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Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

Or Shaked, May 8, 2024


Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a network of pro-Palestinian student groups across the U.S., disseminating anti-Israel propaganda, often with inflammatory rhetoric. They lead Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns, utilizing confrontational tactics like disrupting pro-Israel events and constructing mock “apartheid walls.” SJP promotes “anti-normalization,” hindering collaboration between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel advocates. Responsible for creating hostile campus environments, they coordinate under the National SJP framework, urging universities to divest from Israeli entities and fostering a climate saturated with anti-Israel agendas and intimidation tactics.

Organizational Structure

SJP has a complex organizational history and structure. Founded in the 1990s at the University of California, Berkeley by Hatem Bazian (now a Berkeley lecturer), its first chapter made headlines in 2001 when it unsuccessfully lobbied UC Regents to divest from Israel. Additional chapters emerged, but it wasn’t until 2006 that they unified under the short-lived Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM), created by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).  

SJP’s parent organization, the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP), has an unclear organizational structure, with anonymous and loosely connected leaders. It is unclear to what extent it communicates and strategizes with SJP chapters. According to the NSJP website, it “seeks to empower, unify, and support student organizers as they push forward demands for Palestinian liberation and self-determination on their campuses.” While loosely affiliated with NSJP, SJP chapters claim minimal financial support from the parent organization.

Before the 2023 Israel-Hamas war, SJP was thought to have around 250 chapters. Though not all pro-Palestine groups adopt the SJP name, many share similar rhetoric, ideology, and tactics.

Mission and Ideology

The stated mission of SJP is to promote freedom, solidarity, and historical justice. Still, their support for violence, as evidenced by rallying for an “intifada” (violent uprising) and calling for the elimination of Israel, contradicts these principles. SJP views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a colonialist lens, portraying Israelis, Zionists, and sometimes Jews as oppressive colonizers while depicting Palestinians, including designated terrorist groups like Hamas, as innocent victims. This perspective hampers efforts to find common ground between Israelis and Palestinians or between American Zionists and pro-Palestinian activists.

Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

While claiming to reject anti-Semitism, SJP chapters often demonize Jewish students who identify as Zionists or supporters of Israel, disregarding the nuanced understanding of Zionism as integral to many Jews’ religious or cultural identities. By asserting that one cannot be both Jewish and Zionist, SJP aims to limit the Jewish identities of fellow students, fostering hostility toward them. Instances such as calling for the expulsion of Jewish student groups like Hillel exacerbate this tension. Additionally, SJP regularly hosts speakers opposing Israel’s right to exist and employs demonizing language about Zionists and Israel, contributing to an unsafe environment for Jewish students to express their Judaism or support for Israel. Brandeis University’s research concluded that the presence of an active SJP group correlates with a hostile climate toward Israel and Jews.

SJP chapters are also primarily responsible for introducing BDS resolutions and referendums on college campuses, which call for universities to refrain from investing in companies that do business in or with Israel. While no university has enacted a BDS resolution or referendum, the campaigns often devolve into anti-Semitic attacks against Jewish students on campus. 


SJP is financially backed by American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), an organization linked to Hamas, according to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Lawmakers have called for federal investigations into the funding sources of both SJP and AMP due to their alleged ties to Hamas. Additionally, National SJP and its branches lack transparency in their financial operations, as they are not registered as 501(c)(3) nonprofits and do not disclose their financial activities. AMP reported $1.5 million in income and $1.2 million in expenses in 2022 with limited donor information. The nonprofit WESPAC Foundation serves as the fiscal sponsor for National SJP, adding to the opacity of its financial dealings.

Response to October 7

Three days after the October 7, 2023, massacre, NSJP issued a “Day of Resistance Toolkit” that celebrated “the resistance in Gaza, which launched a surprise operation against the Zionist enemy.” NSJP declared, “Glory to our resistance, to our martyrs, and to our steadfast people,” and proclaimed, “we as Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement” (emphasis in the original). It is, therefore, evident that NSJP sees itself as part of Hamas and, accordingly, should be viewed as such.

Following the terror attack in Israel, SJP endorsed Hamas’s attacks on Israeli civilians and advocated “dismantling” Zionism on U.S. college campuses. Some SJP chapters disseminated pro-Hamas messages and virulent anti-Israel rhetoric, while others issued inflammatory statements supporting Palestinians’ seizure of Israeli territory, often explicitly endorsing violence against civilians.

SJP-led protests on multiple campuses praised Hamas terrorists and celebrated the deaths of innocent Israeli citizens. Such demonstrations were marked by the bullying, intimidation, and harassment of Jewish and pro-Israel students, behaviors consistent with SJP’s broader activities. Consequently, several American universities responded by suspending or banning SJP and its affiliated groups from their campuses.

SJP does not advocate peace or speak up for the welfare of Palestinians within the Palestinian Authority or in Arab countries like Lebanon, where they are second-class citizens and have been victims of internecine fighting. The organization’s principal focus is on the demonization of Israel and often Jews, whom they euphemistically call “Zionists.”

Sources: Alan Blinder, “Inside the Pro-Palestinian Group Protesting Across College Campuses,” New York Times, (November 17, 2023)

“Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP),Anti-Defamation League, (October 19, 2023)

“What is Students for Justice in Palestine, the Hamas-supporting Anti-Israel Group Being Banned on College Campuses?” American Jewish Committee, (February 23, 2024)

“The NGO Network Orchestrating Antisemitic Incitement on American Campuses,” NGO Monitor, (April 25, 2024)

“American Muslims for Palestine (AMP),” Cause IQ

“Who are we?” National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP)