In October, The Collegiate Commons attended a series of protests held by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Butler University. The College Republicans (CR) at Butler University were present at an opposing protest on Oct. 12, supporting the Jewish community in mourning those killed by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7. Afterwards, CR released a statement condemning SJP’s protest. The members of SJP then reported CR to the University alleging discrimination, which the University is currently investigating.
In actuality, CR simply pointed out the hard truth. In SJP leadership’s zeal to support the cause of Palestinian liberation and self-determination, they stepped too far and chose to justify the massacre of Israelis simply by virtue of their national origin.
As such, the university should not only close their investigation and apologize to the College Republicans, but they should direct SJP leadership to take down their post falsely accusing CR of racism and Islamophobia and reprimand them for justifying violence against people of certain nationalities in accordance with their non-discrimination policy, as they would had any other group done the same.
The facts about SJP and the protest
Despite SJP’s claim that CR’s statement was “dangerous rhetoric” that “pushes stereotypes of Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians as barbaric, violent, and sexually deviant,” CR never once made a sweeping accusation against Palestinians or Muslims. They only condemned the well-documented actions of Hamas, including rape, as well as the students that tried to justify the group.
“Their chants attempt to justify the cold-blooded attacks by an internationally-designated terrorist organization on innocent civilians trying to live peaceful lives,” the CR statement said. According to the statement, video from The Daily Signal, and eyewitnesses we spoke to, one of those chants may have included the phrase “not a victim, not a crime.” The video is not entirely conclusive, but readers are free to view it and make up their own minds. Regardless, SJP’s better-documented actions and statements are evidence enough of their intent.
SJP’s first statement about the protest, released four days after Hamas’s massacre of Israelis, referred to Hamas as “Palestinian fighters” and said “this Palestinian response is a result of 75 years of Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine.” The statement also said that Palestinians had the “right to resist colonization.”
If that is not evidence enough of SJP justifying violence, the main advertisement for their protest, written under the banner of Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER) Coalition Indiana, was even clearer on the intentions of the protest.
The ANSWER Coalition was formed three days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to oppose any U.S. response to the attack; later, they organized opposition to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The national coordinator for ANSWER is also a founder of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), a self-identified communist political party.
“Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance…” their statement said, referring to Hamas’s massacre the day prior. “This is what it means to Free Palestine: not just slogans and rallies, but armed confrontation with the oppressors.”
It is clear they are not actually anti-war, but rather apologists for the violence of groups they support. These groups coincide with the aims of PSL leadership and authoritarian regimes that oppose the U.S.
“Resistance to apartheid and fascist-type oppression is not a crime,” PSL’s national statement said, referring to events of Oct. 7. “It is the inevitable outcome for all people who demand self-determination rather than living with the boot-heel of the oppressors on their necks,” also specifically calling their actions a “morally and legally legitimate response to occupation.”
Members of PSL – Indianapolis, another co-host of the protest, repeated some of the same rhetoric during the event and at successive protests.
This rhetoric of decolonization is not just a call for violence against Jewish people in Israel; it is a call for violence against anyone they label an oppressor.
Free speech (and no consequences) for me, but not for thee
SJP leadership appears to not only want the right to justify violence against people of certain nationalities, but to also take away the right of CR and others to criticize them without fear of harassment or institutional backlash. Doubtless, if The Collegiate Commons were a registered student organization at Butler University, we would be subject to the same inquisition, as SJP called The Collegiate Commons out as well for titling an article about their protests “While Indianapolis mourns with Israel, some students celebrate violence.”
SJP themselves recognized the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “not an issue of religion,” and to turn around in the same statement and blame all criticism of them on Islamophobia and racism is a despicable way to devalue such claims for those who are actually victims of discrimination.
This represents an unfortunate pattern by many students and groups that claim to support diversity, equity, and inclusion since Oct. 7.
At Indiana University-Bloomington
The president of the Indiana University Student Government (IUSG), Aaliyah Raji, is one such example. After claiming Jewish students, which makes up around 10% of the student body at Indiana University-Bloomington, were “playing the victim” after the Oct. 7 massacres, she blamed accusations of antisemitism leveled against her as “an attack based on… [her] intersecting identities” as a “Black Muslim woman.”
Raji’s statement becomes even less credible when you realize one of the individuals it was leveled against was her own administration’s former Co-Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Makiah Pickett, who resigned in protest of Raji, claiming that Raji was “intentionally neglecting the experience of Jewish students on campus.”
