OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The network behind campus antisemitism

A web of shady NGOs with terror connections are funding and organizing the protests.

Anti-Israel extremists set up a protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York on April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
Anti-Israel extremists set up a protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York on April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock
Gerald M. Steinberg
Gerald M. Steinberg is president of NGO Monitor and a professor of politics at Bar-Ilan University.

Antisemitic violence and intimidation continue at encampments and protests at universities across the United States. At the same time, debates on free speech, hate speech and threats of retribution have paralyzed many university administrators.

But a key aspect of the campus dynamics has been largely overlooked: administrators, faculty, donors and policymakers.

The antisemitic events on campus are not spontaneous protests for human rights or peace. They are an orchestrated effort backed up by a network of NGOs. Many of these NGOs have a long history of antisemitism, incitement to violence and ties to terrorism—as my organization NGO Monitor’s ongoing research has documented.

The terror-supporting NGOs include Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Within Our Lifetime (WOL), the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights and Samidoun. While these groups say they stand for human rights and justice, they have all expressed support for Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre.

In the wake of the massacre, SJP published a statement referring to the violence as a “historic win for the Palestinian resistance.” Going further, SJP appeared to encourage further massacres. It claimed, “This is what it means to Free Palestine: not just slogans and rallies, but armed confrontation with the oppressors.”

JVP refers to Palestinian terrorism as “resistance” and promotes antisemitic tropes. These included a cartoon that depicted Israeli soldiers joyously drinking the blood of dead Palestinians. To avoid being labeled antisemitic, JVP uses the word “Jewish” in its name. Yet its stated goal is creating “a wedge” within the American Jewish community. It hopes this will aid in its campaign to eliminate U.S. economic, military and political support for Israel.

The list of similar statements by the NGOs behind the campus unrest is endless, as our recent report documents.

Leaders of some of these NGOs also engage in pro-terrorist incitement. For example, Abdullah Akl, a WOL organizer who serves as the director of advocacy and civic engagement for the Muslim American Society, which federal prosecutors have found “was founded as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” During an April 2024 protest, Akl led a chant calling on Abu Obaida, Hamas’s “military” spokesman, to bomb Tel Aviv.

Akl is not alone. Samidoun founder and leader Khaled Barakat and his wife Charlotte Kates spoke at the March 2024 “Resistance 101” event at Columbia University. Barakat told Columbia student activists, “Your work is so important to the resistance in Gaza.” Kates claimed, “There is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas, being a leader of Hamas, being a fighter in Hamas.” Germany rejected Barakat’s request for an extension of his residency permit, citing his antisemitism and direct ties to the terror group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Tellingly, these NGOs are not transparent about their funding sources, internal structure or links with other NGOs and organizations. For example, instead of filing for non-profit status and issuing its own financial statements, National SJP uses the WESPAC Foundation—a Westchester, New York-based organization registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) non-profit—as its sponsor. This obscures the scale and sources of SJP’s income and paid employees. Likewise, none of SJP’s numerous campus branches are independently registered. This allows them to hide their donors and finances, including any foreign government support.

For their part, only about one-third of JVP’s funding sources, which includes the immensely rich Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Open Society Policy Center, can be identified through public records.

Clearly, measures requiring these NGOs to disclose all of their funding sources and terror links are essential. This will go a long way towards preventing the spread of the campus intimidation and antisemitism for which they are responsible.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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