The banning of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Northeastern University in Boston on March 7, along with a university threat of disciplinary measures against some of its members, replicates sanctions being imposed against numerous student Palestinian rights groups across the country. The attacks, and the disturbingly similar forms of punishment, appear to be part of a coordinated effort by the Israeli government and the Israel lobby to blacklist all student groups that challenge the official Israeli narrative.
Northeastern banned the SJP chapter after it posted on campus replicas of eviction notices that are routinely put up on Palestinian homes set for Israeli demolition. The university notice of suspension says that if the SJP petitions for reinstatement next year, “No current member of the Students for Justice in Palestine executive board may serve on the inaugural board of the new organization” and that representatives from the organization must attend university-sanctioned “trainings.”
In 2011 in California, 10 students who had disrupted a speech at UC Irvine by Michael Oren, then the Israeli ambassador to the United States, were found guilty, put on informal probation and sentenced to perform community service. Oren, an Israeli citizen who has since been hired by CNN as a contributor, has called on Congress to blacklist supporters of the campaign of boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel and to prosecute those who protest at appearances by Israeli officials. Some activists at Florida Atlantic University were stripped of student leadership positions after walking out of a talk by an Israeli army officer, and they were ordered by school administrators to attend re-education seminars designed by the Anti-Defamation League.
Now look at how the industrial tribunal in the FUCU case detailed Anthony Julius's "letter before action" against the University and College Union:
Complaint (10): The letter before action of 1 July 2011 and UCU's response
136 By the letter before action, Mr Julius charged the Respondents with harassing the Claimant. It was said that the union was not a place that was hospitable to Jews and that the union's treatment of the Claimant was not merely a violation of equality legislation but also a scandal. Reference was made to correspondence going back to 2008, the boycott motions, the management of the Activists List, the Bongani Masuku affair and other matters. It was said that the union was institutionally anti-Semitic and that the decision most recently taken to abandon the Working Definition was just the most recent of many "insults". That motion was characterised as a choice to legislate anti-Semitism out of existence. The letter continued in similar unbridled fashion and culminated in the demand for the abrogation of Motion 70 of 2011, an open an unqualified acknowledgment that the union had been guilty of institutional anti-Semitism coupled with a public apology, a commitment to abide by a code of conduct in respect of its Jewish members to be drawn up by a body comprising individuals approved by the Claimant and a further commitment to sponsor a programme (for a minimum of 10 years and conducted by that same body) educating academics about the dangers of anti-Semitism, "with special reference to the relationship between anti-Semitism and what now passes for 'anti-Zionism".
I wrote about the case result here. See the similarities between what Anthony Julius was demanding and what some US universities are forcing their Palestine solidarity activists to go through.
Of course what was so pleasing about the FUCU case and other court victories for the Palestine solidarity movement in the UK is that Israel/zionism rarely stands up to any forensic test. But in the US, as Chris Hedges points out, Israel and its advocates are not having to stand up to a forensic test. They can simply muscle universities into doing pretty much what Julius was demanding of the UCU. It's particularly annoying because Julius managed to chalk up the biggest hasbara fail in the UK that anyone can remember.