your university has policies under which it can make a judgment call to exclude such organizations from access to university-owned resources.
This was sent to ‘president “at” bard.edu’; ‘mcevoy “at”bard.edu’ cc: ‘jsilvers “at” bard.edu’ on January 10 2011.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.