The Ten Worst U.S. Purveyors of Antisemitism, #2: Students for Justice in Palestine
Students for Justice in Palestine is a vicious, violent, antisemitic organization that hopes to contribute to Israel’s destruction. With U.S. campuses a hotbed of antisemitic and anti-Israeli agitation driven mainly by Muslim and leftist organizations, the Anti-Defamation League has called SJP the “most ubiquitous” of these groups.
SJP was founded by Islamic and Marxist activists at Berkeley in 2001. One of its cofounders, Hatem Bazian, is a senior lecturer at UC Berkeley who won notoriety in 2004 by calling for an intifada in the United States. Before cofounding SJP, Bazam was a student activist at San Francisco State University and, according to Rabbi Doug Kahn, “more responsible than any other student on campus for trying to make life miserable for Jewish students.” That included working to keep students with Jewish last names out of student government.
SJP’s other cofounder is Snehal Shingavi, a Marxist and member of the International Socialist Organization. Shingavi, now at the University of Texas at Austin, made a national splash in 2002 when he offered a course at Berkeley on “Palestinian Resistance” and said conservatives need not apply. He has praised the Taliban, Iraqi terror, and Hamas, and his collaboration with Bazian was a classic case of the Red-Green Alliance.
SJP, which is closely allied with American Muslims for Palestine, has kept growing and now has about 90 chapters at American universities. It held its first national conference at Columbia in 2011. There it promulgated its “Points of Unity,” which state that SJP is
committed to ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands…. It calls for respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.
In line with this destroy-Israel agenda, based in part on a nonbinding GA resolution that was unequivocally rejected by the Arab world at the time, SJP mounts “apartheid wall” displays on campuses, campaigns for divestment from Israel, equates Israelis with Nazis, disrupts events with Israeli and pro-Israeli speakers—and worse.
Students for Justice in Palestine has a history of subjecting Jewish students and faculty to violence, intimidation, and harassment. There have been numerous incidents, and these are just examples:
● Daniel Greenfield recounts that SJP, as part of a “counterdemonstration” to a Holocaust commemoration on the Berkeley campus in 2002, blockaded a classroom building.
While SJP was conducting its blockade, Professor Mel Gordon [who was Jewish] was on his way to teach a class…. As he was carrying his projector and slides, and trying to reach his students, SJP members spat on him and then beat him. Hussain Mohsen, an SJP member, hit him so hard in the stomach that Gordon required medical treatment afterward.
…While the case was being decided, SJP members continued to harass Gordon, driving by his house, calling him with death threats and intimidating him in the courtroom during Mohsen’s trial….
This and other incidents led the university to suspend SJP—but only temporarily, “while apologizing profusely for doing so.”
● Again at Berkeley, eight years later on March 5, 2010, as Greenfield describes it:
the SJP-backed “Israeli Apartheid Week” was taking place at the same time as an “Israeli Peace and Diversity Week,” organized by pro-Israel activists. As part of the pro-Israeli event, a student named Jessica Felber stood holding a sign that read, “Israel Wants Peace.” The SJP president, Husam Zakharia, who had been cited two years earlier for battery after attacking a Jewish student at a concert while his SJP entourage shouted that Jews were “dogs” and threatened to kill them, approached her from behind and rammed her with a shopping cart, leaving her to seek medical treatment at the campus Urgent Care Center.
● Just last year Dr. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a lecturer at the University of California at Santa Cruz, reported that:
A number of MSA [Muslim Student Association] and SJP members have been responsible for physically harassing and assaulting Jewish students, vandalizing Jewish communal property, disrupting pro-Israel speakers, and aggressively confronting Jewish students at pro-Israel events….
…As a result of the hostile environment created by these chapters and their members, Jewish students have reported feeling physically unsafe, harassed, and intimidated while on campus, and some have even reported leaving the university, avoiding certain parts of campus, and hiding symbols of their Jewishness.
SJP disrupted speeches for years by former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren; a speech in 2011 by then-Israeli Member of Knesset Avi Dichter, also a former head of Israel’s General Security Service; and a speech in 2013 by former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert. Dichter’s speech, given at Brandeis University,
was repeatedly disrupted by representatives of the SJP group on campus. The students spread themselves out among the audience and took turns shouting “war criminal” and other accusations at him.
To say that SJP is not a legitimate part of any democratic discourse is a huge understatement.
Joseph Klein, in an article in December, noted that:
Anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses is growing at an alarming rate. It has escalated to the point that Jewish students on campuses have been physically attacked or threatened for peacefully demonstrating their support of Israel. Events demonizing Jews and even glorifying the murderers of Jews, in the guise of anti-Israel rhetoric, are tolerated by campus administrators….
Klein also quotes from a 2011 report on Jewish students’ “isolation” on campus:
[Anti-Israel] divestment campaigns, protests, rallies, guerrilla theater and inflammatory speakers have featured anti-Jewish rhetoric. With insufficient response from administrators, these events have developed into hostile environments, where Jewish students and others have been maligned and threatened.
These words are borne out by the fact that Students for Justice in Palestine, a criminal organization that is working for the eradication of a U.S. ally and has a long record of violence, bigotry, intimidation, and denial of freedom of speech, is not only tolerated but flourishing as never before.
It makes sense that this would happen in the politically correct, morally upside-down world of the universities. The larger society, though, should be aware of it and should not stand for it.