Florida Bans Chapters of Pro-Palestinian Student Group at State Universities

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At least two active chapters of a pro-Palestinian student group at the State University System (SUS) of Florida have been ordered to disband by state officials amid the war between the militant group Hamas and Israel.

A letter addressed to SUS presidents from Chancellor Ray Rodrigues calls for deactivating student chapters of the group National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The decision was made based on National SJP’s support of terrorism and in consultation with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), according to the letter.

“In response, and leading up to a ‘Day of Resistance,’ the National Students for Justice in Palestine released a ‘toolkit’ which refers to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood as ‘the resistance’ and unequivocally states: ‘Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement,’” Rodrigues said. “It is a felony under Florida law to ‘knowingly provide material support … to a designated foreign terrorist organization …’ Here, National SJP has affirmatively identified it is part of the Operation Al-Aqsa Flood — a terrorist led attack.”

The chapter may form another organization that complies with Florida state statutes and university policies, Rodrigues wrote. In this case, a waiver for fall deadlines should be granted.

The system, the governor’s office, and the SUS Board of Governors will strengthen oversight of campus demonstrations that delve beyond protected First Amendment speech and into “harmful support of terrorist groups.” This could include employment actions and suspensions for school staff, Rodrigues concluded.

Since the war started nearly three weeks ago, there have been 1,400 Israeli deaths and 6,546 Palestinian deaths, reports The Associated Press. The war is a point of contention on many campuses. This month, a Harvard University student group faced backlash for an anti-Israel statement, and prominent University of Pennsylvania donors criticized school officials over its response to the Hamas attack on Israel.