DEFEND PALESTINE SUPPORTERS FROM “ANTI-SEMITISM” SLANDER
On 21 October, 2014, Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, issued a statement to the “John Jay College community” implying that the college’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter (SJP) is part of a world-wide “rise in anti-Semitism” (read his letter here).
The letter offers no evidence to support this charge. Rather, it alludes to “reports” that “instances on our campus” have left Jewish students feeling “intimidated and harassed.” Who filed these reports, on whose behalf, and the details of these “instances” — not to mention why all this left the president “deeply troubled” — are never explained.
It is clear, however, that the president was responding to an 8 October SJP “Die-In/Vigil from Ferguson to Gaza” protest, and it was John Jay Administration, not SJP, that harassed and intimidated.
Student Life Coordinator John Leebens attempted to censor the event in advance, then actively discouraged students from attending. In doing so, he denied SJP’s constitutional right to free speech. For full details on the college’s violations — defended on the basis that the protest might make others feel “uncomfortable” — see this statement from Palestine Solidarity Legal Support and the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism directed at Palestine supporters — many of them Jewish — are nothing new. Today, these attacks are a desperate response to escalating support for the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which demands an end to the 1967 Occupation, right of return for Palestinian refugees, and full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel. This campaign explicitly condemns all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism.
Those Jewish students who close their eyes to Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people will inevitably be made “uncomfortable” by such protests, no matter what form they take. Supporters of apartheid South Africa or Jim Crow no doubt felt the same when confronted by protest against those regimes. Indeed, the right to protest was attacked on similarly unconstitutional grounds during earlier civil rights, antiwar, and anti-apartheid movements.
We reject the administration’s attempts to silence Students for Justice in Palestine, and call on President Travis to:
• Publicly retract his groundless accusations of anti-Semitism
• Stop violating student free speech rights
Al Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition
Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
Jews Say No!
Jewish Voice for Peace – NY
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network
International Socialist Organization
Labor for Palestine
New York City Labor Against the War
NYC Solidarity With Palestine
Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee
Students for Justice in Palestine at Brooklyn College
Students for Justice in Palestine at City College
Students for Justice in Palestine at College of Staten Island
US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
Please sign on! To add your name, please go to: https://www.change.org/p/jeremy-travis-president-john-jay-college-of-criminal-justice-cuny-defend-palestine-supporters-from-anti-semitism-slander