'This Was In Fact a Victory': Inside an Ivy League Student Group's Private Response to Hamas's October Attack

Brown University's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter called an 'emergency' meeting to defend terror group's massacre

University Hall at Brown
University Hall at Brown (Getty Images
November 20, 2023

Hours after Hamas launched its Oct. 7 terrorist assault on the Jewish state, a Brown University student group called an "emergency meeting" to plot its public response. The group's members during that meeting argued that Hamas's attack was "justified violence" and "in fact a victory," according to internal documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The Ivy League school's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter throughout its Oct. 8 meeting defended Hamas's terror attack and subsequent kidnapping and killing of Israeli women and children. At one point, meeting minutes show, members discussed the importance of "recognizing that this was in fact a victory" and "a big moment for Palestine." Members also argued that their group should not be "condemning violence" or taking on a "tone of mourning" in response to the attack, which they said was "justified" by Israeli "oppression."

"In reality the root of the violence comes from the side of the oppressor," group members wrote in their meeting minutes. "Recognizing that this was in fact a victory, a statement that dismisse[s] violence kind of dismisses the resistance. … Tone of mourning maybe inappropriate?"

The group's private deliberations provide a window into the anti-Semitic demonstrations that have exploded on Ivy League campuses since Oct. 7. While the Brown Students for Justice in Palestine chapter eventually released an Oct. 11 statement that blamed the attack on Israel's "settler colonial regime of apartheid" and expressed "solidarity with Palestinian resistance," that statement omitted much of the extreme rhetoric expressed during the group's "emergency meeting."

At one point, for example, the group's members argued that Hamas did not slaughter innocent Israelis, citing the "difference between an 'innocent' civilian and a settler." Hamas's attack did not target West Bank settlements. Members went on to argue that their group "as a foundational principle" should never condemn "Palestinian resistance," even as they acknowledged that Hamas in its attack killed children.

"Go through historical context, context for 'Hamas bombing children' (i.e. what led them to do that?)" the minutes say. "Demeaning to Palestinians to imply that 'violence against human beings is bad.'"

For Brown sophomore Victoria Zang, the meeting minutes expose the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter's "true intentions."

"On Oct. 8, Israel had not responded to anything, Israel had not gone into Gaza, Israel had not reacted at all, and yet you already have SJP planning to spin the deaths of all these Israelis," Zang told the Free Beacon. "It just shows what their true intentions are—they don't care, they just want to blame Israel, even when Hamas, a terrorist group, storms inside."

It's unclear which Students for Justice in Palestine members at Brown spearheaded the "emergency meeting." The group does not publicize the names of its leaders and has issued its statements defending Hamas anonymously. Brown's Center for Middle East Studies, however, last year identified one member of the student group's executive board: Mica Maltzman, a Brown junior whose online bio said she "is primarily interested in the history of Palestinian resistance and its intersections with diaspora and colonialism studies." Maltzman also served as an editor for the Brown Undergraduate Journal of Middle East Studies, according to her bio.

Following publication of this article, Brown's Center for Middle East Studies removed Maltzman's bio from its website, and the school's Students for Justice in Palestine chapter claimed the center incorrectly listed Maltzman as a member of its executive board. "The information of who is actually on the E-Board is strictly confidential," the group told the Free Beacon.

At one point during the Oct. 8 meeting, the group also suggested sending its statement to Brown professor Beshara Doumani for his review.

Doumani, who is the university's inaugural "professor of Palestinian studies," has touted his efforts to "turn Israel into a pariah state" and "end Israel's existence as a Jewish state" through the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Doumani also served as president of Birzeit University, a Palestinian school that has glorified Hamas terrorism.

In addition to the Students for Justice in Palestine emergency meeting, anti-Semitic rhetoric has exploded on Brown's campus since Hamas's attack. Other campus groups, such as the Asian American Political Alliance, shared statements and organized campus demonstrations that called Hamas's slaughter of innocent Israelis "dignified" and stated "glory to our martyrs."

Students have also sympathized with Hamas on Sidechat, an app that allows college students to share anonymous thoughts with their peers, according to screenshots obtained by the Free Beacon. In one post, a Brown student shared an image of a Hamas fighter with an elderly Israeli hostage alongside the caption, "Favorite picture." In another post, an anonymous Brown student said there is "no such thing as an innocent Israeli."

Jewish students at Brown have responded to those posts and other anti-Semitic incidents by indicating they no longer feel safe on campus.

"It's very tense—everywhere I go, it's tense," Zang said. "Why is the university waiting to respond when Jewish students are being harassed?"

Update Tuesday, Nov. 21 12:25 p.m.: This story has been updated with comment from Brown Students for Justice in Palestine.