Foreign Student Influence in Students for Justice in Palestine Chapters at Virginia Universities and their “Allies”

Caption: “Show up, share, and support the resistance movement! Let’s keep the momentum going” GMU SJP member

by James C. Sherlock

The SJP organizations at three Virginia state universities, the University of Virginia, George Mason University, and the University of Mary Washington, have been active since October 7th on the Hamas side.

Some attempt to thread two needles simultaneously: to separate Gazans from their elected government, the terrorist organization Hamas, and to separate Israelis from Jews.

In celebrating the October 7th slaughter, those are distinctions without a difference.

We’ll look at the influence of foreign students in Virginia universities’ SJP chapters, then the GMU chapter, and then briefly examine the progressive/Marxist “intersectionality” of SJP to see the extent of who and what we are dealing with.

The results are interesting, but not surprising.

Foreign Visa Holders.  In the United States in 2020-21, the numbers of Middle Eastern students studying in the United States included:

  • Saudi Arabia: 18,206
  • Bangladesh: 10,597
  • Iran: 9,295
  • Pakistan: 8,772
  • Turkey: 8,476
  • Kuwait: 5,923

That is over 61,000.

In a recent study, George Mason University total enrollment was 38,541 students; 21,603 of these are undergraduates and 4,428 are graduate students. Of the undergraduates, 1,245 were foreign and a surprising 29%, or 1,095, of the graduate students were international students.

In the fall of 2019, the latest data available, 548, or 23%, of GMU’s foreign students were from the Middle East.

UVa reports an “international student body of more than 2,500 graduate and undergraduate students from over 100 countries.” That is over 10% foreign students in a school with 24,628 students, but I can find no breakdown of the countries of origin of those students. At a ratio like that of GMU, UVa would have about 550 from the Middle East.

I am sure most of these are here for the right reasons and conduct themselves accordingly. It helps the U.S. in the long term for those students to study here.

But there are some who appear to break our laws.

SJP at GMU, the largest public university in Virginia

From multiple news reports:

GWU Students for Justice in Palestine stands in full support of the liberation of our homeland and our people’s right to resist the violent 75-year long colonization of our homeland by any means necessary.

GWU Students for Justice in Palestine maintains unwavering support for our people’s resistance, in all its forms.

Every single act of resistance moves us closer to the liberation of our homeland. We will never capitulate to the colonizer or his sympathizers and we stand firm and steadfast in support of our people’s right to resist. We call upon all our people and those in solidarity with us to join us in this struggle. [Emphasis added.]

For reporting on the GMU “rally” by SJP at GMU on October 12, see here.

Dozens of George Mason University students and other community members, many wearing face masks, kaffiyehs, sunglasses, and all-black clothing, blasted rap music, pumped their fists, and chanted, ‘They got tanks, we got hang gliders! Glory to the resistance fighters!’

We got hang gliders.”

I submit that the foreign students in their midst celebrating Hamas and October 7  have crossed the admissibility provisions of Title 8 of the U.S. Code.

Any alien who-
(IV) is a representative (as defined in clause (v)) of-
(bb) a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;
(VII) endorses or espouses terrorist activity or persuades others to endorse or espouse terrorist activity or support a terrorist organization; is inadmissible.

Read the SJP “Toolkit” for that rally. Worth the time.

Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air, and sea.,

National liberation is near— glory to our resistance, to our martyrs, and to our steadfast people.

Our” martyrs.

The SJP home page on the main GMU website was scrubbed sometime before October 13th (the only files on Wayback were from 13 – 18 October). It would be useful to know who told the webmaster to clean up the evidence.

What remains of it says there were five officers, 531 members; 37 events and 21 emails/newsletters prior to the scrubbing.

Perhaps a coincidence, but again there were 548 foreign students from the Middle East at GMU.

The organization’s Facebook page still lists 333 members. Few of them are current students. Examples from the list:

  • Michael Letwin’s Facebook page offers a rolling minute-by-minute history of post-10/6 anti-Israel activism in New York City;
  • Amer Zahr is very much still an activist. He notes favorably an April 2022 Dearborn Michigan Al Quds Day rally;
  • Then there is this guy. On October 8 he shared the picture at the top of this article.

“Allies.” The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that at the GMU SJP rally on October 12,

Speakers from several student organizations, including the Native American and Indigenous Alliance and the Young Democratic Socialists, said the attacks against Israeli civilians were justified and a direct result of the Israeli government’s oppression of people in occupied Palestinian territory.


For those of you not of the movement, “occupied Turtle Island” referenced in the SJP Toolkit as Turtle Island is a “name for Earth or North America, used by some Indigenous peoples, as well as by some Indigenous rights activists.”


At least three of the SJP chapter news releases across the country referenced the Resistance News Network (RNN)(Unity-Struggle Unity [U-S-U]Press) as a source for their complaints.

From RNN’s Media Guide

The Resistance News Network shares this collaborative and unified guidance by Palestinian grassroots media organizers to leaders, organizations, media outlets, as well as organizations and individuals standing in solidarity to critically and accurately convey a consistent line regarding the current events in occupied Palestine.

You will recognize the talking points.

So what is U-S-U/RNN?  From that organization’s by-laws:

we shall work

  • to advance and propagate Marxism in the U.S. and Canada through the production and distribution of Marxist literature;
  • to develop our existing Marxists and create new Marxists through education;
  • to foster a consciousness of our movement’s place and purpose in history, a proletarian outlook, and a commitment to Marxist unity among our comrades.

Marxists.  Check.

BLM. Check.  

Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA). Check.

Here and here are what these people support.

Bottom line. From the evidence, it is not clear what level of influence if any American students wield over SJP branches at Virginia colleges.

We have to ask what the FBI is doing surveilling the parking lots of Catholic churches as foreign 10/7 celebrants work openly on American campuses.

We provide visas to students from the Middle East to come here and on our campuses publicly abet Hamas for the slaughter of Jews.   

The Department of Homeland Security should deport those who have done so for violations of Title 8.

GMU SJP provides just another example of the threat in Virginia.

GMU, UVa and Mary Washington are state-supported schools. I have written before what I think those schools and the state should do about it. Governor DeSantis in Florida took the right first steps.  

As for the “allies” of SJP. They are exactly who we expect. We see them regularly on BR. Leftist intersectionality on parade, even if QAIA members would be shot in Gaza.

They truly deserve one another.

updated Oct 29 with link to WSJ column about the Hamas slaughter on Oct 7.