Editors' note: Jason D. Hill is a professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago. Below is his Open Letter to Attorney General, William Barr making the argument to disband Students for Justice in Palestine and all BDS movements.
Mr. Attorney General, On May 16, 2019, The German Parliament voted, as you know, to condemn as anti-Semitic, the BDS movement in Germany. The BDS is a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that targets Israeli organizations, academic institutions and companies engaged in entrepreneurial activities in Israel to weaken the Israeli economy and politically in an attempt to force Israel to change its policies towards Palestinians living there.
BDS movements, mainly conducted by their most visible branch, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) are prolific on US campuses and enact a reign of verbal terror, and physical and psychological violence against anyone who dares to be pro-Israel, critical of Palestinian terrorist or defend Israel against false charges of it being a genocidal an apartheid state. Really, it represents an assault against Western civilization and United States interests and should properly be considered a national security threat.
As a recent victim of vicious assaults by members of the SJP at DePaul University where I am full tenured professor, and, with the highest praises and respect from the Acting Provost Salma Ghanem, for the ways in which members of the DePaul community made their voices heard—I call for a disbandment of all SJP campus units by the US Justice department, and a thorough investigation into the motives and political involvements of higher level academic bodies that endorse these organizations which have ties with terrorist organizations such as Hamas.
BDS movements are immoral largely because they use slander, libel and defamation of Israel and, by association, the United States, to bring Israel to the brink of economic and political disaster. Their real , immorality, however, lies in their guiding ethos: hatred of Jews for being Jews. And hatred of the West, Including the United States for our values. Operating under the guise of a movement directed at what they claim are egregious policies of Israel, the BDS movement is an insidious body of nefarious characters funded by organizations linked to terrorist networks and largescale organizations. Their real hatred lies not in policies but in the achievements of the Jewish state; its success in transforming what was an arid and barren desert region into a thriving democratic civilization. They hate that it is the only country in the Middle East that consistently practices religious reciprocity and hosts the only pro-gay “Pride Parade” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where gays can properly seek asylum from sexual oppression. They hate the fact that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where thousands of people seek asylum from the oppressive and illiberal application of Islamic Sharia law in neighboring Arab countries.
As you already know, Sir, the most visible and virulent arm of the BDS movement is an organization widespread across more than 200 campuses in the United States called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The SJP was created in 2001 by Hamas supporter Hatem Bazian. It acts under the auspices of the International Socialist Organization which is designed to wage a campus war against Israel and the United States. Hamas, many people forget, is a US recognized terrorist and dictatorial regime that is militantly anti-Christian, ant-Semitic, that subjects women to honor killings, and defends a place where homosexuals are tortured and beaten to death, and, along with peaceful dissenters, journalists and protesters are dragged through the streets and executed.
Your department must know that Hamas has a pivotal leadership role within the BDS campuses and has direct links to a group known as American Muslims for Palestine, (AMP). AMP has well known established ties to several Palestinian terrorists. It is the most important sponsor and organizer for the SJP to whom it grants training , printed material and grants along with a so-called “Apartheid Wall.” There are compelling overlaps between the AMP and individuals who work and have worked on behalf of organizations that were designated and held civilly liable by federal authorities for supporting Hamas. Again, there are strong direct financial and organizational ties to Hamas and its leadership and the SJP.
But why would an organization such as the SJP with ties to terrorists organizations be permitted on US university campuses? New York University awarded the SJP a Presidential service award in 2019, while its members around the country engage in anti-Semitic vitriol, support Hamas whose charter calls for the establishment of a Global Caliphate, the elimination of Jewry from the Middle East and the obliteration of the state of Israel. Why would our Judeo-Christian culture reward and host an organization that pledges allegiance to Hamas that routinely persecutes Christians and violates all the values of liberty and freedom constitutive of our great republic?
In fact, recently newly minted PhD Steven William Thrasher in his graduation speech at New York University described Israel as an “apartheid state” and endorsed the BDS movements. Miller is to be appointed as a future professor at Northwestern University.
