As students filed back to campus this Fall, the anti-Israel hatefests began. At the University of Michigan on Rosh Hashanah, Jewish students heading to services encountered a mock “apartheid wall” plastered with anti-Israel propaganda and a protestor garbed as an IDF soldier harassing passing students. On the wall was written “CTRL + ALT + DELETE,” the combination of commands needed to restart a PC, implying that Israel should be destroyed and the land should be regenerated as Palestine. At Portland State University, the student senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting a genocidal and Hamas-inspired Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israeli companies. The resolution stated that “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land has been entrenched since 1948.” At CSU Long Beach, a flier for a Jewish Studies course on Israel’s history and culture was defaced with the message “not a valid course. Israel is occupied territory.” The words “modern State of Israel” were also crossed out and overwritten with “occupation of Palestine.”
The common thread in all these incidents is the Hamas-funded, anti-Israel hate group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) which held its annual conference November 4-6 at George Mason University, a public campus in Fairfax, Virginia. In spite of the barrage of evidence—including recent congressional testimony—that SJP is a campus front for Hamas and an instigator of Jew hatred, George Mason opened its doors to the group, providing resources and facilities to the terrorist-supporting campus organization.
SJP purports to be a standard campus cultural group, but in reality it is a pro-terror organization which receives funding and educational support from anti-Israel Hamas terrorists for the purposes of destroying Israel and committing genocide against its Jewish population as is dictated by the Hamas charter.
As described in the Freedom Center’s recent pamphlet, Students for Justice in Palestine: A Campus Front for Hamas Terrorists, SJP’s pro-terror campaign is guided and funded through a Hamas front called American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), whose principals are former officers of the Holy Land Foundation and other Islamic “charities” which were previously convicted of funneling money to Hamas. AMP was created by Hatem Bazian, a pro-Hamas professor at UC Berkeley who is also the co-founder of SJP. AMP provides funding and leadership to SJP chapters across the nation, enabling them to promote the Hamas agenda.
SJP is the main promoter of the Hamas-inspired and funded Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, a genocidal effort to strangle Israel’s democracy and make it vulnerable to its enemies. Among SJP’s many activities in the service of Hamas is its sponsorship of “Israeli Apartheid” weeks featuring Hamas and BDS supporters as campus speakers and advancing the false claim that Israel is a racist state like South Africa and deserves to be destroyed—a ludicrous claim that is contradicted by the million-plus Arabs who are Israeli citizens and hold rights that are the envy of the Arab world.
The SJP National Conference is an opportunity for the organization to school its members and affiliates in the latest tactics for disseminating Hamas propaganda, disrupting pro-Israel events, and promulgating Jew hatred on campus. The conference held this November at George Mason was co-sponsored by the GMU chapter of Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), an SJP-surrogate. Several members of the Virginia General Assembly signed a letter urging GMU to cancel the event, calling SJP “A group that incites hate, fuels violent behavior and places citizens’ lives at great risk,” but GMU did not heed their call.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center set out to oppose the SJP National Conference—an event dedicated to promoting the Hamas agenda on American campuses—in one of the only ways available to ordinary citizens—by countering hate speech with more speech. Two individuals affiliated with the Freedom Center set out in the early morning hours on November 3rd and 4th to hang posters exposing SJP’s role in promoting Hamas’s aims on campus. The effort was led by Oleg Atbashian, a former Soviet dissident who works as an artist and activist and is the mastermind behind The People’s Cube , a satirical website which mocks the Left.
The posters hung by Atbashian and his assistant expose SJP as promoters of Hamas propaganda and supporters of Hamas’s terrorist agenda to destroy the Jewish state. One poster depicts a gun-toting Hamas terrorist holding the strings of a puppet labeled “American Muslims for Palestine” which in turn controls a marionette labeled “Students for Justice in Palestine.” Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is described as “The chief sponsor of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities on campus.” Hamas is identified as “A terror organization pledged to wipe out Israel” (a goal explicitly stated in the Hamas charter) while AMP is the “Hamas-created chief organizer and funder of SJP.” The poster also depicts shadowed bodies lying in pools of blood, illustrating the bloody deeds of Hamas’s campaign of terror against the Jews. The poster contains the hashtag #StopCampusSupport4Terrorism and the Freedom Center’s website, www.HorowitzFreedomCenter.org.
A second poster depicts three figures labeled “Europe,” “Israel,” and “America” in the target of a bull’s-eye with the caption “Think the terrorists won’t come here? Think again.”
The posters hung on the morning of November 3rd were immediately torn down. As a public university, George Mason has the responsibility to ensure that the First Amendment is protected on campus and all voices may be heard. But while SJP prepared to host its national conference promoting the Hamas agenda and instructing students in tactics to demonize and destroy Israel, the only attempt to counter its anti-Semitism and pro-terrorist propaganda was quickly swept aside.
On the morning of November 4th, Oleg and his assistant returned to campus to discover a heavy police presence, but they bravely began to once again hang posters around the campus. Almost immediately, the duo was confronted by campus police who confiscated their posters and materials and arrested them for “destruction of property worth of at least $2,500,” which the officers described as a “class 6 felony.”
The officers failed to read Oleg and his associate their Miranda rights, and placed them in handcuffs so tight they left bruises for days afterwards. The officers also lied to them, claiming that they had been photographed hanging up posters (they hadn’t) and stating that they had “super-glued” the posters to school signs (also untrue, the posters were attached with a simple wheat and water paste that dissolves in water). The two held in a cramped prison cell in the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center for 14 hours, and were threatened with a five-year jail term for the exercise of their First Amendment rights. Bail was set at $8,000 for each defendant. Representatives for the Freedom Center posted bail for Oleg and his assistant but they still face a criminal hearing in January. As the pair was led away for processing, one of the arresting officers told them triumphantly, “You can’t come to GMU ever again.”
Oleg, once an anti-Communist activist in the former Soviet Union, sees a sad irony in his arrest on an American campus while exercising his free speech rights to counter terrorism: “Back in my Soviet dissident days, when I was collecting signatures in defense of Andrei Sakharov, I was screamed at, threatened, and lectured by the KGB and Communist functionaries. What I never imagined was that in the United States, the land of the free, I would not only be subjected to similar treatment, but go to jail,” he recounted.
And as in the Soviet Union, only one voice—that of the Hamas-supporting, genocide promoting, organization Students for Justice in Palestine—was allowed to be heard at George Mason University.