Ellen Ginsberg Simon

SJP’s Perfidious Presence

National SJP's Intagram advertizement for today's National Student Walkout.
National SJP's Intagram advertizement for today's National Student Walkout.

Today, Students for Justice in Palestine’s (“SJP’s”) “Student Week of Action” will culminate in a “National Student Walkout” expected to occur on at least 80 campuses across the U.S. These miscreants next will take their anger on the road to Washington, D.C. this weekend. Thus will end one of the most frightening weeks to be a Jewish college student in U.S. history.

Every day, I think it cannot get worse. And every day, I am proven wrong.

At noon today, brainwashed students, ignorant students, hateful students, extremist students, violent students, and blind lemmings masquerading as students, will eschew improving their minds by conducting a mass walkout from classes. Instead of attending their lectures, they will congregate to chant genocidal slogans while covering their faces to hide their identities like the cowards and bullies they are.

Although, in fairness, it does not seem as if much valuable learning is occuring on college campuses these days anyway, so they likely will not miss much.

Jewish students who have been forced to deal with threats, abuse, assaults, and sheer terror will once more face angry mobs today at noon in what should be calm, verdant campus spaces. Woe to the student who happens to pass by what promises to be a nationwide circus.

National SJP’s public Instagram advertisement for its “Student Week of Action” from Oct. 18-25, 2023.

Today, I received calls and emails from no less than three worried parents of college-aged, Jewish students who are rightfully terrified and looking for guidance on how to counter what has spun into an uncontrolled mob mentality with little to no institutional repercussions or proactive responses.

I heard about the plight of students at Clarmont McKenna, Pomona, and the other Claremont Colleges in the California consortium of idyllic, liberal arts schools. Students attempting to hang fliers containing the pictures of hostages being held by Hamas at this very moment were physically blocked and prevented from accessing common spaces. Their posters were torn down and they were physically impeded, as has occured across the planet this week.

An innocent passerby who happened to be Jewish and in the mood for a frozen yogurt was accosted for crime of being Jewish and hungry in the wrong place at the wrong time. The student was forced to duck into the campus bookstore and call campus security as angry SJP supporters followed him and demanded to know his intentions. He was physically assaulted by one student.

These scenes have played out at college after college in the past two weeks. The mothers who reached out to me – all intelligent, successful lawyers and concerned parents – wanted to know what recourse they have to help their children. They are women of action. They are petitioning administrators, boards of trustees, collecting alumni signatures on petitions, writing letters, calling deans – anything and everything to protect their beleaguered offspring. Who can blame them? The images are undeniably disturbing. Our children are rightfully afraid.

Shrines have popped up devoted not to the memory of the brutally murdered Israelis massacred on October 7, but rather to the Hamas “martyrs” or “To the insurgents who have died for the liberation of Palestine.” You read that correctly. The brave heroes who swooped in on hanggliders and decapitated babies are lauded as heroes of revolutionary change and disrupters of oppression.


Image projected on campus at George Washington University last night glorifying the criminals who carried out the pogrom of Oct. 7. Photo publicly posted on X by StopAntisemitism.

The word Zionist is emblazoned on signs as if it were a dastardly curse. Genocidal chants of “From the River to Sea” permeate the air. One woman asked me what it means when people chant, “Free Free Palestine!” She asked, “what do they want to be free from?”

I think we now unequivocally know the answer to that question: Jews.

So this is my answer to the worried moms of college-aged children unsure how best to stand up for themselves and respond to the madness in which they are mired. I have composed a list of 10 proactive responses we can take tomorrow and beyond as advocates for the safety of our children and the survival of beloved educational institutions.

  1. The instinct to call deans of students and university presidents is a sound one. They are often highly responsive to concerned alumni. I contacted Brown, and I heard back from these individuals within the same day. I cannot say the same, unfortunately, for Dean Manning at Harvard Law. Classy is as classy does.
  2. Contacting Boards of Directors is another strong avenue of approach. They are entrusted with the fiduciary duty to protect the institution. Bad press is not in the best interests of the school, nor is being connected in any way with terrorist organizations. You will recall that, every time a student government has voted in favor of boycotting Israel, the Board and administrators have soundly rejected the idea. Every such victory has been pyrrhic because boards universally reject this nonsense.
  3. Vote with your pocket book. If you are lucky enough to wield monetary influence, do as so many donors to UPenn and Harvard have done this week. Walk. While you are at it, call your Alumni Associations and share with former classmates who may be similarly inclined to punish schools by refusing to donate.  Make it unequivocally clear what you expect of the schools if they want to see your money ever again. That may be the removal of SJP from campus or institution of better safeguards for Jewish students. But make your demands and then close your purse.
  4. Send your children to the few schools that have taken a stand against these virulent presences on campus. Jews have been flocking in large numbers to Tulane, Wash U., Wisconsin, and UMaryland. Although, as we saw this week at Wisconsin and Wash U., this is not a foolproof method. Fordham fought and won a legal battle to keep SJP off its campus. If I were you, though, I’d probably steer clear of the CUNYs, the entire UC system, and most of the Ivies if this is your chosen route.
  5. Counter protest. I have done it. It requires police coordination, a great deal of fortitude and stamina, and quite possibly an extra pair of underwear. Do not recommend.
  6. Contact law enforcement. Report *everything*. If you are accosted by these flagrant supporters of Hamas, file a report with campus police or local law enforcement.
  7. File reports of anti-Semitic incidents with the Anti-Defamation League and your local JCRC chapters or Federation security services.
  8. Contact one of the many activist groups that are tracking this behavior such as Stop Antisemitism (who are on fire outing the Hamasniks to their employers), Camera, Joseph Haddad, etc.  Call the Wall Street Journal.  Call Fox News or CNN.  (You’re probably wasting your time with the New York Times, though.)
  9. Do not stop there. Lean into Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Anti-Semitism – released a scant five months ago on May 25, 2023 – expressly addressed protections on college campuses and in K-12 grade schools at page 40.  “The U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism.”  The White House. May 25, 2023 at 40-41.  It obliged the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) to issue a Dear Colleague Letter addressing how anti-Semitic incidents and harassement on campuses are protected under the law.  OCR’s concomitantly issued Dear Colleague letter date May 25, 2023 does just that. It states:

“As we witness a nationwide rise in reports of antisemitic harassment, including in schools, I write to remind you of schools’ legal obligation under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI) to provide all students, including Jewish students, a school environment free from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin, including shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics.

