Two majors at Syracuse University offer college credit to students who intern for an organization that promotes the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Both the Citizenship and Civic Engagement (CCE) and the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition majors at Syracuse University dole out college credit to students who intern for the Syracuse Peace Council (SPC), which describes itself as an "antiwar/social justice" group. The University says that the Syracuse Peace Council "educates, agitates and organizes for a world where war, violence, and exploitation in any form will no longer exist."
"[Hamas has] done a lot of good for Palestinians" Tweet This
Speakers at a recent event hosted by the Syracuse Peace Council, however, made statements contradictory to the group's stated mission. For example, at the off-campus forum titled, "Palestine Behind the Wall," one speaker expressed support for Hamas, which the U.S. State Department designated as a "foreign terrorist organization" in 1997.
"[Hamas has] done a lot of good for Palestinians," former Syracuse University faculty member Julia Ganson said at the event.
When asked whether she would be in favor of "teaching our young kids about Hamas and the good work they do," Ganson agreed to the idea. According to Ganson, "being Palestinian means resisting."
Avigyle Carmeli, who was seen standing and speaking before the crowd at the event, called Zionism a "racist ideology."
"I am not a violent person and I don't really condone violence, but I think that fighting a racist ideology and sometimes with violence might be the answer for some people," Carmeli added.
In a speech presented to the audience at the "Palestine Behind the Wall" forum, Pat Carmeli, who has published writings on the Syracuse Peace Council's website, shared similar views, citing an alleged argument made by author Norman Finkelstein. Speaking of Palestinians, Carmeli claimed Finkelstein said that "according to International Law, an oppressed people living under occupation, denied their right to self-determination, that the actually have a right to use violence." "Israel, on the other hand," has "no right to use violence" because Israelis are "oppressors" and "illegal occupiers," Carmeli said, paraphrasing Finkelstein.
Campus Reform could not confirm whether Avigyle and Pat Carmeli are related.
Avigyle Carmeli suggested during the forum that Israel teaches their children that the nation is the only safe place for Jews. When Campus Reform asked if there is another place where Jews can feel safe, audience members laughed and shouted "Florida" and "Syracuse."
"I think Zionism needs to end," Avigyle said. "There can't be a Zionist state. That's just really wrong."
SPC Steering Committee member and former congressional candidate for New York- District 24 Ursula Rozum wanted to speak to the issue as a "white person in the United States" who has never been to Israel and is neither Israeli nor Palestinian. Rozum suggested that the accusations of there being "a lot of racism in the Israeli society" are true, noting that she has heard these claims from Israeli friends and believes that "we live it [racism] here [in the United States]."
In an interview with Campus Reform, Rozum confessed she doesn't "know all the history about the establishment of the state of Palestine." She claimed earlier that Zionism is continuing genocide against the Palestinian people.
Rozum led the Syracuse Peace Council in a planned disruption of a speech given at Syracuse University in April 2018 by the Israeli Consul General in New York, Dani Dayan. Both Rozum and CODEPINK national leader Ariel Gold were escorted out of Dayan's speech after shouting "Free Palestine, end the bloodshed in Gaza" and "Dani Dayan, you have blood on your hands," respectively, according to The Algemeiner.
Syracuse University's 501(c)(3) status forbids students from receiving college credits for interning for a political campaign but the rules for internships are blurry. Campus Reform contacted faculty coordinators for the Syracuse Peace Council internship in both the Citizenship and Civic Engagement (CCE) and the Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition majors for comment but received none in time for publication.
Campus Reform also contacted the Syracuse Peace Council to clarify the positions each speaker in this article holds. The organization stated, however, that it is collectively run and that "people are all equally important."