On Wednesday, November 15, the Binghamton University Zionist Organization (BUZO) hosted an educational event in the university’s lecture hall with a pro-Israel speaker from StandWithUs. As members of the BUZO executive board arrived to prepare the space for the event, they were met with a shocking sight: The room was littered with posters and flyers denouncing Israel and Zionism.
This wasn’t surprising. Since the horrific attack on southern Israel by Hamas on October 7, and the subsequent war against Hamas, anti-Zionist student groups at BU, including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), have participated in a campaign to disseminate anti-Israel propaganda on campus.
While we can’t prove who placed the anti-Israel propaganda flyers in the lecture hall, it is undeniable that these student groups have contributed to a hostile climate on campus.
One of the flyers pasted across the lecture hall stated the following, “the brave students standing up for Palestine are taking action, united and intransigent, against a US-backed genocide.”
The lie that Israel is committing “genocide” is a common trope deployed by haters of Israel. An October 9th statement by the Binghamton University SJP chapter makes a similar assertion, calling the October 7th Hamas massacre the result of “more than 75 years of ethnic cleansing,” among other falsehoods.
Israel is not committing genocide in Gaza. Israel has one goal: to eliminate the threat of Hamas so that October 7th can never happen again. It is Hamas that intentionally places civilians in harm’s way. For instance, Hamas put tunnels and a command center underneath Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. Since taking over the Gaza Strip in 2007, the terrorist group has used schools, homes, mosques, and hospitals for military purposes.
This constitutes a major war crime because it places Palestinian civilians, including those hospitalized, at risk. Hamas is entirely responsible for the practice of using civilians as human shields. Hamas has even tried to stop Palestinians from leaving the war zone. They must be held accountable for the loss of civilian lives, not Israel.
In fact, Israel does everything that it can to minimize civilian casualties, including ensuring the migration of Palestinian civilians to the southern Gaza Strip last month to reduce the number of casualties; warning civilians to flee areas and buildings that it intends to bomb; and conducting targeted strikes on military targets, such as locations where Hamas is storing weapons and firing rockets into Israel.
If Israel wanted to commit genocide, it would not take measures to protect Palestinian civilians. What’s more, the Palestinian population has drastically increased over the past few decades. As authors such as Daniel Pomerantz have noted, Israel has actually shown remarkable restraint in Gaza. If it wanted to target civilians, it could kill untold numbers of innocent people. But that is not what the Jewish state is doing.
On the other hand, Hamas blatantly states that its goal is the genocide of Jews in Israel. Hamas has said that October 7 was part of this plan, and that it hopes to repeat the attack.
Hamas targeted Jewish-majority communities solely for being Jewish, and had they not been stopped by the Israel Defense Forces, they would have killed thousands more. In fact, in a November t video, a Hamas official stated, “We will repeat October 7th again and again until Israel is annihilated.”
Israel is in an extremely unfair position. If the Jewish state defends itself against Hamas, it will be condemned; if they do nothing, its citizens will be slaughtered.
Israel rightly chooses to defend itself and rescue its people from the clutches of an evil terrorist group that is as reprehensible as the Nazis.
It’s ironic that SJP calls Israel’s response to Hamas’ crimes a “genocide,” but has remained silent on the nature of the massacre committed on October 7th. Israel protects civilians; Hamas targets them. There is no equivalence between the two.
Another one of the flyers posted at Binghamton read, “Stop the witch hunt of pro-Palestine activists in universities!”
This is a fallacy, considering that pro-Palestinian “activists” are prevalent on college and university campuses. In fact, much of this “activism” crosses the line into antisemitism. We have witnessed the justification of terror, the attempted burning and desecration of Israeli flags, the praising acts of violence against Jews, the propagation of antisemitic tropes, and the targeting of Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus.
A few campuses, including Brandeis University, have taken SJP’s threat seriously by banning them. Unfortunately, anti-Israel sentiment and aggressive action continue to thrive on American college campuses. At Tulane University, pro-Israel students were physically assaulted as they were counter-protesting an anti-Israel demonstration.
At Cornell University, a student was arrested for posting horrifically violent antisemitic threats on a student chat platform. He threatened to “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all of you pig jews.” On October 25, Jewish students at the Cooper Union sheltered in a library as pro-Palestinian students banged on the doors and shouted common anti-Israel cries.
This has led to major Jewish donors distancing themselves from the universities they previously supported. One such philanthropist is Henry Swieca, who asserted, “With blatantly anti-Jewish student groups and professors allowed to operate with complete impunity, it sends a clear and distressing message that Jews are not just unwelcome, but also unsafe on campus.” Administrators, students, and fellow donors should heed this warning and be mindful about how their institutions fund or support SJP.
The investigation into the lecture hall’s propaganda display at my school is ongoing. So, too, is the tension felt on campus between the Zionist and anti-Israel camps. I call on all of the anti-Israel groups at Binghamton University to root out this kind of behavior, and identify and bring those involved in this despicable act to justice.
This article was originally published in the Algemeiner.