first published in The Times of Israel
by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin
A recently uncovered internal document of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Binghamton University SUNY sheds new light on the anti-Semitic bigotry of SJP groups across the country, as well as SJP’s ties to international campaigns to harm the Jewish state and the Jewish people.
Entitled “Declaration of Principles and Strategies,” the document specifically outlines strategies for targeting, ostracizing, harassing, and silencing students on campus who oppose the boycott of Israel or who simply attend a pro-Israel event. In a lengthy section on “Tactics and Strategies Used to Counter Zionist Normalization,” the document gives detailed instructions for when and how to disrupt “Zionist” events and activities on campus. Disrupting an event is a direct violation of others’ right to freedom of expression and assembly, and a blatant violation of New York law.
The internal Binghamton-SJP Declaration is a window into “anti-Zionist normalization” campaigns being waged by SJP groups across the country, whose explicit purpose 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. For example:
- Feb 27, 2012 at University of California Davis, SJP and other groups staged a planned disruption of a Jewish student event consisting of two Israelis –a Jewish man and a Druze woman. In a video taken at a meeting of SJP, MSA and MeChA students preparing to disrupt the Jewish student event, the leader of the protesters said, “Events like these are not welcome on our campus anymore,” and his statement was met with a large round of cheers and applause. During the Jewish student event, protestors staged a walk-out along with verbal assaults shouted at the speaker, such as, “How many women have you raped? How many children have you raped? You are a child molester,” and claiming that Israel has “turned the land of Palestine into a land of prostitutes and rapists and child molesters.” One of the hecklers admitted, “My only purpose here today is that this event be shut down.”
- On March 12th, 2013 at DePaul University, SJP members and other protesters disrupted a talk by Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas sponsored by Center for Jewish Law & Judaic Studies. Angry that Jonas had helped to shut down organizations which had raised money for the terrorist group Hamas, DePaul SJP members hurled verbal insults at the speaker, such as chants of “Hey DePaul, let’s be clear — racists are not welcome here,” and heckled the audience with questions about how the university could have allowed such an Islamophobic and racist event to take place. As a result of the disruptions, the event was ended early.
- On September 9, 2014 at Loyola University-Chicago, SJP members verbally assaulted their Jewish peers, yelling insults at them and created a human wall to block Hillel members’ from sharing information with fellow students about Birthright trips to Israel.
Make no mistake about it. SJP’s BDS and “anti-Zionist normalization” campaigns are a front for the larger international coordinated effort to demonize, delegitimize, and ultimately destroy the Jewish state, an effort which has been spearheaded by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, whose member organizations include the terrorist groups Hamas and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Having launched the “Palestinian Call for BDS” in 2005, the Committee’s mission has been to coordinate global BDS efforts and to be the “reference point” for “anti-normalization campaigns” intended to ensure the delegitimization and silencing of any individual or group that accepts the legitimacy of the Jewish state.
The “Palestinian Call for BDS” was formally adopted as a “point of unity” at the first National SJP Conference in 2011, and virtually every SJP chapter in the country has responded to the Palestinian Call by establishing the promotion of BDS as an essential part of their group’s mission. In addition, the National SJP Conference at Tufts University last month boasted a workshop on “Countering Normalization of Israeli Oppression on Campus,” and many chapters, such as the SJP group at Binghamton University, have incorporated the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s “anti-normalization” tactics into their own rejection of Jewish and pro-Israel student groups and their events. To all of us monitoring this closely, it is crystal clear what is really happening: SJP students are serving as the foot soldiers for the Palestinian BDS National Committee’s campaign to destroy the Jewish state.
The Palestinian BDS National Committee has actively cultivated student allies on U.S. campuses and has found a willing partner in SJP, with one Committee member group crowing: “Internationally, we are heartened by the increased coordination and growth of Students for Justice in Palestine on campuses across the United States.”
It is understandable why the Palestinian BDS National Committee would be delighted that SJP is establishing a beachhead for promoting the Committee’s own BDS and “anti-normalization” campaigns on U.S. campuses. What is more difficult to understand is why university administrators would allow a group like SJP to become an officially recognized and funded student organization.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin is a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz and the cofounder and director of AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization devoted to investigating, documenting, educating about, and combating campus antisemitism in America. She was nominated for Jewish Hero of the Year by the Jewish Federation of North America in 2011 and was named one of 2013’s Bright Pro-Israel Lights on U.S. Campuses by the Jewish Press. Articles and opinion pieces from Rossman-Benjamin have been published in the New York Daily News, Jewish News Service, Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, Algemeiner, Independent Sentinel, Jewish Voice, Jewish Post & Opinion, and others.