The keynote speaker at the Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) national conference, hosted this year at Tufts University, delivered a bizarre, racially charged tirade that drew applause from anti-Israel activists in the audience.
SJP—an Islamist organization that calls for the destruction of Israel and is known for employing aggressive and often violent tactics on campus—held a controversial, weekend-long conference at Tufts that featured training workshops in "direct action" and speeches from leading anti-Israel activists.
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SJP is widely known for leading hostile anti-Israel campaigns on college campuses. It has compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany and promoted the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The keynote speaker on Friday evening, the Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, received applause from the audience when he drew an elaborate comparison between Palestinians and African Americans.
"One of the fundamental things that was revealed to me when I was in Palestine in 2012 was a simple truth," said Sekou, a self-described author and public intellectual. "I was there for about 15 minutes and I got it: Y’all are n—. That’s part of what it means to be a Palestinian in the context of Israeli apartheid."
Sekou went on to explain how, in his view, Palestinians and black Americans share a cultural status as refugees.
"Part of the understanding, a framework for understanding the ways in which Palestinians and African Americans exist in the same way is to be invited into a kind of [inaudible] community of n—," Sekou said. "In this context, Palestinians are very much n—."
"In Palestine," he went on to say, "I responded physically in my body to the [Israel Defense Forces] the same way I would respond to the [New York City Police Department], that my body responded that way because I fundamentally understood the level of repression that Palestinians were living under was very similar" to minority communities in the United States.
One senior Jewish official involved in the pro-Israel campus movement expressed shock when informed of Sekou’s comments.
"This would be hilarious if it wasn't so dangerous," said the source. "SJP is part of a new generation of anti-Israel incitement on college campuses: They swarm pro-Israel events, they target Jewish students, and they intentionally interfere with campus life."
"They tell themselves they're using any means necessary to overthrow a shadowy Jewish conspiracy, and that kind of lunacy makes violence a very real possibility," the source said.
The SJP conference also featured a Saturday afternoon workshop on "planning effective, powerful, and creative direct action."
"Direct Action arrives at the height of a campaign when all other means of escalation have been utilized," the SJP program says. "It is a last resort tactic that maximizes student pressure and demands attention from all stakeholders."
Some of the SJP’s past tactics have included distributing anti-Semitic literature, verbally threatening pro-Israel students, physically assaulting students, shouting down pro-Israel speakers, disrupting campus events, and scheduling anti-Israel events on Jewish holidays.
Also present at the Tuft’s conference were so-called SJP "peace keepers" who sported blue armbands and were stationed throughout the conference to monitor reporters and create what organizers referred to as a "safe space."
Another SJP keynote speaker, Mohammad Desai, was disclosed to have advocated violence against Jews.
Deasi supported activists who were caught chanting, "shoot the Jew" during a protest, according to the Jerusalem Post.
When contacted last week for comment on the SJP conference, a Tufts spokeswoman endorsed it as part of a "robust exchange of ideas" that "can be challenging and uncomfortable."