The Northeastern University branch of Students for Justice In Palestine recently held an event glorifying the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a Marxist-Leninist organization designated by the U.S. goverment as a foreign terrorist group. The PFLP committed some of the most infamous and deadly attacks targeting Israel and Jews. As described below, after a backlash SJP doubled down..

Northeastern SJP

Of all the dozens of SJP chapters around the country, Northeastern’s has long been one of the most incendiary. We’ve covered its aggressive history several times before, including when the group was suspended by the university in 2014 for “vandalism, intimidation, and disruption“. We also covered the protest of its suspension, at which the chant, “Long Live the Intifada” proved popular, and its probationary reinstatement a few months later.

2014 was an eventful one for the group; in March, a photograph of the group’s then-leader posing somewhere in Palestinian Authority-controlled territory wearing a bullet belt and holding a “PK-class machine gun” emerged. The student also posted photos of himself wearing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad headband and a Hezbollah T-shirt.

Six years later, Northeastern SJP’s penchant for glorifying terrorism does not seem to have changed; this time, the student group chose the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) to whitewash.


Founded in 1967, the PFLP is known for pioneering airline hijackings and launching multiple suicide bomb attacks against Israelis. Designated as a terrorist group by the United States, the European UnionCanadaAustralia, and Japan, the PFLP is the home association of Rasmea Odeh, the supermarket bomber who murdered two Jewish students in Jerusalem in 1969. It’s also the group of the first female airplane hijacker, Leila Khaled. Both women are still the darlings of anti-Israel campus activists; likewise, the PFLP itself remains an object of obsessive apotheosis for notoriously hateful student groups such as SJP.

We’ve written frequently about the PFLP’s terrorist history as well as its role in campus anti-Israel propaganda wars:

The PFLP has been a particularly popular focus among SJP students in the past few months; during the fall 2020 semester alone, the terrorist organization’s convicted hijacker Leila Khaled was invited to speak at San Francisco State UniversityNew York University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa (remotely). But, as Ken Marcus reported recently in JTA, “Khaled’s events were canceled only when Zoom refused to cooperate, understanding that allowing the events to be hosted on its platform could violate anti-terrorism laws.”

Still, Northeastern SJP spoke out on behalf of Leila Khaled’s canceled event at San Francisco State, posting a statement on Instagram that minimized Khaled’s crimes and framed the issue as one of “repression of Palestinian voices”, spurred on by a “Zionist smear campaign”.

Controversy on Instagram

The cancelation of campus PFLP events at other schools did not deter Northeastern SJP. Indeed, on November 19th, JNS reported:

The Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Northeastern University in Boston has promoted via social media the U.S.-designated terrorist group Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

In a since-deleted Instagram post featuring a graphic titled “Reading is for radicals” is the text: “SJP will be reading through different strategies and theory of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. This is a welcoming and accountable space where we can learn and grow with one another.”

[A screenshot of the since-deleted Instagram post]

The post included a graphic originally used in 2017 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the PFLP’s founding. It features a PFLP gunman wearing a ‘Yasser Arafat’ keffiyeh, with one fist raised in triumph and the other clutching what appears to be a Kalashnikov rifle (a weapon of choice for Palestinian terrorists in the 1970s and 1980s). The graphic declares (in English, Spanish, and Arabic):

50 years…

Our revolution continues until the liberation of Palestine.

From the river to the sea

The caption of NSJP’s Instagram post included a brief description of the group’s plans:

We’re going to be reading the first 25 pages of the PFLP’s 1969 “Strategy for Liberation of Palestine” and discuss it on Monday at 5pm (our new book club hour).

You can read the full document SJP planned to cover below.

PFLP StrategyforLiberationofPalestine1969 by Samantha Mandeles on Scribd

As Ken Marcus described:

At this event, students expected to learn how to conduct “armed struggle taking the form of guerrilla warfare at first and developing in the direction of the protracted people’s liberation war” against their “enemies.” Their enemies include the “world Zionist movement,” as well as Israel, Arab moderates and “world imperialism” (read: the United States and its European allies). In other words, they would learn that the proper response to political disagreement is not civil dialogue but “armed struggle.”

Unsurprisingly, Northeastern SJP’s post advertising its event was apparently removed by the powers that be at Instagram for violating “community guidelines”. The event itself, according to SJP, was also reported to the university administration and seems to have been canceled.

Naturally, instead of taking the opportunity to reflect on whether their own behavior led to distateful consequences, NSJP students responded by playing the victim and casting themselves as noble fighters for “social justice”. On November 28th, more than a week after Instagram deleted the group’s controversial post, NSJP published a lengthy rant on Instagram denying accusations of terror glorification; justifying the use of machine gun imagery by pointing to he existence of Northeastern’s ROTC program; attacking pro-Israel groups that objected to the lionization of the PFLP; complaining of how “exhausting” it is to have to “defend [our]selves from terror labels”; and accusing the Israel Defense Forces (oddly and a-historically enough) of the “genocidal invasion of Palestine in 1948”.

You can see screenshots of the entire post below.

Conclusion – There SJP Goes Again

Across the country, SJP has been one of the prime movers in the climate of fear instilled among Jewish and other pro-Israel students. This has been especially true at Northeastern, which has led to years of warnings and reprimands from the Northeastern administration and others. Still, NSJP has repeatedly played the victim and distorted the facts to support its version of events. As we move into the spring 2021 semester, will NSJP learn from its past and moderate its hatefulness?

Samantha Mandeles is Senior Researcher and Outreach Director at the Legal Insurrection Foundation.


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