Californians Must Speak Out About the Antisemitic Conference in Los Angeles

There is no place in California of any kind for these antisemitic groups.
February 16, 2023
Louisville Students for Justice in Palestine hold a rally on May 23, 2021. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

It’s time for Californians to speak out against the anti-Jewish hate fest coming to Los Angeles on February 17th-20th. The sponsor, the grandiosely titled Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), has an articulated goal of gross injustice in what was once the British Palestine Mandate: ending the Jewish presence in our historic homeland, the Land of Israel, by dismantling the Jewish State. The mechanism by which it hopes to achieve this travesty is called Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS), and entails refusing to engage with even the most moderate and pro-peace Israelis on the grounds that this “legitimizes” the State of Israel, which they intend to wipe off the map. This is the exact opposite of a peace movement – their avowed intent, war to the death, actually meets the definition of genocide.

But you don’t have to take it from me. Let’s consider the comments of SJP leaders themselves, and the people to whom they’ve given a platform before their conferences were suspended during the pandemic years. Attendees at the 2017 National SJP Conference included Samer Alhato of Saint Xavier University, who has tweeted “I support Hamas and I send then [sic] money every month[,]” called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “a dirty Jew[,]” and asked former U.S. President Barack Obama to “shut up about gay marriage and go kill all the Jews.” One of the 2017 organizers was Mohammed Nabulsi, who urged activists to “support Palestinian resistance groups … such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], Hamas and Palestine Islamic Jihad[,]” – all of which are on the U.S. list of terrorist organizations for perpetrating suicide bombings and other targetings of civilians. SJP founder Hatem Batezian, also chairman of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) — one of SJP’s leading backers — has shared images featuring Jewish caricatures alongside ethnic slurs such as “Ashke-Nazi.”

SJP pushes for more than boycotts, actively supporting violence against civilians. SJP has hosted convicted terrorists like Rasmeah Odeh, who participated in a 1969 supermarket bombing that killed two college students. SJP has sold T-shirts honoring PFLP terrorist Leila Khaled, who hijacked and partially blew up Trans World Airlines Flight 840 in 1969. SJP activity on social media has celebrated convicted terrorists like Marwan Barghouti, who has been convicted of five murders including a drive-by shooting and a car bomb, and PFLP founder George Habash – known as “the godfather of Middle Eastern terrorism” – whose forces hijacked a 1968 El Al flight from Rome to Tel Aviv and held 21 passengers and 11 crew members hostage in Algeria for 39 days.

Consider also the antisemitism displayed on college campuses by SJP members and other BDS supporters. SJP chapters have engaged in antisemitic tropes like “the Zionist grip on the media is omnipresent” (by a New York University law student SJP member). At the University of Michigan, a recent rally called for the violent destruction of the Jewish state; at George Washington University, a professor described antisemitism as a form of psychosis. BDS forces have protested Hillels and other Jewish campus organizations while college students are attending social events and religious services. At Berkeley School of Law, BDS boosters hoodwinked nine affinity groups into pushing through a bylaw that could lead to the exclusion of Jewish members and speakers. Is it any wonder, then, that according to a Brandeis University study, one of the strongest predictors of hostility towards Israel and Jews on campuses is the presence of an SJP chapter? The AMCHA Initiative found that antisemitic activity was eight times more likely to occur on campuses where pro-BDS groups were present. SJP has played a dramatic role in the resurgence and mainstreaming of antisemitism in the United States.

California’s sensible leaders need to speak up against this madness and not allow this festival of Jew-hatred to be treated as normal. In 2018, Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-32) bravely stood up against the SJP conference, condemning the fact that SJP members “have posted violent anti-Semitic rhetoric on social media, ranging from calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people, to admiration of Adolf Hitler.” He wisely added that material on National SJP’s website would fall under the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism that has been adopted by the U.S. State Department, such as its regular comparison of Israel – the refuge of the Jewish survivors – to the Nazis, our murderers.

Sherman’s comments demonstrated the kind of farsighted courage the Jewish people, and all our friends of goodwill, must ask from the leaders of California as, yet again, our most terrible enemies have gathered to seek our destruction. California prides itself on its progressive values. Los Angeles even adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism. BDS and SJP are trying to position themselves as progressives and pacifists, but in reality, they are the exact opposite. They are a hate movement whose goal is to eradicate the only Jewish State in the world. There is no place in California of any kind for these antisemitic groups.

Noa Tishby, actress and co-executive producer of Emmy-nominated HBO series In Treatment, is Israel’s newly appointed special envoy for combating antisemitism.  She splits her time between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.  

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Ha Lachma Anya

This is the bread of affliction our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt

Israel Strikes Deep Inside Iran

Iranian media denied any Israeli missile strike, writing that the Islamic Republic was shooting objects down in its airspace.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.