Amaal Tashkandi was the vice-president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Purdue University (Purdue) as of 2016, and supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
On October 21, 2015, Tashkandi promoted an SJP Purdue event featuring Remi Kanazi — notorious for his aggressively anti-Israel poetry and spoken-word performances.
Tashkandi is a 2016 graduate of Purdue University (Purdue). Tashkandi has been working at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology since 2011. She also works at Purdue. Tashkandi spent the 2011-2012 academic year studying at Virginia Tech (VT) and the following summer at Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
SJP Purdue was formed in 2009. The group is part of Indiana Palestine Solidarity (IPS), an organization created by Sireen Zayed to "bring together activists and SJP chapters from all over the state of Indiana."
Lying to Students to Demonize Israel
On April 28, 2013, SJP Purdue’s campus display featured a deliberately misleading map of Palestine, with the headline “Palestinian loss of land." The widely debunked map — dubbed “The Map That Lies" — fraudulently presented lands once controlled by Britain, Egypt, and Jordan as autonomous “Palestinian land," purportedly stolen by Israel.
SJP Purdue’s display also falsely implied that Israel practices “apartheid" and that Israel practices “ethnic cleansing" — although it has been widely reported that the populations of Gaza and the West Bank are among the fastest growing populations in the world in recent decades.
Promoting Anti-Semitism Under The Guise of Human Rights
SJP Purdue enthusiastically promotes the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement on its Facebook page.
In March of 2016, SJP Purdue signed a petition endorsing BDS and disingenuously denying that BDS is rife with anti-Semitism.
The petition was headlined "BDS Opposes all Racism--Including Anti-Semitism." The petition, however, showcased BDS’ anti-Semitism. The petition quoted Omar Barghouti calling Zionism — the belief that Jews have the right to self-determination in their own national home, and the right to develop their national culture — a form of racism and bigotry:
"The struggle for our inalienable rights is one opposed to all forms of racism and bigotry, including, but not limited to, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, Zionism, and other forms of bigotry directed at anyone, and in particular people of color and indigenous peoples everywhere."
The petition also stated that "[a]n end to racism in all its forms depends on an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine."
On February 25, 2016, SJP Purdue shared an IPS post on Facebook claiming that Indiana’s Senate anti-BDS bill HB-1378 “is wrong, unconstitutional and a waste of Indiana's time and resources." #BDS." The bill was signed into law on January 19, 2016, by a unanimous vote of Indiana’s General Assembly.
Dressing Anti-Semitism as Anti-Zionism
On January 22, 2016, SJP Purdue shared a Peace House Video on Facebook featuring BDS promoter Taylor Valentine, a University of Tampa graduate:
The video insinuated that the media and the U.S. government are controlled by a "Jewish Nationalist Political Movement - Zionism" which took over Palestine with “massacres" to form Israel — a “Hyper Militaristic Pariah State, which pretty much does what it wants." The video also characterized Israel as “making a great effort to undermine democracy and hold up a giant middle finger to the first amendment".
The video features SJP member Mahmoud Ali Mohamed, dressed in a suit patterned with dollar signs, and portraying the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) as buying off the U.S. government. Mohamed announces "we have money; just tell us how much you need." The video narration goes further, saying: “If you want to get elected for President, or pretty much any public office, you need to be friends with this guy."
The video then explicitly accuses AIPAC of paying off senators to get their votes, writing legislation and having it passed in secret - in defiance of democracy, the U.S. Constitution — and the voters.
Mohamed’s character also invokes racially charged sentiments, saying "if you boycott Israel, then the government will boycott you and you’ll get put on a blacklist… it’s BLACK!"
Exploiting Disturbed Children to Demonize Israel
On April 26, 2016, SJP Purdue shared a post on Facebook presenting as a "political Prisoner" 12-year-old Dima Al-Wawi
12-year-old Al-Wawi was imprisoned for attempting to stab a security guard at the Israeli community Karmei Tzur. Al-Wawi later claimed that she intended to kill the security guard and hoped she would be killed in the process. “I was dreaming that I was going to be martyred," she said.
Misleading Students to Whitewash Terrorism
On October 14, 2015, during a month of spiraling Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians —in which scores of Israelis were stabbed or hacked to death — SJP Purdue posted on Facebook a decontextualized list of Palestinians killed during the month. The group falsely portrayed Israelis as child-killers by implying most of those killed were simply "Palestinian youth."
Below is a partial, contextualized list of so-called "youth" featured in SJP Purdue's accounting:
Muhannad Halabi, 19: murdered two Israelis and injured two others, including a 2-year-old, during a stabbing spree. One day earlier, Halabi posted on his Facebook page that "[t]he third Intifada is here" and wrote “[w]ake up from your slumber and save al-Aqsa. Let the revolution erupt."
