U. Chicago SJP Condemns Pro-Israel Newsletter as 'Hate Speech'

In a brazen and unintentionally ironic letter printed in the Chicago Maroon, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Chicago condemned the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s distribution of a newsletter on campus exposing the terrorist associations of SJP and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) and urged university officials to thwart future attempts to distribute alleged “hate speech.”

The University of Chicago was recently named as one of the Top Ten Jew-Hating Colleges and Universities in a report published by the Freedom Center, and there was no shortage of evidence to support their place on that list.

UChicago SJP recently published an art zine titled “Cheers to Intifada,” referring to the violent Palestinian uprisings during which Jewish citizens of Israel were slaughtered because they were Jews. The zine contained violent imagery including a graphic of two lit Molotov cocktails raised in a toast under the heading “Cheers to Intifada.”

The zine was also rife with anti-Semitism including an image of a pig wearing a policeman’s hat with a Jewish star on it. Poems in the publication promoted ancient blood libel tropes against Jews such as one describing a fictional Polish teenager, understood to be Jewish and part of the IDF, who holds Palestinians captive while shooting "perverted bullets shot with animalistic lust yearning to rape bodies."

The student government at Chicago published a statement promoting the anti-Semitic BDS movement against Israel and used genocidal language calling to “free” Palestine “from the river to the sea,” a call to annihilate the entire state of Israel along with its Jewish citizens.

The Center for Middle East Studies at Chicago has also held multiple events featuring anti-Semitic speakers such as Rashid Khalidi and Michelle Hartman who demonized Israel and endorsed BDS.

And the same Chicago Maroon which printed SJP’s letter calling on the university to censor the Freedom Center’s pro-Israel newsletters removed an op-ed written by Jewish students objecting to “SJP’s Online Anti-Semitism” and published an apology for printing it in the first place.

Since the Maroon has a proven track record of censoring any speech critical of SJP or its allies, the Freedom Center was forced to resort to extraordinary measures to ensure that students at the university were made aware of the report and its contents. A Freedom Center operative hand-delivered over 5,000 newsletters containing the report on the increasing incidence of Jew hatred at Chicago and SJP’s role in promoting it.

The newsletters were distributed at multiple locations on campus, with copies made available in classroom buildings, dining facilities, student centers, and in distribution locations for The Chicago Maroon, the university’s main student newspaper.

U Chicago SJP was highly displeased that their near-complete control over the campus dialogue on Israel and Palestine had been disrupted by the Freedom Center’s newsletters. In a letter directed at the Chicago administration that was printed in the Maroon, SJP accused the Freedom Center of “defamatory printings” and “hate speech” and claimed that the Freedom Center’s publications “immediately and deliberately jeopardize the safety, security, and integrity of our community.”

“It is incumbent on the administration to condemn and remove these defamatory printings not only because they accuse the University of Chicago of being among the ‘Top Ten Jew-Hating Colleges and Universities’ in America and of fostering terrorist-affiliated groups. For Muslim and Palestinian students, the Horowitz Center’s vilification of student life poses a direct threat to community safety,” SJP stated in their letter.

SJP also accused the Freedom Center of attempting “to muzzle and disparage pro-Palestinian activism and scholarship”—a laughable claim given that this same organization previously demanded—and received—a retraction to one of the only pro-Israel pieces to be published in the Maroon in recent years. Not to mention SJP’s recent campaign to “support the Palestinian liberation by boycotting classes on Israel or those taught by Israeli fellows” which was advertised under the profane heading, “Don't Take Sh*tty Zionist Classes.”

Remember too that this same rhetoric calling the Freedom Center’s newsletters “hate speech” is coming from an organization which proudly published a zine that literally promotes terrorism against Jews and Israel, with images of Molotov cocktails accompanied by the slogan “Cheers to Intifada.”

So what did SJP actually object to in the Freedom Center’s newsletter? As evidence of our “defamatory” claims, SJP cites two key pieces of information from our report—that the Muslim Students Association was created by the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood organization, and that SJP receives funds from Hamas, an anti-Israel terror group. These statements are not defamatory because they are true.

As we have documented on our website, stopcampusjewhatred.org, and as numerous other authors and authorities have attested, Students for Justice in Palestine does receive funding through Hamas that is filtered through a third-party organization called American Muslims for Palestine. AMP is headed by the notorious anti-Semite and jihad supporter, UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, the co-founder of SJP. AMP’s board is dominated by former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation which was successfully prosecuted by the US government for funding Hamas.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the United States Department of the Treasury, testified in 2014 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “At its 2014 annual conference, AMP invited participants to ‘come and navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.’”  He described AMP as “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States” and revealed that AMP “provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists” and “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country.” Even if UChicago SJP does not receive these funds directly, it benefits from the organizational apparatus which they enable.

