— Anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian activist group founded at University of California’s Berkeley campus in 2001
— Has chapters on more than 25 major campuses throughout the U.S.
— Advocates economic sanctions against Israel
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) originated on the University of California, Berkeley campus in 2001. Since then, SJP cells have spread to some 25 major campuses throughout the United States, including Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Georgetown, and the universities of Michigan and Maryland. SJP at the University of Maryland states that its mission is to pursue “freedom and self-determination for the Palestinian people,” a goal predicated on ending “[t]he Israeli military occupation, with its daily humiliation, abuse and brutal violence”; “[t]he right of return and repatriation for Palestinian refugees of war and ethnic cleansing”; and “[t]he cessation of settlement activity and the dismantling of settlements built outside of Israel’s pre-1967 border.” Toward the advancement of these objectives, SJP demands “[d]ivestment … from companies that invest or do substantial business in Israel,” and an “end to U.S. tax-funded aid to Israel.”
Calling Israel “this generation’s South Africa,” SJP vows to do for contemporary Palestinians what the anti-apartheid campaign did for blacks in South Africa. Toward that end, SJP exhorts college students to help punish the “Apartheid State of Israel” by demanding that their schools divest their financial assets from all companies that conduct business there. SJP has staged campus protests against Starbucks, General Electric, Disney, and scores of other companies.
SJP members, who denounce what they term the Israeli-sponsored “concentration camps” wherein Palestinians are purportedly forced to live, harass Jewish students when they emerge from campus synagogues. In one incident after a rally at San Francisco State University (SFSU), SJP supporters surrounded a small group of Jewish students and incited violence while shouting, “Too bad Hitler didn’t finish the job,” and other epithets. On April 9, 2002 (Holocaust Remembrance Day), pro-Palestinian groups at SFSU protested Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and then circulated posters depicting Jews eating Christian babies. That same day, SJP members held a rally and a sit-in on the Berkeley campus, demanding that the university divest all its assets from companies that conducted any business in Israel. Police arrested 79 people that day, 41 of them students. Pro-Palestinian protests also erupted on several other campuses that same day, involving nearly 10,000 students at Ohio State, the University of Minnesota, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Carnegie Mellon University. In November 2002, Yale University’s SJP set up a mock Israeli checkpoint on campus, harassing Jewish students with cardboard rifles.
A co-founder of the Berkeley SJP is Snehal Shingavi, a graduate student who gained notoriety in 2001 for teaching a controversial course called “The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance.” Explaining that his instruction would focus on “Israel’s brutal oppression of Palestine since 1948,” Shingavi in the course catalog urged conservative students not to bother registering for his class.
SJP’s national conference at the University of Michigan in November 2002 was sponsored by the Islamic Association for Palestine, an organization that raises money for the families of suicide bombers. The conference also featured keynote speaker Sami Al-Arian, a former professor at the University of South Florida who was the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad operations in North America.
In its literature, SJP demands an immediate end to the current Israeli military “occupation”; an immediate cessation of all U.S. material and political support to Israel; divestment from all corporations that conduct business in, or with, Israel; and the implementation of the right of return and the repatriation of all Palestinians.