Across the country, protests against President Donald Trump are morphing into protests against Israel. This is a well-documented fact, and allows for anti-Israel groups to pretend that they have the support of more than a pathetic minority of support for their cause. When a laughable protest against Corey Lewandowski was staged at UChicago (read more on that here), some of the protesters tried to start chants comparing America’s southern border to Israel’s borders, and most of the protesters looked incredibly confused at what anyone would regard as a complete hijacking of the reason they were supposedly there.

At UC Irvine, a student went to the front of a Trump protest and said that Trump “got the idea of the wall from Israel.” Fortunately, the condemnation of the desperate attempts of anti-Israel protesters is being condemned across the political spectrum.

At Northwestern University, Mark Sheldon, a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, attended a protest that was designed to oppose Trump’s travel ban.

He writes that he “was deeply disappointed at the turn that the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration took on Wednesday.” At the start of the event, there were three banners hanging from a building that were on message. At one point, another banner was lowered that read “If You Support Israeli Apartheid You Support A Muslim Ban.”

The banners at the Northwestern protest. Image via Leeks Lim.
The banners at the Northwestern protest. Image via Leeks Lim.

For most people, there is absolutely no link to be drawn here. In fact, six of the seven countries in Trump’s travel ban ban anyone with an Israeli passport, and five of them ban anyone from entering if there is evidence of previous travel to Israel on their passports.

For Sheldon–a liberal Jew–the lowering of this fourth banner was a bridge too far. He learned that the plan from the start had always been to lower all four banners from the building:

My assumption at this point was that the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration was being co-opted by another group of students for their purpose. However, when I and another faculty member confronted the group about the new banner, we were told that this was planned from the beginning by the students who organized the demonstration.

This incident was problematic to him for two reasons:

First, it seems to me that the group who organized the demonstration deceived the Northwestern community. The demonstration was presented as a response to the Trump administration’s action, not to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration. Second, as a result of what appears to be an act of deception and co-option, an opportunity for a single-minded full-throated condemnation of President Donald Trump and his administration by the full Northwestern community was sadly squandered.

The protesters at this event clearly had no interest in broadening their reach beyond those who are already fully on board with them, and fervent anti-Israel sentiments is just one of their many litmus tests. As events at UC Irvine and “airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Austin, Detroit and Baltimore” show, they are far from alone in alienating many of their fellow liberals like Sheldon.

 

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