The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and its Center for Law and Justice (CLJ) have called on Georgetown University to reconsider its decision to host the Fifth National Conference of the Palestine Solidarity Movement on February 17-19, 2006. This annual conference — which took place in prior years at other college campuses across the country — furnishes false and hateful information about Israel, and focuses on creating an effective divestment and boycott campaign against Israel to harm it economically.
The Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), which sponsors these annual conferences, refuses to condemn suicide bombings and terror attacks against Israeli civilians. Among the PSM’s so-called “guiding principles” is the following: “As a solidarity movement, it is not our place to dictate the strategies or tactics adopted by the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation.” The PSM reconsidered this principle, which in effect condones the murder of innocent Israelis, at last year’s conference, and upheld the principle with overwhelming support.
In a detailed letter to the president of Georgetown, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and CLJ Director Susan Tuchman described the hateful nature of the four previous PSM conferences, which almost certainly guarantee that the Georgetown event will be no different. Holding this conference would thus be a direct violation of Georgetown’s own Speech and Expression Policy, which explicitly provides that an event that “promotes hatred would not be allowed to take place on campus.” The ZOA’s letter also points out that the PSM’s divestment and boycott activity against Israel may well be in violation of the federal antiboycott laws, and that Georgetown should not be aiding and abetting that potentially illegal conduct.
According to ZOA National President Morton Klein, “Georgetown’s president recently issued a statement in which he specifically rejected the PSM’s call for divestment from holdings in Israel. We commend his statement, but respectfully say that it is not enough. Georgetown should simply refuse to host this conference that promotes the hatred of Israel and Jews. This is especially important in light of Georgetown’s recent acceptance of a 20 million dollar gift from Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz Alsaud, who has helped fund the families of suicide bombers, and has promoted the hatred and murder of Americans, Israelis and Jews. Georgetown must allay the concerns of Jews and supporters of Israel, and show that it is not connected or associated with those who hate and seek to harm Jews and the State of Israel. By hosting the conference, the university will help legitimize a hate-filled organization with a hateful agenda, putting a stain on Georgetown’s fine reputation and tainting the university as a place that is hostile to Israel and Jews.”
CLJ Director Susan Tuchman noted the potential legal ramifications of this conference: “There are federal antiboycott laws that were passed in the 1970’s specifically to address boycotting activities against Israel. By promoting foreign boycott campaigns against Israel and providing information about companies to boycott because of their relationship with Israel, the PSM’s conduct seems to fall squarely within the prohibitions of the law. A prestigious university like Georgetown should completely disassociate itself from this group and its activities.”