Paul Sperry: War College: How a Berkeley Professor Inspired and Engineered Anti-Israel Protests

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This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire

By Paul Sperry, RealClearInvestigations

Echoing the Muslim prophet Muhammad, Professor Hatem Bazian, a University of California, Berkeley lecturer, told his fellow Muslims: “The Day of Judgment will never happen until you fight the Jews.”

At the Santa Clara conference sponsored by the American Muslim Alliance, Bazian exhorted the crowd: “They are on the west side of the river, which is the Jordan River, and you’re on the east side until the trees and the stones will say, ‘Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him!’ And that’s in the Hadith [the sayings and deeds of Muhammad] about this. This is a future battle before the Day of Judgment.”

Bazian’s threatening prophecy from 1999 might be lost to history but for the central role he has been playing in the anti-Israel protests that have erupted at college campuses. Two groups he helped create, Students for Justice in Palestine and American Muslims for Palestine, have been instrumental in organizing the demonstrations. In recent months he has visited the encampments from coast to coast, exhorting students to condemn Israel for launching counterstrikes in Gaza after marauding Hamas terrorists attacked and slaughtered more than 1,200 Israelis in October and took hundreds of others captive, including several Americans. Bazian has urged students to call on administrators and national leaders to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza, whom he claims are victims of a “genocide” carried out by the Israeli government.

Although many opponents of Israel’s war against Hamas deny that their movement is tied to antisemitism, critics say Bazian’s deep involvement in the protests and his long history of inflammatory rhetoric against the Jewish people puts that claim in doubt. “The campus unrest is being driven by people with a very troubling past,” said Jon Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury counterterrorism official. “They’re trying to legitimize Hamas.”

Drawing on a wide array of public records, RealClearInvestigations found that Bazian has been agitating against Jews and Israel on college campuses for decades. His 1999 exhortation of Holy War between Muslims and Jews was part of a larger pattern of words and deeds in which he sought to radicalize young Americans against the Jewish people. Bazian’s history – and the top place he holds in the ongoing turmoil – also reveal the key role he’s long planned for America’s institutions of higher learning to play in mainstreaming and spreading ideas that many people consider hateful.

A Palestinian immigrant, Bazian was born in the West Bank town of Nablus and attended high school in Jordan. He graduated from San Francisco State University and then moved to Berkeley, where he chairs the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project.

Upon arriving at Berkeley in 1993, Bazian helped start the first college chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine – whose national organization says it supports more than 350 “Palestinian solidarity organizations.” In 2006, he co-founded its umbrella organization, American Muslims for Palestine. “We support campus activism through Students for Justice in Palestine,” AMP states on its website.

“AMP is directly involved in the campus chaos,” Schanzer said, by helping coordinate protests at colleges where its SJP outposts operate. AMP provides funding and guidance for the chapters for, among other things, holding anti-Israel “teach-ins,” erecting pro-Palestinian tables, crafting media “talking points,” and creating flyers and placards for the campus encampments and occupations that demonize Israel and sanitize Hamas atrocities as “resistance.”

As AMP’s chairman, Bazian has visited several encampments, including at the University of Pennsylvania, San Diego State University, UC-San Diego, University of San Francisco and UC-Berkeley, where his acolytes have set up a “Gaza Solidarity Camp.” RCI’s review of videos posted on social media of his encampment talks reveals he’s instructed students not to be “nice” while protesting, because he said being polite won’t get the attention of college administrators or President Biden, whom he demands divest from Israel and pressure Israel to withdraw from Gaza.

Meanwhile, his organization, which employs a full-time campus outreach coordinator, is under both federal and state investigation for ties to Hamas, and is also a defendant in a major new lawsuit brought by survivors of the Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack.

A Richardson, Texas-based lawyer representing Bazian and AMP did not reply to requests for comment. After also reaching out to Bazian directly, RCI’s messages went unanswered. Bazian has a history of seeming to endorse, or even call for, violence, and then denying doing so. In 2004, while Hamas was leading a deadly resistance, or “intifada,” in Israel that included suicide bombers, Bazian reportedly called for an “intifada” inside America while addressing a largely Muslim crowd at an anti-Iraq war rally.

“Are you angry? Are you angry?! Well, we’ve been watching intifada in Palestine,” Bazian shouted. “How come we don’t have an intifada in this country?”

“They’re going to say [I’m] some Palestinian being radical – well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet,” he added. “It’s about time we have an intifada in this country!”

He later claimed his remarks were meant to incite only a “political intifada” inside this country, not violent revolt. Last month, while rallying protestors at a University of San Francisco encampment, Bazian again called  for “intifada,” asking students, “Can you all say intifada?”

“Intifada!” protesters shouted back.

Speaking to students gathered outside tents at the same USF rally, Bazian encouraged the forceful taking and “holding” of campus buildings as protesters did at Columbia University before New York police stormed the facility and removed them. Recruiting new protesters, he bellowed, “Let me say we welcome agitators for justice. We celebrate courage and continue to make changes because a free Palestine is a reality that is waiting to be actualized. Free Palestine! Don’t let anyone stop you from making history!”

