MK: Anti-Israel group collects data on where Jewish students live on US campuses

Students for Justice in Palestine gathering information at New York University, among others, says Likud’s Anat Berko; SJP says it never heard of such cases; US Jewish groups also reject the claim

Students for Justice in Palestine logo
Students for Justice in Palestine logo

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian student advocacy group, has been compiling lists of Jewish students on college campuses in North America and detailing their dorm address information, raising fears for the students’ safety, Israel Radio reported on Tuesday.

The radio report said information on the alleged SJP activity was presented to members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which met Tuesday to discuss efforts to boycott Israel by anti-Israel groups at US colleges. It said the committee vowed to work against the marking out of Jewish students.

Knesset member Anat Berko (Likud), one of the MKs who initiated the session, reiterated the claim in an Israel Radio interview after the committee meeting, specifying 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.

An aide to Berko said Wednesday that anti-Israel groups collect 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, she said, but residences where “there are mezuzas” and it is clear that Jews live there.

Berko also said in the radio interview 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 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 Stand With Us, which work to combat anti-Semitism on college campuses, knew nothing of any such activity.

Likud MK Anat Berko attends a Foreign Affairs and Security committee meeting in the Knesset, November 19, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Likud MK Anat Berko attends a Foreign Affairs and Security committee meeting in the Knesset. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

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.

This piece was updated on August 17, to include a link to the Israel Radio report and reported comments by National Students for Justice in Palestine.

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