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Students for Justice in Palestine

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Students for Justice in Palestine
SJP Logo with white background.png
Motto"From local roots to nationwide branches: bridging student movements"
  • Various independent chapters across North America
Red, Green, White, Black
AffiliationsPalestine Solidarity Movement, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) is a pro-Palestinian college student activism organization in the United States, Canada and New Zealand that has campaigned for boycott and divestment against corporations that deal with Israel, and organized various Palestine Awareness Week events that accuse Israel of war crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

As of 2010 SJP had more than 80 chapters at American universities.[1] Some SJP chapters in the United States have adopted the name Palestine Solidarity Committee or Students for Palestinian Equal Rights. In Canada, some SJP chapters have adopted the name Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), or Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR).


Students for Justice in Palestine was first established at the University of California, Berkeley in 1993.

In 2001 the group organized the first Palestine Solidarity Movement (PSM) conference to coordinate corporate divestment from Israel efforts nationwide.

The organization was banned by the University of California from engaging in on-campus protests in 2002.[2] In March 2014 the Center for Student Involvement at Northeastern University suspended the SJP from campus for one year after an incident that the Center described as "intimidation" of fellow students.[3][4] The university reached an agreement with SJP in April that lifted the suspension in lieu of a one-semester probation where the organization was allowed to operate as usual.[5]

PSM served as a national umbrella organization for SJP and other groups until it dissolved in 2006. In October 2011, SJP held their first national conference at Columbia University which was attended by 40 chapters.[1]

The conference resolved on the organization's Points of Unity on October 16, 2011. The Points of Unity stated:

Students for Justice in Palestine is a student organization that works in solidarity with the Palestinian people and supports their right to self-determination. It is committed to ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Separation Wall. It recognizes the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality. It calls for respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194.[6],

SJP has used Facebook successfully to do outreach to individual and organize and promote events both on and off campus. Many chapters have hundreds of members and also use Twitter and other online social media networks for a broader reach and visibility.[1]


"Free Speech Fight" at UC Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley chapter of SJP in 2001 chose the memorial of the Deir Yassin massacre to occupy a campus building and disrupt a midterm exam in progress for over 600 students as part of a protest against their university's investments in Israel. The occupation was broken up by police after warning the students of trespassing. Seventy-nine protesters were arrested for trespassing and resisting arrest. One protester was jailed, on a charge of felony battery after he bit a police officer.[7]

Following the arrests, SJP was banned from operating at UC Berkeley, prompting an SJP protest of two hundred demonstrators a month later. University Chancellor Berdahl said, "It is important to understand that this is neither an issue of free speech, nor of the right to hold demonstrations on campus. The issue is the occupation of an academic building, interfering with the rights of other students to continue their education."[8]

New Zealand

Students for Justice in Palestine has branches at the University of Auckland[9] and Victoria University of Wellington.[10] In 2006, Auckland University's SJP has led demonstrations against the local weapons industry Rakon, a company that sells components US Military.[11] On 28 September 2015, members of the Victoria University of Wellington's SJP branch picketed a talk given by two visiting former Israeli soldiers, which had been organized by the Australasian Union of Jewish Students.[12]

Brandeis University

In April 2011, Avi Dichter, Member of Knesset and member of Israel's centrist and Kadima party, was interrupted by protesters from a group of the Brandeis SJP, while speaking at Brandeis University, calling him a war criminal, and accusing him of torture and crimes against humanity.[13]

Loyola University Chicago

On September 9, 2014, at Loyola University Chicago, members of SJP harassed students who were manning a Hillel table promoting Birthright Israel, a program that pays for Jews to visit Israel. The SJP hecklers verbally abused the Hillel students, then formed themselves into a wall that blocked access to the Hillel table.[14]


Bowdoin College

In May 2015, following a more than year-long campaign, the SJP campaign at Bowdoin College to boycott Israel ended with 20% of students voting in favor, 21% abstaining and 59% voting against.[15]

Hampshire College

Following a two-year campaign by SJP, in February 2009 the Board of Trustees at Hampshire College in Massachusetts agreed to divest from Caterpillar, United Technologies, General Electric, ITT Corporation, Motorola and Terex.

