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Letter to Tufts re Wrongful Student Senate Hearing

February 25, 2021


VIA EMAIL: (Anthony.Monaco@tufts.edu)


Dr. Anthony P. Monaco, M.D., Ph.D.

President

Tufts University

Office of the President

Ballou Hall, 2nd Floor

Medford, Massachusetts 02155


Dear President Monaco,


We write to you now, as we have previously, on behalf of the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, divisions of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit Israel education organization. The purpose of this letter is to express our concern about Max Price, a third-year student at Tufts University. Mr. Price is a member of the Tufts Community Union Judiciary (TCUJ) and is wrongfully facing a hearing by the Tufts Community Union Senate (TCUS) based on a complaint brought anonymously by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)-affiliated students. These students are seeking Mr. Price’s removal from the senate because he dared to stand up to antisemitism by opposing language in the bigoted and misinformed “Deadly Exchange” student referendum, which passed at Tufts in November 2021. Notably, removing such language was precisely his assigned task in relation to this referendum. This upcoming hearing—which we urge this administration to prevent from proceeding—likely will not only violate what would otherwise be Mr. Price’s due process rights but will baselessly penalize Mr. Price, possibly including his unjust removal from the student senate, for no other reason than that he stood up to discrimination against Jewish identity on Tufts’ campus.


In a similar vein, SJP previously demanded that Mr. Price recuse himself from hearings regarding the “Deadly Exchange” referendum due to his involvement in the pro-Israel student organization, Tufts Friends of Israel. This demand was subsequently denied by both the TCUJ and the TCUS. Mr. Price was nevertheless silenced during a hearing concerning the language of the referendum when administrators during the hearing forcibly muted his audio. After the referendum passed, SJP continued its relentless harassment against Mr. Price for daring to oppose SJP’s position and tactics, and in a final brazen act of retaliation, SJP now seeks Mr. Price’s removal from the TCUJ.


While we recognize and appreciate the right to student governance autonomy and shared government, so too do we see the tremendous need for oversight in this instance to prevent abuse of that autonomy. Mr. Price was squarely within his right as a member of the TCUJ to review and raise concerns about language in the “Deadly Exchange” referendum. This attempt to remove him from the TCUJ nearly three months after the referendum passed is nothing more than an antisemitic campaign against a Jewish student leader who holds a viewpoint different from that of the SJP complainants. When student leaders overstep their authority, campus administrators must step in to prevent such abuse and to restore an equitable campus environment.


We thank you for your previous moral leadership in swiftly and unambiguously denouncing SJP for its antisemitic positions after the group received the university’s 2020 Collaboration Award. Likewise, we commend you for your investigation and response to our concerns about a Tufts dental student with a history of bigoted, antisemitic online speech. Your decisiveness in both circumstances suggests your desire for an inclusive environment at Tufts and to protect Jewish and Israeli students from antisemitic bigotry. Once again, we ask that you step in and prevent this unfounded student senate hearing from occurring, as it has no legitimate legal basis and will only serve to perpetuate a climate of antisemitism. If no such protocol for administrative action in the face of flagrant student abuse of power yet exists, we urge you to adopt such a policy immediately to protect your campus from future bigotry and discrimination.


We provide the following information as background on the players and issues involved here.


SJP Nationally


As you may be aware, 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 recently promised to bring the Intifada to every classroom, further isolating Jewish and Israeli students on campus. 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 criminal and university investigations into violations of campus policies and state law. In the fall of 2018, 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 also stages walkouts from pro-Israel events, and recently berated a Holocaust survivor by comparing his experiences in Nazi, Germany, to current conditions of Palestinians living in Israel.


SJP spreads hate against Jews and Israelis on campus on a regular basis. Much of their rhetoric, when understood in its overall context, 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 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 its members manifest some of their antisemitism.


Deadly Exchange


The “Deadly Exchange” campaign falsely blames Israel and Jewish organizations for racism and police brutality in the United States, distracting from the primary causes of these injustices and dividing communities that otherwise agree on these important matters. Wrongly accusing Jews of being the reason for societal injustice is classic antisemitism. The result is what we are now beginning to see at Tufts—increased divisiveness, ultimately leading to hateful acts and violence against Jews. For example, it appears that the antisemitic conspiracy theory promoted by “Deadly Exchange” helped influence the shooter who murdered Jews in a New Jersey deli in December 2019. SJP’s Collaboration Award in 2020 was based on its collaboration for “Deadly Exchange,” and SJP and other anti-Israel activists at Tufts have relied on this antisemitic campaign since the Spring 2018 semester to further alienate Jewish, Israeli and Zionist students from the rest of the campus community.


Immediate Administration Action is Necessary and Precedented


Administrations on other campuses have stepped in and reversed discriminatory and antisemitic conduct by their student leaders when necessary. For example, a pro-Israel student group at Williams College was denied student organizational recognition by the school’s student council, a flagrant abuse of the council’s authority. While this was decidedly a student matter—antisemitism perpetrated by a student government impacting other students—Williams administrators refused to turn a blind eye. They reversed their student leaders’ discriminatory action and officially recognized the club, finding solid footing to do so in school policy. The administration’s willingness to step in to rectify the situation when the student government proved itself incapable of self-regulating its own discriminatory agenda indicated the importance of administrative action when self-governance runs amok in violation of community standards.


Similarly, at Florida State University, the administration responded to an incident of antisemitism within its student government by: recognizing the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism; creating a task force to review Jewish student life on campus and develop recommendations for administration; instituting annual training for staff concerning antisemitism, religious discrimination and the fostering of a more inclusive campus environment for its Jewish community; updating the university calendar to include all significant religious holidays with a commitment to increasing understanding of those holidays across the campus; reestablishing a Jewish Student Union; creating a Jewish Alumni Network for enhanced support and educational resources; and committing to hiring a new Director of Student Equity and Inclusion.


As in these examples, we urge your administration to take action against the surge of antisemitism occurring on your campus and which is targeting an innocent Jewish member of the student senate. Mr. Price is facing the potential of unmerited punishment simply for expressing views informed by his being Jewish that happen to be at odds with those of the SJP complainants. If you remain silent, your administration will become complicit in bigotry and hate. We strongly encourage you to step in to prevent further abuse by SJP and other complicit student senate leaders.


We thank you in advance for your prompt attention to and moral clarity on this matter, as you have shown in previous matters. Please know that we are happy to work with your administration in any way that you feel would be helpful. We look forward to receiving a response from you.


Sincerely,


Roz Rothstein

CEO & Co-Founder

StandWithUs


Carly Gammill

Director

StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism


Yael Lerman

Director

StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department

StandWithUs

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