Northeastern anti-Israel group suspended for harassing pro-Israel students
In a letter sent to the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter, the school’s Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Jason Campbell-Foster, offered a litany of charges against the students. At the top of the list was the SJP’s February 24 distribution of [eviction] notices across Northeastern campuses. “You have not shown a concerted effort to improve your practices and educate your members on how to properly operate your organization within the boundaries of university policy,” Northeastern’s Campbell-Foster wrote.
According to Campbell-Foster’s letter, all current members of Northeastern SJP’s current executive board are permanently banned from serving on any future board in the organization. Further, SJP members must undergo a strict regimen of trainings led by university administrators as a condition for reinstatement.
The SJP chapter was also reprimanded for disrupting pro-Israel events and lectures on campus.
The notices were made to appear as though they were issued by the university’s Department of Housing and were designed to mimic the eviction notices received by some Palestinians in the West Bank if their homes were built illegally or needed to be demolished because of Israeli security concerns. The notices, however, claim that Israel evicts Palestinians from their homes for the purpose of “mak[ing] life so miserable for Arabs that they leave.”These notices, which have appeared on at least a half a dozen other campuses in the past few years, have previously made some students feel threatened or intimidated.For example, after students at Rutgers University received the notices in October 2013, Esther Reed, the rabbi of Rutgers’s Hillel was quoted in the campus newspaper saying, “students were made to feel that they were not safe in their residence halls.” Similarly, at Florida Atlantic University, students reported feeling confused or scared after receiving eviction notices in March 2012, according to Palm Beach County Commissioner Steven Abrams, who spoke to a local newspaper shortly after the incident occurred.Other students have criticized the tactic for failing to create dialogue. At Yale University, students wrote an op-ed in the campus newspaper and called the mock eviction notices “offensive,” claiming that there was not “even the faintest attempt at building a constructive dialogue.”
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) submitted a letter of concern on behalf of Northeastern’s Jewish students to President Joseph Aoun in July of 2013. The ZOA letter included a 12 page report documenting a series of “longstanding problems that Jewish students have been facing on [the] campus” . The report may be found here.