Tufts University's Students for Justice in Palestine group. (Facebook/screenshot) Facebook/screensho
Tufts University's Students for Justice in Palestine group

Top administrators said Students for Justice in Palestine should never have received the award based on the group’s association with BDS and anti-Semitism.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

A Tufts University campus group known for it’s anti-Israel activity on Sunday called on supporters to force the university to take back a harshly worded condemnation of an award it received for promoting a boycott of Israel.

“We’re storming Twitter all day today. Tell Tufts to revoke their statement,” the Tufts branch of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) tweeted.

Last week the Tufts University Office for Campus Life gave SJP a “collaboration award” for its campaign to force the university to stop sending members of the campus police force to Israel for anti-terrorism training. SJP claimed the trips were “military” and enlisted other campus groups to help ban future trips as part of SJP’s efforts to ban any contact with Israel.

“We strongly disapprove of this award in light of SJP’s concerning policy positions, including its association with the BDS movement, elements of which we view as anti-Semitic,” Tufts president Anthony Monaco said in a joint statement with university provost and senior vice president Nadine Aubry, and deans James Glaser, Michael Thompson and Jianmin Qu.

“We will be reviewing the awards process, which currently does not involve academic deans or senior university leadership and this year did not include students, in order to ensure proper oversight and review going forward.”

The campus life office said the annual collaboration award “is given in recognition of a co-sponsored program that demonstrates synergy and success as a result of working together.”

SJP organized a campus referendum calling on the university to “stop sending campus police officers on military training trips abroad,” that was aimed at Israel since that is the only destination for the training. Over 15 student organizations endorsed the referendum, the Tufts Daily reported.

“We as senior leaders take responsibility for this outcome, which should not have happened, and recognize that the award has caused a great deal of pain and concern for Jewish members of our community and others who share concerns about SJP’s policy positions, particularly in light of rising anti-Semitism in the U.S. and around the world.

“At Tufts, the SJP chapter has also for some years been creating a toxic environment by promoting a divisive and polarizing campaign which traffics in anti-Semitic tropes about Jewish money, power and influence,” tweeted Jordan Westlake, a student who lives in Somerville, Massachusetts where Tufts is located, but attends Connecticut College.

Ranked by US News as the 29th best university in America, the 168-year-old institution shut down campus activities until April 30 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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