Fadi Allon, 19: shot by Israeli security forces after Aloon attempted to murder a 15-year old Israeli boy. Several hours before the murder attempt, Aloon posted "Either martyrdom or victory" on his Facebook page.
Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, 19: stabbed a number of Israelis with a screwdriver near a bus stop in Tel Aviv, injuring four.
Muhammad Ali, 19: stabbed a border policeman in Jerusalem in the neck.
Muhammad Fares Abdullah al-Jaabari,19: stabbed a border policeman in Hebron.
Amjad al Jundi, 18: stabbed an Israeli soldier and stole his gun.
Hudhaifa Suleiman, 18: participated in a Hamas-organized riot where "hundreds of Palestinians...threw firebombs, rolled burning tires and threw rocks at [Israeli] soldiers."
On December 30, 2015, SJP Purdue shared on Facebook a misleading AJ+ video demonizing Israel. The video’s presenter, Dena Takruri, mischaracterized Israel’s security fence — 97% of which is a low chain link barrier — as an 8 meter-high wall running 280 miles. The video also falsely insinuated that a non-binding, advisory opinion on the security fence issued by the International Court of Justice is binding international law.
Defending Hamas War Crimes
In the first year if its existence — on August 27, 2009 — SJP Purdue published a paper titled "The Mythology of Occupation." In addition to a series of other falsehoods, distortions, and misrepresentations, SJP Purdue listed as “Myth #5" the statement “Hamas is a Terror Organization." The paper falsely alleged that Hamas was labeled a terror organization not “because it actually engages in acts of terror, but because it offers an effective means to marginalize and discredit the organization publicly."
In the summer of 2014, during Operation Protective Edge (OPE), SJP Purdue posted a series of articles and unsourced claims on Facebook demonizing the state of Israel and whitewashing Hamas War crimes. OPE was launched to stop Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza and to destroy Hamas attack tunnels.
On August 2, 2014, SJP Purdue posted on Facebook a naive analysis of military force application, calculated to besmirch Israel and whitewash Hamas’ double war crime of firing rockets from populated Gazan areas at Israeli civilian population centers.
Also on August 2, 2014, SJP Purdue posted on Facebook a fraudulent article lying that "attacks on Gaza hospitals expose Israel’s ‘self-defense’ claims as lies." Hamas commandeered Gaza’s Shifa hospital, and the al-Wafa hospital, as command centers. Hamas also used Shifa hospital repeatedly as a launching area for rockets during the 2014 Gaza War.
Additionally, Hamas rockets — as confirmed by an Amnesty International report and an independent Italian journalist — killed and wounded scores of children at Shifa hospital and the nearby al-Shati refugee camp.
On July 31, 2014, SJP Purdue posted on Facebook an article by a member of Israel-hate group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Joel Bedin, claiming that the real motive behind launching OPE was Israeli racism.
Welcoming Purveyors of Anti-Semitic Hate
On March 27, 2015, SJP Purdue hosted a discussion with Steven Salaita, now the Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut (AUB).
In 2014, The University of Illinois (U of I) withdrew an offer of employment to Salaita after becoming aware of his anti-Semitic tweets. One tweet, posted shortly after Hamas kidnapped three teenage Israeli high school students, read: "You may be too refined to say it, but I’m not: I wish all the f**king West Bank settlers would go missing."
A month later, Salaita tweeted "Zionists: transforming ‘antisemitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948." On July 8, 2014, he tweeted: "There's something profoundly sexual to the Zionist pleasure w/#Israel's aggression. Sublimation through bloodletting, a common perversion."
U of I defended its decision to withdraw the job offer to Salaita in a January 29, 2015 press release, saying: “These statements [his tweets] and many more like them demonstrate that Dr. Salaita lacks the judgment, temperament and thoughtfulness to serve as a member of our faculty in any capacity, but particularly to teach courses related to the Middle East."
After being denied the position at U of I, Salaita took a teaching position at the American University of Beirut (AUB) in Lebanon, where he was employed from 2015 through 2017. The position at AUB was not tenured and so, following the close of the 2017 academic year, Salaita again sought employment.
Unable to find a teaching position “on four continents," Salaita again took to social media, stating on Facebook I “no longer consider myself among the professoriate." Salaita went on to say that “People ask if I would go back in time and change anything. I would not… I will die unapologetic."
On December 4, 2014 SJP Purdue held a discussion with Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the anti-Israel online magazine Electronic Intifada.
Abuminah is also a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). ISM has been accused of supporting terrorism and it encourages its foreign volunteers to act "as human shields in cities, towns and refugee camps." At least once, ISM facilities have been used in attempts to facilitate the escape of known terrorists.
