The word “martyr” often conjures up images of historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr, Abraham Lincoln, and others killed in their fight for the greater good. However, according to recent behavior by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the Ohio State University (OSU), such individuals belong in the same category as internationally recognized terrorists who will stop at nothing to murder innocent Jews. Likewise, the suppression of Jewish voices by OSU’s newspaper, The Lantern, only adds to the horrifying nature of recent actions by SJP.
On June 30th, Palestinian terrorists opened fire at Jewish worshippers at the Tomb of Joseph, a holy place honoring one of the patriarchs of the Jewish faith. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a Palestinian extremist organization, claimed responsibility for the horrific attack, which injured three Israelis. The U.S. and Israeli governments recognize the brigade as a terrorist organization due to its long record of suicide bombings and rocket strikes against Israeli civilians. The June 30th attack was just one of several acts of terror planned by the brigade’s commander, Ibrahim Al-Nabulsi, that made him a long-wanted terrorist by the Israeli Defense Forces.
On August 12th, SJP at OSU held a candlelight vigil and rally at Goodale Park in Columbus. The group honored recently deceased Palestinian “martyrs” who were killed in a series of rocket strikes against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commanders and other military operations carried out by Israeli forces against terrorist militants. In SJP’s advertisement for the event, among those who would be honored at the event was no other than Al-Nabulsi, who was recently killed by Israeli forces who found arms and explosives in his home.
To make matters worse, The Lantern promoted the rally days before the event took place, including a call to action by the president of OSU SJP for the greater student body to attend the rally. The Lantern also publicized SJP’s claim that all those killed in recent military operations were “innocent Palestinian civilians,” ignoring the fact that several were militants. Instead of, at a bare minimum, asking for opinions on this two-sided issue from Jewish students on campus, The Lantern publicized SJP’s view of “settler colonialist” aggressors being responsible for the deaths of these supposedly “innocent” individuals. Moreover, in the report, The Lantern officially refers to the Israeli Defense Force by the misleading title of “Israeli Occupation Forces.”
During the rally itself, aside from lionizing members of an internationally recognized terrorist organization, SJP found the need to further accost Jewish students at Ohio State by posting videos on their Instagram story of the event’s attendees shouting, “from Columbus to Gaza, mobilize the intifada.” Intifada refers to frequent violent attacks against Israelis orchestrated by Palestinian terror groups and their sympathizers.
During the Second Intifada, which spanned from 2000-2005, Palestinian terrorists orchestrated numerous attacks targeting civilians. These included the bombings of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in which five U.S. students died, a Sbarro pizzeria restaurant where seven children and a senior citizen were killed, and the Dolphinarium discotheque, where sixteen teens were killed, most of whom had recently emigrated from the U.S.S.R. to escape the dreadful conditions for Jews there. Palestinian terror groups also targeted public buses with heavy traffic with explosives. One of many such incidents was the 1994 street bus bombing on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv, which left twenty two dead.
The Second Intifada left 1100 Israelis dead and many more injured. Is a term associated with one of Israeli history’s darkest and bloodiest chapters an appropriate call to action for a student group? How are Ohio State students supposed to feel safe on the same campus where a student group glorifies horrific attacks against students?
Attendees of the rally also proudly yelled, “no peace on stolen land.” The notion of “stolen land” is a falsehood perpetuated by Palestinian leaders to undermine the longstanding Jewish connection to the land of Israel.
In December 2021, the Palestinian Authority Deputy Director of the Ministry of Culture, Muhammad Ayyad, elaborated on this trope on official Palestinian Authority (PA) Television, saying, “[Israel] knows well that it necessarily will return to where it came from because it has no existence in this land at all.” The “stolen land” falsehood also implies that Jewish immigrants illegally acquired territory even though historical records by the Jewish National Fund and British and Ottoman authorities corroborate evidence that the land was acquired through lawful financial transactions between Jewish immigrants and Arab absentee landlords.
Let it not be forgotten that this disturbing rally occurred weeks after SJP hosted a Zoom webinar with Hatem Bazian, the founder of the national SJP movement, who reposted tweets calling Jews rapists and Nazis. Farrell Brody also spoke at the conference representing Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). JVP proudly hosts and advocates for convicted terrorists such as Ahmed Sa’adat and Rasmea Odeh, who killed two Hebrew University students by bombing a crowded supermarket. SJP’s trend of inciting violence and sympathizing with terrorists is easy to see: from its members, to its student leaders, to its guest speakers and partner organizations.
SJP’s actions demonstrate that its priority is to demonize the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Their cause is not about the plight of Palestinians, as they claim. This is made clear by SJP only posting infographics showing Palestinian deaths by “occupation” rockets targeting terrorist operatives, but their silence about the roughly 800 rockets fired by PIJ into Israeli cities, or the fact that PIJ’s misfired rockets killed over a dozen Gazan civilians. But of course, in the eyes of SJP, only Israel could ever be at fault for Palestinian suffering.
In the aftermath of this horrific event, The Lantern rejected all articles submitted by Jewish students that shed light on the gross incitement of violence and misinformation promoted by SJP at the rally. Giving no other reason than asserting that “The Lantern is not interested in publishing this op-ed at this moment in time,” its editor in chief ignored all follow up communication that politely asked for clarification. It is for this reason that this article was only recently published and not as it should have been in August.
Students at Ohio State must take a firmer stance never to let the likes of Al-Nabulsi and other disgraceful murderers be honored on our campus alongside the real deserving martyrs of history. As SJP strenuously labors to create a less safe and inclusive place for pro-Israel students at OSU, we must resist their glorification of terrorism by promoting collaboration between student bodies to facilitate meaningful discussion of political issues. By the same token, Jewish and Zionist voices must demand equal representation in The Lantern as is given to pro-Palestinian voices. For the sake of peace and unity on campus, it is imperative that OSU students come together to oppose the hateful ideology that SJP seeks to promote.
A slightly modified version of this article also appeared in the Algemeiner.