OSU Divest Exposed: Report on Ohio State University (June 2018)

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Canary Mission investigated student activists with Students for Justice and Palestine (SJP) and the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement at Ohio State University (OSU), in June 2018.

SJP OSU activists were the driving force behind OSU Divest, a campaign to present a BDS resolution to the University Student Government (USG), on January 25, 2018.

At the presentation of the resolution, 38 OSU students reportedly spoke against it, while eight spoke in favor. One student described the resolution as “intentionally dishonest,” while other students cited “its anti-Semitic undertones.”

The resolution underwent various amendments as attempts to remove its overt connection to the BDS movement were considered.

The final version of the resolution retained its references to anti-Israel divestment resolutions passed by student governments at over a dozen other universities. Links to multiple websites accusing Israel of “apartheid” and promoting BDS were also retained. A proposed amendment to add a statement denouncing the BDS movement was rejected.

Ultimately, a watered-down version of the anti-Israel resolution passed in the USG. Passage of the resolution was enabled by the USG president, who allowed the vote to be held via a controversial secret ballot.

This report includes the following 23 individuals:

  • 10 Students affiliated with SJP OSU
  • 9 Co-Sponsors of the 2018 OSU Divest resolution
  • 3 Students affiliated with OSU Divest
  • The USG president who allowed the vote to be held via secret ballot

The social media activity of the students investigated revealed anti-Semitism, support for terrorism, promotion of violence and widespread demonization of Israel as well as the United States.

Three students posted openly anti-Semitic sentiments:

  • Anisa Liban expressed her support for Hitler, tweeting: “‘loooool that’s the first thing you say to me’  either that or GO HITLER! which I can’t say, as muchAsI Want2.”
  • Sundus Assaf declared in Arabic that “Obama and the Jews and Bush are all to blame,” tweeting: “Obama w el yahood w Bush el ha8 3laihom kolhom.”
  • Kinza Sami published a since-deleted blog post defending Hamas. Sami claimed: “How can Hamas be considered a terrorist group? In my opinion, they are completely justified.”

SJP OSU had a former-treasurer who posted threats on Facebook against pro-Israel senators in 2016. The group promoted incitement, spread hatred of Israel, demonized the Birthright trip to Israel, attacked an anti-BDS bill, pushed successive versions of the OSU Divest resolution and campaigned for terrorist Rasmea Odeh.

SJP at OSU (SJP OSU) was formerly known as the Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP).

Threatening Student Senators

On December 1, 2016, SJP OSU hosted an event objecting to a David Project-sponsored trip to Israel geared towards student government leaders.

Yousef Yacoub, SJP OSU’s then-treasurer, threatened on Facebook to track student “senators, directors, and members of senior staff” who indicated interest in the trip.

Yacoub wrote: “I see you, and I promise you that if you go on this trip without hearing our voices, I will take action. At the first General Assembly of next semester, I will bring forth a resolution for all of your impeachments.”

Spreading Incitement

On September 23, 2015, SJP OSU promoted an event on Facebook titled “#AlAqsaUnderAttack: The Treatment of Sacred Palestinian Places of Worship Under the Occupation.” The event description claimed that there have been “attacks of Masjid Al-Aqsa, the third-holiest site in the Islamic faith, by the Israeli Defense Forces.”

October 2015 saw an upsurge in violence across Israel incited by Palestinian political and religious leaders. The wave of stabbings, known as the “Knife Intifada,” saw young Palestinians throughout the country stabbing and attempting to stab scores of Israeli civilians.

The attacks were fueled by Palestinian leaders propagating the libel that Israel intended to desecrate the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The allegation that Jews “threaten” to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque has been a traditional pretext for Arab attacks against Jews long before the existence of the modern Jewish state.

On November 3, 2014, SJP OSU promoted on Facebook and co-sponsored a “Hands Off Al Aqsa!” event. The event description said: “When will we stop rallying? When Palestine is FREE! Religious freedom is under attack! As humans, we cannot stand around and watch as Palestinians are robbed of their religious freedom.”

On October 30, 2013, SJP OSU posted an Al-Jazeera article on Facebook titled “Shutdown of Al-Aqsa mosque a ‘declaration of war’ say Palestinian leaders.”

Supporting an Anti-Israel Agitator

On December 25, 2017, SJP OSU posted to Facebook: “#FreeAhedTamimi” and attached an article titled: “Israel has transferred Ahed Tamimi to three different detention facilities in the last five days even though she has not yet been charged with a crime.”

On December 24, 2017, SJP OSU tweeted: “#FreeAhedTamimi.”

Ahed Tamimi was detained after she was filmed punching and kicking Israeli soldiers. She has a long history of physically attacking Israeli soldiers.

Tamimi is the daughter of Bassem Tamimi, who is notorious for exploiting young children as political props in staged confrontations with Israeli soldiers. In 2011, he was jailed for organizing violent rallies and inciting minors to commit violent crimes such as rock-throwing.

