What is Students for Justice in Palestine? | WORLD
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What is Students for Justice in Palestine?

BACKGROUNDER | The progressive advocacy group calls for Palestinian liberation and opposes “colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, in all of their forms.”

Erica Lansner / Redux

What is Students for Justice in Palestine?
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MORE THAN 2,500 protesters have been arrested or detained at recent pro-Palestinian demonstrations on U.S. college campuses. Declaring opposition to Israel’s war in Gaza, students have pitched nylon tents on school grounds, barricaded themselves inside buildings, burned American flags, and chanted terror group slogans. The organized protests—with flags and picket signs—were largely coordinated by the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, and its more than 200 campus chapters nationwide.

What is SJP? The group describes itself as an independent, grassroots organization mobilizing students to push for Palestinian liberation and self-determination. Hatem Bazian, now chairman of American Muslims for Palestine, co-founded the group over two decades ago as an offshoot of the General Union of Palestine Students. Chapters are loosely connected through an umbrella organization, National SJP, which holds an annual conference and releases quarterly newsletters.

What does the group believe? On its website, SJP declares the struggle for a free Palestine is also the struggle for black liberation, gender rights, and sexual freedom. “All pursuits for freedom, justice, and equality … require us to struggle against state violence, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism, in all of their forms,” the group claims. It has also been accused of anti-Semitism in its crusades, referring to Israel as “the Zionist entity” and quoting the widely known “From the River to the Sea” slogan.

What’s the group’s specific role in U.S. student protests? Just hours after Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 attack on Israel, SJP released a message describing the assault as “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance.” In the same statement, the group proclaimed a national day of resistance, calling on student members to stage campus and community protests with the goal of “dismantling Zionism.” SJP offered remote training in how to organize a protest, including roles, security, and media training, along with guidelines on “messaging and framing.”

Who funds SJP? The group’s website includes a section for online donations. The group also receives funding from the New York–based WESPAC Foundation, a progressive advocacy nonprofit that believes in “educating, agitating and organizing for a more just and peaceful world.” American Muslims for Palestine, or AMP, has also been known to financially support SJP, according to Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism finance analyst for the U.S. Treasury Department. AMP and its lobbyist arm, Americans for Justice in Palestine Action, released a statement on Oct. 7 blaming the crisis on “increased Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.” According to Schanzer, AMP employs a campus coordinator to work with SJP and other pro-Palestine protest groups.


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