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Vassar anti-Israel group’s unhinged social media sparks student bias complaints

Vassar anti-Israel group’s unhinged social media sparks student bias complaints

Students for Justice in Palestine throws unidentified student under bus for anti-Zionist white nationalist and neo-Nazi postings across multiple social media platforms.

In February and March 2014, Vassar witnessed ugly and racialized taunting of professors and students regarding a class trip to Israel, Anti-Israel academic boycott turns ugly at Vassar.  The administration took a hands-off approach.

Starting shortly after my appearance at Vassar on May 5, to speak against academic BDS, Students for Justice in Palestine began a social media campaign focused on the race of the crowd as a means of denigrating my appearance as an old white Zionist alumni intrusion onto campus.

SJP’s social media then devolved further, into tweeting and posting of white nationalist and neo-Nazi anti-Zionist material:

Vassar SJP Twitter Nazi Poster Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 12.03.51 AM

(Image via Prof. Rebecca Lesses)

The tweets and postings were documented by Ithaca College Professor Rebecca Lesses at her blog, Mystical Politics.  SJP initially defended the conduct at its Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr and Twitter accounts, but then apologized on Sunday, May 11 and again on Tuesday, May 13:

Vassar SJP Facebook Daniel Gleason Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 3.31.48 PM

(Image via Rebecca Lesses)

Reports and analysis also have also been conducted by Jonathan Marks at Commentary and Daniel Mael at Truth Revolt.

In its May 13 Apology, Vassar SJP sought to blame a single unidentified person running the Twitter and Tumblr accounts:

An Apology from the SJP Vassar General Body

Up until this point, the social media platforms (tumblr and twitter) associated with SJP Vassar’s name have been managed by one person and the SJP general body was not involved in decisions made about what was being posted. We condemn any and all hate speech including any form of anti-Semitism and we are deeply sorry several offensive posts were made in SJP Vassar’s name.

We are now reevaluating how social media associated with SJP Vassar will be managed as we sincerely want these outlets to reflect our mission of social justice, opposition to all forms of racism, and solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Ironically, SJP had earlier posted on it’s Tumblr account a claim that accusations of anti-Semitism against the Palestinian movement were unfounded, as it was tweeting and posting anti-Semitic materials:

Vassar SJP Tumblr May 7 Baseless Slander Anti-Semiitism

The attempt to blame a single student supposedly going rogue rings hollow.

Are we to believe that none of the Vassar SJP members saw any of the offensive posts and tweets, and the defense of that conduct across multiple SJP platforms?

Moreover, I have on good information that one of the people behind at least some of the tweets and posts is one of the leaders and active members of SJP. (More on this potentially in a future post.)

The defense and apology don’t add up.

More important, the apology may be a reaction in part not only to the widespread social media reaction, but also to complaints filed by other students of varying political persuasions with Vassar’s Bias Incident Report Team.

The complaints regard not just the specific tweets and posts regarding Zionism, but also wider bias exhibited on other social media platforms run by active members of SJP, including Shit White People Say at Vassar College.

Whether a college even should involve itself in regulating speech is an important issue.  A good argument can be made against speech codes.

But Vassar, as do many colleges, does have speech and bias codes.  The question is whether those rules will be applied as to anti-Semitic, anti-white rhetoric as forcefully as to bias against other groups.

My inquiry to Vassar as to its position has not been returned as of this writing.

One important take-away from this, regardless of outcome, is not the specific tweets and posts, it is the shared space between anti-Semites and anti-Israel activists, something we saw when it turned out that the Overland Park, KS, shooter was a fan of Max Blumenthal’s anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.

A second take-away is that perhaps SJP students will learn not to reject true (old-fashioned) liberalism of thought, the willingness to consider both sides and to protect the individual:


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Howard Roark | May 14, 2014 at 2:47 pm

I’m old enough to remember when a foundation of liberal principles included Voltaire’s –
“I may not agree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it.”

    veseng in reply to Howard Roark. | May 17, 2014 at 7:50 am

    Yes, but that was when it helped them. Now that they are in control on the campuses they brook no opposing speech.

Well at least the kids aren’t blowing up college buildings and murdering innocent bystanders like they did in my day. Their hate is much more tightly targeted.

Hmmm. I gather from the fragments posted above that even if the SJP is now claiming to be in favor of “academic freedom”, what it means by “academic freedom” is perverse.

We at Vassar are all about the academic freedoms. If the idea is alright, who cares where they come from?”

