Editor’s note: The following is the second in a series of articles highlighting the network of major hate groups in America that are supported and funded by the Left. For the previous profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center, click here.
Founded at UC Berkeley in October of 2000, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a highly influential campus organization with chapters based at approximately 200 American colleges and universities, where it organizes and sponsors anti-Israel events and campaigns more actively than any other student group in the nation. SJP’s declared mission is to “promote the cause of justice,” “speak out against oppression,” and “educate members of our community specifically about the plight of the Palestinian people” at the hands of alleged Israeli abuses. The benign tenor of this mission statement stands in stark contrast, however, to the countless reams of SJP propaganda that echo much of what is said by the Hamas terrorists who seek to permanently end Israel’s existence as a sovereign Jewish state. The reason for this is simple: SJP was in essence formed to help spread anti-Semitism through the halls of American academia; to wage a campus war against Israel by providing rhetorical support for the Jew-hatred undergirding the Second Palestinian Intifada which Hamas and allied terrorists had recently launched in late September 2000.
SJP’s principal founder, Hatem Bazian, has quoted approvingly from a famous Islamic hadith which calls for the violent slaughter of Jews and which appears in Hamas’s founding charter. He once spoke at a fundraising dinner for a Hamas front group that the U.S. government later shut down due to the organization’s ties to Islamic terrorism. On another occasion, Bazian portrayed Hamas as “a classical anti-colonial nationalist and religious guerrilla movement.” And he described Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Gaza elections as “a monumental event.”
Notwithstanding Hamas’s calls for the mass murder and genocide of Jews, the website of SJP’s UC Berkeley chapter describes Hamas not as a terrorist group but rather as “a vast social organization” that “provides schools, medical care, and day care for a number of Palestinians who otherwise live difficult lives”; a group with a “clean record as far as domestic corruption in governance [is] concerned”; and an entity whose “officials have often stated that they are ready for a long-term truce with Israel during which time final status negotiations can occur.”
It is commonplace for SJP’s rank-and-file members to support, or to at least decline to condemn, Islamic terrorism. As a Columbia University SJP member said in 2002: “We support the right of Palestinians to resist occupation and do not dictate the methods of that struggle. There’s a difference between violence of the oppressed and violence of the oppressors.”
That same year, SJP’s national convention was sponsored by the Islamic Association for Palestine, a now-defunct, Illinois-based front group for Hamas. The conference featured keynote speaker Sami Al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor who served as the North American leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a terrorist organization whose objectives include the destruction of Israel, the elimination of all Western influences in the Middle East by means of armed warfare, and the convergence of all Muslim countries into a single Islamic caliphate.
Routinely denouncing Israeli self-defense measures as assaults on the civil and human rights of Palestinians, SJP generally neglects to judge those measures in the context of Palestinian terror attacks. For example, in a September 2014 “vigil” at Binghamton University in honor of Palestinians who had been killed in Operation Protective Edge—Israel’s then-recent military incursion into Gaza—SJP member Victoria Brown told the campus newspaper that her group’s goal was to “commemorate” and “humanize” the Palestinian “children, women and innocent civilians who were massacred” by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Yet she made no mention of the fact that the IDF’s actions were in response to a massive barrage of deadly rockets that Hamas terrorists had been firing indiscriminately into southern Israel.
On another occasion, New York City’s SJP created posters lauding the Palestinian terrorist Leila Khaled—who in September 1970 had participated in the multiple hijacking of five jetliners—for “committing her life to be a freedom fighter in the struggle for Palestinian liberation.”
In a similar spirit, a number of SJP chapters hold annual commemorations in honor of the late Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which Islam expert Robert Spencer has described as “the parent organization of Hamas and al Qaeda.” Al-Banna was an inveterate Jew-hater who firmly opposed the creation of Israel in 1948 and strove to forge a formal alliance with Hitler and Mussolini when World War II broke out. Al-Banna was also the mentor of Haj Amin Al-Husseni, the pro-Hitler father of Palestinian nationalism.
