On November 9, the 77th anniversary of the Nazi “Kristallnacht” pogrom, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) announced on its Facebook page that it was participating in the Million Student March on the 12th to protest tuition increases at the City University of New York (CUNY). This is an important issue that should be debated on its merits.
SJP’s post, signed by SJP chapters throughout the CUNY system, declares that the “The [CUNY] 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 [sic] liberation.”
The Million Student March itself does not take this line and clearly does not have anything to do with the SJP demand to purge “Zionists” from CUNY. Their tuition protest is a serious issue, worthy of public debate. The hijacking of their march by extremists cannot be in their interest, and the organizers should condemn and distance themselves from SJP hate-speech.
SJP is supported by a network of off-campus organizations. They include a who’s who of anti-Israel voices on the radical Left: Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the International Socialist Organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), American Muslims for Palestine, the WESPAC Foundation, Palestine Legal, and the National Lawyers Guild.
How these and similar groups would explain away SJP’s faulting of CUNY’s supposed “Zionist administration” for tuition hikes should be an interesting exercise in Orwellian doublespeak.
Meanwhile, those who truly care about higher education must make sure that such calls are relegated to their deserved location on campus: the dumpster.