The whole point of “academic freedom” is similar to that of “free speech” – that there is no guard, self-appointed or otherwise, who gets to decide if an “idea is alright”.

(What “academic freedom” meant eighty years ago, when the phrase first entered common currency, may have been quite different – but leave that for another day.)

They don’t mean a thing they said in that statement.

We, the Students for Justice in Palestine, who strategized, organized, and mobilized in order to further the cause of the BDS movement at Vassar College, have decided to send a very clear and straightforward message to respond to the lies, propaganda, and misrepresentation leveled against our movement. Baseless ad hominem attacks have been launched against us in an attempt to mystify both our politics and those of our attackers. In the face of this confusion and fear-mongering, we maintain that our political mission is clear: we are an anti-racist, anti-colonial group that strikes at the core of the racist power structures within the Israeli apartheid regime. We know that the manufactured misrepresentation of our mission does not occur in a vacuum. We are aware of the watchdog organizations who pay alums and students to generate slanderous claims against pro-palestinian activists to detract attention from the gaping holes in the logic behind a settler colonial regime continuously cleansing its indigenous population. We work on a campus where students have been paid to promote and re-brand birthright trips as well as now attracting the attention of organizations such as CAMERA, whose goal is to police and muzzle pro-Palestinian voices.

We find it an appalling irony to be accused of supporting white supremacy by those who support the racist Israeli regime and its white nationalist agenda. This agenda is comprised of policies that work towards exterminating Palestinians and African migrants, only to replace them with predominantly white Euro-American settlers. Ethnic cleansing and “purification” is the operational logic of the Zionist state project, which is untenably white supremacist at its core. In order to compensate for the insubstantial case for Israel, we see the white Zionist alumni of Vassar College look toward the students of color in our organization and proclaim to the administration that we support white supremacy. We see these bizarre claims for what they are: attempts to mystify the discourse, and have those who suffer from systemic racism and white supremacy be pegged as the perpetrators of their own oppression.

This should go without saying, and yet here we are saying it: providing an article link from a white nationalist publication does not mean we support white nationalist ideology; rather, we found this particular article’s description of those behind zionist propaganda campaigns and how they operate to be a helpful articulation of problems many organizations like us face. A profound irony is that we have come under assault from the very same trolls the article describes. As students who must navigate the world under the thumb of white supremacy, we understand what it is like to have to take ideas from organizations that have supported white supremacist structures, whether they be from Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Legal Insurrection, or the Occidental Quarterly, and put them in a productive conversation. The struggle for justice for the Palestinian people will continue despite petty slander, and we at SJP Vassar strongly encourage anyone who may read this to question the dominant narrative.

Palestine will be free,


In response to white zionist trolls forcing their way onto our campus and cyber space, we wrote this statement to all concerned parties. We refuse to be silent, because as Zora Neale Hurton said:

“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
Just as hate-filled, racist and anti-Semite as ever.
This site shows just how deep seated their Hate is.

2nd Ammendment Mother | May 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

Why do I keep thinking someone needs to treat these morons like elementary students and call their parents into the office and make them explain this crap? Which might have some effect if parents were still the one’s providing the primary support for their education.

    I think the reason is, your instincts are sound: these people are retards who think and act like ill-mannered elementary school children even though they are the age of young adults.

      2nd Ammendment Mother in reply to Valerie. | May 14, 2014 at 8:10 pm

      I was just thinking that when my kids did stupid things – the worst thing they had to do was explain what they did and why they thought they were such geniuses to me…. living with the punishment was easy next to that.

stevewhitemd | May 14, 2014 at 6:54 pm

We must always force the Left to live up to its principles. As Mr. Alinsky astutely notes, they can’t. Of course, he was referring to the Right, but the Left is even more troubled and unable to live by its principles.

    Another Voice in reply to stevewhitemd. | May 14, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    If left to an unbiased education, these “kids” would find those principles they came to college to define. But they are a blank slate for progressive educators with a socialist agenda for the young, immature and naïve seeking to have their first adult voice. It reminds me of the indoctrination movements, non-violent as they were, of the late 60’s/70’s cults – X’s 100. Campuses have inherited that generation and they now educate and organize in group think on how to amass control of large groups of young adults to infiltrate their agenda(s).

If they are not anti-Semitic, then why do the depictions of “Zionists” show Jews who are typically non- or anti-Zionist?

Juba Doobai! | May 15, 2014 at 8:11 am

Lies and the lying liars who tell them.