I'm the president of the UIUC College of Law's Jewish Law Students Association, JLSA. This evening the entire law school received the statement forwarded below. There was no prior correspondence or contact made with JLSA prior to this statement being issued to the whole school (yet the statement was provided to relatively all minority student orgs besides JLSA before being sent).
A number of Jewish law students have already reached out to me appalled by the statement. While this form of speech is protected under the 1st amendment, a substantial amount of the College of Law community does not have views aligning with the polarizing rhetoric displayed below. Many of my Jewish colleagues, coming from families with Holocaust survivors or loved ones currently living in Israel, were honestly quite hurt reading such hateful words.
Here it is, replete with lies, fabrications and falsifications. It is followed by our rebuttal.
Statement in Solidarity with Palestinians
May 19, 2021
To our Palestinian peers and University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign College of Law community at large,
In recent days, the Israeli government has continued its inhumane oppression of the Palestinian people. The death toll in Palestine has reached at least 212 (with nearly half being non-combatant women and children). Recently, the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Palestinians through the Israeli Occupation Forces has escalated: During the holy month of Ramadan, Israeli forces have attacked Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam; Israeli courts are allowing Palestinians to be forcibly thrown out of their homes by heavily armed police and soldiers in the Occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah; and the Israeli military greeted Gazan civilians with heavy bombing during the Muslim holiday of Eid on what was supposed to be a joyous day, suffering under a 14-year-long blockade. These attacks are not isolated incidents, but are part of a larger settler colonial scheme by Israel to steal, ethnically cleanse, and drive Palestinians from their land since 1948.
This is not a religious issue. It is not confined to the Muslim faith. Palestinians Christians - who make up approximately 20% of the global Palestinian population - are routinely subjected to violence and discrimination along with Palestinian Muslims, and their churches, mosques, and other houses of worship are regularly targeted by Israel. Palestinians continue to be pushed out of the political discourse and have been repeatedly censored for attempting to spread awareness of the situation on the ground as reported by numerous activists and social media users covering the violence against Palestinians. We encourage everyone to remember that language is crucial, and to refrain from reducing decades-long persecution to a “conflict”. We are witnessing nothing short of an ethnic cleansing and apartheid.
Recently, the international rights group Human Rights Watch released a 213-page report charging Israeli authorities with crimes of Apartheid and Persecution against Palestinians. The dispossession and displacement of the Palestinian people has been ongoing since May 15, 1948, when over 700,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from more than 600 Palestinian villages in what is referred to as the “Nakba,” or “the Catastrophe” in Arabic. Today, approximately 7 million descendants of those Palestinians dispossessed of their homeland after the Nakba live abroad.
This is an issue of universal humanitarian and political concern. It is crucial that we, as American taxpayers, speak up against these atrocities. Approximately $3.8 billion in American taxpayer funds are used annually to forcibly expel Palestinians from their homes, murder children with impunity, and enforce a system of apartheid. Additionally, we as Americans must unequivocally condemn Saturday’s air strikes against the Jalaa Tower that destroyed the Gaza offices of the Associated Press and Al-Jazeera. Israel must be held accountable for this inexcusable violence against journalists and news agencies in defiance of Article 79 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions.
Bar None and the University of Illinois Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA) stand in unequivocal solidarity with the Palestinian people seeking liberation and condemn the actions of the Israeli government with respect to their violence against Palestinians, their allies, and neutral parties and news agencies reporting on the recent events in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We urge everyone in the Illinois College of Law community to use the resources below and stand against the unlawful occupation and ethnic cleansing being perpetrated against the Palestinian people.
In addition, Bar None and MLSA urge students to take action. You can text RESIST to 50409 in support of bill H.R.2590 to prevent taxpayer dollars from being allocated to harming Palestinian children and promoting ethnic cleansing. Students can also sign this petition to stop Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians from East Jerusalem.
Please use your social media accounts to spread awareness and share reliable information. People can use hashtags such as #SaveSheikhJarrah, #GazaUnderAttack, or #Palestine to share what is happening in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Also, consider attending protests and rallies happening across the U.S. and internationally, such as the protest set for May 21 in downtown Chicago (details below).
“Israel is in breach of more than 30 U.N. Security Council resolutions. It is in breach of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that defines collective punishment of a civilian population as a war crime. It is in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for settling over half a million Jewish Israelis on occupied Palestinian land and for the ethnic cleansing of at least 750,000 Palestinians when the Israeli state was founded and another 300,000 after Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank were occupied following the 1967 war. Its annexation of East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights violates international law, as does its building of a security barrier in the West Bank that annexes Palestinian land into Israel. It is in violation of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 that states that Palestinian ‘refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date...
