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January 16, 2017 4:18 pm

In Secret Recording, Participants at ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ Conference Heard Attacking America as ‘World’s Greatest Imperial Power’

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.

In a never-before-released recording obtained by The Algemeiner of part of a closed-door anti-Zionist student conference at Virginia’s George Mason University in November, participants are heard accusing the United States — “the world’s greatest imperial power” — of enabling and perpetrating crimes in the Middle East.

The blatant anti-Americanism was voiced at the 2016 National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference, during a panel on “Syrian-Palestinian Liberation.” Panelists included Palestinian-Syrian activist Wael Elasady, co-founder of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, and International Socialist Movement member Ashley Smith. 

In the tape, Elasady is heard blaming US “imperialism” for facilitating the Assad regime’s alleged war crimes in Syria and for causing regional instability, which allows the world to turn a blind eye to Israel’s “ethnic cleansing of Palestine, increas[ing] its Judaization of Jerusalem and expand[ing] its settlements without repercussions.”

Smith said that while he saw the conflict in Syria as a “popular uprising of the people…for democracy, for equality, for a liberation from a tyrannical regime,” he took issue with those on the Left who viewed the struggle purely through the lens of “imposed American imperialism.” 

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He specifically called out activist journalist Max Blumenthal for “reversing his position” on Syria — first referring to the civil war as a “right of revolt” of the people, and then calling it a “‘color revolution’ orchestrated by the US with the project of regime change.”

Smith argued that the Syrian people must carry out a “revolutionary struggle from below to liberate people…Diplomacy will not bring liberation [in Syria], as all the negotiations over Palestinian liberation [have] proved as well. We have to defend the right of the oppressed people to find aid and arms for their liberation struggle, no matter where it comes from, as long as they maintain their independence.”

Elasady and Smith are both known for expressing anti-Israel and anti-American views. Elasady has described Israel as a “colonial project carried out by a racist and violent settler society.” He has also claimed that Zionism has a “racist core” and has advocated for steps to be taken to “upend the US-Israeli relationship.”

Smith has accused Israel of engaging in “apartheid-like behavior,” and referred to the US as the Jewish state’s “main international sponsor,” which has “stood completely unswayed by…the oppression of the Palestinians…”

SJP has a record of fomenting unrest at American colleges. As The Algemeiner has previously reported, a 2016 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.”

The group’s national conference at George Mason University prompted a group of Virginia lawmakers to issue an open letter calling for the immediate cancellation of the event. “SJP is an organization that incites violence,” one of the signatories told The Algemeiner at the time.

At the NSJP conference in question, as Israeli flag was reportedly used as a “doormat” by attendees. 

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