Hate speech posters alleging a student organization was connected to a “terror organization” were plastered around campus on Thursday, naming and criticizing several students and faculty members for their involvement in Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP.
An organization called the David Horowitz Freedom Center took responsibility for putting up the posters. The organization’s founder, David Horowitz, said the group put up similar posters found on campus in April.
The posters describe SJP as “the chief sponsor of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish activities on campus” and accuse the named individuals of allying themselves with Hamas, which the center alleges is a “terror organization.”
David McCleary, a SJP member and president of UAW 2865, a student workers union, was among those named on the posters both last Thursday and in April.
“If the implications weren’t so scary, if there weren’t mentally unstable people reading those accusations who could hurt myself or someone I care about, the accusations would be just laughable,” McCleary said.
On Thursday, Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman sent an email informing the campus community about the posters, noting that the posters violate the campus rules of conduct for protests and would be removed.
Liz Jackson, an attorney with Palestine Legal, said the hateful rhetoric on the posters, similar to the cancellation of the Palestine Decal that was later reinstated, is the university’s responsibility to address and criticized the university for allegedly creating a hateful environment for SJP.
“The intention of these posters is to smear students and faculty who support them and make it so that no one can advocate for Palestine,” said SJP member and campus graduate student Kumars Salehi, who was one of the students named on the posters in April.
Horowitz said the center put the posters up to show that SJP is a “front for a terrorist organization.” He believes that the student group is funded by Hamas, a Palestinian militant organization.
“Its entire political program, all its events, are propaganda for Hamas,” Horowitz alleged.
Horowitz claimed to get the names that were listed on the posters from the organization Canary Mission, a database that claims to document anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Salehi said the posters can affect his job or grant applications because the accusations are attached to his name and can be found on the Internet because the center advertises the posters.
“That not only serves to punish students who have already engaged in activism but also serves to disincentivize anyone from joining SJP or doing this kind of work,” Salehi said.
According to McCleary, SJP doesn’t support any political party or any armed militant group, and they call for equality for all citizens.
“I am Jewish and come to this work because of my Jewish upbringing,” McCleary said. “I feel that it’s important for me to speak out about what’s happening in Palestine.”
Joshua Woznica, president of the Jewish Student Union and president of Bears for Israel, said the group strongly condemns the hateful rhetoric and thinks it is counterproductive.
“This is not the work of any student groups,” Woznica said. “We would not want to create a sharp divide. This does not allow us to have any room for conversation from the pro-Israel or pro-Palestine side.”