Glorifying Attempted Murder
On May 8, 2013, SJP Purdue posted a picture glorifying rock-throwing by Palestinian youth. Palestinian rock-throwing has proven deadly — to Arabs mistaken for Jews by the rock throwers, as well as children like 4-year-old Adele Bitton.
Supporting a Terrorist
On November 14, 2013 SJP Purdue posted on Facebook that Purdue SJP "stands in strength, solidarity, and love with our sister Rasmea Odeh."
Odeh was a key military operative with the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In 1969, Odeh masterminded a PFLP bombing that killed two college students in a Jerusalem supermarket. Odeh also attempted to bomb the British consulate.
Odeh confessed, in a highly detailed account, the day following her arrest. In a 2004 documentary, one of Odeh’s co-conspirators directly implicated her as the mastermind.
In 1970, an Israeli court tried and convicted Odeh for her involvement in both bombings and sentenced her to life imprisonment. However, Odeh was released 10 years later, in a prisoner swap and emigrated to the United States.
On November 10, 2014, a Michigan federal jury convicted Odeh for immigration fraud because she failed to disclose her prior conviction and life sentence on her immigration application. On March 12, 2015, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
In 2017, after an appeal and a lengthy court battle, Odeh admitted to immigration fraud, was stripped of her U.S. citizenship and deported to Jordan.
Promoting a Hamas Propagandist
On March 25, 2016, SJP Purdue shared a video on Facebook featuring a monologue by propagandist Dr. Mads Gilbert.
Gilbert has been banned indefinitely from entering Gaza through Israel because of his connections to the Hamas leadership.
In 2008, 2009, 2012 and 2014 Gilbert was stationed at a hospital that served as a Hamas command center and rocket launching site. During that time he acted as a propagandist for the Hamas government in Gaza.
In 2001, following al Qaeda's September 11 terrorist attacks, Gilbert expressed support for the terror acts as a “legitimate response." In December of 2009, Gilbert was accused of faking resuscitation on a dead child in Gaza for dramatic effect for a CNN video.
Gilbert has been banned indefinitely from entering Gaza through Israel because of his connections to the Hamas leadership.
In 2008, 2009 and 2012 Gilbert — whose allegations are popular with white supremacists — was stationed at a hospital that served as a Hamas command center and rocket launching site. During that time he acted as a propagandist for the Hamas government in Gaza.
In 2001, following al Qaeda's September 11 terrorist attacks, Gilbert expressed support for them as a "legitimate response." In December of 2009, Gilbert was accused of faking resuscitation on a dead child in Gaza for dramatic effect for a CNN video.
SJP was co-founded in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley (UC Berkeley) by Professors Hatem Bazian and Snehal Shingavi. Bazian served as president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS) while studying at San Francisco State University (SFSU) and headed the Muslim Students Association (MSA) while earning his M.A. at UC Berkeley. In 2004, while the second intifada was already winding down in Israel, he called for an intifada in the United States.
Shingavi, an activist tied to the International Socialist Organization (ISO), has been criticized for using his literature course as a vehicle for promoting anti-Israel propaganda. SJP has grown to become the primary student movement advancing the Palestinian national agenda on North American campuses and is the primary force behind BDS campaigns at most schools.
SJP activists frequently intimidate and harass Jewish and pro-Israel students. SJP members have physically assaulted Jewish students, aggressively disrupted pro-Israel events and possibly vandalized communal property. SJP rallies regularly include hate-speech and chants such as "Long Live The Intifada" and "From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free" — calls for violence and for the destruction of the Jewish state.
SJP chapters frequently run inflammatory campaigns against Israel, including BDS resolutions, rallies, Israel-Apartheid initiatives, propaganda comparing Israel to Nazi Germany, mock checkpoints and "die-ins."
SJP chapters regularly host speakers who use language considered anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department and individuals linked to terrorist activity.
The BDS movement was founded in 2005 by Omar Barghouti and asserts that it "works to end international support for Israel's oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law."
BDS initiatives include compelling institutions and individuals to divest from Israeli-affiliated companies, academic boycotts, anti-Israel rallies and protests.
The movement's most notable achievement has been the infiltration of university campuses through lobbying for "BDS resolutions." In these cases, backed by university anti-Israel affiliates, student governments have brought to vote on some form of boycott of — or divestment from — Israel and Israeli-affiliated entities. These resolutions, although non-binding, have been passed by student governments on numerous North American campuses.
BDS activity is often aggressive and disruptive. It has been noted that universities that pass BDS resolutions see a marked increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus. In 2013, when the student government of the University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB) debated a BDS resolution, reports emerged of violent threats and the spitting on a student wearing a Star of David necklace. As a result, the student government chose to vote via a "secret ballot" in order to ensure its members' safety.
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