Robert Zimmer, President, University of Chicago
Robert Zimmer has served as the president of the University of Chicago since 2006. As head of a school known for its recent statement affirming freedom of speech and criticizing “trigger warnings” in academia, Zimmer has resolutely failed to support these values by allowing his administration to condemn posters placed on campus by the David Horowitz Freedom Center which exposed the links between SJP and Hamas as “defamatory and inconsistent with our values and policies,” while allowing SJP an open license to distribute Hamas propaganda.
Under Zimmer’s leadership, Chicago’s SJP chapter has become increasingly radicalized, hosting both an Israeli Apartheid Week and a “Nakba Week” to commemorate the founding of Israel as a “catastrophe” each year. Chicago SJP has disrupted pro-Israel events and speakers and threatened Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid who spoke on campus about the oppression of Palestinians by the theocratic terrorist regimes in the West Bank and Gaza. The University of Chicago is also home to the U. of C Divest coalition which supports the Hamas-supported and funded BDS movement against Israel and succeeded in passing a BDS resolution in Chicago’s student government. An amendment to the BDS resolution supporting the continued self-determination of the Jewish people and the existence of Israel was proposed and rejected by that same body.
In June 2018, U. Chicago SJP posted an invitation on social media for students to protest Israeli Ambassador Rod Dermer. The post demonized and delegitimized Israel by calling for an end to the “to the Blockade and Killings in Gaza, and the Occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem” and also endorsed the Palestinian “right of return” which would eliminate Israel as a Jewish state.
In May 2018, U. Chicago SJP held its annual “Nakba Week.” The “nakba” is a term used by Hamas and its supporters to characterize Israel’s founding as a “catastrophe.” Advertisements for the week stated “Commemorating 70 years since the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948.”
On April 25, 2018, U. Chicago SJP held a lecture titled “Gaza: From the Nakba to the Great Return March.” The individuals who participated in the “Great Return March” at the Gaza border were not peaceful protestors, as they were portrayed to be by SJP, but were composed primarily of Hamas militants who were openly attacking Israel’s border.
On February 8, 2018, Students for Justice in Palestine held a protest of a pro-Israel event on campus which featured soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Signs at the protest promoted the Hamas-supported and funded Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel and falsely labeled Jewish citizens of Israel “colonizers.” These signs included: “Occupiers NOT welcome! End racist occupation,” “Colonizers get OUT of Palestine,” and “Free Palestine! Boycott, Divest, Sanction.”
On February 7, 2018, an op-ed was published in the student-run campus newspaper that demonized Israel and its supporters and urged students to join the effort to “send a message that the Israeli military and its propagandists are not welcome on this campus.” This goal that was so proudly lauded in the campus paper is directly in conflict with Chicago’s Statement on Principles of Free Expression which states “For members of the University community, as for the University itself, the proper response to ideas they find offensive, unwarranted and dangerous is not interference, obstruction, or suppression. It is, instead, to engage in robust counter-speech that challenges the merits of those ideas and exposes them for what they are.”
In December 2017, in response to President Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, U. Chicago SJP posted flyers on campus declaring “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.”
In November 2017, Chicago SJP held “Israeli Apartheid Week” on campus, a hate-filled Hamas propaganda fest to demonize the Jewish state. Features of the week included the display of an “Apartheid Wall” which falsely accused Israel’s Jewish citizens of being colonizers of Arab Palestine and demonized Israel by accusing it of participating in apartheid. The week also included an event titled “Palestine: 101.” The event poster demonized Israel by falsely accusing it of “forc[ing] 300,000 Palestinians off their land in a violent act of ethnic cleansing.”
In June 2017, the U. Of C. Divest coalition proudly announced that they had delivered 300 signed letters to the Investment Committee of the U. Chicago Board of Trustees that demanded that the university divest from “Israeli apartheid”—thus promoting the Hamas supported and funded BDS movement against Israel. The coalition also demanded that the Board create a “Socially Responsible Investment Committee.”
On May 18, 2017, the Chicago Maroon published an op-ed by a Ph.D. student urging the campus administration to take action against David Horowitz and the David Horowitz Freedom Center for placing posters on campus that exposed the links between SJP and the anti-Israel terror group Hamas. The op-ed urged the administration to silence Horowitz, stating “In comments to The Maroon last year, David Horowitz said that the University should hold him personally responsible for the posters. So why haven’t they? In an era when mosques are being burned down across the United States week after week and where students who wear hijabs are spat on and yelled at every day across the city, shouldn’t confronting anti-Muslim bigotry be a priority? If the University is serious about protecting its students and employees, shouldn’t it address the David Horowitz Freedom Center and demand the group cease and desist from its repeated attacks on University students and employees?”
