Members of a pro-Palestine student organization are trying to stifle pro-Israel views and terrorize Jewish students across the nation.
A slew of anti-Semitic online postings by Vassar College’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine have brought the group under investigation by school administrators. One post included an old Nazi propaganda political cartoon entitled “Liberators,” which depicts a monster representing the Jewish people stomping over a village. The hateful cartoon was apparently used by the students to represent their discontent with the presence of Zionism on their campus.
The group later apologized, but a few days later a post on the SJP Vassar Tumblr expressed that the Zionists are “so earnestly looking for Neo-Nazism in order to not deal with the crimes against humanity they support.” The post included declared, “We will make it known that Vassar College supports Settler colonialism”
SJP began in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley. Its founder, UC Berkeley lecturer Hatem Bazian, is a West Bank–born Palestinian. When studying at Berkeley, he headed the Muslim Student Association, which the Muslim Brotherhood had helped to establish. He later co-founded the secular SJP movement in an effort to separate the group from the Muslim Brotherhood, although the groups shared similar agendas, according to CampusWatch.org.
The UC Berkeley chapter’s website displays a “Statement of Guiding Principles,” which includes “an end to the Israeli system of apartheid and discrimination against the indigenous Palestinian population.” The statement then explains, “Just as we condemn the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel, we reject any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious, racial, or ethnic group.”
Yet within a year of the group’s founding, its anti-Semitic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was made clear when 79 members of the group tried to disrupt a Berkeley Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
At a 2004 San Francisco rally, Bazian stated, “It’s about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here. They’re gonna say some Palestinian being too radical — well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet!”
With almost 100 SJP chapters nationwide, college campuses have witnessed a fulfillment of Bazian’s wish. This past April at NYU, the SJP chapter slipped mock eviction notices under the doors of the dorms of over 2,000 students, many of whom were Jewish, in order to draw attention to West Bank evictions, according to SJP members.
At UCLA, SJP members urged the student judicial board to investigate student council members who had traveled to Israel on trips sponsored by pro-Israel groups. Another initiative attempted to make candidates running for student government first take a pledge that they would not take trips to Israel with these pro-Israel programs.
Many other examples of SJP’s anti-Semitism have popped up on campuses in recent years (see here and here). Unfortunately, SJP is just one of many movements attacking Jewish students on college campuses. For example, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement, which is ostensibly aimed at the Israeli government’s presence in the Palestinian territories, also aims to boycott Israeli scholars and universities.
The result of this anti-Semitism is obvious, as Jewish students feel targeted and threatened on their college campuses..
“When people say that Israel does not have a right to exist and does not have the right to protect its citizens, that makes me feel incredibly uncomfortable on this campus as a Jew and as a supporter of Israel,” DePaul University junior Caleb Bromberg told the DePaulia, campus newspaper. “I think the message is more anti-Semitic than anti-Zionist.”
— Molly Wharton is an intern at National Review.