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Anti-Israel student group suspended at Northeastern for vandalism, intimidation, disruption

Anti-Israel student group suspended at Northeastern for vandalism, intimidation, disruption

“Students for Justice in Palestine” plays victim and Pallywood

Northeastern University in Boston has a long history of anti-Israeli agitation and intimidation by students groups and some faculty.

Students for Justice in Palestins (SJP) has been one of the prime movers in the climate of fear instilled among Jewish and other pro-Israel students, leading to warnings from the Northeastern administration.

This is not surprising. SJP campus branches are notorious for their aggressive behavior.  At Cornell in 2012, SJP students assisted by three Cornell faculty members disrupted a rally by a pro-Israel group, including using loudspeakers to try to drown out the pro-Israel rally. (added) Cornell SJP also has defaced pro-Israel posters.

At Northeastern, SJP already was on probation for vandalism and disruption when, in conjunction with “Israeli Apartheid Week” SJP served mock eviction notices on students in dormatories. Not only did the distribution of flyers in dormatories violated campus policy, it was a deliberate act of provocation towards pro-Israel students where they live.

The Northeastern administration then temporarily suspended SJP and some of its officers from participating in campus organizations, as reported at Algemeiner.  The suspension notice is here.  (Added — images at bottom of post)

True to form, SJP and its supporters at anti-Israel websites like Mondoweiss and Electronic Intifada played victim, as if SJP was punished for its views. SJP and its supporters also, in best Pallywood form, exaggerated the punishment by claiming that two SJP students were going through the explusion process:

With profound disappointment and righteous indignation Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine announces it has been suspended as an organization. SJP is disappointed because Northeastern’s claims of creating a diverse learning environment that encourages the free exchange of ideas and promotes Academic Freedom are impossible to reconcile with the university’s decision to suppress our speech and suspend our political group. As if banning our activities from campus and denying us all use of campus resources wasn’t outrageous enough, the university is pursuing expulsion-level sanctions for two students—all for participation in a mock eviction action. SJP is furious to report the only individuals to face our school’s opaque disciplinary process are two young women of color; none of the white or male participants have faced any charges. This unprecedented ban and appalling prosecutions are the latest attempt by the university to suppress pro-Palestine speech, and continues the university’s disturbing history of enacting injustice.

SJP has organized an email and telephone campaign to try to force Northeastern to change its decision. (Email and telephone contact info at the link for those of you who want to express support to Northeastern administration.) It also has started an online petition.

In fact, as detailed below, the students never faced explusion.  SJP is claiming that the lack of explusion now was a result of its pressure campaign, but that is not true.  The Northeastern administration previously made clear the students were not facing explusion.  So SJP invented a false claim, then used exposure of the falsity to claim a small victory.  These students have a bright future in Pallywood.

Northeastern provided me with the following statement (emphasis added):

“The temporary suspension of SJP was handed down only after a careful and thorough review of the facts. Despite repeated efforts by university officials to work with the leadership of SJP, the organization has repeatedly shown a disregard for university policies over an extended period of time. Specific violations include—but are not limited to—vandalism of university property, distribution of flyers in residence halls without prior approval, and disrupting the events of other student groups.

Contrary to the assertions in the petition, SJP leaders have not been banned permanently from participation, and the organization has had many opportunities to discuss its conduct with university officials. Further, reports that expulsion procedures have been initiated against students affiliated with SJP are false.

The issue here is not one of free speech or the exchange of disparate ideas. Instead, it is about holding every member of our community to the same standards, and addressing SJP’S non-compliance with longstanding policies to which all student organizations at Northeastern are required to adhere.”

(Added) Here are images of the letter:

 Northeastern SJP Suspension Notice 1

 Northeastern SJP Suspension Notice 2

 Northeastern SJP Suspension Notice 3

 Northeastern SJP Suspension Notice 4

 Northeastern SJP Suspension Notice 5

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Comments

The “students” rotate out of “student groups.” If there are linked “student groups” that have a history of bad behavior, there are persons that are encouraging that behavior, some of whom would be students, but the most influential will be adults.

“Professor of International Affairs Denis Sullivan, now Co-Director of Northeastern’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development,”

There. That is a start. Denis Sullivan should not be allowed to escape scrutiny, simply because he refused to answer questions about his sponsorship of a badly-behaved group.

Emperor Penguin | March 13, 2014 at 10:38 am

Typical victims, they get a light slap on the wrist after a thousand warnings and they go running telling everyone their hated. The Principle is being generous with the SJP. vandalizing? disrupting school events? grounds for suspension and disbandment of the SJP, AT LEAST.

