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The Florida University System Chancellor called for state campus groups associated with the National Students for Justice in Palestine organization to disband Wednesday, Oct. 25, in response to state Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

Chancellor Ray Rodrigues sent a memo to school leaders, informing them that two institutions — the University of South Florida and the University of Florida — had active National SJP chapters and called for them to be deactivated, adding that there would be penalties if the groups didn’t disband. 

The recent Israel-Hamas war commenced Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel with explosives, killing thousands. The same day, the leader of Hamas’ military, Mohammed Deif, introduced their mission, naming it “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.”

Rodrigues stated in the memo that the National SJP released a “toolkit” that called Operation Al-Aqsa Flood “the resistance” and said “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.”

According to Florida’s sole Jewish lawmaker, State Representative Randy Fine, he was the one who pushed for DeSantis to penalize campus groups promoting anti-Israel. DeSantis then moved for the state university system to ban those groups, claiming they violated Florida’s law, stating it was a felony to “knowingly provide material…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,” Rodrigues said in the memo.

Rodrigues noted DeSantis has condemned Hamas’ attacks against Israeli people and expressed support for Israel, which clashes with the organization’s “support of terrorism.”

While Fine is grateful for DeSantis’ recent push against antisemitism, he noted that the governor’s efforts occurred later than they should have. Accordingly, Fine dropped his support for the governor’s presidential candidacy and endorsed Donald Trump. Fine went off on DeSantis in an X post (formerly Twitter), asking why the governor waited until he lost his support.

“Why did it take me endorsing [Donald Trump] to get you to take action? I gave you all of this on October 9th,” Fine wrote. “I have the texts. All I got back was a bunch of handwringing. While I am glad it is happening now, it is sad that you couldn’t do the right thing because it was the right thing and only did it to minimize the political fallout of today’s events.”

The Israel-Hamas war has impacted college campuses across the nation. 

Some students, donors, instructors and staff members have picked sides and formulated opinions on the war, causing a clash. According to Politico, the University of Pennsylvania has lost some top donors, who feel the university wasn’t acting to combat antisemitism on its campus.

A New York University student named Ryna Workman, a Black NYU Law student and the now-former Student Bar Association president whose pronouns are they/them, wrote a letter on behalf of SBA, blaming Israel for Hamas’ attacks. In the letter, they wrote, “Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.” Ryna was subjected to a no-confidence vote by NYU’s student body.

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