Student organizations provide college freshmen with invaluable opportunities to broaden their outlook, forge meaningful connections, and integrate into the rich tapestry of campus life.
Unfortunately, more than 200 college campuses host chapters of an organization dedicated to praising antisemitic terrorism in pursuit of its extreme political goals.
THE GUISE THAT GLORIFIES TERRORISM
This club calls itself Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), though it may go by names like SAFE (University of Michigan), Palestine Solidarity Committee (Harvard University), or Students for Palestinian Equal Rights (Stanford University). Its stated mission is to “develop a connected, disciplined movement that is equipped with the tools necessary to contribute to the fight for Palestinian liberation.”
In reality, the club glorifies terrorists, intimidates Jewish students, and rejects peace-stances since its 1993 founding at Berkeley.
Early SJP organizers came together over their opposition to the Oslo Accords, a peace deal that laid the groundwork for an eventual Palestinian state. Those activists rejected Oslo’s incrementalism, instead agitating for an immediate end to Israeli statehood.
Amid the Second Intifada – a terrorist campaign that killed and wounded thousands of Israeli civilians – SJP founder Hatem Bazian called for “an intifada in this country” at a 2004 rally in San Francisco. Bazian has called the US Congress “Israeli-occupied territory,” repeatedly compared Israelis to Nazis, and praised terrorists – from supermarket bomber Rasmea Odeh to mass murderer Marwan Barghouti.
The organization reflects its founder’s extreme attitudes. Where SJP goes, antisemitism, and often violence, follows. Studies have repeatedly shown that the presence of SJP is one of the strongest predictors of campus antisemitism.
In 2002, 79 SJP members were arrested for disrupting a Holocaust remembrance event at Berkeley. In 2015, SJP at Georgetown publicly opposed interfaith dialogue on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying “When these interfaith discussions are normalized, it leads to religion being used as a tool to whitewash Israel’s crimes.” In 2018, SJP at Stony Brook advocated for the expulsion of Stony Brook’s Hillel, comparing the Jewish group to Nazis and the KKK.
ALL THIS was true before Hamas’s terrorist onslaught of October 7. Since then, SJP has careened even further beyond the bounds of reason and morality.
Five days after Hamas massacred more than 1,200 Israelis, raping and maiming hundreds more, SJP distributed a toolkit that referred to Hamas as “the resistance” and their brutality as “a historic win.” “Responsibility for every single death,” they said, “falls solely on the Zionist entity.” Students from George Washington’s SJP chapter projected the words “Glory to the martyrs” onto the school’s library.
Even as evidence of Hamas’s barbarity grows, SJP’s stance remains unchanged. Hamas’s founding document is explicitly genocidal against Jews.
Yet it is Israel that SJP accuses of genocide. Hate crimes are up 60% since October 7, with antisemitic crimes accounting for the majority of the increase, yet it is President Joe Biden that SJP accuses of hate crimes because of his support of Israel.
Denying reality in favor of grievance is no recent phenomenon; it’s central to the group’s platform.
To this day, SJP recognizes neither Israel nor the United States of America, referring to the former as “the Zionist entity” and the latter as “Turtle Island,” a name borrowed from American Indian creation stories. Pettily, its members will capitalize neither “Israel” nor “Zionism” when writing the words becomes unavoidable.
As SJP celebrates Hamas and demonizes Israel, 73% of Jewish college students have either witnessed or been the victim of antisemitic incidents.
Given its promotion of antisemitism and longstanding affinity for antisemitic terrorism, StopAntisemitism took the presence of SJP chapters into account when grading colleges for our 2023 Higher Education Report Card, a damning assessment of colleges’ failure to protect Jewish students.
Thankfully, university leaders are finally taking notice. Columbia suspended its chapter until the end of the semester; George Washington suspended their chapter for 90 days; and Brandeis banned SJP altogether.
We commend them for their action, however belated, and urge every institution of higher education to follow Brandeis’s example.
This is no time to equivocate as the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard, and MIT did in front of a congressional committee last week.
College is supposed to promote greater acceptance, knowledge, and understanding – not hate and willful ignorance.
Praising antisemitic terror should disqualify SJP from every campus.