update deskSchools & Higher Education

Brandeis becomes first private university to ban Students for Justice in Palestine

Jewish Insider reported that the Massachusetts university banned the student group, as the school's president published an op-ed in the Boston globe about confronting antisemitism on campus.

Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., in 2016. Photo by Vitalii Biliak/Shutterstock.
Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., in 2016. Photo by Vitalii Biliak/Shutterstock.

Brandeis University, a private school with Jewish roots in Waltham, Mass., has banned Students for Justice in Palestine from campus, Jewish Insider reported on Monday.

The same day, Ronald Liebowitz, the Brandeis president, wrote in a Boston Globe op-ed that student groups that call for violence against Jews or for the destruction of Israel “should lose all privileges associated with affiliation at their schools.” (Liebowitz cited “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” as an example.)

“In no way does this violate higher education’s deep and enduring commitment to free speech,” Liebowitz wrote. He added that free speech comes with “the responsibility to uphold community standards against the incitement of violence and harassment, and free of intimidation.”

“In this twilight zone moment when students and faculty seem to be enjoying their freedom to express grotesque language about Jews, Jewish life and the Jewish state, Brandeis will uphold free speech rightly understood,” he added. “Universities cannot stop hate speech, but they can stop paying for it. Brandeis will ensure that groups that receive privileges through their affiliations with the university, including using its name, will lose their affiliations and privileges when they spew hate.”

Brandies wrote to Students for Justice in Palestine on Monday saying the “decision was not made lightly, as Brandeis is dedicated to upholding free speech principles,” according to a letter viewed by Jewish Insider.

“The National SJP has called on its chapters to engage in conduct that supports Hamas in its call for the violent elimination of Israel and the Jewish people. These tactics are not protected by the university’s principles,” it added. “Students who wish to express their support for the rights of Palestinian civilians may form another student organization, through established procedures, that complies with university policies.”

Last month, Florida pushed to “deactivate” Students for Justice in Palestine on public campuses.

On Oct. 25, the Anti-Defamation League and Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law wrote to nearly 200 college and university presidents urging them to “investigate the activities of your campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine … for potential violations of the prohibition against materially supporting a foreign terrorist organization.”

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