Fordham University Rejects SJP

Sara Dogan,

SJP’s goals “clearly conflict with…the mission and values of the University.”  

In a rare but promising decision, Fordham University in New York has elected not to allow the formation of a chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on campus, citing the conflict between SJP’s emphasis on “polarization rather than dialogue” and its support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In a leaked email, Keith Eldredge, Dean of Students at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus, wrote: 

After consultation with numerous faculty, staff and students and my own deliberation, I have decided to deny the request to form a club known as Students for Justice in Palestine at Fordham University. While students are encouraged to promote diverse political points of view, and we encourage conversation and debate on all topics, I cannot support an organization whose sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country, when these goals clearly conflict with and run contrary to the mission and values of the University. 

There is perhaps no more complex topic than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it is a topic that often leads to polarization rather than dialogue. The purpose of the organization as stated in the proposed club constitution points toward that polarization. Specifically, the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel presents a barrier to open dialogue and mutual learning and understanding. 

In a statement announcing their vote to approve the club, United Student Government at Lincoln Center acknowledged the need for open, academic discussion and the promotion of intellectual rigor on campus; however, I disagree that the proposal to form a club affiliated with the national Students for Justice in Palestine organization is the best way to provide this. I welcome continued conversation about alternative ways to promote awareness of this important conflict and the issues that surround it from multiple perspectives. 

Dean Eldredge’s email correctly points to several highly problematic facets of SJP’s mission and strategy including its policy of rejecting the “normalization” of relations with any pro-Israel individuals or groups, which stands in blatant opposition to the spirit of open discussion which liberal arts universities aim to foster. This policy has led SJP to reject overtures of cooperation from pro-Israel groups, even when the two organizations are agreed upon a common issue. 

At San Diego State University, for instance, the pro-Israel campus group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) attempted to co-sign a petition to make the campus more inclusive for Muslims after a Muslim student was assaulted on campus. SDSU-SJP refused to allow SSI to co-sign the petition claiming that it “didn’t serve the interests of the community.” According to members of SSI, “Out of the over 30 organizations that had signed the document, SSI was the only organization to be excluded from the statement.” 

While he made the correct call to prevent SJP from forming a chapter on campus, Dean Eldredge’s email actually fails to present the most damning reason to exclude the organization from campus: SJP’s role as a front group for the anti-Israel terror group Hamas. 

While SJP disguises itself as a typical campus cultural group—a strategy that has succeeded in gaining it acceptance and resources at prominent campuses across the nation— it is in truth a pro-terror organization that receives funding and support from Hamas terrorists for the purpose of destroying Israel, the world’s only Jewish state, and committing genocide against its Jewish population as prescribed in the Hamas charter.

SJP is the chief promoter of the Hamas-inspired and funded Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a genocidal effort to weaken the Israeli democracy through financial and social pressures and make it vulnerable to its enemies. SJP uses its vaunted position on university campuses to promote lies about the Jewish state and propagate anti-Israel propaganda. The organization erects massive “Israeli Apartheid” walls plastered with anti-Israel and pro-terrorist slogans, disrupts pro-Israel events, brings Hamas-supporting speakers to campus and has been known to physically assault Jewish students who attempt to protest these activities. At SJP events, is not uncommon to hear chants such as “Intifada, Intifada” (a call for a renewed campaign of terrorism against Israel) or “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” (a call for the destruction and takeover of the entirety of the Jewish state which lies between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea). 

This pro-terror campaign is guided and funded through a Hamas front called American Muslims for Palestine, whose principals were defendants in the Holy Land Foundation trial in which they were found to be funneling charitable contributions to Hamas. AMP was created by Hatem Bazian, a Hamas-supporting professor at UC Berkeley who is also the co-founder of SJP. 

In recent testimony before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, Jonathan Schanzer, who worked as a terrorism finance analyst for the United States Department of the Treasury from 2004-2007, and now serves as the Vice President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), described AMP as “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States.”  He explained how AMP “provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists” and “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country.”  Schanzer noted that “according to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.”

Eldredge obliquely alludes to this aspect of SJP, noting that its “sole purpose is advocating political goals of a specific group, and against a specific country,” but he stops short of exposing the links between SJP and Hamas. 

Fordham University’s rejection of SJP brings renewed optimism that college administrators are finally catching on to SJP’s destructive and hate-fueled agenda and the damaging repercussions it has for Jewish students and others on campus. While this is a cause for hope, universities typically shy away from decisions that will anger their leftist campus communities. It will take continued pressure and exposure from pro-Israel groups and the media to press the SJP issue on campus.