On March 7, Northeastern University’s Center for Student Involvement (CSI) announced that the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter is suspended at least until 2015. According to Max Blumenthal in Mondoweiss, Jason Campbell-Foster (the director of the CSI) wrote in a letter to SJP that they “have not shown a concerted effort to … educate … members on how to properly operate” SJP while staying within the “boundaries of university policy.” In addition, all current members on the board of the Northeastern SJP organization have been banned from ever serving on the board while at Northeastern.
The event that prompted the SJP suspension was the distribution of “eviction” notices that were meant to symbolize the eviction notices which Palestinians receive for building structures illegally. After the distribution of the notices in campus dormitories, the Dean for Cultural and Residential Life, Robert Jose, promptly responded, saying that Northeastern does not “condone” actions that cause Northeastern students to feel “targeted and/or intimidated.”
SJP responded to the suspension by making Northeastern University seem racist and intolerant rather than address the issue at hand. For example, they assert that the reason some families have been displaced from neighborhoods in Roxbury is because of student gentrification, putting this in the frame of hypocrisy, as reported by blogger Elder of Ziyon. While Northeastern promises impartiality and fairness according to the SJP website, SJP feels that the organization has been “criminalized and marginalized.”
The SJP group also tries to make Northeastern seem racist by highlighting the fact that the only two students being considered for expulsion for distributing the eviction notices are two African-American women. This emphasis blatantly ignores the possibility that those two women could have been more active or responsible for SJP’s actions.
SJP has also tried this political stunt at other universities, such as Florida Atlantic University (FAU), where the University, according to Fox News, released in a statement that the fliers should not have been distributed. The tactics of issuing “eviction” notices has also been used at the University of Michigan.
While there are many aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which need to be addressed, giving out fake eviction notices has been shown to violate university policies. Students, both at the University of Michigan and Northeastern University, have complained that they felt targeted and vulnerable. Rather than stage a one-way propaganda attack on Israel, having an open respectful discussion could be much more productive.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Eli Cohn