Students in Chicago received a death threat after taking part in a Palestine solidarity protest.
Another student activist in Santa Barbara, California, was physically assaulted during an argument with an Israel supporter.
At least 25 students participated in the silent action to remember Palestinians recently killed by Israel. The protest lasted approximately six minutes.
Five days later, one of the students received a threatening email message directed at Students for Justice in Palestine.
The message stated: “If there is one more demonstration in the quad from your petty organization, consider it to be your real bodies falling next time. What you did was downright anti-Semitism. Don’t underestimate the Jewish presence on campus. #jewhater.”
The student filed a report with campus police.
There has been no formal response to the incident by the university. But some SJP members met with the dean of students to discuss it.
The dean assured students that their protests are constitutionally protected, Anwaar Saadeh, a student at the university and member of SJP, told The Electronic Intifada.
“We don’t know what they’re going to do yet,” she said. “We’re still waiting to hear.”
University spokesperson Bill Burton told The Electronic Intifada that the matter is under investigation and had no further comment.
Saadeh said that although the death threat is frightening and is being taken seriously, SJP members will not stop organizing.
“They’re not going to shut us up with this,” she said.
She said that students have created ways to protect each other on campus, such as making sure members of SJP do not have to walk alone to class, or sit alone at the library.
As part of the international day of action, Students for Justice in Palestine at the nearby University of Chicago posted flyers with the names of Palestinian victims of recent Israeli attacks.
Afterward, posters were put up around campus accusing SJP of lying and of supporting violence against Jews.
Flyers with the logos of SJP and the university with the words “Stabbing Jews for Peace” were put up around campus the same day that the student at UIC received the death threat, according to students and attorneys with Palestine Legal.
Members of SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace-UChicago also received threats on their Facebook pages, the website Palestine in America reported.
Daniel Mogtaderi said he was filming the demonstration on his phone as a matter of protocol, so that SJP can document any harassment or violence it might encounter.
A young man who appeared to be another student began arguing with Mogtaderi about the 13-year-old Palestinian boy who was accused of a stabbing attack and critically injured and taunted by Israeli settlers as he lay bleeding on the ground two weeks ago.
The assailant became aggressive when he realized Mogtaderi was recording the encounter.
“At that point he forcibly took hold of the phone, held on to the phone for some time, and shoved Mogtaderi two times before returning the phone and leaving the scene,” SJP stated.
Mogtaderi’s video recording of the argument between himself and the assailant can be viewed here.
Mogtaderi told The Electronic Intifada that when he filed a report, campus police blamed him for “escalating the situation” and claimed that he could have avoided being assaulted if he hadn’t argued with the assailant.
He added that campus police insist they cannot find the assailant and have not contacted Mogtaderi for additional information.
UC Santa Barbara told The Electronic Intifada that the matter is being investigated.
“There are so many stories around the country [of attempts] to try and silence people as much as possible,” Mogtaderi said. “My voice won’t be silenced, nor will the voices of other SJPers.”
Pattern of repression
Palestine Legal stated last week that it has responded to more than 35 campus incidents over the last month.
“The pattern persists: with a rise in activism comes a rise in suppression,” the group said.
Flush with new injections of cash, Israel-aligned organizations are stepping up their efforts to smear and intimidate students involved in Palestine activism.
Palestine Legal says it has responded to more than 300 incidents of “censorship, punishment, or other burdening of advocacy” reported by Palestine solidarity activists on more than 65 US campuses in the last 18 months.
The legal group calls on university administrations to protect the speech rights and physical safety of students who speak out in favor of Palestinian rights.