‘This is a part of a larger movement. This is bigger than Hampshire.’

N1149750674_31026410_6570
The movement for divestment at Hampshire college has been led by the local chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. I emailed Brian Van Slyke (right), a SJP member, to learn more about the campaign, what lessons have been learned and how he got involved in the issue. Below are his answers. We hope to carry more similar profiles. – Adam Horowitz

I’m 21 and I’m from the Chicago land area, in my third year here at Hampshire. I got involved with this issue because my mother is a Jewish Activist back home, so I basically grew up on it. Last year I saw that Students for Justice in Palestine was one of the most well organized and dedicated group of people on campus, and I knew that I had some good qualities I could bring to the group. I’m the elected Student Trustee at Hampshire (where one of the few campuses to have such a thing), and so I knew that if divestment was going to get through, it was going to have to go through the Board of Trustees in some capacity.

I’m not sure how exactly the campaign came together, it got started a few months before I got involved, but this call for divestment has been going on at Hampshire on and off for the past 10 years. This specific campaign took about two years. We focused on divestment and a few other things in our campaign (such as academic exchange programs with Palestinian universities) because we were really responding to a call from Palestinian civil society for methods of non-violent resistance; in this case we were specifically focusing on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions efforts. We knew that this was something we could rally the campus around if we educated the community and got people involved.

I think the lessons that we learned is that you’ve got to go at this from every angle. You’ve got to do community organizing, you’ve got to get students represented in high decision making positions, you’ve got to educate the community, you’ve got to organize rallies and protests, and exhaust every avenue for non-violent action. On top of that, a successful group has to be patient but also self-critical. There’s going to be a lot of resistance and a lot of people smearing you, but you have to be ready for that mentally. There’s folks trying to discredit us now, but our audience knows the truth, and we know that this is a part of a larger movement. This is bigger than Hampshire.

The great challenges and obstacles come from many problems that student groups face: the fact that at the end of every year you disband and when you come back you have to pick up from where you left off. People are also going to criticize everything you say and do when working to end the occupation, and reaching your desired goal is going to look pretty much impossible. It’s not easy. It’s draining, tense, and monumental. But, as Hampshire students have now proven, it is possible.

I think this specific campaign was successful because Hampshire has its legacy of being the first college to divest from Apartheid South Africa. That is something that this college and community treasures deeply (although, ironically enough, the administration attempted to depoliticize that back in the 1970s as well). We knew that Hampshire students faced the same kind of name calling and opposition then, but that they overcame and helped spark a movement. We had to live up to our history.

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in BDS, Israel/Palestine

{ 15 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. John Smithson says:

    I'd like to donate to Hampshire with a note supporting this divestment. How do I do that?

  2. Here is Anti-Apartheid divestment at Harvard in Can You Find Deval Patrick?.

    I started out in Phil's class but graduated a year later because of an illness. Thus, he missed these demonstrations, which actually failed to move the administration.

    Divestment succeeded when the Harvard administration was foolish enough to give Desmond Tutu an honorable degree and thereby make him eligible for the Harvard Board of Overseers.

    Unfortunately, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick grovels much too much to Newton Jew Zionists.

  3. a says:

    Modern DNA studies on the Y chromosome of Jews worldwide have largely disproven the Khazar origin theory for the vast majority of Jews, including the Ashkenazi.

    A 1999 study by Hammer et al, published in the Proceedings of the United States National Academy of Sciences compared the Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi, Roman, North African, Kurdish, Near Eastern, Yemenite, and Ethiopian Jews with 16 non-Jewish groups from similar geographic locations. It found that "Despite their long-term residence in different countries and isolation from one another, most Jewish populations were not significantly different from one another at the genetic level… The results support the hypothesis that the paternal gene pools of Jewish communities from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East descended from a common Middle Eastern ancestral population, and suggest that most Jewish communities have remained relatively isolated from neighboring non-Jewish communities during and after the Diaspora."[45] According to Nicholas Wade "The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and refute theories like those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths, or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism."[46]

    A 2001 study by Nebel et al found Eu 19 chromosomes, which are very frequent in Eastern Europeans (54%-60%) at elevated frequency (12.7%) in Ashkenazi Jews. The authors hypothesized that these chromosomes could reflect low-level gene flow from surrounding Eastern European populations, or, alternatively, that both the Ashkenazi Jews with Eu 19, and to a greater extent Eastern European populations in general, might be descendants of Khazars.[47]

