Anti-Israel Berkeley Group Says Israel Is Playing 'Victim'

(Wikimedia Commons)
October 10, 2023

An anti-Israel campus group at U.C. Berkeley is rallying around Hamas and claiming Israel is playing "victim" after the terror group’s weekend attacks on Israeli civilians.

Bears for Palestine, the founding chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, praised Hamas's attacks, which led to the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, as "resistance" in a letter dated Saturday and posted to its Instagram account.

"We invariably reject Israel’s framing as a victim," the Bears for Palestine association wrote in a letter dated Saturday. "Whereas to demonize and condemn indigenous resistance is to overshadow the decades of oppression, ethnic cleansing, and destruction of the Palestinian people."

The letter is just one example of how the Students for Justice in Palestine are leveraging the terrorist attacks to spark anti-Israel fervor on campus. At least 900 Israelis were killed and nearly 2,400 wounded in the shock attack.

It's also not the first time anti-Semitism has hit U.C. Berkeley. Last year the Department of Education launched a federal investigation into the university's law school for creating a hostile environment for Jewish students through "profound and deep-seated anti-Semitic discrimination." Earlier this year, the campus was defaced with graffiti saying "No Jew Go Away." And in February, the student governing body killed a resolution to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism.

Meanwhile, last August the Students for Justice in Palestine at Berkeley Law School led other student associations in banning pro-Israel speakers and "divesting all funds from institutions and companies complicit in the occupation of Palestine." The group urged all student organizations in the law school to "take an anti-racist and anti-settler colonial stand."

Berkeley's assistant vice chancellor for communications Dan Mogulof did not comment on the Bears for Palestine statement, but said university officials "are working and meeting with Jewish students and other members of the campus's Jewish community to provide support and information."

Berkeley has not issued a statement on the attacks. Mogulof directed the Free Beacon to the University of California president's statement condemning the violence.

Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, is an international campus organization that got its start at Berkeley, where its founder Hatem Bazian teaches. Bazian also launched its sponsor group, American Muslims for Palestine—a leader in the anti-Israel Boycott, Sanctions, Divestment movement.

The anti-Israel campus organizing comes as similar groups across the country have done the same. Columbia University Law School's dean whitewashed the terrorist killers, while a Harvard University dean and 33 student groups have blamed Israel for the war sparked by the attacks.

On Sunday, U.C. Santa Barbara’s chapter, which describes itself as occupying "stolen Chumash land," held an "emergency" rally. U.C. Los Angeles’ SJP chapter is planning an "Emergency Teach-In on the Crisis in Palestine" on Wednesday, convened by professors of English and Gender Studies.

Meanwhile the national SJP heralded Hamas’ attack as a "historic win for the Palestinian resistance."

"[A]cross land, air, and sea, our people have broken down the artificial barriers of the Zionist entity, taking with it the facade of an impenetrable settler colony and reminding each of us that total return and liberation to Palestine is near," the group stated in an Instagram post.

SJP’s sponsor group American Muslims for Palestine has links to Hamas through some of its board members who, according to 2016 congressional testimony, came from an organization shuttered by the U.S. government for financing the terror group. Bazian likewise has a history of defending Hamas, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and was forced to apologize by U.C. Berkeley administrators for anti-Semitic social media posts.