“Earlier this year, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a fact sheet – Protecting Students from Discrimination Based on Shared Ancestry or Ethnic Characteristics – explaining how the protection offered by Title VI, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, or national origin by programs or activities of recipients of federal financial assistance, extends to students who experience discrimination, including harassment, based on their actual or perceived: (i) shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics; or (ii) citizenship or residency in a country with a dominant religion or distinct religious identity.“

Title VI protects all students, including students who are or are perceived to be Jewish, from discrimination based on race, color, or national origin. (emphasis added) For example, OCR may investigate complaints that students have been subjected to ethnic or ancestral slurs; harassed for how they look, dress, or speak in ways linked to ethnicity or ancestry (e.g., skin color, religious attire, language spoken); or stereotyped based on perceived shared ancestral or ethnic characteristics.

Schools must take immediate and appropriate action to respond to harassment that creates a hostile environment. OCR generally finds that a hostile environment exists where there is harassing conduct that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school. (emphasis added)

“If a hostile environment based on shared ancestry existed, and the school knew or should have known of the hostile environment, OCR will evaluate whether the school met its obligation under Title VI to take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent harassment from recurring. In other words, a school violates Title VI when it fails to take adequate steps to address discriminatory harassment, such as antisemitic harassment.” “Dear Colleague Letter:  Addressing Discrimination Against Jewish Students.” U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.  May 25, 2023. (emphasis added)

Make the government prove they meant it. Make the colleges and universities abide by the law and respect your civil rights.

Nearly all colleges and universities receive federal funding. Investigation by the OCR puts that federal funding at risk. The Anti-Semitism Task Force’s report and recommendations as well as OCR’s Dear Colleague letter make clear that students can file complaints under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act if they are discriminated against or harassed for being Jewish.

Tomorrow, Jewish students need to *document document document* every infraction and act of harassment. Take videos and photos. Record threats and assaults. Bravely venture into the throng pulsing with a toxic concoction of fundamentalism, bigotry, and ignorance, and build cases to take to OCR. File complaints and present the evidence you gather. Test the mettle of the May 25 Dear Colleague Letter. Put OCR to work for you.

You see, these kids are dressing in black and wearing face masks because they are afraid of getting in trouble for airing their hate publicly. They know somewhere deep inside that what they are doing is both wrong and actionable. They are losing their prospective jobs and being publicly shamed, as they should be.

But it is not enough to take down one or two malfeasors. The institutions themselves need to be held to account for permitting hostile environments to thrive without taking action. If your schools will not protect you as they should, then they should pay for their failures. Perhaps behavioral modification through painful fines is necessary to make schools do the right thing.

10. Lastly, every report to OCR, campus authorities, or the police should highlight the fact that SJP has known and acknowledged connections to Hamas. “Israel imperiled:  Threats to the Jewish State,” Congressional Testimony by Jonathan Schanzer. April 19, 2016.

In 2016, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies testified before Congress regarding the links between SJP chapters on American college campuses and Hamas, your favorite baby-killing freedom fighters. SJP founders and financial backers are former members or supporters of Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

When I went to college, we all wanted to join a cappella groups, not front operations for terrorist organizations.

Schanzer, a former Treasury Department analyst of terrorist financing, was tasked with examining the funding sources for BDS movements in the U.S. He discovered that The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP), and KindHearts for Charitable Development were three organizations implicated in financing Hamas between 2001 and 2011. While these three entities were “designated, shut down, or held civilly liable for providing material support to the terrorist organization Hamas, a significant contingent of their former leadership appears to have pivoted to leadership positions within the American BDS campaign.” Id. at 1.

While several leaders of these organizations were deported or jailed, some formed a new group called American Muslims for Palestine (“AMP”). Schanzer found that AMP is the one of the most important sponsors and funders of SJP. AMP provides speakers, training, materials, and Apartheid walls for SJP’s annual Israel Apartheid Weeks. It offers grants to SJP activists, and it even has a campus coordinator whose job is to support SJP activities. “According to an email it sent to subscribers, AMP spent $100,000 on campus activities in 2014 alone.”  Id. at 2.

Even more alarming are the close connections between AMP and “people who worked for or on behalf of organizations that were designated, dissolved, or held civilly liable by federal authorities for supporting Hamas.”  Id.

SJP rally templates publicly provided on Instagram for student use.

Students and parents: use this information. Educate your university boards and administrators on this information, along with evidence of harassment and discriminationagainst Jewish students. The last thing any school needs is a whiff of terrorist activity under its purview. The connections between SJP and Hamas are not solely rhetorical. They are also financial. There are crimes to be discovered behind these rallies for some enterprising reporter or pro-Israel activist to uncover.

And good luck today. I have a feeling you will need it.

About the Author
Ellen Ginsberg Simon is an attorney and compliance professional. She has an M.Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford University and is also a graduate of Brown University and Harvard Law School.
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