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SJP’s Latest Boycott Attempts Speak Volumes About Their Evil

Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago have launched a new campaign to silence pro-Israel voices, this time demanding a boycott of three courses taught by Israelis.

The “sh*tty Zionist classes” they so classily demand people boycott are

  • “Security, Counter-Terrorism, and Resilience: The Israeli Case,” taught by Meir Elran, former IDF general and head of the Homeland Security Program at the Institute for National Security Studies
  • “Religion in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Peacemaking” and “The Political Theologies of Zionism,” both of which are taught by Israel Institute Visiting Fellow David Barak-Gorodetsky

So far, SJP have provided their reasons for boycotting the first course listed above, but not the other two. Their stated reasons for boycotting the first say more bad things about them than the course itself. So too does a deeper look at the descriptions of the other courses they want boycotted.

Security, Counter-Terrorism, and Resilience: The Israeli Case

SJP have already outlined their objections to this course, and it goes not just the content, but also the lecturer Meir Elran.

On Elran’s telling of Israeli history, Israel appears not as an expansionist apartheid state predicated on the ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestinian land, but as an embattled liberal democracy surrounded by “large hostile Muslim populations,” mired in a “Muslim-Jewish conflict” not of its own making. 

Having established this essentially Orientalist and propagandistic framing, Elran’s course encourages students to put themselves in the shoes of Israeli military strategists, reflecting throughout the quarter on the various past and present means by which Israel has worked to “secure” its colonial enterprise and crush Indigenous Palestinian resistance to it. 

Leaving aside the fact that Israel is absolutely not “an expansionist apartheid state predicated on the ethnic cleansing and theft of Palestinian land”, and is very much “an embattled liberal democracy surrounded by large hostile Muslim populations,” what strikes me about their response is their reference to “Indigenous Palestinian resistance.” Do they mean “non-violent” resistance or are they referring to actual terrorism?

Reading on provides the answer:

All this and more apparently passes, in Elran’s worldview, for so many forms of “counter-terrorism,” while the various means by which Palestinians fight to resist these genocidal practices are broadly dismissed throughout his lectures as emotional, hostile, and/or terrorist in nature. 

Note the word “terrorist” in inverted commas. They clearly do not consider terrorism to be terrorism, so it is reasonable to assume it is to them one of “the various means by which Palestinians fight to resist.”

Further on, when speaking about the 2008 Gaza War, they reaffirm their more positive view of terrorists, minimizing their murderous intentions and results:

The alleged Palestinian “terrorists,” for their part, destroyed 1 Israeli home and killed 3 Israeli civilians in the course of resisting Israel’s invasion, yielding a final Palestinian/Israeli civilian death ratio of roughly 400:1.)

Of course we already know SJP supports terrorism, but I appreciate the reminder. Heck, National SJP was founded at a conference sponsored by organization intrinsically linked to multiple terror organizations!

Religion in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Peacemaking

Here is a description of the course:

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is arguably the most intractable political conflict at present. The conflict has been subjected to various historiographies and narrative explorations, offering often-competing explanations in an attempt to understand its origin and evolvement, and also the failure of its resolution.  This course explores the role of religion in the historical development of the conflict and in its contemporary manifestation, while at the same time probing the potential role of religion in the resolution of the conflict and outlining the history of attempts for religious peace-making in Israel/Palestine. Combining concrete historical analysis and intellectual history, the course will focus on the Jewish, Muslim and Christian views of the conflict and its potential resolution, relating to such themes as covenant, messianism, political theology, the sanctity of the land and the role of Jerusalem. These concepts and others will be explored against the backdrop of the concrete history of the conflict, focusing initially on the formative period of 1897-1948, pivoting to the 1967 war and its aftermath and concluding with the religionization of politics in recent decades and its far-reaching consequences.

The description indicates the course looks into all the different points of view from the perspective of the different religions involved. It does not sound “Zionist”, and even mentions “Israel/Palestine.” I can only assume SJP have a problem with it because it is taught by an Israeli.

The Political Theologies of Zionism

Here is a description of the course:

The relationship between nationalism and religion has throughout history been a stormy one, often characterized by antagonisms and antipathy. In this course we will examine from various aspects the complex nexus of these two sources of repeated ideological and political dispute within Judaism, and more specifically within Zionism as its political manifestation. Zionism has mostly been considered a secular project, yet recently, Zionist theory is scrutinized to identify and unearth its supposedly hidden theological origins. In nowadays Israel, a rise in religious identification alongside an increasing religionization of the political discourse calls for the consideration of new theopolitical models of Zionism applicable in a post-secular environment.

The aim of this course is to explore this complex intertwining of politics and religion in Israel from both historical and contemporary perspectives. The first part of the course will outline the theoretical foundation of post-secular and political-theological discourses. The second part will address the explicit and implicit political theologies of Zionism. The third part will outline contemporary aspects of political-theological thought in Israel, and their actual appearance in the political sphere.

This seems like an intellectual look at Zionism. Certainly, “pro-Palestinian” people could benefit from it, because understanding the other side could only help in furthering peace. But of course, we know SJP are not “pro-Palestinian” but rather “anti-Israel,” and peace is the furthest thing from their minds.


Meanwhile, SJP remind us how they do not support freedom of speech:

No principle of “academic freedom” or “intellectual diversity” justifies hosting classes taught by complicit Israeli military personnel – particularly not classes that misrepresent Palestinian history, treat Palestinian deaths as fodder for “strategic” military theorizing, and inundate students with the Orientalist worldview of Israeli colonists.

About the author

Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
Picture of David Lange

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media
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