Students for Justice in Palestine (TJP) has been actively involved in organizing numerous protests and demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine within American university halls over the past weeks. (Shutterstock)

In front of Columbia University Memorial Library, seven small red-stained rolled shrouds lined up on stairs 1 were placed next to Palestinian flags, pictures of olive trees and planks of wood with phrases such as "10,600 lives lost," "4,412 children," and "Let Gaza live," a reference to the victims of the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip until then. This was one of the peaceful protests organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (TJP) during the second half of November 2023 in cooperation with other student groups in solidarity with Palestine, during which they demanded that the state of Columbia publicly call for a ceasefire, withdraw financial endowments from companies complicit with Israel's apartheid state, and end academic programs in Tel Aviv.

The simple protest, attended by hundreds of students, was considered a "threatening and intimidating speech," and Columbia University suspended the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter and other student groups in solidarity with Palestine until the end of the semester, a measure that was fiercely opposed among students and faculty. On the other hand, the Israeli organization "StandWithUS", which describes itself as a non-partisan educational organization, praised Columbia University's decision on its social media pages (2), after the organization wrote to several American universities urging them to hold such student groups, which they say "spread the spirit of hate" on campus.

This was not the only restriction suffered by the "Students for Justice in Palestine" movement, as the branch of the student movement at "Brandeis University" was banned on the grounds that they "openly support Hamas", and the branch of the movement at the "George Washington University" was banned after three of its members raised the slogan "Glory to our martyrs" on one of the study buildings, during an increasing wave of repression that affected members of the movement in American universities throughout the country, the latest of which was the call of a Republican lawmaker (3) to withdraw the fellowships. and scholarships from college students who openly support the Palestinian resistance in Florida.

Who are Students for Justice in Palestine?

Students for Justice in Palestine seeks to educate students and faculty alike about the current situation in Palestine and issues related to the Palestinian people. (Shutterstock)

Recently, the echoes of the war have spread from Gaza to the corridors of American universities, and student organizations have played a pivotal role in the general mobilization and the organization of demonstrations and mass marches in solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling for a ceasefire, and condemning the support and funding of the United States for the aggression launched by Israel on the Gaza Strip, as a result of which student groups supporting the Palestinian cause were dissolved and their student activities were banned, among these groups was Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is the most prominent and active movement. Against Israel and the Zionist occupation in the United States of America.

Founded in 4, the student movement has over the past decades more than 1993 chapters within various American universities, and seeks to educate students and faculty alike about the current situation in Palestine and issues related to the Palestinian people. The movement states in its official pages (200) that its mission is to defend Palestinian rights, as well as to demand justice and equality for all oppressed people around the world. The group's focus is on raising awareness of the Palestinian cause and understanding of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice and equality, but at the same time it stands against all forms of discrimination and racism, including misogyny, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, classism, colonialism and intolerance, and aims to promote political awareness of other liberation movements, such as the Black Liberation Movement and the Indigenous Liberation Movement (5).

Since the start of Operation "Al-Aqsa Flood" on the seventh of last October, and the subsequent unprecedented Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, various (7) Arab, Palestinian and Jewish groups have organized many marches and demonstrations, and the student group "SJB" publicly supported the Palestinian resistance by organizing events to denounce the Israeli occupation, and the protests included boycott campaigns and calls for divestment from companies that deal with Israel, as well as raising slogans condemning the war crimes committed against the Palestinian people, and accusing Israel committing genocide and ethnic cleansing, which made accusations of anti-Semitism and "terrorism" pro-KGB in the corridors of American universities.

A banner hung by dolls during a rally in Tampa, Florida, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. (Reuters)

Many students who boldly stood in solidarity (8) with Palestinians indicate that they have been subjected to demonization, defamation, intimidation, expulsion and targeting campaigns, and that their advocacy for the Palestinian cause has been equated with support for terrorism by the government, university presidents, business leaders, and politicians of all levels. Stephen Hamad (not his real name), a student representative of the KGB movement at George Washington University, told independent media platform PRISM that the movement's branch has come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, both by the university administration and local media.

