Brandeis University is banning the campus’ Students for Justice in Palestine chapter after SJP groups across the country applauded Hamas for the terrorist organization’s deadly attacks in Israel.
Brandeis SJP following Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Oct. 7 supported “Palestinian resistance in all of its forms” and rejected “the characterization of Palestinian resistance as ‘terrorism.’ “
Hamas terrorists murdered an estimated 1,400 Israeli civilians and troops in the surprise attack. Another 240 Israelis were kidnapped, and nearly 7,000 were injured.
The university in Waltham, which was founded by the American Jewish community a few years after the Holocaust, is no longer recognizing the Brandeis SJP chapter after national Jewish groups urged colleges to investigate their SJP chapters — including for possibly violating the ban against materially supporting a foreign terrorist organization.
“National SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the elimination of the only Jewish state in the world and its people,” Brandeis University said in a statement.
“Such expression is not protected by Brandeis’ principles of free speech,” the university added. “Students are welcome to express their support for Palestinians in a manner that complies with our rights and responsibilities.”
Brandeis SJP had organized a vigil for Palestine for Monday night, but the group announced that the vigil was canceled following the university’s decision to de-charter the SJP chapter.
“We recognize that such a decision is purely racist and goes against the values of Brandeis University, an organization that was built to fight racism in higher education,” Brandeis SJP wrote.
The student group also added, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” That phrase is an antisemitic slogan commonly featured in anti-Israel campaigns and chanted at demonstrations, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The slogan is a call for a Palestinian state extending from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, territory that includes the State of Israel.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression said it was disappointed in the university’s decision to ban the SJP chapter.
“Make no mistake, Brandeis is punishing its students for nothing more than protected political advocacy,” FIRE Senior Program Office Zach Greenberg said in a statement.
“In this difficult moment, Brandeis could have demonstrated how students can engage with opposing viewpoints,” Greenberg added. “Instead, President (Ronald) Liebowitz is teaching them to simply silence those they hate. This betrayal of Brandeis’s free speech promises is a stain on the school’s 75-year reputation as a bastion for free inquiry.”
Meanwhile, Liebowitz recently signed on as a coalition founder of the national group called “Universities United Against Terrorism,” which is standing in support of Israel against Hamas.
“We, the presidents and chancellors of universities, colleges and higher education associations across the United States of America and the world, stand with Israel, with the Palestinians who suffer under Hamas’ cruel rule in Gaza and with all people of moral conscience,” the national group wrote with more than 100 signatures from higher education institutions.
UMass President Marty Meehan is also a coalition founder of the group.