Progressive news outlet Democracy Now reported that this was due to "their connection to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza."[16]

However, Hampshire College president, Ralph Hexter, said that decision to divest from certain companies was not aimed at Israel and criticized the pro-Palestinian students for suggesting otherwise, saying "I think they crossed the line of appropriate behavior." SJP replied the college was shying away from the "political implications of its action".[citation needed] In addition, Sigmund Roos, chairman of the board of trustees, said that the board never "took up" the students' petition.[citation needed]

Sabra Hummus boycott

In November 2010, SJP at DePaul University demanded that Sabra brand hummus be removed from the university, to which the university agreed. However, a few days later, the university reversed its stance by reinstating it in the dining halls. The university spokeswoman said "in this instance the sale of Sabra hummus was temporarily suspended, by mistake, prior to review by the Fair Business Practices Committee. We have reinstated sales to correct that error by staff personnel."[17]

In May 2011, the DePaul SJP presented a referendum to the Student Government concerning Sabra.[18] The referendum failed to receive the required number of votes for it to pass.[19]

Stanford's BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) defeat was notably followed by two quick BDS victories at University of California, Riverside and University of California, San Diego. On March 8, 2013, substantial campaigning by SJP at University of California, Riverside (UCR) produced a victory when the Senate voted 11–5 to endorse BDS and divest from Caterpillar and Hewlett Packard. The vote in support of BDS at UCR was large enough to avoid a veto by the undergraduate student body president who opposed the resolution.[20]

Universities that have passed divestment resolutions (student governments)






Universities that have failed or tabled divestment resolutions (student governments)



  1. ^ a b c Students for Justice in Palestine, Anti-Defamation League website, April 27, 2010.
  2. ^ "Students protest ban by Berkeley chancellor". San Mateo County Times. 3 May 2002.
  3. ^ Northeastern University Bans ‘Students for Justice in Palestine’ for Intimidating Students, 12 March 2014 [1]
  4. ^ Northeastern U. suspends pro-Palestinian group, March 13, 2014
  5. ^ "Northeastern University lifts suspension of Students for Justice in Palestine". Electronic Intifada. 22 April 2014.
  6. ^ Organizations Resolve to Organize Nationally for Palestine Archived 2017-08-13 at the Wayback Machine Students for Justice in Palestine website, accessed April 18, 2013.
  7. ^ Daily Cal – 10 April 2002 – Israeli, Palestinian Backers Clash During Campus Rally Archived 22 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Berkeley Daily Planet- 3 May 2002– Pro-Palestine protesters rally for free speech
  9. ^ "Students for Justice in Palestine University of Auckland Facebook page". SJP University of Auckland. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  10. ^ "Students for Justice in Palestine: Victoria University of Wellington Facebook page". SJP: Victoria University of Wellington. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  11. ^ McKenzie-Minifie, Martha (2 September 2006). "Excitement inside deafens protest". The New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 14 November 2011.
  12. ^ Winter, Chloe (29 September 2015). ""Free, free Palestine" chant interrupts former Israeli soldiers' lecture". The Dominion Post. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  13. ^ Jewish leftists disrupt Kadima MK speech at U.S. University
  14. ^ Matt Lamb, "SJP Students Hurl Insults at Jewish Peers, Protest Their Israel Display (Video)," The College Fix (September 16, 2014).
  15. ^ "Bowdoin Students Overwhelmingly Reject Boycott of Israel". Bowdoin. May 6, 2015. Retrieved June 22, 2015.
  16. ^ http://www.democracynow.org/2009/2/12/headlines Hampshire College Becomes First US College to Divest from Israel], Democracy Now headlines, February 12, 2009.
  17. ^ Lewin, Tamar (3 Dec 2010). "New Subject of Debate on Mideast: Hummus". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-03-13.
  18. ^ McCraney, Lacey (17 May 2011). "Hummus Vote More Than Dip Debate at DePaul". NBC Chicago. NBC News. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  19. ^ "Referendum to ban Israeli hummus at DePaul fails". ABC Local News. ABC News. 22 May 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  20. ^ Gordon, Larry (8 March 2013). "UC Riverside student Senate urges divestment from firms working in West Bank". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-03-14.