Sharansky raises concern about groups like NSJP and SJP spreading anti-Semitic rhetoric on college campuses.
Justice is an end for which all people strive, and the Palestinian people deserve it no less than any other. Yet no understanding of justice is worth the name if, in advancing the aims of one group, it disallows the legitimate cause of another. Thus, when an organization denies Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state; when it demonizes Israel by comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany or South African apartheid; and when in making demands of Israel it applies double-standards that are not applied to any other country in the world, this organization is not seeking justice. Rather, it is promoting anti-Semitism, plain and simple.
The reason for this is that demonization, delegitimization and double-standards against Jews were the main tools of anti-Semites for thousands of years. Now, they are being applied to the Jewish collective in the State of Israel.
Indeed, after ongoing debates, the international community has agreed upon a set of criteria for determining when criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. Applying these criteria, the following report analyzes the officially proclaimed aims of Students for Justice in Palestine, and the views of its central figures, and unmasks them as fundamentally anti-Semitic — in nature. The findings herein can certainly be used by those on campuses seeking to combat the pernicious influence of this group. More than that, I hope they will open the eyes of everyone who sincerely wants to better the world. The way to justice is, clearly, not through this organization.
According to studies conducted by the Anti-Defamation League, for example, anti-Semitic propaganda, attacks, campaigns and other incidents in the United States have been sharply on the rise over the last several years.
Among the places that have seen an increase in anti-Semitism are college campuses in the U.S. and Canada, where movements such as the Boycott-Divestment-Sanction Movement (BDS) against Israel have become more accepted.
One of the most active anti-Semitic forces on North American campuses is National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP). ISGAP has compiled a comprehensive analysis of NSJP and its anti-Semitic discourse, its ideological origins and its terrorist connections. In addition, the report examines the ideology of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and its anti-Semitic roots, as defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The report also shows SJP’s connections to violence and terror.
The findings of this report are important to understanding the problem of growing anti-Semitism on campuses in North America. NSJP annual conferences continue to take place on university campuses; the most recent at the University of Minnesota in November.
The NSJP advocates the elimination of the State of Israel, and the ending of any form of Jewish self-determination in the ancient Jewish homeland. The report examines how this mission is justified politically and ideologically, and how it uses anti-Semitism and other forms of insidious anti-democratic ideologies for the basis of this eliminationist and hate-filled project taking places on university campuses.
The ISGAP report on the NSJP defines anti-Semitism according to the working definition adopted by the IHRA, established in 1998 at the behest of former Swedish Prime Minister Göran Persson: “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
In keeping with the IHRA definition, NSJP, and SJP members have demonstrated consistent and overt anti-Semitism via social media, protests, violence and hate speech. This advocacy of and adherence to anti-Semitic actions have been demonstrated not only by individuals, but by entire chapters at these university-approved entities.
ISGAP’s report shows that it is not just a few extreme individuals who are spreading anti-Semitism and incitement against Jewish students and the Jewish community, but rather a systematic problem within NSJP rooted in its ideology.
The ISGAP report illustrates how the anti-Semitism that has broken out on college campuses that host more than 200 SJP Chapters is spread over regions that span the U.S. and Canada. The campuses where the incitement to hatred is most insidious include Harvard, Columbia, Stony Brook, Georgetown, Brandeis, Penn State, Rutgers, Temple, the Universities of Illinois, Minnesota, Chicago and Washington, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Florida State, Universities of North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas at Dallas, Texas at Austin and numerous universities in Canada such as York University and the University of Toronto, where the BDS movement was launched in North America.
The more legitimate the anti-Semitism becomes within the halls of higher learning, the more lethal Jew-hatred becomes within society, spreading from the classrooms to the halls of Congress, from lecture halls to city halls.
This report calls upon U.S. and Canadian universities to adopt the IRHA definition of anti-Semitism as a guideline, to fight anti-Semitism on campus and to protect basic academic freedoms and democratic principles. It would be tragic if universities were to be purveyors of hate, rather than places to learn and a source of inspiration for democratic principles steeped in human rights.
From the Special ISGAP Report: The Threat to Academic Freedom from National Students for Justice in Palestine, published October 2019.
Editor’s Note: This op-ed is abridged from a report by the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP). The report can be read in its entirety at isgap.org