Taking Turtle Island Twits to Task // Some schools stand up to an odious group

Claiming “over two hundred branches across occupied Turtle Island,” it aims “to develop a student movement that is connected, disciplined, and equipped with the tools necessary achieve [sic] Palestinian liberation.”

“It” is “Students for Justice in Palestine,” or SJP. And if you’re wondering where Turtle Island is, well, if you live in the continental United States, you are standing on it; the name is of Native American origin, based on the belief that North America sits atop a giant tortoise. And, of course, it is “occupied” by us nefarious American and Canadian colonizers.

SJP’s “core values” include commitment to the “collective liberation from Palestine to the Rio Grande” and to the belief that “the struggle for a free Palestine is also the struggle for Black liberation, gender… freedom, and a livable and sustainable planet.” Intersectionality, in other words, gone wild.

But if one is led to see the group’s inability to write a complete sentence, endorsement of the Great Turtle theory or rashly radical rhetoric as evidence of the group’s innocuousness, one would be mistaken.

For years, SJP has disrupted speeches, organized anti-Israel protests, conducted sit-ins and made a general nuisance of itself.

And in the days following Hamas’ savage October 7 murder spree, SJP’s national leadership and many of its campus chapters heartily endorsed the terrorists’ actions, labeling the carnage “a historic victory for the Palestinian resistance” and calling for a “Day of Resistance” to rally in support of those who dream of an Israel-free world.

The “Day of Resistance Toolkit” disseminated by the group explicitly advocated for the “complete liberation” of Israel and the “dismantling of Zionism.”

SJP chapters have labeled all Israelis as “settlers,” and explained, in the words of the George Washington University branch, that “A settler is an aggressor, a soldier, and an occupier,” subject to removal “by any means necessary.”

SJP chapters have also adopted the image of a person flying in a paraglider, in graphic homage to the Hamas terrorists who used such vehicles in the service of massacring Jewish men, women and children.

The bad news is that the group seems to have attracted a large number of new adherents, many no doubt attracted to its oh-so-chic intersectional cred—others, equally undoubtedly, because, well, most Israelis are Jews.

The good news is that—any “context” of SJP’s incitement notwithstanding (hint hint, madam presidents)—at least four colleges have suspended or banned SJP chapters from their campuses.

Rutgers University was (as of this writing) the most recent school to suspend SJP, joining Brandeis University, George Washington University and Columbia University in doing so. Columbia also suspended the similarly offensive anti-Israel group Jewish Voice for Peace.

And, back at the end of October, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered state universities to ban SJP entirely, contending that its celebration of Hamas violates the law. As the state university system’s chancellor, Ray Rodrigues, wrote to university presidents, “It is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support…to a designated foreign terrorist organization.’”

The American Civil Liberties Union, always ready to support rankness in the name of the First Amendment, has come to the aid of the Florida universities’ SJP chapters, helping them sue to block the governor’s action, which the ACLU deems “a clear violation of the constitutional rights to free speech and association.”

“As students on a public college campus,” the ACLU quotes the groups as asserting, “we have every right to engage in human rights advocacy and promote public awareness and activism for a just and reasonable solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict.”

Yes, you read that right. Support for Hamas and the obliteration of the victim of the savage attack is a “reasonable solution” to the conflict.

No one, of course, is preventing haters’ right to spew whatever poison they like. Leaving aside the issue of providing support to a terrorist organization, an institution of higher learning banning a group from official recognition (and funding) does not prevent anyone’s right to speak. Soapboxes, both traditional and electronic, abound.

Expressing disapproval of offensive speech is also a right, and laudable. And so, kudos to the colleges that have informed SJP that it is odious. May others follow their lead.

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