Rutgers needs to consider removing Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) from campus. Despite claiming to champion justice and human rights, SJP has deviated significantly from its original purpose. Regrettably, it has transformed into a sanctuary for individuals exploiting it as a guise for promoting antisemitism.
SJP is made up of students who use terms relating to social justice and freedom to endlessly berate Jewish people and the State of Israel, as evidenced by their recent Instagram. Evidence of this can be found in SJP’s recent Instagram post. On October 31, 2023, at 12:00 pm, the official SJP Rutgers New Brunswick Instagram posted a list of chants to be used at their planned protest. SJP has found an ingenious way to hide their antisemitism: using the term “Zionist” in their chants instead of “Jew.”
Among the list of antisemitic and horrifying chants that were posted as a resource, one is “from New Jersey to Gaza! Globalize the intifada.” Everyone deserves the right to self-determination. The intifada is not that. A thousand innocent Israelis were killed in both Intifadas. Buses were blown up, and pizza restaurants destroyed. That was only in Israel. Globalizing the Intifada is reminiscent of every antisemitic leader throughout history. They stress that everyone deserves the right to self-determination, and globalizing the intifada is advocating for a movement that includes violence.
Another chant that SJP provided in this Instagram post is, “Occupying Gaza is a crime! Free free Palestine!” Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 in a unilateral move, meaning it wasn’t contingent on a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Subsequently, Hamas, recognized as a terrorist organization by many countries, seized control of Gaza through violent means in 2007. Since then, the region has been a launching pad for thousands of rocket attacks on Israel. The claim of “Occupying Gaza” is inaccurate, given Israel’s withdrawal. The imposition of a blockade by both Israel and Egypt is a response to security concerns and an attempt to prevent weapons from reaching Gaza. Israel has consistently delivered humanitarian aid to Gaza, despite ongoing security threats.
Hamas has opted for a path of perpetual conflict with Israel instead of working towards a brighter future for their people. It appears that their objectives extend beyond mere resistance to occupation or the pursuit of justice and peace for Palestinians. Rather, their explicit goals involve the targeting and killing of Jews, the annihilation of Israel, and the establishment of a ruthlessly oppressive regime based on religious supremacy. The current leader of Hamas in Gaza has explicitly stated their intent to “wipe out Israel” and “attack every Jew” and has issued threats to violently breach borders and harm innocent civilians.
Hamas invaded Israel and intentionally carried out massacres against innocent people. In contrast, legal and military experts extensively affirm that Israel does not deliberately target civilians, exceeding legal requirements by issuing warnings to civilians before striking military sites.
The “imbalance of power” narrative is misleading and harmful. Gratitude should be directed toward Israel having more power than Hamas, as it prevents the terrorist organization from executing its genocidal goals against Jews and destroying Israel. Hamas, driven by racist ideologies, rules Gaza oppressively and receives support from Iran, Qatar, and Turkey. True resolution lies in Hamas renouncing violence, acknowledging Israel’s existence, and engaging in peace negotiations. While there’s no easy solution, one-sided approaches blaming Israel and shielding Hamas from accountability only exacerbate suffering. Efforts should focus on fostering safety, freedom, and dignity for both Israelis and Palestinians, without empowering or justifying Hamas’s actions.
Instead of using these antisemitic and inaccurate chants that SJP has listed, they should try using ones like, “Return the innocent hostages,” “Hamas surrender,” or “Free Palestinian civilians from terrorist rule and this war!”
SJP’s use of antisemitic chants and disturbing images, such as those shared on November 9, 2023, depicting a garbage can adorned with a Star of David, demands condemnation. To ensure an inclusive and respectful environment, it is essential for both the university and the broader community to denounce expressions of animosity promptly.
Drawing attention to recent actions taken by other universities, such as Brandeis and Columbia, which removed SJP from their campuses, underscores the gravity of the situation. While acknowledging the importance of free speech on campus, it is imperative to uphold credibility and respect, ensuring the safety of all students, particularly the Jewish community. Rutgers University must consider removing Students for Justice in Palestine swiftly from campus to safeguard a truly inclusive and secure educational environment.
This op-ed, co-authored by Gideon Fox and myself, was rejected for publication by the Daily Targum (the official student newspaper of Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey). We are proud and enthusiastic about The Times of Israel giving us a place to be supported and have our voices heard.