Three of the Horowitz center's flyers, pictured on a pole outside of Bendetson hall. The poster in the center lists the names of individuals associated with Students for Justice in Palestine, which have been blurred for their privacy. (Courtesy Miriam Israel)

SPLC-named hate group calls students ‘terrorists’ in campus posters

Posters naming Tufts students and one Tufts professor as terrorists connected to Hamas were put up across the Medford/Somerville campus on Oct. 19. The Horowitz Freedom Center, a self-identified conservative anti-Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the posters in an email received by a number of Tufts students on the same day. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) names the Horowitz Freedom Center as a hate group in its 2015 report, and calls the organization “the premier financier of anti-Muslim voices and radical ideologies, as well as acting as an exporter of misinformation.”

The names listed on the poster were chosen based on the individuals’ membership in — or support of — Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate-recognized organization that promotes the rights of Palestinians. The students had all been listed on the Canary Mission, an online database that, by its own description, tracks “people and groups that are promoting hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews on college campuses in North America.” Several Tufts professors have joined over 1,000 other faculty members from other universities in condemning Canary Mission, stating that the organization “mobilizes a small online community of pro-Israel advocates to harass and threaten these activists…. [Its] aim is to damage these students’ futures, and to punish them for their principled human rights activism.”

The Horowitz Freedom Center’s accusations of terrorism stem from its claims that SJP at Tufts accepts funds from Hamas, the governing authority of the Gaza Strip. Claudia Aliff, a member of SJP named in the poster, strongly rejected this allegation.

All of these claims are ridiculous,” Aliff, a senior, said.

David Horowitz, founder of the Horowitz Freedom Center, defended the claims made by his organization’s posters, saying SJP’s response was untrue.

Well, they’re liars. They’re lying,” Horowitz said.

Horowitz maintained that SJP was connected to Hamas.

“Every government in the world deserves to be criticized, including the Israeli government, but if you follow what SJP does, they strictly adhered to the lies of Hamas which are easily disproved,” he said.

Aliff said she was not altogether surprised to see the posters because of an incident several months ago when the Canary Mission published her name and personal information along with that of several other SJP members.

“I guess I’m not surprised … I think these organizations [Canary Mission and Horowitz Freedom Center] have a lot of money coming in, and this is what they use it for: to kind of terrorize. Right-wing terrorism,” she said.

Nic Serhan, another SJP member named in the poster, agreed that the posters weren’t unexpected.

“There was the Canary Mission thing and that happened a few months back, and even on these posters it says that their information is from the Canary Mission,” Serhan, a senior, said.

Horowitz said he had consulted Canary Mission’s website for his posters. He claimed that he did not know exactly who put up the posters but that if he did, he would not reveal their identities.

“I have people who make posters and they have people who put them up,” he said. “I have no idea who they are so I can’t answer this question and I wouldn’t if I could.”

Serhan’s main concern was the safety implications of having his name publicly displayed in such a negative manner, both by the Horowitz Center and the Canary Mission.

“I was getting hate mail and death threats in Twitter direct messages for months and so I deleted my account because it got so bad,” he said. “My fear with these posters on campus is that, you know, this is no longer the Internet. This is real life.”

Horowitz said he did not regret using students’ names in the posters.

“I am holding them accountable. I make no apologies. I’m holding them accountable for their actions,” he said.

In an emailed statement sent to the student body on Oct. 20, Dean of Arts and Sciences James Glaser, Dean of the School of Engineering Jianmin Qu and Dean of Student Affairs Mary Pat McMahon condemned the posters as violating both community standards and the privacy of students and faculty.

“The university will be sending a statement to the poster’s sponsors in order to make clear that such materials are not welcome on our campus,” the email read.

Horowtiz said that SJP and its positions are in violation of Tufts’ community values. When it was pointed out that, according to the statement from the university, it was Horowitz’s posters rather than SJP that was in violation of Tufts’ standards, Horowitz said that university administrators were hypocrites.

Serhan welcomed the timely response from the deans, saying it was very important that the university would be contacting the Horowitz Center.

“I’m really curious to see how that actually turns out or what comes of that because I don’t know if these people have been challenged from an institution of higher education so much as they’ve [seen] … challenges from the actual people who are being affected by it,” he said.

However, Serhan believed that some damage had already been done.

“I’m thinking about the way this affects the student body and how other students are going to interact with it, especially ones that aren’t students that may not be really aware of what SJP is,” Serhan said. “They might see this and take it very seriously and think that we are indeed Hamas.”

Aliff shared Serhan’s concerns about the misinformation being spread about her and SJP.

“The thing is, people believe them,” Aliff said. “People don’t know that there is no way this is substantiated by anyone’s experience with the group, or anything like that.”

Of additional concern, Serhan said, is that these claims are circulating on the Internet where anyone, including potential employers, can see them when searching the names of SJP members who they could be looking to hire.