Our claims about the Muslim Students Association’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood are also factual. The Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada was established mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in January 1963 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Nyack College theologian Larry A. Poston writes that “many of the founding members of this agency [MSA] were members of, or had connections to,” the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat-i-Islami. The three most significant founders of MSA were Hisham al TalibJamal Barzinji, and Ahmed Totanji, all of whom were MB leaders of Iraqi descent. As is explained at DiscovertheNetworks.org, “The creation of MSA resulted from Saudi-backed efforts to establish Islamic organizations internationally in the 1960s, for the purpose of spreading its Wahhabist ideology across the globe.”

Did SJP even bother to fact-check our claims before labeling them “defamatory”? Of course not, because that is irrelevant to their cause. The fact of the matter is that SJP doesn’t care that our claims about SJP and MSA are true. They care only about scoring political points and shutting down pro-Israel speech on campus. Thus SJP claims in their letter that “This is not a matter of political discourse, and it is by no means within the scope of the Kalven Report”—referring to one of the University of Chicago’s foundational documents on academic freedom and free speech on campus. 

By SJP’s logic, calling for terrorist violence against Israel, depicting anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews as pigs, writing poems about Jews’ “animalistic lust yearning to rape [Palestinian] bodies,” and exhorting students not to take “Sh*tty Zionist Classes” all fall under protected and even laudable political speech. But publishing the truth about SJP and MSA do not?

U. Chicago SJP dismissed our carefully researched claims as “hate speech” while brazenly promoting Jew hatred, terrorism, blood libels, and genocide. The Chicago Maroon has likewise been complicit in this malevolent subterfuge.

By attempting to silence legitimate and urgent discussion on campus while engaging in a campaign of malicious smears and libels, SJP has displayed the ultimate hypocrisy of their position. The Kalven Report that SJP so audaciously cites in an attempt to censor speech critical of their organization, in fact ordains the exact opposite, stating, “There is no mechanism by which [a university] can reach a collective position without inhibiting that full freedom of dissent on which it thrives.” The administration of the University of Chicago would do well to take heed.

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SJP’s full letter to the Chicago Maroon along with our response are printed below:

Letter to University Administration on the Hateful Horowitz Center Leaflets

Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago demands that the University administration take action to condemn the David Horowitz Freedom Center and remove its materials from campus.

By University of Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine  

Content warning: The following letter mentions leaflets containing antisemitic imagery and anti-Palestinian and Islamophobic rhetoric.

To the University of Chicago administration,

On Monday, the David Horowitz Freedom Center plastered more than 5,000 leaflets on and around campus demonizing Palestinian and pro-Palestinian students. These leaflets directly violate the University’s policy on posting on campus. In its text, the center accuses the Muslim Students Association, a recognized student organization (RSO), of being created by the Muslim Brotherhood (an Egyptian Islamist group) and Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago (SJP), an RSO that receives its financing exclusively from Annual Allocations and Undergraduate Student Government funds, of being funded by Hamas. The flyer slanders former Center for Middle Eastern Studies chair Rashid Khalidi as an “anti-semitic speaker” and characterizes specific University-sponsored talks that were not affiliated with SJP or any student groups as calling for genocide against Jews and spreading antisemitic lies. The articles include direct quotes from speakers at these events, suggesting that Horowitz Center affiliates were present and secretly recording. Most alarmingly, the back page of the leaflets, referencing the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel, features two large swastikas and a photo of U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) juxtaposed against one of Adolf Hitler, with the headline “BDS: Finishing the work that Hitler started.”

As we hope you are aware, this is not the first time that the Horowitz Center has targeted the University of Chicago, its students, and its faculty with false accusations of terrorist affiliation and Nazism in order to muzzle and disparage pro-Palestinian activism and scholarship. In fall quarter 2016 and again in spring 2017, the center posted several unauthorized flyers around campus with Islamophobic and antisemitic imagery, accusing—by name—a group of SJP students and faculty (including tenured English professor W. J. T. Mitchell) of being terrorists and terrorist supporters. The posters included racist caricatures of students and professors and falsely claimed that SJP chapters across American college campuses are funded by Islamist groups. The University response was clearly inadequate, as evidenced by the fact that the center has continued its so-called “stealth campaign.” After additional flyers were posted in September 2017, Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen wrote in an email to the University community, “We have witnessed a campus poster campaign from an outside organization that targets individual University students and faculty based on their involvement with social movements.” By leaving both the Horowitz Center and the political cause it targeted unnamed, the University’s response emboldened the group to move forward with its targeted harassment and hate speech.

