What do Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have in common? These terrorist groups have all been lionized and glorified by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the campus arm of the global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
Many on university campuses misunderstand SJP.
The group describes itself as a grassroots student organization that supports “Palestinian freedom and equality” in advocating for Palestinian statehood. This is a false and misleading characterization.
SJP is more accurately an international network of some 200 student chapters that actively seek the dismantlement of the Jewish state. They have launched often violent antisemitic assaults against Jewish and Israel-friendly students and have demonstrably expressed support for Palestinian terrorists and Islamic jihadist groups.
The organization’s chapters have defied official university warnings and sanctions and have transformed leading campuses in the United States and Europe into fortresses of fear, intimidation and retribution. Exposing and thwarting Students for Justice in Palestine is essential to restoring universities as a safe environment for the peaceful and respectful exchange of ideas.
SJP’s proprietary notion of “justice” simply means ridding the world of the Jewish state. Its exclusive use of the term “Palestine” signals its rejection of Israel.
The group’s expressions of support for Palestinian terrorists is no secret.
The SJP chapter at the University of Chicago plastered posters conveying solidarity with convicted Palestinian teen terrorist Ahmed Manasara, who went on a stabbing spree before his capture and treatment in an Israeli hospital. SJP supporters, taking the lead from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, initially protested Manasara’s “murder” by Israel.
Temple University SJP protested the 2017 deportation from the US of convicted PFLP terrorist Rasmea Odeh, whose 1969 Jerusalem supermarket bombing murdered two students. University of Chicago’s SJP erected a memorial to Palestinian terrorists such as Fadi Aloun, who wrote “martyrdom or victory” on his Facebook page before stabbing a 15-year-old in Jerusalem in 2015.
NYC Students for Palestine uploaded on social media an address by convicted PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled, who was quoted as telling her SJP hosts that “Zionist is terrorism.”
Khaled’s incitement is typical of the SJP, which regularly parrots Fatah and Hamas’s declaration that “resistance is not terrorism.” The widely known chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” which calls for the elimination of Israel, has become an SJP standard.
A 2017 SJP demonstration in Times Square in New York City featured oversized banners declaring Palestinian “resistance until victory” – an expression of support for Palestinian terrorism until Israel is terminated as a Jewish state.
While Facebook and Twitter accounts of SJP chapters have shown its leaders wearing Hezbollah shirts with the Iranian regime’s terrorist proxy’s logo, SJP’s roots to terrorist groups actually run deeper. Students for Justice in Palestine is an outgrowth of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), whose leaders were associated with Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas and more indirectly with Palestinian Jihad, as revealed in congressional testimony by former US Treasury financing analyst Johnathan Schanzer in 2016.
AMP comprises several organizations that were implicated by the US government for financing the Islamic terrorist group Hamas between 2001 and 2011.
SJP co-founder and Palestinian ex-pat Prof. Hatem Bazian also chairs the terrorism-supporting AMP.
Bazian has cited Hamas’s mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Muslim World Leaguealigned Muslim Student Association which he headed at the University of California at Berkeley as his inspirations for founding SJP. The organization’s UC Berkley chapter has been referred to as a “Hamas front on campus.”
SJP’s support for Palestinian and Islamist terrorism has characterized its extremist behavior on scores of US campuses, including Princeton, Stanford, Georgetown, NYU, and the University of Pennsylvania. Students, particularly Jewish and Israel-friendly ones, have reported acts of physical violence, threats and intimidation by SJP members.
Research studies by Brandeis University and the AMCHA initiative have revealed a direct correlation between BDS activities and a marked rise in antisemitic acts on campuses with large Jewish populations. The research also revealed a correlation between the presence of SJP and a rise in campus antisemitism.
According to AMCHA, in the first nine months of 2017 there were more than 100 incidents of swastikas being daubed on campus property as well as other expressions favoring Jewish genocide. In one egregious example from 2014, SJP of Florida International University co-sponsored a rally in which protesters chanted “Khaybar, Khaybar, Oh Jew, Muhammad’s army will return” – a reference to the massacre of Jews in northern Saudi Arabia by the invading Muslims in 628 CE.
Jewish students have also reported being terrorized physically, being assaulted and spat upon by SJP members at Stanford, Loyola and Cornell universities.
It appears that SJP and its supporters are proud of its record of antisemitism. Northeastern University’s SJP faculty adviser, Prof. M. Shaid Alam – who has written that 9/11 was an Islamist insurgency against foreign occupation of Muslim lands – reportedly told SJP members to be proud to be called antisemites and to wear the title “as a badge of honor.”
SJP’s support for terrorist groups, its promotion and identification with terrorists and its alarmingly antisemitic behavior appears to be modeled after terrorism- supporting states like the Islamic Republic of Iran and jihadist groups such as Hamas, the PFLP, and Islamic Jihad. These groups demonize Israel and use antisemitic imagery and rhetoric as ideological and psychological pretexts for launching terrorist attacks against the Jewish state. While SJP is not formally a terrorist organization, its expressions of support, ideological sympathies and financial and other affiliations with radical, extremist and terrorist groups is worrying and must end.
The SJP problem is proliferating, with chapters on some 120 campuses, most of them active. The secretive and decentralized operations of its factions makes it difficult to monitor. SJP claims active chapters on some 190 campuses across the US.
SJP poses a direct challenge to university administrations across the United states and Europe, but also to alumni, major donors, and trustees. If universities are to retain their academic integrity and realize their promise to be a safe environment for the peaceful and respectful exchange of ideas, SJP can no longer be countenanced.
University regulations and the US Constitution were established to protect free speech. It is precisely that freedom that Students for Justice in Palestine has hijacked and holds hostage in service of imposing a hate-filled, antisemitic and often violent, extremist campus agenda that publicly and proudly seeks the elimination of the Jewish state while silencing, coercing, and threatening those who disagree.
The writer is a fellow and director of the Program to Counter Political Warfare and BDS at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
This article was adapted from an October 2017 JCPA study; Students for Justice in Palestine, Unmasked by Dan Diker with Jamie Berk.