At Indiana University-Indianapolis
The Collegiate Commons has not been immune from this assault on freedom of speech using false claims of discrimination. Outside of SJP’s false accusations of Islamophobia, multiple individuals have attempted to scare us from writing any more articles exposing the statements made by pro-Palestine activists on the Indiana University-Indianapolis campus and in the city.
During the initial protest, a middle-aged individual got in an editorial board member’s face, tried to take their camera and attempted to involve the police to stop him from recording the protest before the officer told him it was perfectly legal to record public events.
The Collegiate Commons Staff wrote an editorial addressing verbal attacks made against an editorial board member by an officer of the Middle Eastern Student Association at a student government meeting two months ago.
Additionally, on Nov. 13, presumably after leaving an IUPUI Students for Socialism event, Elizabeth Valencia, a Muslim Unitarian graduate student from the Christian Theological Seminary (which is located on the campus of Butler University) was recorded with a group attempting to intimidate a lone editorial board member at a tabling event for around an hour if The Collegiate Commons published another article exposing the statements made by pro-Palestinian protestors or releasing the recording of what she said.
“We’re sharing your name so that people know to find you because you are in our spaces…” Valencia said. “I’m going to tell you what I’m a go look for your articles and I’m a fucking print them and I’m going to give them out to people and I’m going to tell them this is the guy. [He] is right here at IUPUI. Go and fucking talk to him too. We’d like to be wrong.”
According to her LinkedIN profile, Valencia is a member of the IUPUI Liberal Arts Board of Alumni, although she is not listed on their website as a member any longer as of publication of this article.
A.T., another individual involved in the confrontation (whose name we will not publish in this article, as a courtesy), also denied the atrocities of Hamas in the course of the conversation, claiming that in Muslim war ethics “raping, fucking killing women, hurting women, hurting children, all of that is off the fucking table, right? But you know who allows that shit? Christians.”
This smear, brought on after Valencia asked if the editorial board member was a Christian and commented on her distaste for “Western Christianity,” is an actual example of the religious and ethnic intolerance of which the same group falsely accused The Collegiate Commons.
We hope for peace
Let us be clear. The Collegiate Commons itself is a politically and religiously diverse group. We do not endorse politicians, political parties, or bills, and our contributors certainly have diverse and nuanced views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a whole. Our editorial focus, however, is based around Christian social teaching.
If pro-Palestine, pro-Israel, or pro-neither students would like their voices heard, we once again reiterate our call for those interested to write a letter to the editor using the submit form on our website.
As a whole, we pray for peace and respect for human life and dignity – especially of innocent children – in both Israel and Palestine, but we recognize that will likely only come if Hamas returns all of the civilian hostages they kidnapped, which include not only children and the elderly, but people of multiple nationalities, as well as Jewish people, Muslims, and Christians. We also pray for our many Christian brothers and sisters caught in the middle of the conflict in Gaza and elsewhere.
We pray for peace in central Indiana as well. The tribalism, both ethnic and religious, that has infected our discourse as of late has given us a taste of what politics are like in the Middle East. Christians should reject this. We should reject this. God does not show partiality, and Christians ought not to either (Romans 2:11, Galatians 3:28, Romans 9:8).
The founder of Butler University, Ovid Butler, a Christian abolitionist and newspaper publisher, was well aware of this, and he would be concerned to see Butler University permitting such partiality and showing it themselves.
“[My desire is that the university] occupy a position in the front ranks of human progress and Christian civilization as the Experiment and Advocate of the common rights of humanity without distinction on account of sex, race or color,” Butler wrote. “[This] position recognized the absolute equity before God and before the Law of the individual members of the human family.”
Doubtless, Butler would emphasize that there is no excuse for justifying violence against others on the basis of their nationality, regardless of the race or religion of the speaker. A staunch Republican himself, he would likely praise the College Republicans for doing so in his stead.
Since he is no longer around and his university has decided to treat CR as the offenders, The Collegiate Commons will do it for him.
Thank you for speaking out and defending the values your university claims to stand for.
Today it might be Israelis and the Jewish people that are subject to this rhetoric excusing violence against them, but from history we know that it never stops there. If Christians allow it to go unchecked now, they can expect no one to be left to speak for them when, not if, the marxists and fascists of the world decide that they are the oppressor that needs to be overthrown.
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran pastor and theologian (1946)