Daniel Greenfield is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
The University of California has an anti-Semitism problem. Its name is Students for Justice in Palestine.
Co-founded by Hatem Bazian, a notorious bigot who was described by Rabbi Kahn of the San Francisco Jewish Community Relations Council as being, "more responsible than any other student on campus for trying to make life miserable for Jewish students," the SJP hate group has lived up to his hateful legacy.
As the University of California faces a debate over anti-Semitism between Jewish civil rights groups, concerned by the atmosphere of hate on campus, and Students for Justice in Palestine, which is responsible for much of the hate, one Jewish civil rights group reports that 70 testimonials have been collected from UC Jewish students describing intimidation by SJP and other BDS hate groups.
Jewish students describe being told, “Hitler was right” by a Students for Justice in Palestine member and being called “Kike” and “Dirty Jew” by SJP bigots.
A Jewish student government member at UC Santa Cruz was recently told to abstain from voting on a pro-BDS hate measure because of his “Jewish agenda.”
Now the ACLU of Southern California has taken a stand, not on behalf of the Jewish students, but is instead engaging in legal intimidation of the student government in support of the SJP BDS hate group.
When the UCLA Graduate Student Association attempted to take a neutral position on the Jewish State denying ad-hoc funding to organizations promoting the racist “divestment” campaign against Israel in an event meant to promote diversity, the ACLU joined the SJP hate group and other radical organizations in threatening legal action against the GSA for not funding activities that create a hostile campus for Jews.
Funding for the Diversity Town Hall had been provided on an ad-hoc basis by the GSA, rather than through a formal application process, as even the SJP-ACLU legal letter threatening the UCLA GSA admitted, making the letter little more than a shakedown effort with no legal credibility behind it.
And a Diversity Town Hall is by definition not meant to exclude a particular group, Jewish students, or to promote hate. The ACLU would not have insisted on funding for the KKK at a Diversity Town Hall.
Why then did it insist on backing an organization with a history of harassing Jewish students?
After David Horowitz spoke at UCLA and condemned Muslim terrorism against Jews, SJP had backed a Muslim Students Association resolution labeling any criticism of Islamic terrorism as Islamophobia and warning that it will not “tolerate” or accept any behaviors that develop a “hostile and unsafe environment.”
The double standard of the MSA and SJP is that any criticism of Islamic terrorism, even of the actual murder of Jews, is unacceptable, but that they are entitled to funds for spreading hate against Jews.
Joining the ACLU and SJP was the Center for Constitutional Rights which despite its name is a radical organization with a history of representing Islamic terrorists. Along with Palestine Legal, another group signing on to the SJP defense, it had a history of belittling and demeaning the complaints of Jewish students about anti-Semitism.
Maria LaHood, CCR’s Deputy Legal Director, who co-signed the ACLU-SJP letter had accused Jews of making “False accusations of anti-Semitism” as a “strategy to pressure campus authorities.” Liz Jackson, a lawyer at Palestine Legal and Cooperating Counsel for the Center for Constitutional Rights, another signer of the letter, had vigorously resisted efforts to fight anti-Semitism at the University of California.
Liz Jackson had claimed that “for every real incident of anti-Semitism on campus”, the majority of accusations of anti-Semitism made by Jews were false.
It is deeply troubling that Maria LaHood and Liz Jackson, two figures who have attacked Jewish students, activists and faculty complaining about anti-Semitism, have taken the lead in targeting the UCLA GSA for not acceding to an effort to create a hostile environment for Jewish students.
It is also very telling.
Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights are the legal defense apparatus for SJP’s campus anti-Semitism. Their threats help enable the ongoing SJP harassment of Jewish students at the University of California. And when the Graduate Student Association attempted to avert more ugliness by taking a neutral position, it came under fire from the legal team for the hate group.
The SJP, ACLU and CCR issued 6 demands to the GSA. The sixth was funding for an event “where issues of Israel and Palestine are openly discussed.” The sixth demand made it obvious that this was a shakedown.
While the letter claims that it wants to end “viewpoint discrimination,” in fact SJP and its allies have attempted to make viewpoint discrimination at the University of California into the norm.
SJP UCLA had attempted to force candidates for student government to sign a pledge not to take trips to Israel with mainstream Jewish organizations.
"I am troubled that the pledge sought to delegitimize educational trips offered by some organizations but not others. I am troubled that the pledge can reasonably be seen as trying to eliminate selected viewpoints from the discussion," Chancellor Gene Block had warned.
Palestine Legal however had aggressively defended the pledge measure. It had no problem with “viewpoint discrimination” when those being discriminated against were Jewish students or Jewish organizations. While Palestine Legal claims that there is a “Palestine Exception to Free Speech,” it’s Palestine Legal that has a Jewish exception for free speech.
And it is interesting that Indian-American student leaders at UCLA were targeted by SJP and its lawfare allies in both the pledge and the GSA case. Last time it was Sunny Singh, this time it’s Milan Chatterjee.
A disinterested observer might wonder whether SJP has an issue not only with Jews, but with Indian-Americans as well. It may be a coincidence, but both seem to be coming under fire at UCLA from the hate group these days.
Graduate Student Body President Milan Chatterjee has filed a legal complaint against SJP accusing the hate group of “defamation” and “legal intimidation” and complaining that UCLA is funding the organizations that engage in these attacks.
SJP and its lawfare allies had previously targeted Jewish and non-Jewish student government leaders at UCLA that appeared to be willing to listen to the Jewish side. Now they are even targeting neutral parties for the crime of being neutral. SJP’s ambition is not only to eliminate its Jewish opposition, but to crush student government leaders who are not actively supportive of its hateful agenda.
By backing Students for Justice in Palestine’s assault on neutral student government leaders, the ACLU is lending legal muscle to the harassment and intimidation that creates a hostile environment for Jewish students. The ACLU’s legal muscle comes from Peter Eliasberg, the ACLU of Southern California’s legal director and Manheim Family attorney for First Amendment Rights. The best known member of the family is actress Camryn Manheim who has said that she loves Israel. Would she approve of this?
Should the ACLU really be abusing its civil rights funding to aid in the harassment of Jewish students?
“I was physically assaulted in an elevator in 2013. I heard my friend get called a 'Zionist kike' by SJP. Today, I was called a 'kike' on campus by SJP. My two female friends and I were shoved to the ground and physically assaulted at our own Israel event in 2014,” a student related. “I am afraid to be on this campus.”
That’s the story told by one student. This is what Students for Justice in Palestine has brought to the University of California. Funding BDS, funds hate. Supporting SJP, supports hate against Jews.
The SJP hate doesn’t stop with Jews. Even non-Jews like Milan Chatterjee come under attack for not supporting SJP’s hate. University of California student leaders might wish to consider the closing lines of a certain poem that ends with the words, “Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” Students for Justice in Palestine’s hate may begin with Jews, but it does not end there.