The op-ed did not consider the view that the Freedom Center’s posters presented important facts and information and that universities should be open to a diversity of viewpoints. Or that in America we are governed by a Bill of Rights that guarantees our right to express opinions that terrorist sympathizers and activists might not agree with.
During May 2017, UC SJP again celebrated “Nakba Week” on campus. “Nakba” is the Arabic word for “catastrophe” which Hamas and its allies use to refer to the creation of Israel. Social media advertisements for the Week stated, “The 1948 expulsion of over 700,000 natives from Palestine is referred to by Palestinians as “al-Nakba” (“the catastrophe”). Understanding the Nakba as an ongoing process inherent to settler colonialism is crucial in understanding everything from the illegal occupation to the refugee crisis to the fight for equal rights within modern-day Israel.” But the only actual “settler colonialism” in the Middle East is the historic conquest of the region by the Arabs.
In April 2017, the U. of C. Divest coalition held an event to promote the BDS boycott against Israel and to encourage university trustees to divest from Israeli companies titled “BDS 101: #TelltheTrustees.” The coalition also created and posted a “fact sheet” on social media that promotes Hamas propaganda and misinformation about Israel. One claim states, “In Gaza, Palestinians live with the threat of regular Israeli bombing and ground invasions, which often have civilian casualty rates as high as 70% according to the UN. In the West Bank, Palestinians are constantly harassed and attacked at checkpoints by the Israeli military, who face practical immunity for killing innocent Palestinians.”
The Chicago Maroon, the independent campus newspaper, published a letter to the editor in April 2017 promoting the genocidal and Hamas-inspired and funded BDS movement against Israel. The letter repeated Hamas propaganda lies, asserting that Israel is “a system of rule fully comparable to South African Apartheid” and accused Israel of “steal[ing] Palestinian land, bomb[ing] Palestinian homes, kidnap[ping] Palestinian children, deny[ing] Palestinians access to resources, harass[ing] Palestinians at checkpoints, and imprison[ing] Palestinians without charge.”
On January 25, 2017, SJP at the University of Chicago hosted an event titled BDS 101: Trump and Palestinian Human Rights. The event promoted the Hamas-supported BDS movement against Israel.
In October 2016, University of Chicago spokesperson Mariell Sainvilus condemned posters placed on campus by the David Horowitz Freedom Center which exposed the links between SJP and Hamas as “defamatory and inconsistent with our values and policies.” The University did not similarly condemn the false Hamas libels against Israel placed on campus by SJP and its allies.
On June 02, 2016, U. Chicago-SJP shared a post on its Facebook page from the Boycott Tel Aviv Pride campaign urging people to boycott gay pride events in Tel Aviv because “any cultural event organized with money from the Israeli state should be boycotted… Gay tourism financial revenues do not only stimulate Israel’s economy, they are considered a direct investment in Israel’s war machine.” No other Middle Eastern state tolerates gays let alone features gay pride parades. The SJP leftists are willing to subordinate their support for gay rights to serve Hamas and its terror campaign to destroy the Jewish state.
During May 23-28, 2016, SJP held “Palestinian Nakba Week” on campus. The “Nakba” is an Arabic term meaning “catastrophe” which Hamas uses to refer to the day of Israel’s founding and to spread the lie that Israel was created on land belonging to the Arabs. Israel was created by the United Nations on land that had belonged to the Turks – who are not Arabs – for 400 years previously. Events during the week included a talk on “Disrupting Israeli Apartheid: Civil Disobedience in Palestine” and “Nakba 101: A discussion.”
On May 15, 2016, U. Chicago SJP posted a video purporting to show facts about the creation of Israel on its Facebook page, while drawing the conclusion that Israel has no right to exist. The video repeats the Hamas propaganda lie that Israel colonized Palestine, displacing its existing citizens. In truth, there was no nation of Palestine at the time of Israel’s creation, and the land on which Israel was created belonged to the Turks who are not Arabs for 400 years previously. The video claims that Israel “occupied the rest of historic Palestine during the Six Day War,” but fails to mention that Israel was the victim of a war of unprovoked aggression by five Arab dictatorships whose expressed goal was to “push the Jews into the sea.” It also fails to mention that for fifty years the Arabs have refused to sign a peace with Israel, recognizing its right to exist, which was Israel’s condition for withdrawal of its forces.