Why are universities hosting the SJP when it is open in its support and glorification and exoneration of well-known convicted terrorists? In fact, my own university, DePaul University, the largest Catholic University in the United States, hosted on February 3, 2015, such an event on behalf of the Chicago chapter of the SJP for convicted Palestinian terrorist Rasmea Yousef Odeh. Odeh was convicted for her role in the 1969 bombing of a crowded Jewish supermarket filled with mostly women and children that killed two Hebrew University students. Four days later there was a foiled attempt to blow up the British Consulate. Rasmea Yousef Odeh was convicted by the Israeli court and sentenced to life imprisonment for her involvement in both acts. She was released 10 years later in a prisoner swap. She eventually made her way to the USA by way of Jordan where she obtained US citizenship. She was later indicted for immigration fraud when she lied on her citizenship application about her conviction. Rasmea Yousef Odeh was found guilty of illegally obtaining naturalization. The SJP fundraisers at DePaul hailed her as a victim whose resilience they praised
In the Spring of 2014 DePaul made headlines when their SJP chapter began a BDS campaign against Israel that lead several Jewish students to come forward and claim that they did not feel safe on the DePaul campus.
As mentioned earlier, I was targeted by the SJP beginning in April of 2019 for an article I penned in The Federalist defending Israel’s right to annex the West Bank. Leading a pack of around six student organizations, the SJP took over a university building where they chanted: “Professor Hill, you can’t hide! We Know you want genocide.” They disseminated and littered school property including the library, cafeterias and academic buildings with thousands of leaflets with my picture on it. The leaflets cast me as a demonic racist, an Islamophobic, transphobic war criminal, and an advocate of ethnic cleansing and genocide. Some of the signs ominously read “Dump Hill,” which I was told by some people, was possibly a cultural slogan for: “dump his body.!” Death threats were made against me, and I needed campus escort for at least three weeks while on campus. They demanded that I attend a racial sensitivity training work shop, and called for my dismissal from the university—all for defending the rights of Israel and exercising my First Amendment rights. While students and faculty counsel which passed a resolution to censure me committed acts of libel, slander and defamation of my character, the University’s Acting Provost complimented “the way members of the DePaul community made their voices heard.”
A few weeks after their protests, the SJP lead a full-frontal Anti-Apartheid week against the state of Israel on the campuses of DePaul University. The students were once more, in my estimation, invoking a reign of psychological intimidation which left many students and faculty (myself included) feeling silenced and unsafe.
In the name of what sort of moral cowardice do we, the American people, allow for this effrontery against our civilizational values and political principles to be waged by a group of jihadist nihilists who hate not only Israel but the fundamental values of America? American universities who harbor this rogue group and allow our educational goals to be hijacked ought to be ashamed of themselves. And by what infernal impertinence does such an organization as the SJP dare to promote racism, vulgar displays of anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, and create a climate of fear and intimidation on college campuses?
In light of these egregious assaults against the core values of our nation’s universities, I call on you and the Department of Homeland Security to consider revoking the student visas of all members of SJP who are not US citizens, to halt the citizenship applications of its green card holders, to continue further investigations into the links between the SJP and terrorists organizations, and to eventually declare them illegal on campuses. I also call on you to investigate university administrative bodies who collude with such evil? What could be their motives? Are its members involved in secretive treasonous acts against our great republic?
For the parents out there whose students live in this chilling climate of fear, issue your protestations and do not capitulate. For Students and faculty who are disgusted by thuggery--take stock of names! File your complaints and concerns to the Department of Justice, to the President of the United States and the Central Intelligence Agency.
The threat is already here, Sir. The annihilation of our wondrous civilization need not be imminent. The SJP is only one malignant variant of such a threat lurking in that last decaying bastion of human civilization: our universities; they are the transmitters of culture, ideas and knowledge. We do not have to go the way Europe is going by yielding to radical Islamicization. We need not foment into a civilization of fear and hatred. Fear is alien to the American spirit and character. We are still one nation under God governed by reason and the rule of law; one body politic united by constitutional principles that regulate our public behaviors. Our job is to remove those political tumors one at a time when we find them. The moral mandate is ours, and while tomorrow may not be promised to any one of us—we must all command the future, so long as we are faced with cults of death.
Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago. His areas of specialization include ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy, cosmopolitanism and race theory. He is the author of several books, including “We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People” (Bombardier Books/Post Hill Press). Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.