“I feel like [Canary Mission and the Horowitz Center’s] mission and their actual purpose, their motive, is to slander students who are considered progressive or on the left,” Serhan said. “I see that tactic as … a very low tactic but it does put students especially in a very interesting position because we are applying for internships, we are applying for jobs … and that’s one of the first links that appears for us. It does put us in a really risky place.”

In addition to possibly keeping SJP members from finding employment, Aliff said the groups use the label of “terrorist” as an intimidation tool to silence those who would speak out for Palestinian rights.

“I just wish everyone knew that that’s the most insane thing ever, and that terrorism can come from both sides, and terrorism can come in a lot of different ways like through silencing, through fear,” she said. “Terrorism is just instilling fear in people and shutting up different sides of the argument.”

Serhan said that the appearance of these posters on Tufts’ campus is indicative of the larger issue of anti-Muslim and Arab sentiment in the United States as a whole.

“I think personally for me it’s about combating these narratives that are an everyday thing and not so much thinking of this [poster incident] as like one big attack on my identity or our identities as people on this list,” Serhan said.

Clarifications: An earlier version of this article named the David Horowitz Freedom Center as a conservative group. The article and the headline have been updated to reflect the organization’s nature more accurately. The description of Canary Mission’s activity has also been updated to better represent the organization’s nature. 


22 Responses

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  1. Arafat
    Oct 21, 2016 - 09:42 AM

    >>The report, titled “Hotspots of Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses,” found that most Jewish students at the schools in question “perceive a hostile environment towards Israel, and over one quarter perceive a general environment of hostility towards Jews on their campus.”

    Over 20 percent of students surveyed said they were “blamed for Israel’s actions because they are Jewish,” while approximately one-third reported witnessing antisemitic harassment, often related to Israel. Three out of four students claimed to have heard hostile rhetoric used in relation to the Jewish state.

    The report also found that hostility to and harassment of Jewish students at the University of Wisconsin, Rutgers and Illinois University are “relatively high,” but do “not seem to be highly connected to criticism of Israel.”

    “At these schools, more traditional antisemitic stereotypes and tropes, rather than criticism of Israel’s politics, seem to be driving the perceived hostility towards Jews,” the report stated.

    Another finding of the report — a follow-up to a study conducted last year — was that “one of the strongest predictors of perceiving a hostile climate towards Israel and Jews is the presence of an active Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group on campus.” <<

  2. Arafat
    Oct 21, 2016 - 09:44 AM

    Instead of promoting justice, SJP and/or its members spend almost all of their energy demonizing Israel, advocating for its eventual destruction, showing an unfortunate affinity for pro-terrorist figures, bullying and intimidating pro-Israel and Jewish students with vicious and sometimes anti-Semitic rhetoric, and even at times engaging in physical violence.

    While SJP may pay lip-service to peaceful aims, their rhetoric and actions make it hard to avoid the conclusion that a culture of hatred permeates nearly everything the group does—making the college experience increasingly uncomfortable, at times even dangerous, for Jewish or pro-Israel students. Perhaps equally disturbing is the limited response from university authorities that have an obligation to prevent such attacks and protect Jewish students.

    And the risk to Jewish and pro-Israel students appears to be growing. Indeed, unless college administrators take a more active role in preventing it, SJP has a good chance of achieving its goal of turning venomous hatred of Israel and bullying of Jews and non-Jewish supporters—with all the violence and fear that inevitably accompany it—into a legitimate and accepted tactic on North American campuses.

  3. Arafat
    Oct 21, 2016 - 09:52 AM

    ““I just wish everyone knew that that’s the most insane thing ever, and that terrorism can come from both sides, and terrorism can come in a lot of different ways like through silencing, through fear,” she said. “Terrorism is just instilling fear in people and shutting up different sides of the argument.”

    No. Actually terrorism is when a Palestinian jihadist stabs a three month old Israeli baby to death and is then called a hero by the Palestinian leadership.

    • Mitch Beales
      Oct 24, 2016 - 02:55 PM

      Or when a group of Rabbis issues a ruling that the life of the Prime Minister is forfeit.

    • roccolore
      Oct 24, 2016 - 03:12 PM

      Not leader the leadership, but stupid leftists who just hate Jews.

  4. Arafat
    Oct 21, 2016 - 09:54 AM

    The following is the seeds of terrorism and is also something you will NEVER hear the SJP mention, much less condemn.


