UC Berkeley Students for Justice in Palestine’s Statement in response to David Horowitz’s Daily Cal Op-Ed



Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley is deeply dismayed by the Daily Cal’s decision to publish a libelous op-ed by conservative commentator David Horowitz.

Horowitz conflated criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism (a conflation that the Department of Education has clearly ruled against), characterizing the members of Students for Justice in Palestine as “Jew-haters,” and as part of a wave of anti-Semitism “not seen since the 1930s, when Hitler was laying plans for the final solution—the physical extermination of European Jewry.” He claimed that SJP “supports ethnic cleansing” and that our goal is the “destruction of the Jews”. He said SJP is an “active abettor of a war against the Jews.” Truth be told, this despicable rhetoric was to be expected of Horowitz, who simply did what he has always done best: spread hateful lies, inflected with his brand of blatant and unapologetic Islamophobia, none of which could have survived even the most lax fact checking, let alone the strict standard Daily Cal applies to submissions by SJP members. The article’s racist statements add little to Horowitz’s notorious repertoire: for decades, he has advocated against reparations for slavery in the U.S., against left-leaning U.S. academics (whom he characterizes as “dangerous”), and against Islam and Muslims. The latter have been his favorite targets: visiting UC Santa Barbara in 2008, Horowitz said that the traditional Arab keffiyeh is a symbol of terrorism and that the Muslim Student Association seeks “to bring the jihad into the heart of American higher education.” In addition to his own horrific writings, Horowitz funds right-wing extremists like Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch, a man cited 162 times in the manifesto of terrorist Anders Breivik, whose hatred of Muslims led him to murder 77 people in Norway in 2011.

Racist hate speech cannot be tolerated in a diverse campus community that aspires to be welcoming and inclusive, but this is exactly what the Daily Cal chose to print. To add insult to injury, the Daily Cal attached an illustration featuring Horowitz holding a leaflet with a crossed-out Star of David (a reference to one of our recent direct actions, falsely implying that we targeted Jewish students), and a note saying “Evict SJP.” This cartoon is itself a shameful statement, giving Daily Cal’s implicit endorsement of Horowitz’s lies as well as his ignorant and hate-mongering conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.

Students for Justice in Palestine is a diverse group of students, staff, faculty, and community members of multiple nationalities and faiths. We have Muslim, Christian, Jewish, atheist, and other members; we are Palestinian, Israeli, and members of other nationalities; we have African, American, Asian, and European members; and we have members of a variety of ethnic, racial, and gender identities. Our constitution explicitly states, “SJP rejects any form of hatred or discrimination against any religious, racial, or ethnic group” and goes further to mention that SJP’s “strength is in the great diversity of its membership.” We welcome any person who shares our goal “to promote justice, human rights, liberation, and self-determination for the Palestinian people.” We believe that our diversity is exactly what threatens the likes of Horowitz – bigots who find it confusing that people of multiple backgrounds can cooperate and mobilize together for human rights and against Israel’s apartheid regime in Palestine. Overwhelmed by the impossible mission of legitimizing the Israeli occupation, the Horowitzes of the world have little to do but to allege that we are terrorists and compare us to Nazis, with plenty of help from the Daily Cal.

Where were the Daily Cal’s editors? What happened to the newspaper’s journalistic standards and the most basic ethical common sense? How did students on this campus reach the point of publishing a defamatory rant that would make even conservative news outlets scratch their heads in embarrassment? If Daily Cal editors had done their due diligence, they would have realized that their predecessors made a similar mistake before with Horowitz, and had been forced to apologize for it.

We are concerned that the decision to print Horowitz’s column did not stem from a momentary lapse of reason, but from the editors’ wish to counter a letter to the editor that criticized the Daily Cal for ignoring incidents in which Muslim and pro-Palestine activists were targeted on our campus. Indeed, we were told that five people at the Daily Cal read the piece and found nothing wrong with the final published version. According to Daily Cal editors, Horowitz’s suggested title was “Why I target Students for Justice in Palestine,” which they changed to “Reasons for targeting Students for Justice in Palestine.” It is hard to see how either of these titles could not be taken as a threat; it is hard to see how unbalanced readers were not to understand it as a threat, and accordingly, we take it as a threat. The Daily Cal editors seem to have exercised exceptionally poor judgment, which they began to acknowledge yesterday by quietly changing the title of the piece to something slightly less likely to incite violence against students.

We call on the campus community to stand in solidarity with SJP by unequivocally condemning both Horowitz’s column, the Daily Cal’s decision to publish it, and the Daily Cal’s failure to fact-check. Defamatory hate speech should not be tolerated, regardless of whom it targets, and the ability of Horowitz’s false, libelous, and racist claims to pass through the fact-checking process of the Daily Cal is perhaps the largest indictment of the Daily Cal.

We thank the following people and organizations for taking a stance and/or issuing statements against Horowitz’s article (list being updated):

Arab Resource and Organizing Center

International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network

Jewish Voice for Peace

J-Street at UC Berkeley

Liz Jackson of Palestine Solidarity Legal Support

UAW 2865 (UC Student Workers’ Union), Berkeley Unit

US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation

Also check out reporting by Ben Norton in Mondoweiss about the Daily Cal’s shame.



Write to the Daily Cal:
Chloe Hunt, Editor in Chief and President: editor@dailycal.org
Megan Messerly, Managing Editor: managing@dailycal.org
Kimberly Veklerov, Opinion Editor: opinion@dailycal.org

Mock Eviction at Cal

Over 600 UC Berkeley students received mock eviction notices on the morning of February 23rd as part of a peaceful protest by Cal Students for Justice in Palestine. The flyers (which were clearly marked as fake, with “This is not a real eviction notice” written in bold letters at the bottom of the page) were slipped under every door on every floor of every building in the Unit 2 dormitories, with the exception of a single floor in one building, where the interruption of a Resident Advisor prevented us from exercising our right to free expression.

