On 24 February, the Northeastern University chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) distributed mock eviction notices to dorms around campus to raise awareness of Israel’s systemic demolition of Palestinian homes.
The action, which was modeled on similar demonstrations on other campuses and launched in conjunction with the first day of Israel Apartheid Week (IAW), drew harsh criticism from campus Jewish groups and university administrators. One letter published on the campus Hillel’s website said that the mock notices “alarmed and intimidated students in their homes.”
Following a formal police investigation, the university pursued disciplinary actions against two members and suspended the entire Northeastern SJP for at least a year. The student group subsequently appealed the university’s decision and organized a public campaign to protest the suspension. After weeks of petitions, protests, phone calls, and picket lines, on 23 April, Northeastern SJP received a letter from the university’s vice president, agreeing to reverse the decision as long as the group took certain mutually agreed-upon steps.
According to its website, IAW “seeks to raise awareness about Israel’s apartheid policies” and to “build support for the growing Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.” This year was IAW’s tenth anniversary, and from 24 February to 2 March, college students across the United States joined with Palestinians and activists all over the world to build on the momentum of the American Studies Association boycott and the media sensation surrounding Scarlett Johansson’s high-profile endorsement of SodaStream. (See Palestine Unbound from JPS 171 for more on Johansson and document D1 in this issue for more on the 2014 IAW.)
Below is a reproduction of the mock eviction notice that the Northeastern SJP distributed. A cartoon about the controversy that artist Carlos Latuff published on his blog on 27 March 2014 can be found above.