    A 2005 study by Nebel et al, based on Y chromosome polymorphic markers, showed that Ashkenazi Jews are more closely related to other Jewish and Middle Eastern groups than to their host populations in Europe. However, 11.5% of male Ashkenazim were found to belong to R-M17, the dominant Y chromosome haplogroup in Eastern Europeans, suggesting possible gene flow. The authors hypothesized that "R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazim may represent vestiges of the mysterious Khazars". They concluded "However, if the R-M17 chromosomes in Ashkenazi Jews do indeed represent the vestiges of the mysterious Khazars then, according to our data, this contribution was limited to either a single founder or a few closely related men, and does not exceed ~ 12% of the present-day Ashkenazim.[48]

  4. Dan Kelly says:

    I think the lessons that we learned is that you’ve got to go at this from every angle. You’ve got to do community organizing, you’ve got to get students represented in high decision making positions, you’ve got to educate the community, you’ve got to organize rallies and protests, and exhaust every avenue for non-violent action. On top of that, a successful group has to be patient but also self-critical. There’s going to be a lot of resistance and a lot of people smearing you, but you have to be ready for that mentally. There’s folks trying to discredit us now, but our audience knows the truth, and we know that this is a part of a larger movement. This is bigger than Hampshire.

    Words for all of us to live by. Thank you Brian, and thank you Adam for this piece.

  5. Kathy says:

    John:

    One can donate to Hampshire on-line here:
    link to alumni.hampshire.edu

    Several of us readers of this blog have already donated to Hampshire in honor of SJP's efforts.

  6. cipher says:

    the dna study does shed some light on the origin of ashkenazim population. the question remains, are the ashkenazim more semitic than the palestinians?

  7. Glenn Condell says:

    Goodonyou Brian and SJP and Hampshire.

  8. Joshua says:

    Here's hoping that this doesn't fizzle out. All support and respect to those organising here, in the UK and everywhere else in this lousy planet.

  9. Ed says:

    "Britain to host international summit on combating anti-Semitism
    Canterbury, England (ENI). To combat a growing tide of anti-Semitism seen to be sweeping Britain, Europe and other parts of the world in recent months, lawmakers from 35 countries will meet to discuss the issue at an international meeting in London"
    link to eni.ch

    Why is that Zionists go running to government whenever their racist chickens come home to roost? News flash: Big government can't protect you from your own screwy, destructive, suicidal behavior.

    Bush, the Neocons and American Zionists liked to say of American Empire: "We can make our own reality." News flash #2: No you can't. The laws of God and nature apply to everyone.

    When are these people going to screw their heads on straight?

  10. chris berel says:

    Chickens? Are you talking about the chickens from the palestinian region (Alf's chickens) who were whining so much the property owners ate them for dinner?

  11. *RE: "Chickens? Are you talking about the chickens from the palestinian region (Alf's chickens) who were whining so much the property owners ate them for dinner?" – Posted by: chris berel

    *ARE YOU IN A DISSOCIATIVE STATE? (double entendre intentional)

  12. chris berel says:

    Dicky, lack of an education got you down? You have a marked inability to think in other than in a straight line with blinders.

  13. grannyA says:

    chris berel, go back to your playpen & have someone change your diapers.

    phil, encouraging video clip–thanks for sharing. As those students all say, each in their own way–Do the right thing. Spike Lee would approve.

  14. Eva Smagacz says:

    I am not aware that anybody bothered to compare the DNA of Palestinians and Israeli Jews in any study. The result could be a bit embarrassing.

    Also, the studies like that are of limited value. Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphisms and Mitochondrial Studies are probably of much more value.

    The studies above had a predetermined goal: to prove that there has been no significant intermarrying with outsiders for Ashkenazi Jews.

    Does anybody tests and compares the Seraphim Jews with Ashkenazi Jews and with Palestinians? Nothing significant was published that I can recall.

    Would anybody fund such study? I doubt it.

  15. anonn says:

    There's a reason why some people look a lot alike. Exceptions prove the rule. Or indicate somebody strayed back when. Or shouldn't one notice this?