Florida bans Students for Justice in Palestine

Governor DeSantis orders state colleges to ban Students for Justice in Palestine chapters over group’s support for Hamas.

By Dion J. Pierre, The Algemeiner 

Florida’s state university system, in consultation with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, directed colleges to “deactivate” chapters of the national group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) for defending Hamas following the Palestinian terrorist group’s invasion of Israel and massacre of civilians earlier this month.

Ray Rodrigues, chancellor of the State University System of Florida, issued the order on Tuesday in a written memo to school presidents within the system.

About 1,400 people were killed in Hamas’ terror onslaught against Israel on Oct. 7 — the deadliest single-day attack on Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas referred to the invasion as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

In his memo, Rodrigues referenced how, following the massacre, the National Students for Justice in Palestine organization called for a “Day of Resistance” on college campuses across the US, distributing propaganda aimed at demonizing Israel and seemingly defending Hamas. As part of the efforts to promote its campaign, SJP issued a “toolkit” to supporters that in part referred to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as “the resistance” and stated: “Palestinian students in exile are part of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.”

The State University System of Florida has at least two institutions with active National SJP chapters, according to Rodrigues. Citing state law that deems the knowing provision of material support to a terrorist group as a felony, he said that the two chapters cannot continue operating.

“These chapters exist under the headship of the National Students for Justice in Palestine, who distributed a toolkit identifying themselves as part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood,” the memo stated. “Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated. These two student chapters may form another organization that complies with Florida state statutes and university policies. The two institutions should grant these two chapters a waiver for the fall deadlines, should reapplication take place.”

The measure will affect SJP chapters at the University of North Florida, located in Jacksonville, and Florida State University, located in Tallahassee.

Support for terrorism against Israeli civilians among SJP chapters is not new. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), for example, reported that SJP expressed on at least 10 occasions last year admiration for Leila Khaled, a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a US-designated terror group. She is known for previously hijacking two planes.

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Other SJP chapters at the University of Texas, Dallas, New York University Law School, and the University of Massachusetts posted violent images containing PLFP’s logo and guns. In January, the University of Chicago’s SJP chapter honored Khairy Alqam — who murdered seven Israeli civilians exiting a synagogue in Jerusalem — in a collage titled “Honoring the Martyrs.”

DeSantis has taken previous steps to crack down on anti-Israel activity in Florida.

In Dec. 2021, his office issued a statement advising Florida State University not to allow the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), with which it was an institutional partner, from operating a boycott of Israel on its campus. The association at the time was considering — and later approved — an endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

In 2016, when DeSantis was a state representative, he supported legislation that prohibited the state’s pension funds from investing in companies that boycott Israel. DeSantis said BDS “is a form of economic warfare against Israel that is rooted in antisemitism and seeks to delegitimize the world’s only Jewish state.”