According to the website listed on the leaflet, copies have been “made available in classroom buildings, dining facilities, student centers, and in distribution locations for The Chicago Maroon.” It is incumbent on the administration to condemn and remove these defamatory printings not only because they accuse the University of Chicago of being among the “Top Ten Jew-Hating Colleges and Universities” in America and of fostering terrorist-affiliated groups. For Muslim and Palestinian students, the Horowitz Center’s vilification of student life poses a direct threat to community safety. And for Jewish students, the center’s use of Nazi iconography is traumatizing, and its conflation of fighting antisemitism with furthering Islamophobic hatred shameful.

It is clear that the David Horowitz Freedom Center is a source of harm to our campus community. It is also clear that its work aims to censor and misrepresent our academic production and to create an environment of surveillance and fear surrounding scholarship about Palestine. The time for equivocal action and ambiguous censure is long gone. In 2016, Rasmussen wrote that “while the University fully supports the expression of diverse points of view, the tactics at issue here are antithetical to [its] values and expectations of critical inquiry and debate.” These latest leaflets go further than opposing our values: By accusing the University itself of promoting “Jew Hatred and the Hamas Agenda,” they go so far as to incite hostility and hate against and within our community. They inhibit our capacity to work and study, to commune, to feel safe.

This is not a matter of political discourse, and it is by no means within the scope of the Kalven Report. It is, in fact, the Horowitz Center that endangers “the conditions for [the University’s] existence and effectiveness.” These inflammatory leaflets immediately and deliberately jeopardize the safety, security, and integrity of our community, and they must be responded to with the gravity and decisiveness they deserve.

We, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago and our allies, call on the University administration to speak out against the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s deplorable campaign, in no such vague terms as before. We also call on the administration to work to prevent the center from undertaking operations like these in the future and to implement a policy against any and all hate speech posting, especially from sources not affiliated with the University. If the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s malicious activity is met again with impunity, then the center’s members and other hateful groups will be at liberty to infiltrate our campus again, posting whatever ludicrous and racist accusations they so choose.

#HorowitzCenterOffUofC #NoHateSpeechOnCampus

Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago is UChicago's chapter of a nationwide network of students committed to promoting justice, human rights, equality, liberty, and self-determination for the Palestinian people.

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David Horowitz Freedom Center Response to the Chicago Maroon:

To the Editors,

In a letter to the University of Chicago administration recently published in your paper, Students for Justice in Palestine accuses the David Horowitz Freedom Center of “defamatory printings” and claims that the newspapers denouncing Jew Hatred that we recently distributed on campus “immediately and deliberately jeopardize the safety, security, and integrity of our community.”

As evidence, SJP cites two pieces of information from our report—that the Muslim Students Association was created by the Muslim Brotherhood and that SJP receives funds from Hamas, an anti-Israel terror group. These statements are not defamatory because they are true.

As we have documented on our website, stopcampusjewhatred.org, Students for Justice in Palestine does receive funding through Hamas that is filtered through a third-party organization called American Muslims for Palestine. AMP is headed by the notorious anti-Semite and jihad supporter, UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, the co-founder of SJP. AMP’s board is dominated by former leaders of the Holy Land Foundation which was successfully prosecuted by the US government for funding Hamas.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the United States Department of the Treasury, testified in 2014 before the House Foreign Affairs Committee that “At its 2014 annual conference, AMP invited participants to ‘come and navigate the fine line between legal activism and material support for terrorism.’”  He described AMP as “arguably the most important sponsor and organizer for Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most visible arm of the BDS campaign on campuses in the United States” and revealed that AMP “provides speakers, training, printed materials, a so-called ‘Apartheid Wall,’ and grants to SJP activists” and “even has a campus coordinator on staff whose job is to work directly with SJP and other pro-BDS campus groups across the country.” Even if UChicago SJP does not receive these funds directly, it benefits from the organizational apparatus which they enable.

Our claims about the Muslim Students Association’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood are also factual. The Muslim Students Association of the United States and Canada was established mainly by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in January 1963 at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Nyack College theologian Larry A. Poston writes that “many of the founding members of this agency [MSA] were members of, or had connections to,” the Muslim Brotherhood or Jamaat-i-Islami. The three most significant founders of MSA were Hisham al TalibJamal Barzinji, and Ahmed Totanji, all of whom were MB leaders of Iraqi descent. The creation of MSA resulted from Saudi-backed efforts to establish Islamic organizations internationally in the 1960s, for the purpose of spreading its Wahhabist ideology across the globe.

By dismissing our carefully researched claims as “defamatory” without any discussion of the evidence and by attempting to claim that our newspapers are “not a matter of political discourse,” UChicago SJP is attempting to silence legitimate and urgent discussion on campus and has proven the need for us to conduct a “stealth” campaign.

Sincerely,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
David Horowitz Freedom Center

Photo: Twitter