Activist Groups Trained Students for Months Prior to Protests

You don’t really believe that those protests sprang up from nothing to engulf the nation, do you?

According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, activist individuals and groups  — some of whose experience goes back to the 1960s — had been helping to plan and train students in protest tactics going all the way back to March 2023.

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At Columbia University, student organizers consulted with National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) as well as Black Lives Matter and other left-wing groups experienced in organizing protests.

The students researched past protests at Columbia, as well as the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They attended a “teach-in” conducted by veterans of the Black Lives Matter protests. 

“We took notes from our elders, engaged in dialogue with them and analyzed how the university responded to previous protests,” said Sueda Polat, a graduate student and organizer in the pro-Palestinian encampment at Columbia. 

As early as October, NSJP was promoting a “day of resistance” with protests at colleges. It appears that the nationwide network of loosely connected radical-left activist groups that activates every time there’s a “cause” to agitate for latched on to the divestment issue promoted by NSJP and ran with it.

Where are they getting the money?

For the last decade, donations to NSJP have been received and administered by the Wespac Foundation, according to Howard Horowitz, Wespac’s board chairman. The donations are passed on to NSJP “for projects in the United States,” he said, declining to provide further details. 

Wespac, a nonprofit based in Westchester County near New York City, is decades old, according to its website. It has supported humanitarian causes, as well as organizations that propagate antisemitism, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Wespac has posted support of pro-Palestinian protests on social media and posted videos in which protesters held signs that refer to President Biden as “Genocide Joe.”

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 A representative for Wespac, Robert Herbst, said, “Wespac has not coordinated, trained or strategized with protest participants, nor do we support organizations that have supported violence, antisemitism or terrorism.” 

At a planning session for the protests at Columbia last March, the student organizers heard from activists from the Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network (“Samidoun”). The Vancouver British Columbia-based group celebrated the October 7 attack on Israeli civilians and gave the lie to Wepac’s pious denials of supporting terrorism.

 Samidoun coordinator Charlotte Kates said, “There is nothing wrong with being a member of Hamas, being a leader of Hamas, being a fighter in Hamas. These are the people that are on the front lines defending Palestine.”

The stupid children they are weaponizing in their genocidal fight with Israel don’t have a clue.

The Journal reports that “The German government banned the group last November after saying it supported terrorism and antisemitism, and incited the use of violence to enforce political interests.”

Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago who studies political violence, said outside organizers are only one factor in the protests. He said they are successfully leveraging student anger over the violence in Gaza, which many young people not conversant in the region’s complicated history are watching on social media.

Anne-Marie Jardine, a student arrested in a protest at the University of Texas at Austin, said images from the war on social media helped motivate her involvement in the movement. “It’s one thing to hear it on the news, but another to see children covered in blood,” she said. 

Pape said university and national leaders should expect protests to continue through the summer and fall. “You have a major dynamic happening in the world that is a major concern,” Pape said.

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Somewhat forgotten in all of this fervor for Palestine are the Jewish students who feel unsafe walking around their own campus.

Jacob Schmeltz, a senior political science major at Columbia, went home to Montclair, N.J., for Passover and hasn’t returned.

“This should be the time I should be able to enjoy my senior year,” he said. “But instead I have felt so rejected by much of the Columbia community that have refused to call out the incidents of antisemitism on campus.”

The promise to disrupt graduations is likely to bring more unrest to campuses. And given how organized this movement is, it’s not going away anytime soon.

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