Student protesters have echoed his rhetoric that Hamas has the right to “resist” Israel by resorting to violence.

On Oct. 7 – the same day as the horrific attacks on Israel which included the murder of hundreds of innocent youths attending a music festival – the flagship Berkeley chapter of Students for Justice In Palestine released a statement with SJP chapters at dozens of other colleges pledging their “unwavering support of the resistance in Gaza … We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Palestine.” Bazian’s flagship group made it clear it was honoring “our comrades in blood and arms” fighting on the ground in Gaza – that is, Hamas – and warned that “what is coming is greater. Victory or martyrdom.”

Parroting Hamas’ rhetoric for annihilating Israel, they then pronounced: “From River to Sea, glory to the Palestinian resistance and glory to our martyrs.” Berkeley’s SJP chapter later held a vigil for “martyrs in Palestine” killed during and after the bloody anti-Israel incursion.

According to an FBI memo, one of the founders of Hamas has stated, “Hamas is a Palestinian Jihad movement that strives for the liberation of all Palestine, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the river [Jordan], from the north to the south,” a goal that would erase Israel from the map.

An NPR report earlier this month on the meaning of intifada – an Arabic word that can mean to “shake off” or “uprising” – quoted people who say it is inextricably related to violence and those who say it is not.

Basil Rodriguez, whom NPR identified as a Palestinian American graduate student at Columbia, told the network: “For me, it just speaks to liberation. To free Palestine from the [Israeli] apartheid regime, and the military occupation. For me it calls for freedom and for change.”

Eliana Goldin, whom NPR identified as a Jewish undergraduate and leader of a pro-Israel group at Columbia, said “The word ‘intifada’ was only associated with death and terrorism and destruction. So ‘intifada’ still feels just as charged as if someone were to say Holocaust. Or if someone were to mention any sort of catastrophe that happened against a people that you consider yourself a part of.”

Schanzer, the former Treasury official, agreed. “When they’re calling for an ‘intifada,’ they’re calling for a violent uprising,” he said. “These are things we commonly associate with Hamas rhetoric.”

The next day, Oct. 8, while pockets of Hamas terrorists inside Israel’s borders were still killing, raping, and kidnapping civilians, the National Students for Justice in Palestine, which is controlled by the AMP, distributed a “Resistance Toolkit” that celebrated Hamas’ war crimes as “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: Across land, air and sea, our people have broken down the artificial barriers” separating Gaza from Israel.

Adopting Bazian’s language about “actualiz[ing]” the creation of a Palestinian state, the toolkit continued to exalt Hamas: “Our people are actualizing revolution. Palestine will be liberated from the river to the sea.” By our people, it meant “our people back home” in Gaza.

Then the toolkit rationalized Hamas’ brutal terrorist tactics, arguing “there is no ‘right’ way for Palestinians to fight.” It added that the Israelis who were murdered were not “civilians” and that their “death falls solely on the zionist entity.”

The toolkit went on to praise the “ingenuity” of Hamas terrorists for capturing an Israeli bulldozer and using it “to breach the illegitimate border fence” and for “neutraliz[ing]” the barrier “in hours.”

“This action of resistance shatters the illusion of Israel as an impenetrable, indestructible entity,” the five-page document gushed while marveling at the “large-scale” battle marshaled by Hamas, which it noted was ongoing. “The resistance fighters are still launching new attacks into [Israel].”

Advocating further violence, the NSJP toolkit advised students that liberating Palestine “requires confrontation by any means necessary” — including “armed struggle,” not just slogans and rallies, which it asserted is “legitimate.” It provided templates of pro-Hamas graphics for student protesters to use for campus posters and other propaganda, including one depicting the Hamas terrorists paragliding into Israel to carry out their mass slaughter.

“We will also be having a ‘how to organize a protest,’ including roles, security, media training, and more, on the national call-in meeting on Oct. 9,” it advised.

In a chilling closing remark, NSJP confirmed it wasn’t just supporting from afar the Oct. 7 actions of Hamas – a specially designated terrorist organization – but was actually a “part” of its movement. “We as Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not [just] in solidarity with this movement,” NSJP averred.

The group’s toolkit spread through dorm rooms across the country thanks to social media, and soon anti-Israel protests broke out at major universities using the tactics and propaganda suggested by NSJP. For example:

  • Protesters at Tufts University called the terrorists “liberation fighters paragliding into occupied territory,” noting that Hamas had shown “the creativity necessary to take back stolen land.”

  • The rabble at Columbia University blamed Israel for the terror attacks, justifying the murder of women and children as provoked by Israeli “oppression.” Demonstrators could be heard chanting support for their “friends and brothers in Hamas,” and actually called on the terrorists to attack Israel again. “Never forget the 7th of October,” some taunted Jewish students. “That will happen … 10,000 more times!” The Anti-Defamation League, moreover, recorded explicit support for terrorism and violence at the Columbia encampment on April 17, when one protester declared: “We are Hamas,” while others chanted: “Al-Qassam [the name of Hamas’ military wing] you make us proud, kill another [Israeli] soldier now!”