The flyers called attention to the real eviction notices Palestinians in the Occupied Territories receive from the Israeli military as part of the Israeli government’s policy of expelling Palestinians from their land in order to build ethnically-exclusive settlements, an ongoing project of ethnic cleansing that has seen some 27,000 Palestinian homes demolished since 1967. Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza has repeatedly been declared illegal under international law, including in UN Security Council Resolution 242, making each demolition a war crime under the 4th Geneva Convention.

4.5 million Palestinians currently live without rights in the West Bank and Gaza, while 1.2 million live as Jim Crow-style second-class citizens within Israel. An additional 5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide are barred, by virtue of their ethnicity, from returning to their homeland. Israel’s policies towards Palestinians meet the UN’s definition of the crime of apartheid, declared in 1973 to include all “inhuman acts committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.” Israel’s violence against Palestinians reached a horrifying crescendo in 2014 as over 2,100 Palestinians (about 75% civilians, according to the UN) were killed in Israel’s latest assault on the besieged Gaza Strip.

The University of California currently has investments in companies like Caterpillar, which produces the armored bulldozers the Israeli military uses to raze Palestinian homes in the West Bank, and Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the Hellfire missiles Israel uses to deliberately target Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Cal SJP carried out this protest as part of our annual Israeli Apartheid Week activities raising awareness about the plight of Palestinians, and we fully support the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it respects Palestinians’ human rights.

The UC Student Assembly, the UC grad student union, and 7 of 9 undergraduate UC campuses have passed resolutions calling for divestment from companies complicit in the occupation, but the Regents continue to ignore students’ voices. With this action, we are calling on the UC Regents to honor the consensus in favor of divestment. This is why we also delivered the flyer to Chancellor Dirks. He has the power to influence the Regents, and we believe students have the power to influence Chancellor Dirks. This protest has already helped spark much-needed discussion on campus about the Palestinian perspective so often left out of the conversation on this issue.

Why we refuse to cooperate with Jweekly.com

Below is Cal SJP’s response to a media inquiry from the J, followed by the latter’s original email.


Dear J,

Thank you for reaching out to us.

As a student organization seeking to promote pro-Palestine solidarity activism in U.S. campuses, we are always happy to collaborate with journalists, even from news outlets that do not share our values. Unfortunately, the J. has consistently proven that it cannot be considered a news outlet. Your coverage of BDS campaigns and other actions and events related to Palestine in the bay area has times and again failed to meet the most basic journalistic standards. We have no trust that you will present our views accurately and we have therefore decided to stop cooperating with you.

Among the events that led to our decision was Dan Pine’s report, published on November 20, 2014. Mr. Pine covered a closed event of UAW 2865, a labor union representing graduate students in the UC system. Pine invited himself to the event, took photos without the participants’ permission, and wrote a badly biased piece without talking to either of the two pro-BDS representatives that spoke at the event. To make things worse, Pine interrupted one of the speakers in the event—SJP-member Kumars Salahi—as he was speaking at the panel, quite a jaw-dropping gesture from a person who had the chutzpa to write that “the debate was notable for its civility.” Recently, Mr. Pine wrote a piece on BDS in UC Davis and Stanford, without bothering to interview a single BDS supporter – Jewish or non-Jewish. We are indeed puzzled that Mr. Pine was the one who reached out to ask us for an interview.

While these incidents certainly stood out, they hardly surprised us. When it comes to BDS (or any criticism of Israel’s occupation for that matter), the J-Weekly has long lost any sense of decency, and it does not even try to present its readers with clear and unbiased facts (“Israel’s presence in Gaza ended in 2005,” Pine wrote in the UAW article.) We find the J.’s approach truly unfortunate, since it only increases fear, prejudice, and hostility toward pro-Palestine activism in the Jewish community. We agree that clarifying what BDS is and is not is extremely important, especially when so much disinformation is spread. But we are also confident that since the J. and Mr. Pine have been a major source of such disinformation, you are bound to misrepresent us again.

A particularly bad signal is Mr. Pine’s statement in his email that “it’s important that the local Jewish community hear and understand your perspective.”  We have quite a few members and supporters who are part of the “Jewish community”: not only do they “understand” our perspective, they have also taken active part in contributing to it. Trying to present SJP and the “Jewish community” as mutually exclusive is misleading and exposes Mr. Pine’s ignorance and preconceptions. In any event, our Jewish and non-Jewish members will continue working together in promoting justice in Palestine, and we will collaborate with media outlets that can represent our views fairly and accurately.

We will follow your treatment of this response very closely, knowing that you are likely to selectively quote from it and misrepresent us again. Should you decide to do that, please be advised that we will consider publishing the entire correspondence.


Students for Justice in Palestine at Cal

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Dan Pine <dan@jweekly.com>
Date: Wed, Feb 4, 2015 at 2:38 PM
Subject: media inquiry
To: admin@calsjp.org


My newspaper is interested in doing a story about the growth of BDS at college campuses, in particular the U.C. campuses in NorCal. I am hoping one of your campus leaders will be available to talk to me (and if you can suggest contacts at other campuses).

Yes, we are a Jewish newspaper, but my editors and I think it’s important that the local Jewish community hear and understand your perspective, especially as BDS has had a string of successes recently. Please let me know if you are willing and able to do an interview in the weeks ahead.


Dan Pine
J. – the Jewish news weekly
San Francisco, CA