Student Leaders Call SJP ‘Hate Group’ After It Supports ‘Dyke March’ Expulsion of LGBTQ Jews
The leadership of pro-Israel student groups in Illinois and Ohio both called Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) a “hate group” after two chapters of the notorious organization supported the expulsion of LGBTQ Jews from a Chicago pride march last weekend.
Elan Karoll, president of the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign’s (UIUC) IlliniPAC, and Sophia Witt, who recently stepped down as president of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) at Ohio’s Kent State University, spoke with The Algemeiner on Thursday after the SJP groups at their respective colleges applauded the Dyke March’s ejection of two Jewish women who came to the event holding pride flags with Stars of David on them. March organizers said the symbol made Palestinians feel “threatened.”
A couple of hours after IlliniPAC issued a statement on Facebook condemning the Dyke March organizers’ decision, SJP UIUC wrote on social media, “IlliniPAC cannot claim to respect the rights of all races, religions, nationalities, sexualities, and genders while supporting an occupation that systematically targets people of an entire ethnicity by denying them their lands, safety, and dignity.”
SJP UIUC also insisted that it was “committed to the liberation of all oppressed people.” It later added that “groups with an agenda have falsely accused [march organizers] of being motivated by antisemitism.”
Karoll said that SJP’s endorsement of the Dyke March decision has erased any doubt of the anti-Israel group’s true motives.
“SJP actually care only about themselves, and they use minorities and minorities’ narratives to push their own anti-Israel issues,” Karoll stated. “Since the Dyke March, I’ve been surprised by progressive and liberal students reaching out to me and saying, ‘We never realized this is what they [SJP] are doing.’ It’s important to us to expose SJP, and we will continue to push the message out that SJP is a hate group.”
Karoll explained, “What happened at the Dyke March was not only bad, but indicative of what’s happening at UI and other universities through SJP’s activities on campus.”
Witt, from Kent State, concurred.
SJP at her campus came out in support of ousting the women from the march, but claimed that it would have condemned the action as antisemitic if the women were not activists from a “far-right” and “racist” pro-Israel group. The women were associated with A Wider Bridge, a non-political organization that builds support and fosters personal ties between the LGBTQ community and Israelis.
Witt dismissed the group’s insistence that it had a solely anti-Israel, not an antisemitic, agenda.
“In my first year of campus activism, in 2015, we had an event for Tu B’Shevat [a Jewish holiday celebrating the New Year for Trees],” Witt said. “SJP protested it. Now why would an anti-Zionist group protest a pro-Jewish holiday, unless they’re antisemitic? It’s not even like they knew what the holiday was about. They just saw SSI was putting it on, so they came out to protest.”
“They are always trying to demonize Israel, no matter what,” she continued. “They are the only group on campus that tries to belittle another group to promote their own narrative. It’s what we see so many times in elementary and middle school. Kids bully other kids to make themselves feel better.”
Karoll said that given that this incident happened during the summer break, he did not expect nor would he seek involvement from his school’s administration.
But, he added, any time SJP “crosses the line into antisemitism, we will be calling them out.”
Administrators at New York’s Fordham University are currently fighting a lawsuit brought by students whose application to start a chapter of SJP was denied. The dean of students said he rejected the application “in order to prevent polarization” and safety risks that he believed SJP would cause.