Public university bans Jewish group from campus over fliers
The University of Texas at San Antonio has banned the David Horowitz Freedom Center and its employees from campus after the group posted fliers exposing anti-Semitism at the school.
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, a think tank run by Jewish conservative David Horowitz, posted fliers at UTSA in late March as part of a nationwide campaign to expose the anti-Israel student group Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).
"We have been banned from the University of Texas at San Antonio for exercising our free speech rights..."
Some of the posters included explanations of the links between the terrorist organization Hamas and SJP, while others quoted SJP members who have made anti-Semitic comments on social media and in public, such as, “How many Jews died in the Holocaust? Not enough.”
An April 2 letter from UTSA’s chief legal officer claimed that the postings were “in violation of the UTSA Handbook of Operating Procedure,” ordering the center to “cease and desist any illegal or unauthorized activities on the UTSA campuses” and threatening legal action if it did not comply.
The letter also stated that since the center “is not affiliated with this university” and “had no reasonable business to conduct when [it] posted the unauthorized fliers,” both it and its members are “being issued a Criminal Trespass warning” and “are barred and forbidden from entering or remaining on any UTSA properties.”
“We have been banned from the University of Texas at San Antonio for exercising our free speech rights to warn the UTSA community that a campus organization, SJP, is an agent of a designated terrorist organization from which it receives funding and whose terrorist propaganda agendas it serves,” David Horowitz said in a press release. “Yet UTSA sees fit to ban our organization and our posters which reveal the truth about SJP’s terrorist ties and motivations.”
Horowitz also pointed out that UTSA is a publicly funded institution, meaning it is bound by the First Amendment.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-partisan free speech advocacy group, assigned UTSA a “yellow light” rating for a number of policies that curtail free expression basic rights, including the policy on postings that the university cited as a justification for its letter in response to a Campus Reform inquiry.
In addition to the letter, UTSA’s Campus Climate Team added the fliers to its list of recent bias incidents, alongside fliers from a white supremacist group, but one vocal member of UTSA SJP criticized these actions as inadequate, insisting that the school did not contact SJP as it had indicated that it would.
SJP and the UTSA Muslim Student Association also issued a joint statement, calling the fliers “blatantly racist and Islamophobic” for labeling SJP members as “terrorists” and “neo-Nazis.”
Instead of directly addressing the fliers’ allegations, the statement argued that “the desire to spread this kind of slander and hate against SJP is not rooted in a genuine interest to protect Jewish people,” but rather is an attempt to undermine the anti-Israel movement by imputing anti-Semitism to its advocates.
“SJP at UTSA has a strict zero-tolerance policy for anti-Semitism, or discrimination of any kind,” it claimed. “None of the alleged authors of the anti-Semitic quotes posted on the flyer are members of our SJP.”
According to a recently released pamphlet from the center, “SJP: Neo-Nazis on Campus,” UTSA graduate student Nour Rafati made numerous anti-Semitic comments including “Hitler memes are the funniest” and “I <3 my Holocaust pic.”
Rafati also allegedly advocated violence against Jews, retweeting a post from another user declaring, “Sometimes I just wanna slap a thousand Jews.”
According to the pamphlet and a screenshot from pro-Israel watchdog Canary Mission, Rafati was at one time a member of UTSA’s SJP, though she no longer appears as a member of the Facebook group.
Canary Mission also profiles Lojain Saadat, who is currently listed as a member of SJP, highlighting such social media posts as a tweet warning that “The yahood [Jews] are watching to see the Arab worlds reaction to closing down Al Aqsa so that they can take it down” and another tweet declaring that “Israel's Operation Protective Edge is really Operation Kill All Palestinians.”
Campus Reform contacted SJP for additional comment on the incident as well as its relationship with Rafati and Saadat, but did not receive a response. Campus Reform also reached out to UTSA for comment on its choice to ban a Jewish-led group from campus for its attempts to highlight anti-Semitism, but its response did not address this question.
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