Middle East studies in the News
New Report Highlights Terror Links of Students for Justice in Palestine
by Shiri Moshe
The anti-Zionist campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) seeks "to isolate, demonize, and ultimately destroy" Israel with the help of terror-linked financial and ideological supporters, according to a new report by a Jerusalem-based think tank.
Authored by Dan Diker and Jamie Berk of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the report cautioned against viewing SJP "as a pro-Palestinian equivalent to pro-Israel student groups," noting that it rejects cooperation with organizations that support Jewish self-determination, incites against Jewish students and rejects Israel's existence in any borders.
The report highlighted multiple instances of American Jewish students being targeted for "anti-Semitic vandalism, verbal attacks, and outright violence" by SJP members, and pointed to studies conducted by the Brandeis University and the watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, which "found a correlation between the presence of SJP and a rise in campus anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism."
In one of several examples provided, the report pointed to Professor M. Shahid Alam, Northeastern University's SJP faculty advisor, who in 2012 told students that they should be proud to be called antisemites. "Wear that as a sign of distinction," Alam said in filmed remarks. "This proves that I'm working for the right side, for the just cause."
Jewish students also complained of being "spat on, harassed, and assaulted on campus by SJP protestors" at Stanford, Cornell and Loyola University in Chicago. "In 2014, a man tabling for SJP at Temple University punched a student in the face and called him a 'kike' and 'baby-killer' for asking to discuss Israel," the report noted. "In 2010, a Jewish student holding a sign saying 'Israel Wants Peace' was rammed with a shopping cart by an SJP activist during University of California, Berkeley's Israel Apartheid Week."
SJP's ultimate goal of "eliminating the Jewish nation-state" is routinely made clear by the organization, according to the report, from its backing of resolutions endorsing the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign — whose leaders publicly call for Israel's destruction — to one of its favored chants, "From the river [Jordan] to the sea [Mediterranean], Palestine will be free."
SJP members and chapters have expressed support for terrorist organizations that seek to advance this objective, going so far as to invite convicted terrorists to address students on campus. In 2013, SJP at American University organized a Skype conference with Khader Adnan Mohammed Musa — a spokesperson for Palestinian Islamic Jihad who previously called for suicide bombings. "Who among you is the next suicide bomber? Who among you will carry the next explosive belt?" Adnan asked in 2007. "Who among you will have his body parts blown all over?"
SJP chapters "at Bowdoin College, Tufts University, Union Theological Seminary, Ryerson University, and Columbia University have expressed solidarity with Adnan on social media," the report observed.
Multiple SJP branches have also sympathized with convicted terrorists belonging to the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Islamist terrorist organization Hamas. Abdullah al-Barghouti — a Hamas bombmaker who helped murder 66 people and wound 500 others in multiple terrorist attacks — was called an "innocent" Palestinian prisoner by University of Alabama – Birmingham's SJP chapter in 2012, along with two Islamic Jihad members.
SJP's reported ties to Palestinian terrorist organizations extend beyond glorifying individual members.
Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, said in congressional testimony last year that American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) — whose leadership includes individuals who worked for organizations with links to Hamas — was "arguably the most important sponsor and organizer" for SJP.
Schanzer explained that "at least seven individuals who work for or on behalf of AMP have worked for or on behalf of organizations previously shut down or held civilly liable in the United States for providing financial support to Hamas: the Holy Land Foundation (HLF), Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and KindHearts."
The report — which noted that "AMP leaders and supporters have been implicated for fundraising for Hamas" — emphasized that the group spearheaded efforts to unite SJP campus branches under a national organization in 2010.
The report called on university trustees, donors, alumni and administrators concerned by SJP's activities to urge university administrations to "demand that their campus communities and state governments unmask, expose, investigate, prosecute, and sanction SJP in order to reign in extremist terror-supporting and anti-Semitic actions on U.S. campuses."
It also pointed to legislation outlawing state support of entities that back boycotts of Israel, and claimed that the existence of SJP chapters at public universities in these states was illegal.
"Exposing the intensifying activity of Students for Justice in Palestine at over nearly 200 American campuses is necessary to neutralize SJP's support for terror and political warfare against Israel," it concluded.
SJP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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