American Thinker published a distorted article about the upcoming National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) Conference, claiming SJP represents the student arm of the “stealth jihad” movement and criticizing Columbia University and Jewish students for giving pro-Palestinians a platform to express their views.
There are two ways this response can go. I can either focus on the article’s many contextual, grammatical, and typographical errors (the author, Jan Suzanne Krasner, very noticeably confuses SJP with SPJ), or I can simply show how the author contradicts and subsequently discredits herself. Both routes will suggest that Krasner and the ideological views presented in her article represent the extremism and intolerance SJP and other pro-justice organizations work against, but I will choose the latter route and deal solely with the article’s slanderous content.
Krasner, who genuinely believes several neighborhoods in the United Kingdom are “Shariah Controlled Zones” run by Muslims fantasizing about victorious battles against the Crusaders, vaguely argues that the SJP Conference to be held at Columbia University serves to delegitimize Israel through direct yet stealthy jihad. In her own words, “[t]he Muslim Brotherhood actively supports and finances student organizations like SJP”. To Krasner, the conference, which she repeatedly calls a “training event”, is just another example of the “true mission of Islamists” being forced upon the American youth, and she feels compelled to put an end to it.
From the start, Krasner’s idea of SJP and campus solidarity is flawed by her obsession with the far-fetched idea that everything represents creeping Shariah unless it fully abides by and supports American and Israeli policy. By asserting that SJP serves to promote ‘radical Islam’, a term copped from the FOX network, Krasner reveals her misunderstanding of what it means to stand against Israel’s sustained abuse of Palestinian rights. The article mentions “SJP’s demands” but instead links to an unrelated article about the Palestinian Authority’s recent bid for statehood. What the article purposefully leaves out is that SJP’s real demands involve an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a restoration of human rights, equality, and self-sovereignty to all.
By framing the SJP Conference as tool to Islamicize the United States, Krasner attempts to shift attention away from the facts that exist on the ground in Palestine-Israel towards her Islamophobic fetishes. Her article makes no mention of the proposed objectives of the conference nor does it even recognize the existence of Israel’s occupation — which, in and of itself, is a cause for concern.
Krasner also goes on to accuse SJP of willfully accepting financial assistance from the Muslim Brotherhood. I challenge her and anyone that agrees with her article to prove this allegation. I guarantee no success. It is likely that she is referring to the funds the SJP National Committee has been collecting to offset the costs of putting together this convention, but such an allegation is baseless and only reflects the extent to which she will go to dirty the name and reputation of a movement committed to bringing down the prejudiced establishments she herself supports.
On the issue of money, the article states that the “[o]rganizers hope to raise $30,000 in preparation for the upcoming 2012 national campus event called ‘Israel Apartheid Week'”. Had Krasner bothered to read and understand the program for the conference, she would know that only one of the many planned workshops is centered on Israel Apartheid Week (IAW). The conference is indeed about confronting and overcoming apartheid, but IAW is just one of many strategies of doing so. The funds raised by SJP will be used to plant the seeds of nonviolent, skillful, and effective campus activism against injustice and apartheid.
In a last ditch attempt to undermine the imminent success of the SJP Conference, Krasner attempts to make the point that the conference violates Columbia University’s code of Civil Behavior and Community Standards. The article cites the following:
It is expected that in and out of the classroom, on and off campus, each student in the School of General Studies will act in an honest way and will respect the rights of others. Freedom of expression is an essential part of University life, but it does not include intimidation, threats of violence, or the inducement of others to engage in violence or in conduct which harasses others.
Krasner then goes on to applaud the following response by the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA):
Of course we will not be surprised to hear from President Bollinger and the Board that this is just a “student group” and the university is “not involved” and that this is “the free expression of ideas,” intellectual freedom” or even “art.” But we can no longer accept these excuses for what appears to be pure hatred and efforts to intimidate pro-Israel Jewish students and others who do not agree with SPJ’s views.
Again, the organization being referred to is SJP not SPJ. But looking beyond this blatant display of irresponsibility reveals even more irresponsibility. Here is an already-discredited contingency calling on Columbia University to shut down the conference and to deny students their right to free speech and expression even though the conference violates in no way any of the standards set forth by Columbia University’s behavioral codes. What makes this even more disturbing is that Krasner and NCJA have the nerve to make these statements just after ten students were prosecuted for merely interrupting an inherently offensive speech by Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren for a total of less than one minute.
But more importantly, neither Krasner or NCJA provide any evidence as to how this conference intimidates pro-Israel Jewish students. The conference is not anti-Israel and, thus, it is not an anti-pro-Israel-Jewish-student conference. Rather, the conference is pro-justice, and it just so happens that the concept of justice — which includes equality, accountability, human rights, and more — does not align at all with conventional Israeli policy. It is not SJP’s fault that Israel occupies Palestine, but the students involved with SJP have taken on the responsibility of combating the hatred and intolerance that allows the occupation to exist. If Kramer truly considers this unethical, intimidating, or threatening, then the only segment of the global population she seeks to defend are the ones who already violate Columbia University’s behavioral and community codes. (At this time, I invite you to read the comments following the article, one of which implicitly commends Anders Breivik’s Islamophobic and murderous ideology.)
Krasner’s article serves as both an Islamophobic and dramatically deceitful libel against a large union of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, religious, and irreligious students who have dedicated themselves to resisting injustice with ambition, intellect, and the rule of law. There is no jihad at play and the SJP Conference, with its public records and all, is definitely not a breeding ground for fundamentalism of any sort. Immortal Technique is not “seducing” students to the event and the Muslim Brotherhood does not exist within Columbia University’s walls. The first ever National SJP Conference itself is proof that apartheid and occupation will soon come to an end, and Krasner’s attempt to defame this planned gathering of student activists will not in any way hinder the manifestation of this outcome.