Penn Law Students for Justice in Palestine Group Warns that Overseas Trip May ‘Improve Israel’s Image’

Pro Palestinian demonstrators march through central London on July 25, 2014 in London, England.
Dan Kitwood/Getty

University of Pennsylvania Law School (Penn Law)’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group is urging its fellow students not to go on a trip that it claims seeks to “improve Israel’s image.”

In a recent statement urging students not to participate in a trip to Israel — known as iTrek — Penn Law’s SJP group complains that the excursion is “designed to improve Israel’s image among Americans.”

“While we certainly understand the appeal of a heavily subsidized Mediterranean vacation, the trip is not what it may appear to be,” the student group says in its statement.

“iTrek is a politically motivated endeavor, meant to whitewash and perpetuate Israel’s decades-long oppression and dispossession of Palestinians,” claims Penn Law’s SJP, a chapter of an organization known for pushing a politically motivated endeavor known as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The BDS movement seeks to systematically destroy the world’s only Jewish state through financial means, by boycotting companies that do business with Israel.

“The goal is for participants to return from their trips to Israel ready and eager to ‘carry their [favorable] impressions forward into their professional and personal lives, sharing their experiences and shaping the opinions of those around them,'” laments the students’ letter.

The student group goes on to claim that “while the organizers of these trips are savvy enough to provide a semblance of balance, for example by including a meeting with a Palestinian professor or a visit to Ramallah, such activities do not negate the trips’ fundamental purpose.”

Instead, the students insist that “this approach is consistent with a strategy advanced by right-wing billionaire Sheldon Adelson, which aims to appeal to ‘progressive,’ ‘social justice oriented’ students by promoting a pro-Israel message while avoiding overt propaganda.”

“Moreover, the few encounters that you may have with Palestinians fail to give you a sense of what life is actually like for most Palestinians,” the student group goes on to claim in its statement.

Penn Law SJP Co-President Tasneem Warwani also complained about iTrek to the Daily Pennsylvanian, telling the campus newspaper that it would be “irresponsible, unethical, and immoral” for students to go on what is “essentially a vacation and to enjoy yourself” while Palestinians are living as refugees “a few miles down the road.”

Anti-Israel student groups have been making similar claims at universities across the country — especially following the country’s response to Palestinian terrorists launching dozens of rockets at Israel from Gaza in May, which caused Israel to respond by unleashing new airstrikes against them.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.