If the United States State Department had to find a poster child for anti-Semitism according to its definition, then Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) ought to be the first on the list. What SJP does on a regular basis crosses far more lines than just common decency and inherent human virtue; it destroys any claim that it makes as a “socially just” movement bent on defending the integrity of the Palestinian-Arabs. The problem that college students face is that SJP is seen as a legitimate contributor to the Israeli-Arab debate. However, SJP is going to lose this information war on campus.
The average college student should not look very far to see the differences between how the pro-Israel community discusses the conflict and how SJP presents it. One side relies on empirical data, facts, history, and the premise of respectful dialogue to present their case. The other uses bullying, name-calling, dehumanization, double-standards, improperly-used buzzwords, and a twisted narrative to make its voice heard. Regardless of whether someone is apathetic, leans toward Israel, or leans toward the Palestinian-Arabs, people do not listen to a side that utilizes tactics that subject their peers to physical, emotional, and psychological trauma.
Many college students, myself included, understand all too well what it is like to be bullied. It is humiliating. It is vile. It is despicable. It is traumatizing. Above all, it can result in people harming themselves or others. These same individuals may have also been the targets of bullying because of their complexion, their sexual orientation, their gender identity, and their religion.
So why would a college community, especially those campuses that stand for tolerance and respect, ignore such bullying from SJP? Why do college students remain silent over these tactics, especially when some of them have previously experienced bullying themselves?
The answer is simple: SJP claims to hold the higher moral ground. It fundamentally believes that their way of viewing the Arab-Israeli conflict is the only way any “rational person” should see it, and that anybody who holds opposing viewpoints is a “bigoted, racist Islamophobe” who wishes to silence their student activists. When bullies claim to hold the moral high ground and manipulate people to agree to their twisted sense of “right and wrong,” then it results in a domino effect. It influences the student body to not only tolerate such bullying, but also encourages other students to intimidate pro-Israel students under these same false premises.
The only way you stop the bullying is by dismantling every single thing that SJP claims to stand for. Some students have already written exceptional articles dismantling the various tenants that Students for Justice in Palestine claims to stand for. However, it is important to list a few:
When SJP starts resorting to the age-old anti-Semitic language of blood libel, such as calling Zionists “baby killers” or claiming that Israel commits “Judaization,” then you should challenge their call to fight for “human dignity.” Dehumanizing another people is not dignifying humanity. They are hypocrites.
When SJP tries to influence a student body not to work with Jewish institutions, such as Hillel, on the basis that it supports the Jewish state, then you should expose the blatant double standard against a particular ethnic group as bigotry. That is not “socially just”; that is holding another group of people to the impossibly high standard of perfection. It is nonsense.
When SJP starts bullying Jewish students on campus, referring to them as “kikes,” telling them to go back into the oven, and physically assaulting them simply because of their blatant or suspected beliefs on Israel, then you should correctly compare SJP to organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, which have historically wreaked havoc on minority groups and attempted to take away their humanity. It does not espouse “equality,” rather it champions racism, bigotry, and supremacy against Jews.
If people on college campuses truly see themselves as tolerant, liberally-minded, moral individuals, then they would certainly recognize that SJP is none of those things. Bullies rely on their victims remaining afraid of their resolve. They might silence the victims in the short-run, but in the long-run, it only empowers those who were targeted. As long as we, the pro-Israel community, continue wearing our Israel-themed clothes, wear our Stars of David with pride, and tell SJP that we will not be controlled by fear, then it delivers a death blow to SJP’s tactics. It gives us an opportunity to fill in the void on campus to respectfully discuss this conflict.
The pro-Israel community has no problem talking about the complexities of the Palestinian-Arabs and Israel, nor does it have a problem with differing opinions. As a Zionist activist, I have no objection answering the tough questions and welcoming debate on the basis of facts, empirical data, and history. What I, along with the rest of the pro-Israel community, refuse to tolerate are SJP’s bullying tactics and the deafening silence of college communities regarding their actions. But as long as SJP continues its wretched path of intolerance, intimidation, and fear-mongering, then nobody rational on campus will take them seriously. In that event, SJP will lose its standing and will not be seen as a legitimate, rational voice on the Arab-Israeli debate.
So keep going SJP! Just don’t be surprised when the door slams in your face when you try to spew your Jew-hating propaganda.