Motivated by a fundamental belief in human rights and anti-colonialism, members of Vassar SJP and other students gathered last Thursday, November 14, for a peaceful demonstration against a talk given by former IDF commander and Zionist propagandist, Hen Mazzig. We played music by Palestinian artists, danced, waved signs, and conversed with attendees. We also handed out flyers highlighting Mazzig’s history of making dangerous and false allegations, mocking child prisoners, joking about ethnic cleansing, posting racist memes, using his identities to defend U.N.-recognized violations of basic human rights, glorifying an apartheid state, and hurling vile attacks at activists fighting for the liberation of Palestinians. Our intention was not to shut down the event or prevent anyone from attending, but rather to express our fundamental opposition to the dehumanization and erasure of Palestinians. We spent around six minutes chanting outside the door of the room before leaving the building entirely. Please see our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for our full statements on Mazzig, our demonstration, and the responses we received.

In the hours afterward, Mazzig tweeted that we had called for his death and the genocide of all Jews based on one of our chants – “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” President Bradley gave credence to this narrative, issuing an irresponsibly vague and fear-mongering statement immediately after, lamenting our failure to adhere to the college’s "protocols" of dissent. In the following days, we have received hundreds of threatening messages and attacks from Zionists alongside an outpouring of support from students and alumni/alumnae. Last night, November 18, Bradley followed up with an additional condemnation firmly accusing our group of anti-Semitism and publicly threatening us with "adjudication processes." Not only is this accusation offensive to the members of SJP, but it also, more importantly, stoked unnecessary fear within the Jewish community at Vassar. Bradley's statements were sent out to both faculty and alumni, but the student body received no notification of them. In fact, despite that our student government opened up an “investigation” on Sunday and that President Bradley publicly threatened us with disciplinary measures on Monday, SJP received no contact from any administrator or Vassar employee until Tuesday. Two members of SJP, singled out as leaders despite our org being non-hierarchical, were given official notice that they are facing student conduct charges for “Failing to Comply” and “Disruptive Conduct”.

Our group, comprised of queer students, students of color, and Jewish students, chanting “From the river to sea, Palestine will be free” was not an expression of support for Hamas or an endorsement of anti-Semitism. As we have previously explained, it was a call for total decolonization, a recognition of the right of return, and a dismantling of an apartheid regime. The freedom of Palestinians certainly does not entail the eradication of the Jewish people. We absolutely condemn anti-Semitism and believe that none of us will be free until Palestine is free. See our original statement for more clarification on the origins of this chant.

Our administration, however, capitulated to the demands of Zionist alumni/alumnae. President Bradley prioritized her public image and the college’s financial interests over supporting human rights and ensuring the wellbeing of Vassar students. It appears that the administration is attempting to repress our organizing and free speech by insinuating that our stance against Israeli apartheid translates to hate speech. Singling out and intimidating individual members of a collective action stands in direct opposition to the campus culture President Bradley claims she wants to create. When the college should be supporting its students who are being widely threatened, insulted, and slandered, they are instead enabling these attacks. Disciplining students for peaceful protest sets a dangerous precedent, not only for SJP but for the right to free speech of all students and the organizations in which they participate.

We are calling on all students, faculty, staff, alumni/alumnae, community members, and outside supporters to stand against Vassar administration’s harmful accusations of hate speech and disciplinary retaliation against student organizers. Join us in asserting our right to peacefully protest on our campus and in demanding that our administration drop all charges.

Signed by (being updated):

Joseph Nevins
Eva Woods Peiró
Katherine Hite
Ismail Rashid
Amitava Kumar
Kaushik Ghosh
Joshua Schreier
Toivo Asheeke
Maria Hantzopoulos
Hiram Perez
Tom Ellman
Claire Sagan
M Mark
Sam Opondo
Freya Irani
Giovanna Borradori
Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert
Diane Harriford

Vassar Orgs
VCTV (Vassar College Television)
Healing to Action
Crafts not Bombs
Student/Labor Dialogue
Feminist Alliance
Vassar for Bernie
Audio Picnic
ViCE Weekly
Vassar College Vassar Improv
Vassar College Democrats
Indecent Exposure
VC Filmmakers
Vassar Asian American Studies Working Group
Hip-Hop 101
Muslim Student Association (MSA)
WVKR Independent Radio Station
Black Students' Union

Non-Vassar Organizations
Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine
The Lyra Film Company
Bard Students for Justice in Palestine
Jewish Voice for Peace Swarthmore
Claremont SJP
New Paltz Socialists
Veterans For Peace
Macalester SUPER
Tufts SJP
Tufts Arab Student Association
Macalester College Jewish Voice for Peace
Fellowship of Reconciliation
Muslim Peace Fellowship
Fordham SJP
Rutgers New Brunswick SJP
Northeastern Students for Justice in Palestine
Columbia SJP
NYU Students for Justice in Palestine
Jewish Voice for Peace at NYU
SJP at Occidental College
Brooklyn College Students for Justice in Palestine
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
Direct Action for Palestine
Middle East Crisis Response
Advocates for Social Change - Carthage College
Macalester College Young Democratic Socialists of America
Advocates for Social Change - Carthage College
Wellesley College Native American Students Association
Introspect Left - University of Pittsburgh
New Paltz Women in Black
Brown Students for Justice in Palestine
Case Radical Student Union
Brandeis SJP
Wellesley College Jewish Voice for Peace
Youth Against War and Racism
Oberlin Students for Energy Justice (SEJ)
Young Democratic Socialists of Stony Brook University
Oberlin Students in Solidarity with Guatemala (OSSGUA)
Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
Oberlin College Student Labor Action Coalition
Occupation Free DC
Columbia Student Worker Solidarity
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