In 2012, Cornell University’s SJP issued a publication featuring a logo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization that embraces “a revolutionary understanding of Marxism” and views the “liberation” of Palestine as a key component of Communism’s worldwide ascendancy.
Promoting the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions Movement
SJP is America’s leading campus promoter of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a Hamas-inspired initiative that aims to use various forms of public protest and economic pressure to advance the Hamas agenda of Israel’s destruction. While Hamas pursues this goal in its low-intensity war against Israel by means of terrorism and bloodshed, BDS supplements those efforts by pushing for three forms of nonviolent punitive action designed to cripple Israel’s economy and bring the nation to its knees politically: (1) coordinated boycotts that aim to intimidate and coerce corporations, universities, and individuals into breaking off their business relationships with Israel; (2) decisions by banks, pension funds, corporations, and other entities to withdraw any financial investments which they may have made in the state of Israel or in companies that operate there; and (3) targeted sanctions—such as trade penalties or bans, arms embargoes, and the severing of diplomatic ties—imposed by governments around the world against Israel specifically.
Using these tactics, SJP and its allies in the BDS movement seek to lay the psychological and rhetorical groundwork for: (a) creating the false impression that Israel has illegally and immorally usurped large swaths of land that rightfully belong to the Palestinians; (b) depicting Israel as a habitual human-rights violator guilty of subjecting its Palestinian neighbors to brutal campaigns of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” “war crimes,” “crimes against humanity,” and “genocide”; (c) likening Israeli public officials and soldiers to “Nazis,” and Gaza to a “concentration camp” or “ghetto”; (d) delegitimizing, in the minds of people worldwide, Israel’s very right to exist as a sovereign state; and (e) promoting the idea that this illegitimate Jewish state should be replaced by an Arab-majority alternative. As NGO Monitor puts it, the effectiveness of BDS campaigns is rooted chiefly “in their ability to penetrate the public and political discourse and blur the lines between legitimate criticism of Israel and the complete delegitimization of Israel in the international arena.”
SJP’s Activities & Tactics
Condemning “the racism and discrimination underlying the policies and laws of the state of Israel,” SJP’s various chapters actively organize protests, memorials, educational forums, lectures, panel discussions, teach-ins, seminars, workshops, film screenings, and other events designed to “give a voice to the Palestinian narrative as well as highlight the plight of the Palestinian people under Israeli aggression.” Particularly notable is the fact that since 2005, a number of SJP chapters have designated one week of every academic year as “Palestine Awareness Week” or, alternatively, “Israel Apartheid Week.” These weeks feature an array of SJP-sponsored events where Israel is repeatedly denounced in incendiary language as an apartheid state that is guilty of human-rights abuses, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and even genocide.
SJP’s Chief Supporter
The most significant and influential supporter of SJP is American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), which was established in 2005 by none other than SJP co-founder Hatem Bazian. Writes Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD): “AMP provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and [financial] grants to SJP activists. AMP even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country. According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.” Further, AMP has co-sponsored events with various SJP chapters.
At least eight of AMP’s current board members, key officials, and close allies were previously members of now-defunct Islamic extremist groups that funded terrorist activities. Those groups included the Palestine Committee of the Muslim Brotherhood (which was established by the Brotherhood to advance Hamas’s agendas in the U.S.); the Islamic Association for Palestine (which served as the chief U.S. propaganda and recruitment arm of Hamas); the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (which from 1995-2001 contributed approximately $12.4 million in money, goods, and services to Hamas); and KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development (a Hamas fundraising entity).
The Final Analysis
So you see, SJP’s name is highly misleading—not only to the American public, but also to the many useful idiots who constitute the organization’s devoted members and foot soldiers. As far as SJP is concerned, “Justice in Palestine” can best be achieved by advancing the agendas of this generation’s foremost Jew-haters.
Previous profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center, click here.