Anti-Jewish Extremism at UVa — Next Steps

Courtesy of SJP at UVa

by James C. Sherlock

The University of Virginia has made quite a national name for itself over the responses of its campus anti-Jewish extremists to the slaughter of babies in Israel.

It is not a reputation it wants.

On October 8th, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at UVa, an organization officially recognized by the Student Council and eligible for funding by the student activities fee, issued a statement “unequivocally support(ing) Palestinian liberation “by any means necessary.”

“Any means necessary.”

It was cosigned by:

  1. Afghan Student Association
  2. Arab Student Organization
  3. Asian Pacific American Leadership Training Institute (APALTI)
  4. Asians Revolutionizing Together at UVA
  5. Asian Student Union
  6. Bengali Student Association
  7. Black Student Alliance
  8. Black Muslims at UVA
  9. Central Americans For Empowerment (CAFÉ)
  10. Environmental Justice Collective at UVA
  11. Ethiopian Eritrean Student Association
  12. FeelGood at UVA
  13. Hindu Student Council
  14. Indian Student Association
  15. La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity Inc.
  16. Lebanese Club
  17. Minority Rights Coalition
  18. Muslim Institute for Leadership and Empowerment (MILE)
  19. Muslim Student Association
  20. Muslims United
  21. National Pan-Hellenic Council
  22. National Society of Black Engineers
  23. Nepali Student Association
  24. Organization of African Students
  25. Pakistani Student Association
  26. Persian Cultural Society (PCS)
  27. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc.
  28. Political Latinxs United for Movement & Action in Society (PLUMAS)
  29. She’s the First at UVA
  30. Sigma Omicron Rho (ΣOP)
  31. Sikh Students Association
  32. Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers
  33. The 13 Society
  34. Turkish Student Organization
  35. undocUVA
  36. UVA Beyond Policing
  37. UVA Survivors
  38. Young Democratic Socialists of America

In an October 11 message to University of Virginia students and parents, University President Jim Ryan condemned the terrorists. He did that part exactly right.

He went on, however, to express “great faith in this community to build bridges, listen generously, and act with compassion as we work toward a more just and peaceful world.”

I am sure he felt he needed to say that. I just hope he doesn’t act going forward like he believes it will happen.

Someone could get killed.

On September 7 of this year, a month before the horrors of October 7 in Israel, Mikayla Havison wrote in The Cavalier Daily

“As antisemitism rises, the University must avoid complacency in protecting its students and acknowledging its past. … Without institutional action, a legacy of antisemitism will persist in whatever environment it is allowed to — the University must not be that environment”

Well, on October 8, SJP and its list of co-signers proved that UVa is that environment.

On October 11, the same day as Ryan’s message, a group of Jewish students wrote an open letter in that same publication.

We, as Jewish students at the University, are profoundly disappointed, disturbed and scared. On the morning of Oct. 7, we woke up to devastating alerts and text messages sharing the news of attacks from Gaza into Israel.

It is incredibly disturbing to see the actions of a terrorist group praised by students and Contracted Independent Organizations. In praising Hamas, you are complicit in its goal of inflicting human suffering worldwide.

They had a right to be scared. UVa is a scary place for a Jew.

To punctuate that fear, two days later, two members of the Student Council repudiated Ryan’s message.

The author of The Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Why Hamas Atrocities Lead the Left to Hate Israel More,” has attempted to diagnose the syndrome of privileged students born in 2005 holding that world view. He finds these students, taught the oppressor/oppressed narrative and that Israel is an oppressor, when faced with a Palestinian massacre engage in “‘cognitive-dissonance reduction’ which requires vilifying the victim to uphold one’s prejudices.”

I personally agree. See “The Moral Deficiencies of a Liberal Education. It was written this past week by a famous liberal.

The University itself has failed to educate these students properly. But that does not matter with regards to the threat at hand.

Protect Jewish Students. While he ponders changing the curriculum and some of his faculty and staff, Dr. Ryan must take the proper precautions to protect his Jewish students.

He can read in National Review, A New Form of Antisemitism Surfaces in Charlottesville by another one of his Jewish students.

