A campus anti-Zionist group at New York’s Barnard College is demanding the cancellation of planned events featuring a lead author of the International Holocaust Remembrance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism.
On Monday, the Barnard chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) released a petition on Instagram that accused American attorney and author Kenneth Stern of being “instrumental in cementing the erroneous conflation of Judaism and Zionism.”
Stern is scheduled to speak at events put on by the Barnard College Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board. On Wednesday, he is listed as a speaker at “Antisemitism Through a Hate Studies Lens” and on Friday as a speaker at “Difficult Conversations and Academic Freedom.”
“As Jewish students, we demand that Barnard stop legitimizing apartheid! Read our letter and add your signature,” wrote JVP.
The group’s petition states: “The fact is, Zionism is a distinct, ethno-nationalist political ideology that many Jews of all kinds – from Orthodox Jews to secular socialist Jews — have opposed since its inception.”
It adds: “As Jewish students, it is deeply painful to see our Judaism, an incredibly meaningful part of our identities, be weaponized to fuel a violent, settler-colonial project that has resulted in the displacement, subjugation, and genocide of millions of Palestinians.”
JVP goes on to say that they “appreciate that the DEI cabinet wants to address anti-Semitism, but you are having the entirely wrong conversation.”
They also charge that inviting Stern to speak at the event is part of “a tactic used to repress any and all forms of Palestinians’ resistance to their oppression.”
Accusing Israel of “apartheid, plain and simple,” the petition criticizes Stern’s new book for calling for “civil conversations” between “both sides.”
“These events distract from the real roots of anti-Semitism and legitimize Israel’s settler-colonial violence,” JVP said, urging students to tell Barnard College to cancel the events with Stern.
Stern, who is currently the director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, was the lead drafter of the IHRA definition. The definition has been adopted by a governments at all levels all over the world and by hundreds of post-secondary institutions.