University of California, Berkeley
157 Boalt Hall
Email : email@example.com URL: Website
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 UC 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’s 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 such epithets as, "Too bad Hitler didn't finish the job!" 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, resulting in 79 arrests. 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, a now-defunct, Illinois-based front group for the terrorist organization Hamas. 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.
SJP’s version of Israel’s founding and history, and of the Palestinian people’s relationship with Israel, reads as follows:
“When Zionist militia groups violently took over the land that became Israel in 1948, they committed mass atrocities that led to the expulsion of approximately 700,000 indigenous Palestinians from their homes. These people have never been allowed to return, and many continue to live difficult lives in refugee camps scattered throughout the Middle East, as well as in temporary refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank….
“Military occupation has come to define the lives of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. The Israeli military has governed Palestinians’ lives arbitrarily through the use of checkpoints scattered within Palestinian lands, Jewish-only roads, land confiscations, home demolitions, arbitrary curfews, and illegal extra-judicial executions….
“In 2002, the Israeli government announced its plans to build what it termed a ‘security barrier’ encapsulating the West Bank. While this wall ostensibly was built out of security concerns, it is not built along the ‘border’ between the West Bank and Israel, but rather in large part on land within the West Bank. This land grab has had disastrous consequences, isolating towns and villages from other communities and separating farmers from their lands and livelihoods….
“While most discussions about the Palestinians tend to focus on the peope living in Gaza and the West Bank, it is worth noting that Palestinians also account for 20% of the Israeli population by citizenship. While many of Israel’s crudest supporters tokenize them for their own political ends, the truth is that while these Palestinians have many of the benefits of Israeli citizenship–including the right to vote and participate in political institutions–they also face a number of institutional and social barriers that clearly demarcate them as second-class citizens who are unwanted by a state which excludes them from the national identity….
“The parallel between contemporary Israel and apartheid South Africa is striking. From visible efforts to separate Palestinians from Israelis, as well as a humiliating, indifferent, and inhumane security state system, to strong similarities in the rhetorics (sic) used by Israel and apartheid South Africa, it is evident that the Israeli system of controlling the Palestinian people and maintaining Jewish control over the state apparatus matches many of apartheid South Africa’s goals of maintaining White control over the government as well as the indigenous African populations.”
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