Pro-Palestine university groups are ‘radicalising’ US students

“I think they exploit the ignorance of folks,” he said. “So what happens is you have people who don’t know a lot about the subject who might feel sympathy towards Palestinians, but not justifying Hamas terrorism like SJP does… [but] because of that ignorance they get swept in.”

Some of the campus protests were the result of months of training and planning by longtime activists and left-wing groups, according to the Wall Street Journal. The newspaper reported that students at Columbia University consulted with the national wing of the SJP, veterans of campus protests and former Black Panthers.

At Chapman University in Orange, California, students from SJP helped set up a protest camp in the early hours of Thursday morning shortly after police dismantled a much larger site at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Consisting of around 15 tents, students held hand-painted signs with slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “Ceasefire Now”.

One of the organisers, Dariush, 18, said he and other organisers were members of SJP and wanted to get the college to divest from companies that did business with Israel or helped its military.

“I think that the backlash is just inevitable in a social movement,” he added. “If you’re not receiving that backlash, something’s probably going wrong.”

A Jewish SJP member and organiser, Myth, rejected any suggestion he and his colleagues were “brainwashing” other students.

“What we provide our colleagues and our peers is education. We do not push a certain viewpoint on them,” he said.

“We have educational materials and stuff they can do their own reading on. We believe that people who’re educated about it will inevitably end up on the side.”

But not everyone is convinced.

Professor Ann Licata, a lecturer in Spanish, denounced the encampment and said the students didn’t know anything about the issues they were trying to raise.

“They have no inkling of the whole history of the situation. They don’t understand that many Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and LGBT all live together. I was just in Israel in August and I saw a very different Israel than what is being portrayed in the news,” she said.

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