When J Street U at UF was asked to endorse the vigil in memory of three Muslim students murdered at UNC Chapel Hill, our Executive Board unanimously gave its support. As an organization which supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — one Israeli, one Palestinian — we were shocked to find ourselves accused of supporting the “systematic murder of Muslims in Palestine and the Middle East” and as an organization that “actively perpetuates Islamophobia,” as Students for Justice in Palestine’s op-ed accused last week. Those hurtful statements reflect a deep misunderstanding of the principles for which J Street U stands. The piece also made a number of blanket statements that fail to distinguish the nuances between different Jewish and pro-Israel organizations, which have different strategies and missions. Our organization, J Street U, is the student organizing arm of J Street. We strongly support the well-being and self-determination of the Palestinian people, as well as Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state.
In fact, if one were to take a closer look at J Street U’s policies, they would discover that J Street U has released statements criticizing Israeli policy toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Our organization is dedicated to inclusivity and encourages students of all backgrounds to participate in advocating for a two-state solution. We denounce human rights abuses and do what we can to promote peace and security for all. SJP’s allegations are profoundly offensive.
One of J Street U’s immediate priorities is to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements over the Green Line, and we actively condemn the advancement of Israeli construction in the West Bank. J Street U believes that these unilateral actions systematically undermine the potential for a future Palestinian state — the establishment of which is vital to the security and freedom of both Israelis and Palestinians.
Though J Street U is not an explicitly nor exclusively Jewish organization, the Jewish community plays a crucial role in affecting change in Israel and the Palestinian territories. We, therefore, advocate for the two-state solution within the community, encouraging our peers and leaders to think critically about both Israel’s future and the rights of the millions of Palestinians currently under Israeli control in the West Bank.
At J Street and J Street U we often speak out on questions of politics and policy. However, we do not and will not capitalize on the tragedies of any community for “political gain.” We will continue to demonstrate our support for and solidarity with the Muslim community when they face hostility due to religious or political beliefs.
Blanket statements made about groups surrounding the conflict only lead to deepening arbitrary and unhelpful divides on campus. They do nothing to improve lives of students on campus or people around the world.
For those in the community uncertain about or unfamiliar with our work, we invite you to come speak with us. Come to our events. By all means, tell us where and why you disagree with us — we welcome discussion and debate. We would simply prefer to be criticized for beliefs we actually ascribe to — and not for rumors, myths or misconceptions.
Please direct any questions to JStreetUF@gmail.com
President and Co-Founder