Mark Tapson: Campus Press Circles the Wagons Around SJP

Last Sunday, students on the campuses of UCLA, UC Irvine, Drake University, the University of Virginia, DePaul, and UMass Amherst encounteredFreedom Center-sponsored posters depicting the nationwide campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) as being complicit in Jew-hatred and Arab terror. It was an eye-opening act of guerrilla activism against an organization that should be officially labeled a hate group.

One of the two types of posters depicts a photograph of what appear to be a pair of masked, armed Arab militants looming over a kneeling man with a bag over his head – presumably a hapless informant or Israeli sympathizer. The text reads, “Students for Justice in Palestine” with the hashtag “#JewHaters” at the bottom. The same text appears on the other poster, a photo of a half-naked corpse being dragged along behind a motorcycle, an obvious reference to this instance of Hamas dragging the body of a suspected Israeli sympathizer through the streets of Gaza City.

College students require trigger warnings now for anything that could conceivably disturb their tender psyches, so this surprise, graphic exposure of SJP’s darker side no doubt unsettled many. JStreet President William Baker at the University of Virginiasaid he was “shocked” and found the posters “disturbing.” “When I saw it I was kind of shocked,” said one UCLA student. “It’s like hate speech, directed toward this one specific group.”

Naturally, the SJP itself has declared that the posters constitute hate speech: “They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists,” reads the group’s statement, “and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic.” In his own statement about the controversy, David Horowitz, who calls SJP the spearhead of anti-Israel aggression against Israel on American campuses, described this response as “fictional” and “typical SJP deception.”

Accusations of hate speech, of course, are the kneejerk reaction of the left and its Islamic partners in what Horowitz calls their unholy alliance to any opinion with which they disagree. This anti-rational, go-to tactic for shutting down opposition was very effective for many years, but it is becoming increasingly shrill, desperate, and impotent in the face of truth – and the truth in this instance is that SJP is a thinly veiled hate group that actively campaigns for the demonization and destruction of the Jewish state via economic divestment and even terrorism, through its support for the terrorist governments of the West Bank and Gaza.

Charges of racism and the mythical Islamophobia are a similar tactic. Evan Scribner, treasurer for the SJP chapter at UMass, said that the posters have Islamophobic and racist undertones and make SJP members feel unsafe on campus. “We don’t like the implications that anybody who cares about Palestine or anybody who is a Muslim or a Palestinian or an Arab is a terrorist or is violent,” he said. Of course that wasn’t the implication of the posters, but the fact is, if you truly care about “Palestinian” Arabs and don’t want to be associated with violent terrorism, don’t support the violent terrorists of Hamas.

For a full account of the many examples of SJP’s Israel-hating radicalism, check out the group’s profile here on the Freedom Center’s Discover the Network website. It relates the origins, development, funding sources and connections, and activities of SJP including the campus staging of Israeli Apartheid Week designed to portray Israelis as genocidal oppressors. That annual campaign includes students simulating the rape or killing of pregnant Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers, the establishment of mock checkpoints where the SJP harasses passing students, the placement of fake eviction notices on the dormitory doors of Jewish students, the display of “Apartheid” walls bearing images and text accusing Israeli Jews of genocide, and the harassment of Jewish students.

The Discover the Network profile further notes that support for terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has been common at SJP chapters across the United States, and that some chapters hold annual commemorations for the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood.

And yet the response of campus newspapers to the posters so far has been, not to investigate these actions and connections, but to circle the wagons around Students for Justice in Palestine. The University of Virginia paper’s response to the controversy was typical: it described SJP as “an organization advocating for human rights” and quoted SJP President Yahiya Saad as asserting that it is a humanitarian organization – no mention whatsoever of SJP’s radical activism, proving that serious journalism is dead and that SJP wields considerable nationwide influence on our nation’s campuses.

As for the timing of the posters’ appearance, Vice President of SPJP Luma Abunimer said that “in the last few days, we made an event on Facebook, Israeli Apartheid Week,” and that the use of the word “apartheid” can elicit strong feelings from pro-Israeli groups. Really? Perhaps that’s because smearing Israel, the only country in the Middle East that extends full rights to Arabs and Jews alike, as the equivalent of the defunct, racist South African regime is a disgusting lie.

Saad said that a possible response to the posters could be hanging posters adorned with the phrase “#loveheals.” Love heals. Tell that to the Arab and Jewish victims and survivors of terrorist attacks against the “oppressor” Israel, including 4-year-old Adele Biton, who finallysuccumbed to the brain-damaging wounds she received in an Arab rock-hurling incident at the age of two.

Caught off guard by the posters, SJP and their defenders at campus newspapers leapt to portray the group as eager to initiate “constructive dialogue” on the issue – in other words, they see this as an opportunity for further obfuscation about SJP’s real aims and means. The posters themselves actually constitute the most constructive dialogue, in that the blunt simplicity of the images cuts through SJP’s layers of deception and gets to the heart of the matter, which is that the true oppressor of Israeli Arabs and Jews alike is not Israel, but Arab terrorist entities and their supporters among campus groups like Students for Justice in Palestine.