200 Protest Suspensions of Anti-Israel Students at Northeastern

Demand Reinstatement of Pro-Palestinian Demonstrators

Bryan MacCormack, Left in Focus

By JTA

Published March 18, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

More than 200 protesters rallied at Northeastern University opposing the school’s recent suspension of the campus chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The protest was organized by a coalition of more than 29 organizations including Jewish Voice for Peace Boston and many of its local student chapters as well as feminist, peace and social justice organizations.

The group of young adults and middle-aged activists from a few labor groups as well as members of Veterans for Peace marched to the office of Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun to deliver a petition with some 7,000 signatures in support of the group.

The protesters called on the university to reinstate Students for Justice in Palestine as a student organization and drop all disciplinary actions against two students.

The student chapter of SJP was suspended from campus on March 7 for at least a year, and its current executive board members are barred from serving on future boards in the organization after the group distributed a leaflet in student residences. The so-called mock eviction notice is designed to mimic those that appear on illegal Arab construction slated for demolition. Similar campaigns have been used in other campuses.

The notice, which states that it is not a real eviction notice, has the headline “Dorm scheduled for demolition in three days.” It states, “Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under oppressive Israeli occupation,” and goes on to make other inflammatory claims about Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

“We condemn the university’s strong-arm tactics as blatant violations of free speech and dangerous attempts to suppress academic debate on campus,” said Lisa Stampnitzky, in a statement released by Jewish Voice for Peace. “These administrative actions are discriminatory: SJP has been treated more harshly than other groups who have enacted similar protests,” she said.

The timing of the demonstration coincided with a university hearing for two students who face disciplinary charges for their participation in the leafleting. The two students are women of color, according to Liza Behrendt, of Jewish Voice for Peace Boston while none of the white students have been charged with any infractions, she says.

Northeastern University released a March 18 statement, saying that it is a “community of educators and learners that is strengthened by its diversity. The University is committed to a free and open exchange of ideas with an atmosphere of civility and mutual respect.”

The statement goes on to say that “the undergraduate Students for Justice in Palestine organization at Northeastern has been temporarily suspended for multiple violations … over an extended period of time,” and that the decision was handed down after a thorough review of the facts and “only after repeated efforts by university officials to guide the leadership of the undergraduate group.”

It further states that the disciplinary hearing for the two students relates to violations of residence hall rules and not freedom of expression.

“The students are not facing suspensions or expulsion, for any reason,” the statement says.

“Censorship on university campuses is distressing,” said Sarah Wunsch, a staff attorney for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), who spoke at the rally. The ACLU and two other law groups have been advising the Northeastern U chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine since last year when it was placed on probation after members of the group staged a walkout at a presentation by Israeli soldiers.

“Flyers are handed out at Northeastern all the time without advanced permission,” Wunsch told JTA. “We think the university is engaging in viewpoint discrimination and content discrimination.”

Following the suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine, the pro-Israel group StandWithUs, issued a statement welcoming Northeastern University’s action in upholding standards of civility and inclusiveness.

“We realize that the Arab-Israeli conflict is a contentious issue,” said StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein. “But on too many campuses, anti-Israel activists have increasingly crossed red lines: they deny free speech to Israel’s supporters, spread lies about Israel, spew bigotry and anti-Semitism and bully pro-Israel students. We applaud NEU for upholding a responsible environment.”

Rabbi Joseph Berman, a member of Jewish Voice for Peace’s rabbinical council said, “Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic. Condemning the occupation is not anti-Semitic. Educating about the demolition of Palestinian homes is not anti-Semitic. Misuse and abuse of anti-Semitism does a grave disservice to SJP and to Jews everywhere, because there is really anti-Semitism in the world, but this is not it.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.