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Under Governor Ron DeSantis’s direction, Florida has become the first US state to prohibit a pro-Palestinian student group, following allegations of its national leadership endorsing Hamas’ attack on Israel.

The State University System of Florida mandated the disbandment of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters as part of its measures against campus events deemed to be offering “harmful support for terrorist groups.” Chancellor Ray Rodrigues conveyed to university authorities, “Based on the National SJP’s support of terrorism, in consultation with Governor DeSantis, the student chapters must be deactivated.”

According to Rodrigues, at least two Florida universities, namely the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and Florida State University in Tallahassee, have active SJP chapters. The decision follows heightened tensions on US campuses due to confrontations between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian students, particularly in the aftermath of the Hamas-led October 7 attack on Israel and subsequent airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

National SJP faced criticism from several US educational institutions after labeling the Hamas attack as “a historic win for the Palestinian resistance” and rallying for a “day of resistance” on October 12, which saw demonstrations across over 200 colleges in the US and Canada.

The decision to ban the SJP was also influenced by a “toolkit” from the national organization, which depicted Hamas’ attack as “the resistance,” asserting that “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement.”

Chancellor Rodrigues clarified that the National SJP’s association with the Hamas attack equated to providing material backing to a recognized foreign terrorist organization, a felonious act under Florida law.


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