Oct 24 (Reuters) – The Florida university system, working with Governor Ron DeSantis, on Tuesday ordered universities to close a pro-Palestinian student organization, becoming the first state in the United States to outlaw the group whose national leadership backed the Hamas attack against Israel.
The Florida State University System said Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters had to be dismantled as part of a Republican-led state “crackdown” on campus protests that provide “harmful support to groups.” terrorists.”
“Based on the National JEP’s support for terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, student chapters must be deactivated,” system Chancellor Ray Rodrigues wrote in a memo to university leaders.
SJP is active at at least two Florida universities, Rodrigues said.
The University of North Florida in Jacksonville and Florida State University in Tallahassee have SJP chapters, based on Instagram sites. The National JEP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Tensions between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students have led to harassment and attacks at American universities since the October 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s siege and bombing of the Gaza Strip.
Administrators at some American universities criticized the National SJP after it called the Hamas attack “a historic victory for the Palestinian resistance” and called for a “day of resistance” on October 12 with demonstrations by its sections at more than 200 universities. in the United States and Canada. .
White House candidate DeSantis has taken a hard line against the Palestinians, suggesting that Gaza civilians be denied water and public services until Hamas releases the hostages it took during its attack.
The Florida university system said it based its ban on SJP on a “toolkit” issued by the national organization to chapters that referred to the Hamas attack as “the resistance” and stated that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement.”
In his memo, Rodrigues said that the National SJP was identified as part of the Hamas attack and that it was a felony under Florida law to “provide material support… to a designated foreign terrorist organization.”
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