Human Rights Group Demands U Mass Boston Take Action After Students For Justice In Palestine Attack On Pro-Israel Christian
“Mr. Van Zile was intimidated, harassed, and assaulted by rally participants who turned on him after another participant identified him as a “rabid Zionist,” based on his knowledge of Mr. Van Zile’s editorials supporting Israel and criticizing its detractors. Mr. Van Zile informs us that he has not received more than a perfunctory response to either of his complaints.”
Last June 24, 2021, attendees at a rally organized by UMass Boston’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter harassed and assaulted a pro-Israel writer covering the event. The writer, Dexter Van Zile, reported on the incident, and it received coverage at the time, but the university has not sanctioned the students or SJP organization.
Legal Insurrection reported, Pro-Israel Christian Harassed At UMass-Boston ‘Students For Justice In Palestine’ Rally:
Boston branches of Students for Justice in Palestine recently harrassed and tried to intimidate a writer who showed up to report on their annual anti-Israel hate-fest.
Boston, Massachusetts is no stranger to anti-Israel agitation. Dotted with dozens of colleges and universities, the Boston area has long played host to inumerable self-styled “social justice” groups—whose members are solely concerned with castigating the world’s only Jewish state. And, especially given the recent, nation-wide surge in anti-Zionist agitation, the June 24 2021 #freepalestine march—organized by the radical anti-Zionsts of UMass Boston’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter—was nothing new.
The assault took place outside Bank of America branch at 6 Tremont Street in Boston, half a block away from the Anti-Defamation League’s New England office at 40 Court Street. The ADL, whose CEO only subsequently acknowledged the existence of left-wing anti-Semitism, did not report the incident in its anti-Semitic incident tracker.
Enter the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (LDB). In an October 26 letter to UMass Boston’s leadership, LDB argued that the perpetrators of the June 24 incident included UMass students, and that the incident violated both criminal law and the university’s student honor code.
We represent the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law (the Brandeis Center), a national public interest organization that works to protect the rights of Jewish and Israeli college students as required by law.
We are writing to follow up on complaints submitted by veteran CAMERA reporter Dexter Van Zile to this University regarding his experience at a June 24, 2021, rally hosted by a registered student organization eligible to receive funds from the University of Massachusetts Boston (the University)—namely, Students for Justice in Palestine (UMass Boston SJP). Mr. Van Zile was intimidated, harassed, and assaulted by rally participants who turned on him after another participant identified him as a “rabid Zionist,” based on his knowledge of Mr. Van Zile’s editorials supporting Israel and criticizing its detractors. Mr. Van Zile informs us that he has not received more than a perfunctory response to either of his complaints.
As we explain below, the University’s own Student Code of Conduct applies to misconduct even at off campus events that are hosted by or affiliated with student organizations, registered or unregistered. The Code unequivocally condemns conduct of the type committed here by students, student organizations, and/or their guests, and requires the University to investigate and – as necessary – sanction students or student organizations that violate the Code.
Because the University is aware of the misconduct that occurred at the UMass Boston SJP event, the University should investigate the incident and, to the extent it can identify students who were involved in conduct that violates the Code, appropriately sanction those students. Should the University fail to investigate as required, it will send a message to UMass Boston students that the Code has no teeth, and that students and student organizations are free to intimidate, harass, and assault individuals who attend their events, based on such individuals’ perceived support of Israel. Since Jewish students are most likely to be perceived as supporters of Israel, this affects every Jewish student on campus.
LDB also noted that harassment against Van Zile on the basis that he is a Zionist constitutes anti-Semitic behavior under the IHRA definition, which the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) essentially incorporated into its civil rights enforcement efforts under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, after President Trump signed an executive order to that effect. The June 24 events thus violated the honor code’s prohibition against harassment on the basis of membership in, or association with, a protected group. (Van Zile is actually not Jewish, but the assault counts as anti-Semitic just as did the 2014 murders of non-Jews in Kansas City by a perpetrator targeting Jewish people and institutions.)
LDB explicitly asked UMass Boston to investigate Van Zile’s claims, sanction the students and student organizations responsible, and make a public statement deploring attacks on Jewish students and supporters of Israel. It also none-too-subtly cautioned the university that it “should also be prepared to deal with similar events if and when they occur again, on or off campus.”
From our prior coverage of SJP:
- Pro-Israel Christian Harassed At UMass-Boston ‘Students For Justice In Palestine’ Rally
- Tufts U Anti-Israel Group Launches Intimidation Vendetta Against Jewish Student Government Officer (UPDATE: Anti-Israel Students Retract Complaints After Widespread Backlash)
- Tufts U Condemns Student Government Resolution Blaming Israel For U.S. Police Violence
- Northeastern U ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ Promotes Terrorist PFLP, Doubles Down After Backlash
- UT-Austin anti-Israel student leader called for “support” of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP
- Cornell President to Students for Justice in Palestine: “I must reject your call for BDS-related divestment”
- UC-Berkeley anti-Israel activists rip up photo of Rasmea Odeh’s terror victims
- Investigation: ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ Locked Down Its Annual Conference, What Was It Hiding?
- Vassar President: It was anti-Semitic to shout at Israeli Jewish speaker “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free”
- Protesters shout down Israeli Professor at U. Minnesota law school
- Anti-Israel Activists at UCLA Try to Shout Down Lebanese Christian Speaker
- Anti-Israel Rally at U. Illinois: “No Zionists, no KKK, resisting fascists all the way”
- We made the national Students for Justice in Palestine enemies list
- Northeastern U rally cry: “Long Live The Intifada”
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