TrooperJohnSmith | March 13, 2014 at 11:21 am

“Justice in Palestine” = Removing Abbas from from his illegally held governing post (When did his term expire, Lefties?); Jailing all the rest of the corrupt “PA” members; Rounding up all the wanted criminals hiding in Palestine under the guise of “Freedom Fighter”.

They need to hire a smart Jewish lawyer and sue the university.

Robert Parker was an Assistant Professor of English at Northeastern in the 60’s, and his first Spenser novel, “The Godwulf Manuscript,” was set there. One of his main characters was a corrupt, radical faculty adviser to a lunatic leftwing student group who were prone to ineffectual violence (although people died needlessly).

I graduated from NU in 66, but I never crossed paths with Parker. Too bad, my loss. But evidently the tradition of lunatic, violent student groups and their lunatic, violent advisors goes back a ways at NU.

By the way, Nat Hentoff also attended NU. He is a lefty but quite critical of the totalitarian shenanigans there.

SJP has sent out a mass mailing asking for assistance. It follows:

Please take action now: 1) Sign our petition here: http://chn.ge/1lXIicT 2) Contact the Northeastern University administration. Please see the following pages for contact information, sample emails, and phone/voicemail talking points. 3) Have your organization send a letter of solidarity. Letters can be submitted to northeasternsjp (at) gmail.com CONTACTS FOR NORTHEASTERN ADMINISTRATION Northeastern Offices are generally open from 8am to 5pm.* Contacts are listed in order of importance.

Joseph Aoun University President presidentaoun (at) neu.edu cc: s.guszcza (at) neu.edu (President’s Assistant) (617) 373-2101

Philomena Mantella Senior VP of Student Affairs p.mantella (at) neu.edu (617) 373-4810

Bob Jose Assoc. Dean of Cultural and Residential Life r.jose (at) neu.edu (617) 373-5877

Ralph Martin University General Counsel r.martin (at) neu.edu (617) 373-2157

Laura Wankel VP of Student Affairs l.wankel (at) neu.edu (617) 373-2338

Jason Campbell-Foster Director of Campus Activities j.campbell-foster (at) neu.edu (617) 373-2642

Center for Student Involvement nucsi (at) neu.edu

(617) 373-2642

Vincent Lembo Deputy General Counsel v.lembo (at) neu.edu (617) 373-2157

*Most Northeastern staff voicemails become full after 20 messages

SAMPLE EMAIL TO THE ADMINISTRATION

Dear ______________,

I am writing to you as concerned [student/faculty member/alumni/community member] at Northeastern University [or wherever you are from]. It has come to my attention that the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) has issued a suspension of Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and banned its leaders permanently from participation, based on many accusations the organization vigorously denies and has had no opportunity to refute. Additionally, student leaders were interrogated and intimidated by the Northeastern police department while the CSI was investigating the organization. This level of action is unprecedented, particularly considering the minor, administrative nature of the violations with which SJP are accused. I am concerned that this action was taken as a measure to repress student speech that the University finds overly political. This is a serious violation of the basic principles of free speech and academic freedom on campus, which Northeastern purports to honor.

This suspension is also not an isolated incident. It has been demonstrated that SJP has faced a pattern of discrimination and harassment by the Northeastern administration, including being placed on probation last year for their silent walk-out of an event featuring a panel of Israeli soldiers. SJP has been forced to hire police officers for their events “for their own safety”, yet reports to the administration of threats and intimidation faced by SJP activists have gone completely unrecognized. This lays plain the political nature of the current suspension of SJP as an attempt to finally eliminate pro-Palestine speech from campus. This repression cannot be tolerated as it spells disaster for any hope of open discussion on campus and indicates that the University administration will silence any viewpoint with which they do not agree or find publicly palatable.

Therefore, I am asking that the Northeastern administration take the following measures:

1) Reinstate Students for Justice in Palestine as a student organization with all of the appropriate privileges. 2) Drop all charges against the two SJP members facing individual sanctions. 3) Ensure that SJP is no longer held to a more stringent standard than other organizations and receives the appropriate support. 4) Take appropriate measures to ensure that all student organizations are able to engage the University community in open discussion, without having their views politically censored. 5) Immediately cease the use of the Northeastern police department to investigate student organizations for exercising their speech rights.

