Last week, the New York University Chapter of the pro-BDS and anti-Israel group Students for Justice in Palestine received NYU’s President’s Service Award. According to NYU, the annual award goes to selected campus clubs and individuals to honor them for “commitment to civic engagement and service in local communities” or for “promotion of learning, leadership and quality of student life at New York University.”
We know what SJP is and what it does. It doesn’t fill or promote any of the honorable traits NYU seeks to celebrate. SJP’s goal, in promoting what it calls pro-Palestinian actions on college campuses across America, appears to be the harassment of Jewish students and the delegitimization of Israel. In the process, SJP seeks to normalize its anti-Israel position among the wider student population.
“We are thrilled to announce that we have been selected to receive a presidential service award at NYU,” the group wrote on its Facebook on April 4. “Despite the pushback we have received from our institution, we agree that we have made ‘significant contributions to the university community in the areas of learning, leadership and quality of student life.’ Anyway, New York University, divest from Israeli apartheid. Xoxo.”
By now there is a playbook for these kinds of campus skirmishes. On April 5, the pro-Israel student group Realize Israel denounced the award. Then NYU alumnus Judea Pearl, a computer scientist and father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, renounced the university’s distinguished alumnus award he received several years ago. “In the past five years, SJP has resorted to intimidation tactics that have made me, my colleagues and my students unwelcome and unsafe on our own campus,” Pearl wrote in a letter to NYU President Andrew Hamilton. “The decision to confer an award on SJP renders other NYU awards empty of content, and suspect of reckless selection process.”
In December, SJP lobbied NYU’s student government to pass a resolution advocating for the university to divest from several companies that do business with the Israeli military. After the resolution passed, the school administration said it would not abide by it. That’s part of the playbook, too.
During the weeks leading up to the April 17 award ceremony — which Hamilton did not attend — SJP and its members declined public comment, perhaps fearing exposure of their hate-mongering agenda. But you can bet they will make noise about the award. And that’s a shame, since SJP’s unrelenting hostility to Israel and repeated victimization of Jewish students on campus is inconsistent with the lofty goals set by NYU and its leadership.