Spreading Hatred of Israel

On November 6, 2015, SJP OSU posted an article on Facebook that accused Israel of harvesting Palestinians’ organs.

On October 2, 2014, SJP OSU posted a graphic on Facebook that read” “#JSIL.” The post linked to an Al Jazeera social media stream post that spread an effort by Twitter users “to rebrand Israel as [Islamic State and the Levant] ISIL, renaming it “The Jewish State of Israel in the Levant.”

On September 26, 2014, SJP OSU posted on Facebook a graphic featuring a series of maps that presented lands once controlled by Britain, Egypt and Jordan as autonomous “Palestinian land,” purportedly stolen by Israel. SJP OSU alsofeatured these maps as part of their mock “apartheid wall” during Israeli Apartheid Week.

In February of 2016, publisher McGraw-Hill Education recalled and destroyed copies of a college level textbook that contained copies of the fraudulent maps. In October 2015, the United States cable news network MSNBC apologized for airing a similar series of maps and retracted them.

On April 6, 2014, SJP OSU promoted on Facebook their hosting of Birzeit University’s Right to Education tour.

The Right to Education campaign brings Palestinian university students to U.S. campuses to spread a libel that Israel is obstructing the rights of Palestinians to higher education. This claim mischaracterizes Israeli security sweeps to shut down terror cells operating on Palestinian campuses.

Demonizing Free Trips to Israel

On April 4, 2016, SJP OSU shared a quote on Facebook from an article demonizing the Birthright Jewish heritage tour. The article claimed that Birthright was “violent” on that “To make Birthright fun and safe means eradicating an Arab populace.”

The article also said that “Birthright is the erasure of our right to our homeland, and it promises our homeland to one in four students at this university.”

On February 22, 2016, SJP OSU promoted a poster on Facebook that condemned a free trip to Israel awarded to Oscar nominees. The poster declared: “Free Trip To Israel At The Expense of Palestinians” and “#SkiptheTrip, Don’t endorse Israel Apartheid.”

Pushing BDS on Campus

SJP OSU pushed a divestment resolution presented by OSU Divest to the University Student Government (USG) on March 23, 2016. The resolution, which targeted companies the group claimed were “complicit in human rights violations,” failed in a secret ballot by 21-9 votes with 15 abstentions.

During the pre-vote discussion of the bill, OSU Divest members accused Israel of “apartheid” and claimed that presidential election candidates were “paraded to AIPAC to pledge allegiance to a foreign government.”

On April 6, 2016, SJP OSU joined other groups staging a “sit-in” in front of OSU President Michael Drake’s office, as part of a “#ReclaimOSU” campaign. The campaign demanded “complete, comprehensive and detailed access to the Ohio State budget and investments immediately.”

Following repeated discussions and warnings, the university released a statement declaring the groups’ occupation of the premises illegal. Police were called in to prevent access to the building past closing time.

Attacking Anti-BDS Bill

On October 13, 2017, SJP OSU tweeted: “ATTENTION: There is an anti- BDS resolution that is in the process of being passed here in Ohio.” The tweet referred to Ohio bill H.C.R 10, which condemned the BDS movement and “manifestations” of anti-Semitism.

On October 16, 2017, SJP OSU tweeted: “Hearing for anti-BDS house bill has been delayed until further notice please RT and spread the word.”

SJP OSU also tweeted: “Further details about submitting written testimonials also coming in the next couple days as well! Stay tuned!”

On October 28, 2017, SJP OSU tweeted: “Breaking: just released the hearing for the anti bds bill in the state legislature is THIS Wednesday at 9:30 am, RT and tell your friends.”

SJP OSU also tweeted that students should send in a written testimony against the bill, to tell “them you’re against this bill,” and to “share with friends.”

H.C.R 10 was adopted by the Ohio House of Representatives on December 5, 2017.

Promoting Terrorist Rasmea Odeh

In November 2014, SJP OSU promoted on Facebook a solidarity rally for Rasmea Odeh.

Odeh was a key military operative with the terrorist group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). In 1969, Odeh masterminded a PFLP bombing that killed two college students in a Jerusalem supermarket. Odeh also attempted to bomb the British consulate.

Odeh confessed, in a highly detailed account, the day following her arrest. In a 2004 documentary, one of Odeh’s co-conspirators directly implicated her as the mastermind.

On 1970, an Israeli court tried and convicted Odeh for her involvement in both bombings and sentenced her to life imprisonment. However, Odeh was released 10 years later, in a prisoner swap and emigrated to the United States.

On November 10, 2014, a Michigan federal jury convicted Odeh for immigration fraud because she failed to disclose her prior conviction and life sentence on her immigration application. On March 12, 2015, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

On February 26, 2016, Odeh’s immigration fraud case was sent back to the district court, to examine whether trauma-related repressed memories contributed to Odeh’s failure to disclose her prior conviction.

On March 23, 2017, Odeh accepted a plea deal where she would be initially deported to Jordan and lose her U.S. citizenship in exchange for avoiding jail time.


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