    Official PA television—the PA’s PBS—airs programs that feature children as young as six reciting anti-Semitic and violent poems. Just months ago, for example, a little girl recited a poem that claimed, (and I quote) “[Christians and Jews] are inferior, cowardly, and despised.” Three days earlier, on a different program, another young girl insisted that (and I quote), “Our wars are for the Al Aqsa Mosque, and our enemy, Zion, is a Satan with a tail.”
    This is apparently what passes for “educational television” under the Palestinian Authority.
    From cradles to kindergarten classrooms; from the grounds of summer camps to the stands of football stadiums, messages of extremism are everywhere in Palestinian society.
    In the international community, there is no shortage of individuals to lecture Israel about what it must do for peace. Yet these same “human rights advocates” stutter, mumble and lose their voices when it comes to criticizing Palestinian incitement.
    Ignoring words and thoughts of hate does no favors to the Palestinian people. It does no favors to families who seek to build better lives for themselves and their children. And, perhaps most importantly, it does no favors to Palestinian leaders who advance the language of peace instead of the dogmas of hate.
    Laying the groundwork for a stable peace in our region will not happen overnight. But those who would like to foster better relations between Israelis and Palestinians must start by speaking out against incitement in Palestinian society. The next generation—both Israeli and Palestinian—deserve no less.

  5. Albino Squirrel
    Oct 21, 2016 - 12:57 PM

    always thought arascat was a disgruntled former primary source writer or something. but no, he’s a basement dweller trolling college messageboards all across the country. suite life, little guy.

    • Monk
      Oct 21, 2016 - 03:42 PM

      If a personal attack counts as a reasoned rebuttal on college campuses, then we’re in deeper trouble than I feared.
      The thought bubbles which trap small, stale ideas are better burst than coddled.

      • Albino Squirrel
        Oct 24, 2016 - 07:20 AM

        and you’re in the same boat, but keep your history private because you’re afraid of having to defend it all the time. sad!

  6. MelissaG
    Oct 21, 2016 - 01:47 PM

    Palestinianism is a death cult.

  7. Karma
    Oct 22, 2016 - 12:40 PM
  8. Monk
    Oct 22, 2016 - 01:06 PM

    Devout Jews and Christians say, “I will die for my faith.” Islamists say, “You will die for my faith.”

    • Mitch Beales
      Oct 24, 2016 - 02:59 PM

      “Devout Jews” sacrificed Itzhak (Rabin) for their faith.

      • Monk
        Oct 24, 2016 - 03:53 PM

        I draw a distinction between devout and extremist.

        • Mitch Beales
          Oct 24, 2016 - 04:18 PM

          Except when it comes to Muslims.

  9. Karma
    Oct 22, 2016 - 01:12 PM

    It’s time a SJP students stop playing the victim card. When you launch an offensive against the Jewish state, there will be consequences.

  10. Concerned Citizen
    Oct 22, 2016 - 02:36 PM

    “The research tracked employees of three now-defunct organizations – the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, Kind Hearts Foundation for Humanitarian Development and the Islamic Association for Palestine — all of which were implicated by the federal government for terrorism finance, specifically of Hamas. A federal court found that the Holy Land Foundation had sent some $12 million to Hamas over the course of a decade

    The research yielded what Schanzer described as “a troubling outcome” – with seven key employees of these organizations now associated with the Illinois-based organization American Muslims for Palestine.

    Schanzer told members of Congress that the latter is “arguably the leading BDS organization in the US, a key sponsor of the anti-Israel campus network known as Students for Justice in Palestine.” The organization, he said, provides money, speakers, training and even “apartheid walls” to SJP activists on campus, for the annual Israel Apartheid Week events.”

  11. roccolore
    Oct 22, 2016 - 02:41 PM

    The SPLC is a hate group that supports jihadists, copkillers, terrorists. The SPLC incited the attack on a Christian advocacy group.

    SJP is a hate group that wants Israel wiped off the map.

    • onionlvr
      Oct 24, 2016 - 03:02 PM

      For a second I thought you were serious, then I realized your comment was satire…calling the SPLC a hate group…oh man… Needed that laugh on a Monday afternoon.

      • roccolore
        Oct 24, 2016 - 03:11 PM

        Fascist Democrat, it is not satire. Read about Floyd Corkins, the shooting in Garland over cartoons, their support of BLM.

        The SPLC is a hate group. They hate Jews, Christians, military veterans, police officers, and critics of radical Islam.

  12. Students for Jihad in Palestin
    Oct 22, 2016 - 07:53 PM

    So Tufts is fine with SJP having an Israeli Apartheid Week, distributing eviction flyers to dorms (against the rules), inviting supporters of Hamas to campus, and all of these examples of free speech, but when someone posts a flyer on campus, the school wants it removed? Seems unfair to me, that a school which is paranoid about not offending people with costumes of sexy nurses on Halloween (it’s sexist, apparently), allows SJP people to dress as IDF soldiers on a normal day when students are studying, carry around fake guns, and pretend to shoot Arabs? What about a TRIGGER WARNING for that?

    These students should have their names written down. They are fine with going to protests and filming themselves acting as Jews pretending to shoot Arabs on campus. This is the result. Shame on them.

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