By now, most readers will have seen the parades of radical student groups, who, following the October 7 terror attack by Hamas massacring 1,400 Israelis, marched across American campuses chanting “We are Hamas” and “Globalize the Intifada.” But few have sought to delve deeper into what brings kids not long out of high school to scream genocidal slogans and intimidate Jewish students. While it’s easy to point fingers at the students, who is influencing them?
The widespread public outrage against the protests is undeniably warranted. But people aren’t born supporting Hamas. What we’re seeing is the result of a long process of indoctrination—and educators linked to the Muslim Brotherhood are at its onset.
Many of the students at last week’s sometimes physically violent rallies were affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group whose militancy goes back to its founder, Hatem Bazian, a professor at University of California–Berkeley. In his student years, Bazian was reportedly a member of the General Union of Palestinian Students and the Muslim Students Association, two outgrowths of the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to the Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, Bazian quickly grasped that open identification with the Brotherhood prevented large-scale recruitment. He therefore utilized the movement’s tried-and-true method of promoting its agenda through “coalitions from within” American society by establishing SJP as an ostensibly progressive organization, whose agenda, uncoincidentally, was nearly identical to that of the Brotherhood. That’s why you have SJP activists spouting social-justice mantras calling for “liberation” and “decolonization,” while simultaneously embracing Islamic principles. And given that Hamas is also an offshoot of the Brotherhood, SJP’s open embrace of the terror group is far from surprising.
The ties between SJP and Hamas are not merely ideological. Several years after founding SJP, Bazian helped launch American Muslims for Palestine, an organization he now chairs, which provides financial backing for SJP chapters and shares personnel and donors with several Hamas fronts.
The growth of SJP since its inception has been exponential. With more than 200 chapters across the country, SJP is widely viewed as the most influential anti-Israel student group in the United States. It’s often responsible for creating an atmosphere of intimidation for Jewish students, due to its frequent praise of Palestinian terrorists, arranging pro-terror vigils on campuses, and, on at least one occasion, hosting a convicted terrorist at an event.
Unfortunately, Bazian represents just one example of a much larger phenomenon of Brotherhood-linked academics, as documented by groups such as the Clarion Project. Among the most prominent of these is San Francisco State University professor Rabab Abdulhadi. One of the co-founders of the General Union of Palestinian Students in the U.S., Abdulhadi has repeatedly hosted convicted Palestinian terrorists at her academic events, even organizing a conference in Lebanon, where she spoke side by side with them.
In addition to these notable figures, many other American professors—some of whom teach at tax-supported public universities—have legitimized the Brotherhood by speaking at events organized by its affiliates. One is Columbia University’s Joseph Massad, whose name you might recognize: he made headlines last week for praising the Hamas massacre as “awesome.”
For well over a decade, Jewish institutions have filed numerous complaints and published reports warning about SJP and Brotherhood-linked academics. But all too often, Jewish students have been dismissed as crybabies, disloyal to the United States, and accused of justifying ethnic cleansing and genocide. Worse, university administrators, terrified of being perceived as intolerant, brushed these claims under the rug, even when the safety and well-being of Jewish students were at stake.
The surging public condemnation of these extremists is a welcome step in rectifying this negligence. It’s sobering, though, that it took thousands of students cheering on one of the most despicable terror attacks in modern history for people to notice what was occurring right in front of them.
The challenge now is to chart a path forward. Universities must find a way to clamp down on expressions of support for terrorism while upholding the First Amendment. At the least, institutions should consider defunding SJP chapters on their campuses. These measures wouldn’t infringe on academic freedom; they would be steps to preserve it. Students must enjoy an intellectual environment free from intimidation and threats to their safety.
Of course, this wouldn’t solve the issue of campus extremism completely. But one cannot minimize the role that the Muslim Brotherhood has played, albeit indirectly, in fostering what we’re seeing at so many American colleges and universities.
The alarming rise of radicalization on campuses is an alarm bell for America. As tensions escalate between Israel and Hamas, we must act to ensure the integrity of our educational institutions.
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