Last week, just days before coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday November 13th left 129 people dead, inflammatory posters linking Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA) to terrorism and anti-Semitism appeared on several college campuses in California and in Washington, DC. Another poster smeared the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights as anti-Semitic. The posters were discovered Sunday evening Nov. 8th on the campus of American University in Washington, and reported by Elli Bloomberg in The Eagle, the AU student newspaper. Similar posters were found on Thursday the 12th on the campus of UCLA and reported in the Daily Bruin.
Former leftist and current right-wing activist David Horowitz, and his Los Angeles-based Freedom Center, took “credit” for the posters, several days after failing to respond to multiple inquiries from the UCLA Daily Bruin. According to the Freedom Center, the posters were placed anonymously as part of a “guerrilla campaign targeting the campuses of George Washington University and American University in Washington, DC and those of UCLA, UC-Irvine and UC-San Diego in Southern California.”
One of two posters targeting SJP bore the text “Regardless of how they picture themselves, this is who they really are,” above a photo of a young child standing next to an automatic weapon. Like the other posters, this one featured the hashtags #StopTheJihadOnCampus and #SJPJewHaters. The other poster specifically targeting SJP depicted a knife, decorated with the colors of the Palestinian flag and dripping with blood, next to a series of photos of young children posed with various weapons along with a caption that reads “Students for ‘Justice’ in Palestine: Supporting a Culture that Teaches Children to Slaughter Jews.”
The anti-BDS poster showed a bloody knife being thrust into the center of the Star of David under the text, “The real meaning of BDS: Boycott, Divest, Stab,” and bore the same hashtags described above. The 4th poster specifically targeted the MSA, by showing a crosshairs over the American al-Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki assassinated in Yemen by a drone strike. The text on the poster reads, “MSA Terrorist: Head of al-Qaeda in Yemen, President MSA Colorado State”. The New York Times reported in 2011 that al-Awlaki was the president of the MSA chapter at Colorado State where he studied engineering.
The appearance of these incendiary anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posters on college campuses comes in the context of increasing efforts to suppress free speech advocating for Palestinian human rights and the growth of campus BDS activism by a broad network of pro-Israel organizations, including not only the David Horowitz Freedom Center, but also StandWithUs, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Jewish Federations of North America, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the American Jewish Committee, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), Divestment Watch, the Israel on Campus Coalition, Campus Watch, and the David Project. Republican Party-supporting billionaire donors such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson are generously funding such anti-BDS and anti-Palestinian human rights initiatives. Inflammatory anti-SJP posters promoted by David Horowitz and the Freedom Center were previously distributed on the UCLA campus in February and in April of this year.
In Washington, American University Students for Justice in Palestine denounced the Horowitz-sponsored anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian posters as racist and Islamophobic. American University Hillel also denounced the posters in a brief statement. The DC Metro Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which supports the full Palestinian call for BDS and frequently works with SJP and other Palestinian solidarity groups at AU and other Washington-area campuses, was harshly critical of the posters. JVP DC Metro chapter spokesperson Seth Morrison stated “As hate crimes and bias incidents are on the rise against Muslims, Muslim institutions and against individuals assumed to be Muslim, we at JVP continue to stand with the Muslim community—and with all communities that are being targeted by xenophobia, racism and white supremacy.”