The University of Chicago student group “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP) recently released a ragingly antisemitic Instagram post, where they called for the boycotting of several “Sh*tty Zionist Classes” taught at the college. Throughout the post, SJP mischaracterizes the Israel-Palestinian conflict while simultaneously promoting blatant and dangerous racism.
SJP Students Are either Brazen Propagandists or Just Dumb
In response to the UChicago class “Multiculturalism in Israel,” SJP claims that “[i]t is disingenuous to speak of ‘divisions among Israeli citizens’ when Israeli Citizenship is itself a racist and exclusionary construct in the service of apartheid.” This categorization of Israeli citizenship as “racist” ignores the huge amount of racial and ethnic diversity within Israel, including Israel’s 20% Arab population.
Additionally, all people within Israel, regardless of their ethnic background, receive full rights and protections under Israeli law. Arabs serve in the government, vote, and participate in normal Israeli life. Calling Israel an “apartheid state” is both factually false and morally repugnant. Millions of South Africans actually suffered and lived through apartheid, and to compare the issues demonstrates that the “Students for Justice in Palestine” are either shameless propagandists or simply ignorant.
SJP moves from political falsehoods to explicit antisemitism in their claim that “Jewish national identity is a recent invention of the settler-colonial Zionist project…” Apparently, SJP does not think Jews are indigenous to Israel, even though they lived in the region for nearly 4,000 years. Regardless of any political beliefs about Israel, denying Jewish indigenous status within Israel is antisemitic. Jews have been historically oppressed, exiled, and murdered for being outsiders, and Israel serves as a place where they can live without worry of persecution.
This is all the more important as a global increase in antisemitic attacks continues. In the modern-day, there are no malice-free arguments about why the entirety of the land should be Palestinian. It should be noted, that Jewish indigeneity within Israel is not a denial of Palestinian indigeneity. Both groups have long and well-established ties to the region, but by only acknowledging the Palestinian claim to the region, SJP erases the Jewish claim and propagates antisemitism.
A Slap in the Face of Holocaust Remembrance
In case you were still wondering whether “Students for Justice in Palestine” were or weren’t acting in malicious antisemitism, consider the fact that they released their Instagram post on the night of January 26th, the evening before Holocaust Remembrance Day. This resulted in SJP’s followers and supporters sharing the post all-around social media on the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
SJP’s flagrant antisemitism is by no means surprising. The student group has ties to Hamas, and they have been repeatedly and thoroughly exposed by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). A US-designated terrorist organization, Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. SJP shows no regard for the immense destruction caused by Hamas, and claimed: “one side [Israel] is armed with tanks…the other side [Palestinans, controlled by Hamas] consists of civilians armed with rocks.” Anyone aware of Hamas’s infamous rocket attacks during May 2021 would dispute SJP’s claim that Palestinians only have rocks to defend themselves.
SJP Hates Intellectual Diversity
The great irony in “canceling” allegedly pro-Israel classes is that there are many classes taught at UChicago in support of SJP’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Two such classes that fit SJP’s narrative are “Settler Colonialism: From the US to Palestine” and “Black Power and Jews, Black Power and Palestine.” But SJP is not angry that their views aren’t represented by the Course Catalog, they are mad that an opposing viewpoint is allowed to exist within the course catalog at all.
The University of Chicago prides itself on its support of free speech and the open marketplace of ideas. What does it say about the current state of the University that a student club is explicitly rejecting intellectual diversity? One of the key parts of a UChicago Liberal Arts education is the exposure to new ideas. The administration may still claim that this is UChicago’s attitude, but the students involved in SJP paint a different picture of the campus culture at UChicago.
American soldiers liberated tortured Jews from the Auschwitz Concentration Camp nearly 80 years ago. One would think we have learned a thing or two about the horrifying results of antisemitism from the disturbing images taken of the emaciated Jewish prisoners. Yet, in 2022, we have an alarmingly high number of upper crust, “tolerant” college students (who are the same age as those American WW2 soldiers) promoting brazenly antisemitic propaganda and happily tying themselves to a literal terrorist organization. This needs to end.
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.
Rachel Ostergren is the Chicago Thinker’s Chief of Staff. As a rising third year, she plans on double majoring in Public Policy Studies and Jewish Studies. She is also involved with Chabad on campus. Rachel is from Fruitland, Iowa, and loves reading, playing the piano, listening to jazz, and doing crosswords.