April 19, 2019
VIA E-Mail (email@example.com)
Andrew Hamilton President New York University Office of the President 70 Washington Square South New York, New York 10012
RE: Concern over Students for Justice in Palestine’s President Service Award
Dear President Hamilton,
I write on behalf of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit Israel education organization. We are perplexed and disappointed by your administration’s choice to give Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) an award for “exemplary contributions to the NYU community” at The President’s Service Awards ceremony on April 17, 2019. SJP regularly engages in discriminatory and harmful conduct against Jewish and pro-Israel students at NYU and on campuses throughout America. SJP endorses the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. To reward SJP in any way—let alone with this award—whitewashes their history of campus policy violations and illegal activity, including arrests of its members by the NYPD for criminal activity at an event put on by two NYU student organizations. Recognizing SJP as a positive influence on the NYU community emboldens their agenda of hate while further isolating mainstream Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students at NYU.
Nationally, SJP has a deeply disturbing record. The group receives funding and other forms of support from non-governmental organizations that are tied to multiple designated terror organizations, including Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). National SJP conferences have featured lectures from terrorists like Khader Adnan, an Islamic Jihad leader who called for suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. SJP also spearheaded a campaign to glorify and raise money for Rasmea Odeh, who helped carry out a PFLP terrorist attack that killed two Israeli civilians. The group frequently expresses support for an “Intifada” (a campaign of violence against Israelis), creating a hostile climate for Jewish and Israeli students—particularly those who lost friends and family during the brutal suicide bombings of the Second Intifada. SJP-affiliated activists have threatened violence against Jewish students and others who support Israel’s existence.
Moreover, SJP members frequently shout down speakers with whom they disagree, an illegal act resulting in numerous criminal and university investigations into violations of campus policies and state law. Just last fall, UCLA sent National SJP a cease-and-desist letter for “unauthorized use” of the university logo, “in a manner that could imply endorsement of violence.” SJP spreads hate against Jews and Israelis on campus on a regular basis. Much of their rhetoric falls under the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which has been adopted and applied by numerous countries and government bodies across the world, including the EU, the Government of Canada, the U.S. Department of State, and most recently the U.S. Department of Education. Such expression by SJP includes denying Israel’s right to exist, demonizing Israelis, and attacking Israel using classic anti-Semitic tropes. SJP’s political agenda—to eliminate the State of Israel and strip away Jewish rights to self-determination— is a prime example of how they manifest some of their anti-Semitism.
SJP’s recent track record at NYU is no less egregious. Last spring, SJP spearheaded a discriminatory and potentially illegal boycott, signed by more than 50 NYU student organizations against NYU’s two pro-Israel organizations, Realize Israel and TorchPAC. In April 2018, Mohammed Ali Hojaij, a student leader of NYU’s SJP chapter, violently disrupted Rave in the Park, an event sponsored by Realize Israel and TorchPAC commemorating Israel’s Independence Day. Mr. Hojaij wrestled an Israeli flag out of the hands of NYU student, punctured her skin and caused arm wounds requiring medical attention. This incident was captured on video by attendees at the event. He later returned to the event, stole a 10’ x 15’ Israeli flag, vandalized it, and shredded it. Mr. Hojaij was arrested for disorderly conduct, robbery in the second degree, assault in the third degree and criminal mischief in the third degree. NYU SJP’s outgoing president regularly posts hateful, anti-Zionist sentiments on her personal social media page.
On April 17, 2019, the very day they received their award for “exemplary contributions to the NYU community”, SJP students posted on the organization’s Facebook page a picture of two students sitting at a table draped with the Israeli flag and a third student wearing a t-shirt with Hebrew letters giving the thumbs up sign with the caption “Thumbs up if you’re a racist!” Both the original picture with the students’ faces and the modified version with the faces covered are attached. The modified version is still on SJP’s Facebook page, exemplifying SJP’s ongoing commitment to stirring up hatred on campus.
In closing, SJP’s main impact at NYU has been the spewing of discrimination and hatred against Jewish, Israeli and pro-Israel students. Their receipt of this award is a mockery of NYU’s values. We therefore urge you to condemn publicly and distance yourself from SJP’s record of hateful bigotry on your campus, and affirm a commitment to fostering a diverse, inclusive community.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss this matter further. I would appreciate hearing back from you by Friday, May 3, 2019 as to what action(s), if any, the university intends to take on this matter.
Roz Rothstein CEO