Since Hamas’s brutal attack on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Israelis and 23 Americans, pro-Hamas demonstrations have shocked the American people. These protests were organized by the national group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), who praised Hamas's actions, condemned Israel, and called for its destruction. These sentiments were echoed by many of SJP's 200 chapter organizations across prominent universities nationwide.
The SJP chapter at the University of Minnesota, for example, expressed their support for Hamas on social media and held a bake sale "in loving memory of Palestine's martyrs." They also organized a march of 8,000 pro-Hamas protesters at the state capitol. The SJP UMN, joined by the Campus Marxists, even called for a communist movement to overthrow U.S. imperialism.
Similar demonstrations took place at Columbia University, Harvard, Stanford, Binghamton University, George Washington University, and CUNY Law School. These actions prompted concerns for the safety of Jewish students and drew attention to the SJP's calls for violence and the destruction of Israel.
While some universities have taken action against SJP chapters, such as banning them from campus, others have been slow to respond. The financial interests and partnerships between universities and foreign governments, including those that fund Hamas, may play a role in their reluctance to act decisively.
University administrators now face a critical choice - to protect the safety and fundamental freedoms of all students and faculty by banning SJP's campus operations or to continue allowing a group that openly advocates violence and intimidation. Defending free speech and expression on American campuses requires nothing less.
The concerns raised by these pro-Hamas demonstrations highlight the need for universities to address campus-based intimidation and violence, while also safeguarding academic freedom and free expression. It is a delicate balancing act that must prioritize the safety and well-being of all members of the university community.