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November 10, 2016 10:30 am

Antisemitism Expert: ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ Legitimizing ‘Obvious Bigotry’ Through Alliance With Anti-Israel Jews

avatar by Lea Speyer

Attendees of the 2016 National Students for Justice in Palestine conference. Photo: Twitter.

Attendees of the 2016 National Students for Justice in Palestine conference. Photo: Twitter.

A national anti-Israel student organization is spending “much of its energy trying to deny its obvious bigotry,” the head of a Jewish rights-focused legal group told The Algemeiner on Wednesday, adding that the organization is now “increasingly on the defensive.” 

Kenneth Marcus — president and general counsel at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and an international antisemitism expert — was responding to the sixth annual National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Conference held over the weekend, which aimed to mobilize and increase support for activity related to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement on college campuses.

“SJP is increasingly stung by accusations of prejudice, especially in its support for the antisemitic BDS movement,” he said, referring to a pamphlet distributed at the conference — and obtained by The Algemeiner — claiming that the organization does not tolerate “any form of discrimination based on…national origin…citizenship.”

According to Marcus, the inclusion of such a statement — which is an example of a “weak” denial by SJP of its innate prejudice —  is “not surprising,” considering that the group is “continually in the position of having to deny that it is engaged in hate activity.”

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SJP, he told The Algemeiner, “often hides its antisemitism behind the guise of being merely critical of Israel. It has dropped that ruse often enough to have long since lost any pretense of legitimacy. Students must understand that the group’s title is a misnomer, as the organization isn’t really concerned with justice. SJP is an antisemitic hate organization and must be addressed as such.” 

Pointing to a workshop at the conference aimed at exploring “current and future collaborations” between SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and how the Jewish anti-Israel group can be used to “block false charges of antisemitism”  — Marcus said that through this alliance, SJP is able to “use and manipulate this smaller group of Jewish students who are publicly critical of Israel and give the impression of legitimacy to their movement.”

He continued: “Anti-Israel groups insist that they couldn’t possibly be antisemitic because some of their best friends are Jews who have joined anti-Israel groups like JVP. This ‘some of my best friends’ argument is similar to what we see in other bigots. It only makes their prejudice more transparent.”

SJP has been the source of numerous controversies on US campuses. As was reported by The Algemeiner, a recent Brandeis study found that “one of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate towards Israel and Jews is the presence of an active SJP group on campus.”

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