Commentary: Refugees and Students of Middle Eastern Descent Fueling Anti-Semitism on Tennessee Campuses

Shortly after fall 2016 classes started at UT Knoxville, The Algemeiner, an online Jewish newspaper, posted a lengthy article describing a “ring of anti-Israel students” at UTK they claim has “created a ‘cesspool’ of antisemitism and racist behavior” initially discovered by an investigative group called “Canary Mission.”

Students were identified mostly through their tweets spreading extreme racist and anti-Jewish messages through two campus groups – Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA).

SJP is described by the Anti-Defamation League as the “primary organizer of anti-Israel events on U.S. college campuses.” The SJP chapter at UTK was started by Amira Sakalla born in the U.S. but describes herself as a Palestinian-American. The SJP chapter at Vanderbilt University was started by Arkansas native Hytham Al-Hindi whose father immigrated from Jordan to the U.S.

Tweets from current and former students at MTSU, Memphis University and Southwest TN Community College were also discovered with messages like “Israel is a terror state we need a new Hitler”, “May Allah annihilate the Jewish dogs” and “contemplating if we should get another Hitler to put you in concentration camps and wipe you all out.” Some of the students were members of their campus MSA organization.

According to a study of over 100 campuses released by watchdog group AMCHA Initiative, colleges with the largest population of Jewish students experienced a 45% increase of anti-semitic incidents on their campuses in the first half of 2016. The study noted that, “the presence of one or more active anti-Zionist student groups such as SJP was strongly associated with the occurrence of overall antisemitic activity generally, and with incidents that targeted Jewish students for harm in particular.”

One prolific student tweeter at UTK involved with both the SJP and MSA organizations there included in The Algemeiner article is Drost Kokoye. She is an Iraqi refugee who as a young child, was resettled in Nashville with her family.

Kokoye doesn’t confine her anti-Israel activities to campus or twitter. She has led anti-Israel demonstrations in Nashville with protesters carrying signs reading the genocidal message “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” meaning there would be no Israel between the Jordan River and Mediterranean—and no Jews.

Kokoye also tweets her rejection of both the U.S. Constitution and identification as an American.
SJP, MSA and pro-Palestinian activists insist that they stand in solidarity with the oppressed. They insist that their particular brand of anti-Israel hate rhetoric and protest tactics are in support of Palestinian human rights – just like this UTK student:


You be the judge.


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