On May 12, 2016, U. Chicago SJP disrupted a celebration of Israeli Independence Day on campus by holding a protest of the “Palestinian Nakba,” a term meaning “catastrophe” that is used by Hamas to deplore the creation of Israel, and spread the lie that Israel was created on Arab land. SJP’s description of the event read: “SJP at the University of Chicago today marked the 68th anniversary of the beginning of the Palestinian Nakba by protesting Israeli Independence Day, which was organized by a Zionist student group with most of the free goodies passed out donated by Stand With Us and Birthright. Under the Israeli Independence tent, American students discussed their ‘Birthright’ to Israel while on the other side Palestinian students shared their families’ stories of being forced from their homes and turned into stateless refugees.” In point of fact, virtually all of the Arab refugees fled of their own free will, while nearly one million stayed. Moreover, the Palestinian refugees are stateless because no Arab state will grant them citizenship, while the terrorist regimes in the West Bank and Gaza refuse to re-settle them.
Protest signs displayed by SJP parroted Hamas war propaganda. One read “Come enjoy ‘Israeli’ food and settler colonialism,” and “Displacing lives since ’48, there’s nothing here to celebrate,” while another condemned Israel for “Ethnic cleansing” and “Cultural appropriation” – lies designed to delegitimize and destroy the Jewish state.
On April 12, 2016, the student government at the University of Chicago passed a resolution calling on the University to divest from companies which aid or profit from Israel’s “violation of human rights and international law in Palestine.” The motion passed by a vote of 8-4 with 3 abstentions and was supported by 20 leftwing student organizations on campus and organized by a coalition calling itself U of C Divest. During the debate over the measure, an amendment supporting the continued self-determination of the Jewish people and the existence of Israel was proposed and rejected.
On April 07, 2016, in preparation for a vote on a BDS resolution, the U of Chicago Divest Coalition published an open letter in The Chicago Maroon, a campus newspaper, labeling Israel an apartheid state and urging the university community to endorse the Hamas-inspired and funded BDS campaign to strangle the Jewish state. The letter – a tissue of lies – claimed: “Palestinians today face a comprehensive system of occupation, dispossession, and segregation—in short, apartheid. Their cities are bombed, resources stolen, children kidnapped, and movement restricted… Our resolution, while targeted, supports the full demands of the BDS call: an end to the occupation, equality for all people in Palestine/Israel, and the right of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.”
On March 28, 2016, the U of C Divest coalition held a large rally on campus featuring a 70 foot Palestinian flag with students displaying banners and chanting propaganda slogans to support the Hamas-inspired and funded BDS movement. The chants included: “Brick by brick, wall by wall, Israeli apartheid has to fall,” “Free free Palestine, viva viva Palestina,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, Israeli apartheid’s got to go.” Banners displayed on campus read: “End Apartheid,” “Free Palestine,” and “Divest Now.” Israel is not only the most tolerant society in the Middle East. It is the only tolerant society in the Middle East.
On February 18, 2016, angry protestors interrupted and threatened a Palestinian human rights activist, Bassam Eid, who came to speak on U. Chicago’s campus about the oppression of Palestinians by the theocratic terrorist regimes in the West Bank and Gaza. SJP activists were upset that Eid’s remarks were critical of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and failed to condemn Israel for its alleged “occupation” of Palestine. In the video of Eid’s speech a young man can be seen screaming in Arabic: “I’m going to destroy this place!” and “I’m going to kill this motherf*****!” and “Wait until you go to your car!” Eid later declared himself to be “terrified” by the ordeal.
On October 29, 2015, UC-SJP hosted BDS movement founder Omar Barghouti for a speech on “BDS and the Ethical Obligation to End Complicity in Oppression.” During his address, Barghouti labeled Israel “a regime of oppression” and a “savage unrepairable society” that conducts “ethnic cleansing.” Barghouti also praised terrorism against Israel’s Jews, stating that “resistance” is a legitimate response to “the violence of an oppressive system.” Several UC organizations and departments co-sponsored Barghouti’s address including the Global Voices Program – University of Chicago International House, the Pozen Center for Human Rights, the Department of Political Science, and the Department of International Studies.
On October 28, 2015, UC-SJP held a panel titled “Jerusalem in Crisis: Insider Perspectives on the Violence in Palestine-Israel” as part of the “UChicago Israeli Apartheid Week.” Speakers at the event were two graduate student members of SJP. One of the speakers praised anti-Israel terrorism, stating: “Palestinian violent resistance against the violent Israeli military is always justified; it is the equivalent of biting the hand that is trying to choke you to death.”
On October 14, 2015, U. Chicago SJP held a Palestinian Day of Action, in concurrence with an international Day of Action to promote the Hamas-inspired and funded BDS campaign against Israel. The event included plastering the campus with posters falsely accusing the Israeli military of murdering Palestinian children.
On February 27, 2015, Anti-Semitic comments threatening the genocide of the Jews were posted on the social media site Yik Yak in the University of Chicago area. Some of the comments attacked individual students, while others threatened the Jewish people as a whole. One comment read, “Gas them, burn them and dismantle their power structure. Humanity cannot progress with the parasitic Jew.” This is Nazism, and all too characteristic of SJP propaganda.