Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian student advocacy group, denied that it has been compiling data on Jewish students on college campuses in North America. Two pro-Israel groups active on campus also said they had no knowledge of such behavior.
Their comments came after Israel Radio reported on Tuesday that information on the alleged SJP activity was presented to members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which met to discuss efforts to boycott Israel by anti-Israel groups at US colleges. The radio report, which The Times of Israel subsequently reported, said the committee had vowed to work against the marking out of Jewish students.
Knesset member Anat Berko (Likud), one of the MKs who initiated the session, specified in an Israel Radio interview after the committee meeting that SJP has been collecting information on where Jews live at New York University among others. Asked by the (Hebrew-language) interviewer (at approx 23:00) about the “personal marking out of Jewish students,” Berko said the committee was told “about the marking out of Jewish dorms, of rooms of Jewish students (on campus), for example at New York University and other campuses.” She cited information from Miluimnikim BaHazit (Reservists On Duty), a pro-Israel advocacy group of IDF veterans.
The National Students for Justice in Palestine later told The Forward it had “never heard of such cases,” but said “all SJP chapters on campuses across the country are autonomously run.”
“However, as a national organization, NSJP is firmly against all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitism,” the group added.
The Forward also said officials from the Zionist Organization of America and StandWithUs, which work to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses, knew nothing of any such activity.
An aide to Berko told The Times of Israel on Wednesday that Berko did not herself specify that SJP was compiling “lists,” as Israel Radio reported MKs were told, but insisted it was “collecting information on where Jewish students live,” and that there had been several incidents in which “eviction notices” were placed in dormitories where Jewish students live — not necessarily Jewish-only residences, the aide said, but residences where “there are mezuzas” and it is clear that Jews live there.
The aide cited incidents at New York University and a campus in Connecticut where “eviction notices” were posted in such residences, telling the students they had days to get out, and referencing Israeli military actions against Palestinians. A report in the Israel Hayom newspaper in June quoted a Jewish student, Nadav Alkoby, at a Florida campus describing a similar incident. “SJP activists hung the signs on our dorm doors and on the Sabbath elevator during the exam period,” he said.
Berko also said in the radio interview Tuesday that it had become almost impossible for speakers like herself to address students on campus in the United States without enduring protests and worse. “There is no academic freedom… no freedom of expression” on university campuses in the west in general, and the US in particular, said Berko.
The head of the committee, Likud MK Avi Dichter, said Tuesday Israel “has a commitment [to protect] every Jew when they are attacked for being a Jew,” and pledged Israel would help combat campus efforts to delegitimize the Jewish state.