  • At several other colleges, SJP-influenced protests featured chants such as “Resistance is justified” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” reflecting the same anti-Israel propaganda distributed by the Berkeley chapter of SJP in the immediate aftermath of Oct. 7.

Such militancy is the culmination of decades of grooming by Bazian. In a speech at the 2011 AMP conference in Chicago, he predicted college campuses would be ground zero in the battle for the “Palestine movement.” “The university is going to be the frontline and the pro-Israelis know this,” Bazian said. To that end, AMP expanded its operations on college campuses by founding the National Students for Justice in Palestine to better organize and fund chapters and recruit pro-Palestinian activists.

Some FBI veterans who have investigated the Hamas network of front groups in America say hard-core Muslim leaders like Bazian are brainwashing students into thinking they are part of a heroic struggle for “freedom,” but are merely co-opting them for their own anti-Jewish holy war.

“Bazian and other Muslim organizers keep framing these campus protests as a ‘human-rights’ struggle, when it’s clearly just another front in their religious war,” said former special FBI counterterrorism agent John Guandolo. “This isn’t about freeing Gaza or protecting Palestinian civilians,” he added. “This is about Islam and their hatred of Jews and fulfilling their scriptural commands. This is jihad.”

By hiding the religious element, he said, Bazian has managed to create an army of anti-Israel radicals at several hundred campuses across the country, many of whom are not even Muslim. He says they are being used as proxies in Hamas’ jihad, or holy war, against their Islamic enemy: the Jews. “Bazian is a senior leader in the jihadi movement in America,” Guandolo said. “He’s not on campus for the Chick-fil-A.”

A federal lawsuit recently filed by Oct. 7 families against AMP and NSJP alleges they “are not innocent advocacy groups, but rather the propaganda arm of a terrorist organization operating in plain sight” and “provide ongoing, continuous, systematic and material support for Hamas.” Acting as “agents” of Hamas in America, it claims, they are central command for the pro-Hamas campus protests and pose a dangerous threat to Jews in America.

It is illegal to provide material support to Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization that was founded in 1988 in the Gaza Strip to establish an “Islamic Palestinian State that encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza,” according to the 51-page internal FBI memo. Its covenants call for jihad to achieve the goal of destroying the Jewish state, while asserting this “armed struggle” against Jews is the duty of every Muslim. The FBI memo, written in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, noted that the Hamas leadership has launched several bloody “intifadas” targeting the Jewish people and told Palestinians they can “do whatever they want against the brothers of monkeys and pigs,” a phrase borrowed from the Muslim holy book the Quran to describe Jews.

In a previous statement, Bazian dismissed the lawsuit as “an Islamophobic text reeking in anti-Palestinian racism,” while his attorney Christy Jump insisted, “AMP operates fully within the laws of the United States.”

However, state and federal investigators are looking into whether Bazian’s AMP has crossed the line between legal activism and material support for terrorism. Virginia’s attorney general is investigating allegations AMP “may have used funds raised for impermissible purposes under state law, including benefiting or providing support to a terrorist organization,” referring to Hamas. AMP has denied the allegations and called them “defamatory.”

AMP’s troubles deepened last month when the House Oversight Committee launched a probe into AMP and its sister organization, the National Students for Justice in Palestine, over their allegedly “substantial ties to Hamas.” House investigators subpoenaed AMP for all documents and communications related to its funding of SJP’s college hubs and its support for Hamas and the Oct. 7 massacre. AMP was told to comply with the order by June 12. Asked if the nonprofit group would cooperate, Jump did not respond.

The federal lawsuit alleges AMP and NSJP are radicalizing students by exploiting their passions for “justice” and “human rights” in the Middle East, while hiding from them their religious extremism and true motive of targeting Jews in general.

“Through NSJP, AMP uses propaganda to intimidate, convince and recruit uninformed, misguided and impressionable college students to serve as foot soldiers for Hamas on campus and beyond,” according to the court filing. Part of their goal, it alleges, is to “establish an environment where violence against Jews could be construed as acceptable.”

Others worry they are grooming junior terrorists and that their mass movement across campuses, which is becoming increasingly violent, could end in armed confrontation on U.S. soil.

“When college students see that their marches and protests aren’t achieving their goals [of a ceasefire in Gaza and divestment from Israel], they may consider their next steps – which will be influenced by the company they have been keeping,” warned Steven Stalinsky, executive director of the Middle East Media Research Institute in Washington, D.C.

This article was originally published by RealClearInvestigations and made available via RealClearWire
Paul Sperry is an investigative reporter for RealClearInvestigations. He is also a longtime media fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Sperry was previously the Washington bureau chief for Investor’s Business Daily, and his work has appeared in the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Houston Chronicle, among other major publications.


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