The original statement with footnotes and citations can be found here.
***The opinions, statements, and materials presented in this email and statement are those of MLSA, Bar None, and the endorsing organizations, and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Illinois nor the College of Law.
Endorsed by: Asian Law Students Association, Black Law Students Association, Immigration Law Society, Latino Law Student Association, National Lawyer’s Guild, Public Interest Law Foundation.
Our well-documented response: Note: Israel's establishment was ratified by the UN in 1948.
Statement from the University of Illinois Jewish Law Students: Association:
Response to MLSA/Bar None and others
Dear College of Law Community,
First, JLSA is hopeful that the ceasefire announced between Hamas and Israeli officials will put an end to the violence and casualties inflicted on both sides of the border during the recent escalations. For the past 11 days Israelis across the country, and Palestinian Arabs within Gaza, were held hostage through terror efforts orchestrated by Islamic Jihad and Hamas factions.
Hamas preemptively launched over 4,000+ rockets indiscriminately towards Israeli civilians, with many falling short and landing in Gaza equally placing Palestinian civilians in harm’s way. As the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process notes, Hamas committed double war crimes in violation of international humanitarian law through their “launching of rockets & mortars from highly populated civilian neighborhoods into civilian population centers” within Israel.[i]
Second, in reading the mass-message by MLSA and Bar None, JLSA notes that relatively all minority student organizations were included in the issuance of their statement, but the same courtesy was not given towards the Jewish students of the College of Law community. This is especially sad to see given the over 3,000-year Jewish relationship with Israel, and the fact almost half of the global Jewish population is present within the state of Israel. Many of our Jewish colleagues and faculty have family and loved ones currently living in Israel. To not even bother attempting to include us, nor the Christian Law Students’ Association, in discussions prior to blatantly attacking Israel via their statement clearly does make this “a religious issue” contrary to what MLSA/Bar None asserts.
Third, many are rather surprised that the College of Law’s administration continues to allow this politically charged rhetoric to be unilaterally broadcast to the entirety of our law school regarding an international topic so divisive and polarizing as Israel-Palestine has been for the past half a century. Such one-sided viewpoints, filled with gross mischaracterizations and without any condemnation towards the globally recognized terrorist organization Hamas instigating the recent waves of violence, is a disservice towards the inclusivity our administration preaches.
Furthermore, with Israel being such an integral part of many Jewish peers’ identities as well as ethnic and ancestral heritage, allowing this rhetoric traffics in many of the historically anti-Semitic tropes and canards previously used against Jews. As a result, many Jewish students and faculty at the College of Law have not felt they are being treated “with respect and civility” as declared a requirement for communications of student organization viewpoints in the “Student Organization Protocols” April 7th message by Deans Amar, Winship, and Vermillion.
JLSA hopes the College of Law’s administration will adopt the approach already accepted by UIUC’s campus and deplore efforts to “de-legitimize Jewish and pro-Israel students”.[ii] Civil discourse regarding a reasonable two-state solution and compromise between Israelis and Palestinians, conducive to peace and security for both states, is one thing. However, allowing organizations to openly exclude the Jewish and Christian law student groups in describing Israel as a “settler colonial scheme” isn’t conducive to any productive outcome.
***The opinions, statements, and materials presented in this email and statement are those of JLSA, and the endorsing organization, and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Illinois nor the College of Law
Povided below are a set of videos followed by links broken down by topic in reference to the unmitigated falsehoods the “Statement in Solidarity with Palestinians” previously and blatantly expressed in almost evrey sentence..
Also endorsed by:Christian Law Students' Association
To see for yourself, watch these videos:
2005 Israeli disengagement of Gaza
History of Hamas violence
Hamas refusal of peace/renunciation of violence
Joint Egypt-Israel blockade of Gaza following 2007 Hamas coup and violence
Hamas and Islamic Jihad utilization of human shields
Hamas intelligence base located within Jalaa Tower housing Associated Press and Al-Jazeera
IDF precautionary measures taken to mitigate Palestinian casualties in Gaza
Al-Aqsa Mosque ordeal
Sheikh Jarrah ordeal
Christian persecution by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority
Palestinian population growth, rather than ‘genocide’
Context surrounding claims of ‘apartheid state’
1948 origins of Israel
Bias and flaws within Human Rights Watch’s report on Israel
Daniel Sechuga, president of the UIUC College of Law's JLSA, is a J.D. Candidate, Class of 2022 at the University of Illinois College of Law