After its recent activities against Israeli oppression, the movement received a sharply worded statement (9) from the president of George Washington University in which she stressed hatred of what she described as manifestations of celebrating terrorism and promoting speeches and images that glorify violence. Such comments are tactics, according to Hamad, used by university administrations to intimidate, as if they see pro-Palestine student movements as a threat to the Zionist entity or the entities that support it.

That's why they sued Florida.

During their graduation ceremony at Columbia University a few days ago, SJB activists stood in front of the campus throwing graduation gowns and hats on the ground in protest against the recent harassment and threats they have been subjected to since the start of the last Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, due to their explicit and declared support for the Palestinian cause, after which the matter turned into a conflict between freedom of expression and "anti-Semitism."

Students for Justice in Palestine (TJP) has actively participated in organizing many protests and demonstrations in solidarity with Palestine within the American university corridors over the past weeks, at Stanford University, the movement's branch published a statement (11) immediately following the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation, in which they pointed out that the events of October 75 are part of a decades-long struggle against the oppression of the Israeli occupation that lasted for more than 12 years, denouncing the reduced media coverage that portrayed it. It is as if an attack came from nowhere without preliminaries, without showing the blockade imposed by Israel by air, land and sea on the Gaza Strip, the way the Israeli occupation controls water and electricity and even the number of calories that can enter the Strip daily, which has turned Gaza into the largest open prison in history, according to Human Rights Watch. The statement of the movement's <>th branch at Columbia University also recognized the right of Palestinians to resist the occupation under international law.

It was only a few days later that American universities began banning SJP, suspending student activities under the pretext of hate speech, violating university policies, and organizing events on campus without permission.

[13] This was exacerbated when Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, ordered the state's universities to dissolve the branches of Students for Justice in Palestine, claiming without any evidence that the student group provides material support to terrorist groups, which is a "felony" under Florida law.

DeSantis, one of the potential candidates for the US presidency, is known for his pro-Israel stance, as the governor of Florida has not hesitated to send supplies to Israel since the start of the brutal war on the Gaza Strip, and also supported the convening of a special legislative session to impose new sanctions on Iran, claiming its support for the Palestinian resistance movement (Hamas), despite the absence of any evidence indicating Iran's involvement in the current events (14).

Republicans are now threatening to cut funding for universities that don't take serious action toward pro-Hamas students. (Shutterstock)

Alex Mori, director of campus rights advocacy at FIRE, defended the student group, saying it had not crossed red lines for free speech. Mori has written to several U.S. universities asking them not to punish students for their feelings of solidarity with Palestine. She said she was not surprised by the backlash at the KGB, because their rhetoric is unpopular at times when educational institutions are under immense pressure to combat what they see as "anti-Semitism," with Republicans now threatening to cut funding for universities that don't take serious action toward pro-Hamas students.

In the end, Students for Justice in Palestine decided to file a lawsuit (16) against the state, the university and the DeSantis administration in federal court, in response to DeSantis' decision to dissolve the group's branches within the state. The group issued a statement affirming their right as students on American campuses to defend human rights, raise public awareness and demand a just and reasonable solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, without being forcibly silenced by the government.


  •  StandWithUs
  • Florida Republicans target scholarships, grants for students supporting Hamas
  • Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Students for Justice in Palestine – 2
  • United States.. Who is behind the pro-Gaza and anti-Israel demonstrations?
  • College students face backlash while voicing support for Palestine
  • Thoughts on Recent Campus Events and the War in Israel and Gaza
  • Columbia University Grads Throw Away Caps and Gowns in Protest of Banning of Pro-Palestine Groups
  • From the Community | Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine
  • Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine Statement of Solidarity
  • Florida orders state universities to disband pro-Palestinian student group, saying it backs Hamas
  • Will U.S. universities' pressure on their pro-Palestine students succeed?
  • Students for Justice in Palestine becomes flashpoint in college antisemitism, free speech debate
  • Pro-Palestinian student group in Florida sues DeSantis
  • Source : Al Jazeera