Posters protesting Students for Justice in Palestine—a group dedicated to pressuring universities to boycott, divest and sanction Israel—appeared early Sunday on several college campuses. The posters feature famous images of Hamas terrorists executing Palestinian prisoners and include the phrase “#JewHaters.”
Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a nationwide campus initiative that leads protest and boycott campaigns against university affiliations with Israel. It is a major force behind “Israel Apartheid Week,” designed to “raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinians” and to “build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” A recent protest campaign involved setting up what the group called apartheid-like “check points” to protest Israeli Gaza strip policies. The organization has been accused of promoting anti-Semitism and failing to condemn terrorist groups, particularly Hamas.
With another SJP-led “Israel Apartheid Week” beginning soon (Feb 26 - March 12), several campuses—including UCLA, UMass Amherst, UC Irvine, and the University of Virginia—were covered with the anti-SJP posters Sunday morning.
The Daily Caller reports that those responsible for the posters told them anonymously that the victims were tortured and killed by Hamas after aiding Israel. One of the posters features an infamous photo from the Israel-Hamas war last summer in which two masked Hamas gunmen stand over a prisoner with a bag on his head, apparently with the intention of executing him. Another poster featured a widely published image from 2012 of a member of Hamas dragging a body of an accused informer behind a motorcycle. Both included the phrase: “Students in Justice for Palestine” and the hashtag “#JewHaters.”
The Jewish Journal notes that one of the campuses targeted, UCLA, has been particularly active in the BDS movement in the last year:
For the past year, UCLA has been a hotbed for pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel activism, culminating with the campus’s student government passing a symbolic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution against Israel in November.
“They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic,” SJP wrote in a statement. “As organizers, we are concerned that these acts are an attempt to delegitimize and slander the work that we have done to pass divestment on our campus.”
“Furthermore, defacing school property and intimidating a specific group of students creates a deeply harmful environment that prevents student learning and community-building,” the statement continued. “Coupled with the recent uprise in Islamophobia on a national scale, we are concerned for the safety of our fellow students and student organizers.”
Freedom Center and TruthRevolt founder David Horowitz claimed credit for the anti-SJP posters Tuesday, explaining to the Jewish Journal that his intention is to expose the organization as a hate group and have its "campus privileges and financial support removed":
I want SJP to be officially recognized as a hate group and its campus privileges and financial support removed as they would be if it were an anti-black hate group, or an anti-Hispanic hate group, or an anti-Muslim hate group. ... They have offices; they have money; they have the ability to put on events and invite people and the ability to intimidate others, particularly Jews...
Horowitz defended the campaign as an act of free speech, and said if universities wanted to "haul me to their court," that was "fine with me":
This is a clear, absolutely indisputable free speech issue. That’s what it is. We have the right to express ourselves the way every other group has a right to express itself. It’s a state school. It can’t suppress our free speech. And if the student government—I don’t even know what the question implies, but if they want to haul me to their court because I put up posters without getting permission, fine with me.