Ninety years after Columbia University imposed quotas on Jewish students; its president along with other university presidents received a letter from a Jewish civil rights organization reminding them of their legal obligation to ensure a safe educational environment for Jewish students.
The quota system that kept Jonas Salk and Richard Feynman out of major universities has long been abolished, but it has been replaced by student checkpoints, violent confrontations and faculty harassment. One man, Hatem Bazian, and his organization, Students for Justice in Palestine, have led the way in creating this hostile environment on campus. And in October 2011, SJP will be holding its first national conference at Columbia University.
Hatem “Hate’em” Bazian headed the Muslim Student Association at Berkeley, but there were practical limitations to what a Muslim group could accomplish on campus. Students for Justice in Palestine, which he co-founded, shed the explicit Islamic colors of the MSA and added one more degree of separation between the Muslim Brotherhood and what appeared to be a secular social justice movement whose agenda just happened to align with that of the Brotherhood.
But there is a good deal of overlap between the SJP and MSA in leadership, membership and event sponsorship—particularly in California. And a civil rights lawsuit filed by Jewish students notes that the Berkeley SJP and MSA share office and campus facilities and charges that the SJP is actually the “militant arm” of the MSA.
Students for Justice in Palestine’s theatrical and physical violence is not aimed at winning an argument, but at intimidating and marginalizing Jewish students on campus. Its program of boycotts, hate and harassment has little in the way of specific policy objectives beyond waging an open-ended war on Israel and it does not go on hiatus during peace negotiations.
Unlike most activist organizations it does not endorse a Two State solution. Instead it calls for “an end to colonial systems of governance in the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel” and the “right of return” for an agenda that extends well beyond any peace settlement. SJP affiliates have featured speakers calling for a One State solution, which is a euphemism for the elimination of Israel.
SJP uses violent imagery to bypass discussion and skip right to the hate, accusing its opponents of Apartheid, Nazism and genocide to make dialogue impossible. Its extremist speakers use lies and distortions to portray Israel and its supporters as absolute evil to create a hateful worldview. The violent confrontations that have followed, such as the assault on Jessica Felber at UC Berkeley by a SJP leader and the cries of “Too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job!” at San Francisco State University are all outcomes of this climate of hate.
Hatem Bazian was one of the speakers at the event outside which Jessica, who was holding a sign that read, “Israel Wants Peace”, was attacked. The lawsuit filed by Jessica Felber charged that SJP “conspires and coordinates” with the Muslim Student Association which has a “publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State.”
The assault on Jessica by SJP leader Husam Zakharia was not his first violent attack on a Jewish student on campus. And Husam was following in the footsteps of Hatem Bazian’s own violent campaigns of harassment against Jewish students.
Back in the 90’s when Hatem was at San Francisco State University, he participated in an assault on the offices of the Golden Gater student newspaper accusing it of being full of Jewish spies. Jewish students had complained about anti-Semitic behavior by Bazian, in his role as student body president, and his campaign against Hillel, the leading Jewish campus organization, was a direct attempt to disenfranchise Jewish students.
The SJP organization allowed Hatem an even larger platform for his violent bigotry. In April 2002, seventy-nine members of SJP attempted to disrupt a Holocaust Remembrance Day event and were arrested. At a rally to protest their arrests, Bazian said, “take a look at the type of names on the building around campus – Haas, Zellerbach – and decide who controls this university.”
SJP’s conference in 2001 was sponsored by a Hamas front group with the American head of Islamic Jihad as its keynote speaker. Bazian would later serve as the representative for KindHearts, another Hamas front group. And true to its MSA roots, the SJP Berkeley site describes Hamas as “a vast social organization” which “also has a militia established to fight Israeli troops in the occupied territories.”
At one event, Bazian reportedly quoted the genocidal Hadith which appears in the Hamas charter; “The Day of Judgment will not happen until the trees and stones will say, Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” And Bazian and the SJP have helped bring that atmosphere of universal hostility to college campuses across America.
When the SJP deploys makeshift checkpoints on campuses where its members yell, “Are you Jewish?” at passing students , when it disrupts Holocaust memorials and Jewish student concerts, when it assaults and intimidates Jewish students on campus– it is making the trees and stones of the Ivy League and the Public Ivies a place of terror and danger for Jewish students.
The start of Students for Justice in Palestine activities in 2000-2003 coincided with a sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents on campus and an increase in incidents in California– the epicenter of its activity. Since then the pattern of incidents has resulted in the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights launching an investigation into the University of California.
The rising wave of hate culminated in the SJP’s launch of the first divestment campaign at an American university… on Holocaust Remembrance Day. During 2011’s Days of Remembrance of the Victims of the Holocaust, they achieved another milestone by getting the Berkeley Student Senate to pass a resolution boycotting companies that do business with Israel.
Today Jewish students don’t face quotas; they face checkpoints and speakers whose call for their deaths is paid for with their student fees. The discrimination that Jews of Middle-Eastern origin fled in the Muslim world has followed them here through the Islamic supremacism of the Muslim Brotherhood, which through groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and American Muslims in Palestine has brought a dangerous climate of hatred to America.