Last week, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) welcomed students back to campus. But how welcome can the university’s Jewish population feel sharing a campus with a student group whose members have a long history of horrific anti-Semitic social media posts?
The group, Students for Justice in Palestine, runs a very active chapter at UIC. Even with the COVID-related shutdown of in-person learning in the past academic year, SJP made great headway in its campaign to demonize Jewish students.
A new report released by the anti-hate watchdog group Canary Mission found “disturbing” levels of anti-Semitic activity by this group going as far back as 2015.
The report broke this activity down into three categories: a campaign to attack and malign Chicago’s largest Jewish charity; an effort to bully “Zionists”; and spreading anti-Semitism, support for terrorism and hatred of Israel on social media.
Additionally, the report takes a look at the evolving strategies used by SJP.
Attacking the Chicago Federation
The 2020-2021 academic year saw SJP UIC take their attacks into the larger Jewish community of Chicago for the first time. In the hope of appealing to their intersectional allies, the group branded the Jewish United Fund (JUF) of Metropolitan Chicago, Chicago’s Jewish Federation, as “racist,” “Islamophobic, anti-Arab, transphobic and homophobic” and a “hate group.”
Among its other activities, the Federation provides food, refuge, health care, education and emergency assistance to 500,000 Chicago residents of all faiths and funds a network of more than 100 agencies, schools and initiatives.
As documented in Canary Mission’s report, in February 2021, SJP UIC began a two-month campaign to pressure UIC to cut ties with the JUF for sponsoring a Zoom talk by an Israeli professor Gabi Bin Nun of Ben-Gurion University at the university’s School of Public Health.