November 10, 2023

Jonathan Abbett on Students for Justice in Palestine

Since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, there have been many urgent questions for the Jewish community to answer. I appreciate that SAPIR has been publishing powerful articles to help answer them in near real time, including the two on the place of Students for Justice in Palestine on college campuses: “SJP Does Not Belong on Campus” by Jacob Baime and “SJP Still Deserves Freedom of Speech” by Nadine Strossen and Kenneth S. Stern.

These articles are both strong, but I sense a disconnect between them that I hope the authors might address soon.

Specifically—is there a difference between ensuring someone’s First Amendment right to free speech and funding or facilitating that speech within an institution?

I am relatively certain that at Brandeis University, an SJP member can still make hateful and false statements on any sidewalk he likes. Do I, as an alumnus making my small annual donation, need to fund that speech? Must a university host that speech in a meeting hall and put its seal on it?

Jonathan Abbett

Brookline, Mass.