Santa Cruz, CA, Oct. 28, 2014 – Fifteen Jewish and education advocacy groups, today, wrote to the presidents of more than 100 universities with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters to warn them of an internal SJP document containing a strategy for disrupting pro-Israel student events, conduct subject to prosecution under state criminal laws. In 2010, 10 students were convicted for disrupting Israeli ambassador Michael Oren’s speech at the University of California, Irvine.
The foundational document of the SJP group at Binghamton University (SUNY), entitled “Declaration of Principles and Strategies,” describes itself as “a collection and elucidation of several resolutions and collective decisions formulated and approved by the membership of Binghamton University Students for Justice in Palestine.”
In the “With Regards to Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization” section, the document spells out a strategy for disrupting pro-Israel events. According to the document, “…it was decided via general consensus that, depending on the attendance levels of individual SJP members at such events, the following tactics would be most appropriate…[If more than 6 SJP members are present, these tactics include] engaging in a non-violent disruption of the event in question.”
The disruption of on-campus events violates New York State law. Sec. 240.20 of the New York Penal Law outlaws “disorderly conduct,” which includes “without lawful authority,…disturb(ing) any lawful assembly or meeting of persons.” All U.S. states have similar laws restricting the disruption of public events if this same tactic were to be employed by other SJP chapters.
“The document is extremely troubling in that it outlines a clear strategy for targeting, ostracizing, harassing and silencing students…,” wrote the groups. “…it advocates behavior consistent with ‘anti-Zionist normalization’ campaigns being waged by SJP groups across the country, whose explicit purpose, according to the Anti-Defamation League, is to delegitimize all pro-Israel perspectives and actively suppress their expression on college campuses. These campaigns have resulted in dozens of Jewish and pro-Israel students’ events being disrupted and Jewish and pro-Israel students feeling harassed, intimidated, and stripped of their constitutionally-protected freedom of expression and association.”
The document also prohibits SJP leaders and members from collaborating with specifically-named Jewish and pro-Israel student organizations. According to the groups, “…the SJP group’sa priori rejection of any interaction with Jewish and pro-Israel student groups – or with any other group that is deemed to have collaborated with them – bespeaks of prejudice, bigotry and a lack of tolerance and civility, behavior that should not be tolerated from a registered student group on any campus.”
Earlier this fall, many of these same groups wrote to more than 2,500 U.S. colleges and universities urging them to protect Jewish students on campus in light of rising antisemitism in America and abroad. In particular, the letter raised concerns over SJP, which the signatories note has a history of “harassing and intimidating Jewish students.” The letter cited several recent incidents, including one at Temple University in which a pro-Israel student was physically and verbally assaulted by SJP members, as well as SJP’s planting of anti-Israel mock eviction notices under students’ dorm rooms on multiple campuses.
Today’s letter and a letter to the president of Binghamton University are below.
The AMCHA Initiative is a non-profit organization, based in California, dedicated to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America. AMCHA Initiative’s efforts are bolstered by a network of more than 5,000 members and supporters of the Jewish community — including university alumni, parents and grandparents, rabbis, religious school principals and synagogue members — who have joined together to speak in one voice to ensure the safety and well-being of Jewish students on college and university campuses across the country.
Last month, you received a letter from 14 organizations informing you about some of the anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation tactics employed by the group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and urging you to take adequate steps to ensure the safety of Jewish students on your campus.
As a follow-up to that letter, we would like to inform you of a troubling revelation about one particular SJP chapter that may be relevant to the safety and well-being of Jewish and pro-Israel students on your own campus.
A foundational document of the SJP group at Binghamton University, entitled “Declaration of Principles and Strategies,” recently came to our attention. The document is extremely troubling in that it outlines a clear strategy for targeting, ostracizing, harassing, and silencing students on campus who oppose the boycott of Israel or who support or simply attend a program or event with which the SJP disagrees.
In a section entitled “With Regards to SJP’s Interaction with Zionist Student Organizations,” the document prohibits SJP leaders and members from collaborating or cooperating with specifically-named Jewish and pro-Israel student organizations, as well as with any group that has “aided and abetted Zionist student organizations.” Although a student organization is certainly free to choose its partners for collaboration and cooperation, the SJP group’s a priori rejection of any interaction with Jewish and pro-Israel student groups – or with any other group that is deemed to have “collaborated” with them – bespeaks of prejudice, bigotry, and a lack of tolerance and civility, behavior that should not be tolerated from a student group on any campus.
Far more troubling, however, is the section of the document entitled “With Regards to Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization,” which spells out a strategy for not only protesting certain student events, but also for actually disrupting them, simply because the SJP disagrees with the views that might be expressed there. In calling for the disruption of other student groups’ events, the SJP group is advocating behavior that violates Binghamton’s Student Code of Conduct, and may well be inciting criminal conduct in violation of New York State law prohibiting the disturbance of a lawful meeting or event.
We are bringing this document to your attention because it advocates behavior consistent with “anti-Zionist normalization” campaigns being waged by SJP groups across the country, whose explicit purpose, according to the Anti-Defamation League, is to delegitimize all pro-Israel perspectives and actively suppress their expression on college campuses. These campaigns have resulted in dozens of Jewish and pro-Israel students’ events being disrupted, and Jewish and pro-Israel students feeling harassed, intimidated, and stripped of their constitutionally-protected freedom of expression and association. (See HERE for a sample of Israel-related events that have been disrupted by SJP students on more than 20 U.S. campuses).
Moreover, if members of the SJP orchestrated a disruption of a campus event, such conduct could subject them to prosecution and conviction under state criminal laws – which is precisely what happened to members of the anti-Israel student group at the University of California, Irvine after they carried out their plan to disrupt a speech by Israel’s then-ambassador to the U.S.
We therefore urge you to carefully monitor the behavior of the SJP group on your campus and to ensure that its members’ conduct conforms to university policy and the law, and that the group does not threaten or infringe on the rights of other members of your university community.
Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi)
American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists
Americans for Peace and Tolerance
David Horowitz Freedom Center
Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET)
Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel
National Conference on Jewish Affairs
Proclaiming Justice to the Nations
Scholars for Peace in the Middle East
Simon Wiesenthal Center
The Lawfare Project
Zionist Organization of America