Sincerely,

_________________

For more information:

Talking Points for Phone Calls or Voicemails

Hello, this is [YOUR NAME] a [YOUR AFFILIATION]. I am calling to express my concern that the Center for Student Involvement (CSI) has issued a suspension of Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

I feel that:

● This measure constitutes a violation of SJP’s freedom of speech rights, and is intended to silence their message on campus.

● The suspension of SJP is politically motivated because the University administration disapproves of SJP’s message and believes it is potentially divisive.

● Northeastern University is bowing to the pressures of outside interest groups and large donors, rather than protecting its own student’s fundamental rights.

● How can any students feel comfortable expressing any ideas or opinions on campus, when they may be arbitrarily censored and sanctioned?

Feel free to include your personal experiences or feelings about free speech and oppression in our community, especially if you are able to speak with someone on the phone.

Thank you for taking the time to talk/listen to me today. I urge you to work with the rest of the university to respond to reinstate SJP as an organization and take measures to ensure that this type of repression does not occur again.

David R. Graham | March 13, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Who funds these groups? Saud? Saud, Russia and China fund just about all the “studies” departments on just about all USA post-secondary campuses. Sauds also, if reports can be credited, support the CA primary and secondary curricula. Probably as well the federal “Common Core.” Is there anything Americans will not do for money? Needed: USA grand national strategic goal free of foreign tendention. Professor, can your fine team please address this matter, persistently?!?

William Jacobson’s caricature of the 2012 Cornell University rally is one sided and presents a false impression. I was at the rally and I saw nothing to indicate that the SJP’s behavior was out of line. I am not a member of the SJP, but I heard they were having a rally and I wanted to hear what they had to say. The first few minutes of their talk went smoothly, but then they were interrupted by Cornell Israeli Public Affairs Committee (CIPAC) speakers who had had set up their microphone less than a hundred feet away from the SJP rally. The microphone used by the pro-Israeli side was considerably louder than that of the megaphone used by pro-Palestinian side, so if anything, it was the Israeli side that was drowning out the speech of the Palestinian side.

I tried to move back and forth between the two rallies to hear a bit of what both sides were saying, but it was very difficult to hear anyone clearly under these conditions. I wrote about the rally immediately after it happened and presented my impression of how it related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here.

http://themessinglink.com/Cornell_and_Gaza

Cornell’s University Faculty Committee and Dean Burns appointed an Ad Hoc Committee of three faculty members who were unassociated with the rally to study events leading up to the rally and to make recommendations to help prevent a similar fiasco from occurring in the future. The Committee concluded that an ambiguity in Cornell’s Campus Code of Conduct and a miscommunication between an event manager and Cornell police officers contributed to the confusion surrounding the rally. The report did not point a finger of blame at either CIPAC or SJP. However, the report did state the following:

“Most people acknowledge that the SJP began planning their event first…

One person associated with the CIPAC rally . . . told the Committee that the CIPAC rally was explicitly a preemptive counter-protest to the previously planned SJP rally . . . [though] CIPAC student leadership subsequently disputed this notion. . .”

Though there are significant ambiguities surrounding the events leading up to the rally, the claim that “SJP students assisted by three Cornell faculty members disrupted a rally by a pro-Israel group” is a gross distortion of what really happened. If anything, it was the pro-Israeli group that disrupted SJP’s rally.

You can find the Ad Hoc Faculty Committee’s report here.

http://www.docstoc.com/docs/167335371/Ho_Plaza_ad_hoc_committee_Final_b-1pdf

Claiming SJP defaced pro-Israeli posters also leaves a misleading impression of what happened. Those who do not actually click the link provided by this article and read the original source material would get the impression that SJP was defacing posters put up by pro-Israeli students. This would indeed have a whiff of vandalism if it were true. But that isn’t what happened. In fact, SJP printed up copies of the pro-Israeli posters that they had edited to criticize the event. The posters that the SJP members distributed WERE THEIR OWN POSTERS. Distributing their edited version of the marked-up posters falls well within the hallowed grounds of political satire/commentary that is protected by the First Amendment.

I cannot attest to the details of events happening at SJP chapters at other Universities. However, if Jacobson’s characterization of other SJP chapters are as accurate as his characterization of Cornell’s chapter of the SJP, then I would take this entire article with a boulder of salt.

Oops! I want to correct something that I just said. I said in my first post that CIPAC speakers had set up their microphone less than a hundred feet away from the SJP rally. In reality, CIPAC had set up their microphone first and SJP supporters moved into Ho Plaza as CIPAC was trying to get their microphone to work. This ahappened before I showed up at the rally, but the Faculty Ad Hoc report makes it clear that CIPAC was on the Plaza first.

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