The author reminds readers of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. The chants then were “Jews will never replace us.” The chants now are “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — a call for the elimination of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

If there is a difference, I cannot find it.

Dr. Ryan surely remembers the killings almost exactly a year ago of the football players. That was after his Threat Assessment Team (TAT) failed utterly to act against the murderer before he committed his crimes. We will all be reminded when the Attorney General releases his findings on what went wrong there.

So, let us see what he is supposed to do.

The FBI in May of this year posted a statement,Antisemitism a Persistent Driver of Transnational Violent Extremist Narratives and Attacks.

“Violent extremists frequently promote anti-Semitic themes in their … messaging to spur supporters to conduct violence against Jewish individuals, communities, institutions, and houses of worship. Many .. extremists inspired by foreign terrorist organizations (FTOs), such as al-Qa‘ida or ISIS, demonize Jewish people as malevolent actors, and promote conspiracy theories about international Jewish control of government, finance, and media.”

The last paragraph started thus (bold print in original)

“Future violent extremist attacks on Jewish targets in the United States and abroad could inspire subsequent attacks against these or related entities, particularly if accompanied by a widely distributed and consumed manifesto or livestream.”

Hamas of course has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States. Consider these parts of the Hamas Covenant of 1988

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).

Article Seven:
“The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).

SJP at UVa and 38 cosigner organizations in their original message and at the October “teach in” publicly supported Hamas savagery against Jews.

Threat Assessment Team. So, that brings us back to what must be done. First, the Threat Assessment Team required under Virginia law must investigate and act.

UVa writes on its threat assessment pages

“warning signs may precede violent or threatening behavior. Warning behaviors include but are not limited to the following:

  • Having hostile and sustained grievances
  • Identifying with violent individuals, ideologies, or events
  • Statements that violence is justified because of one’s grievance
  • Increasing preoccupation with a person or a cause
  • Dehumanizing people of a differing identity group”

It defines “Violent or Threatening Behavior:

“Violent and/or threatening behavior includes … Intentionally engaging in verbal or physical behavior that subjects any individual to extreme emotional distress.”

I’m going out on a limb and opine that those tests have been met.

Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights. The Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights operates under federal law.

Definition of Harassment:
Unwelcome conduct directed against a person based on one or more of that person’s protected characteristics or statuses, which conduct is so severe or pervasive that it interferes with an individual’s employment, academic performance or participation in University programs or activities, and creates a working, learning, program or activity environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, hostile or offensive.

Policy Statement:
The University will not tolerate discrimination or harassment in the workplace, academic setting, or in its programs or activities.

Compliance with Policy:
Failure to comply with the requirements of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination or expulsion in accordance with relevant University policies. (Emphasis added).

Unwelcome conduct based upon Jewish heritage? Check. Can a reasonable person find that conduct intimidating, hostile or offensive? Check. Disciplinary action? We’ll see.

Freedom of Speech. See Brandenburg v. Ohio, 395 U.S. 444 (1969) for the controlling case.

The primary finding was that a state may not forbid speech advocating the use of force or unlawful conduct unless this advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.

The FBI has said that the speech like that offered by SJP at UVa and its co-signers is likely to produce lawless action.

There is no First Amendment protection here. Federal and State laws have been violated.

Bottom line. Dr. Ryan is far too smart to really expect those that cheer dead babies suddenly to “act with compassion and work toward a more just and peaceful world.”

He should immediately direct the Student Council to de-list SJP at UVa and its co-signers from the list of Contracted Independent Organizations (CIO) to deny it funding by student fees. Including Jewish student fees.

But this isn’t about anybody’s world view.

It is about credible threats to the safety of Jewish students. They are appropriately terrified. They are too smart and experienced in being targets of antisemitism not to be.

The University must put a stop to it.

Both the UVa Threat Assessment Team and its Office of Civil Rights must investigate and deal with SJP and fellow extremists at the University.

The University’s Chief of Police will help. He and the University’s Counsel are members of the TAT. Both will support the Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights if asked.

I suggest the Chief, if he has not already done so, ask for support from the FBI’s Field Intelligence Groups and Fusion Centers and the regional Joint Terrorism Task Force.