Sigh. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) crashed a march/rally/protest intended for issues happening at the City University of New York system and used it as a platform to shout a lot of anti-semitic bull sh-t. This took place outside of my beloved Hunter College last week.
I am pro-free speech and I don’t necessarily want to ban any organization from protesting…even if I disagree with their agenda. We need to be able to speak out openly…it’s the only way we can start to understand and challenge each other. HOWEVER, I do have a problem with hate speech. I do have a problem with anybody publicly calling out for “intifidas” and verbally attacking Jewish students.
Prior to the march SJP issued this statement:
“On November 12, students all across CUNY will rally to demand a freeze on tuition and new contracts! We must fight for funding for our university, and for CUNY to be accessible to working class communities in NYC as the public university system. The Zionist administration invests in Israeli companies, companies that support the Israeli occupation, hosts birthright programs and study abroad programs in occupied Palestine, and reproduces settler-colonial ideology throughout CUNY through Zionist content of education. While CUNY aims to produce the next generation of professional Zionists, SJP aims to change the university to fight for all peoples liberation.”
Just the language they chose makes me giggle. I have heard a few members of this group speak on campus and it is obvious that they are drinking some Kool Aide and barfing up bits of it to naive undergrads. To each their own, I suppose. I occasionally upchuck myself.
The reaction to this march has been palpable. I sit in a coffee shop listening (aka eavesdropping) to a group of pro-Israel advocates discuss their reaction strategy. Some want the students involved suspended and the group disbanded. Some want to lead a pro-Zionism rally. I believe both are misguided responses…this particular battle is not bout Zionism or the politics that surround it. It is taking a stand against anti- semitic speech from a college organization and the safety of students. Maybe there’s a moment inside to educate about others about Israel…but I think reacting in a way that only addresses this will lose our audience—which is EVERYBODY. We can hold a rally some other time about Israel. Today it is about hate. Lately we have witnessed the ramifications of hatred from school shootings to ISIS. Today we must speak out and up against bigotry on a college campus. We can discuss politics later.