The film is being released theatrically by Americans for Peace and
Tolerance (APT), a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to raising public
awareness about the increasingly hostile campus environment. "Hate
Spaces" premiered Nov. 30 in New York and will be screened at select
locations around the country. The film will also be available on DVD in
early 2017 and eventually on YouTube. (Click here to watch the trailer)
The film's title refers to the concept of "safe spaces" that has been
used to silence unpopular speech on universities around the United
Executive Producer Avi Goldwasser, who also wrote and directed "Hate
Spaces," first noticed the extent of the campus problem in 2004, when he
produced "Columbia Unbecoming." That film documented the intimidation
by Columbia University professors of Jewish students who supported
Israel. "Jewish students were abused by faculty members, and the
administration ignored it," Goldwasser told the Investigative Project on
Terrorism (IPT). "The abusing professor got tenure."
Indeed, anti-Israel lies, incitement and hate speech are often
tolerated under the banners of academic freedom and free speech. Last
September, for example, the University of California, Berkeley
reinstated a student-led course that presented a demonizing, one-sided
history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict after public outcry claimed
that free speech and academic freedom were jeopardized by the course's
suspension. In contrast, pro-Israel speech is attacked by Israel critics
who demand the right to have "safe spaces" free from "hate speech."
"Any support of Israel is hate speech!" one protestor in the film proclaims.
such as Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the Muslim Student
Association (MSA) and American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) leverage
their politically favored status to exercise rights and protections that
they try to deny their political opponents. At Northeastern University,
SJP violated school policies over a two-year period, including
"vandalism of university property, disrupting the events of other
student organizations, not getting the appropriate permits when
required, distributing unauthorized materials inside residence halls and
sliding them under the doors of private rooms, not providing a
'civility statement' which was required after a previous sanction [and]
not meeting with university advisers," according to Northeastern
spokeswoman Renata Nyul. (Screengrab via "Hate Spaces" trailer/Vimeo/via Charisma News)
"We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism, zero tolerance for racism
or any kind of hatred," Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun
said in the film, defending his school's decision to suspend SJP.
But SJP successfully reframed the school's response as suppression of
free speech and rallied public and media pressure until their
suspension was lifted. Thus, in an SJP-dominated campus, speech that
violates school policies and harasses Jews and Israel supporters is
protected as "free speech" rather than punished as "hate speech."
By contrast, critics of Islam have been silenced with accusations of
"hate speech" and "Islamophobia." In 2014, Brandeis University canceled a
speaking invitation and honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a
campaigner for women's rights and a fierce critic of Islam, after she
was branded an "Islamophobe" by the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR). Around the same time, CAIR used similar accusations to
stop the screening of a documentary on honor killings.
Meanwhile, Jewish students and organizations are targeted with
impunity, as feckless college administrators hesitate to take remedial
action (as happened at Connecticut College). One of the reasons for
their reluctance, the film suggests, is fear of jeopardizing
funding—collectively, over $1 billion over the last six years—from
Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Through brazen lies—like claiming that Israel "commits genocide" and
"apartheid"—SJP and MSA have created campus environments hostile to Jews
and pro-Israel students while suppressing support for Israel as "hate
"Hate Spaces" was a story that had to be told, Goldwasser said,
because "most people do not realize how the hostility is being
institutionalized, made fashionable by a combination of forces including
radical faculty, radical student organizations and an enabling
university administration. While many anti-Jewish incidents and the BDS
[boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel] campaign are reported
by the media, few are willing to connect the dots and report on the
underlying ideology and extremist organizations that are inciting the
The film shows how such campus hostility can reach as far as student
council meetings, events that should be focused on campus affairs and
otherwise far-removed from Middle East politics. It features UCLA
sophomore Rachel Beyda, who applied for a leadership position on the
Undergraduate Students Association Council. She was challenged by an
SJP-backed campaign that claimed her Jewish background would make her
biased when deciding sensitive campus issues. For about 40 minutes,
students questioned whether her Jewish identity would make her a less
fair-minded leader, even though three other students deciding her fate
had been similarly active in their respective communities (Iranian
students' group, the MSA and the Sikh students' group).
The film also highlights the extent of SJP's infiltration into
academia. The organization, which has ties to Muslim-Brotherhood-linked
groups, has chapters on more than 600 campuses. "Hate Spaces"
underscores how there is "sensitivity training" on many campuses for
just about every group ... but not when it comes to groups relating to
Jews or Israel.
The film includes footage of SJP founder Hatem Bazian calling for an
intifada in America during a 2004 San Francisco rally. In addition to
heading the University of California, Berkeley's Islamophobia Research
and Documentation Project, Bazian is AMP's founder and national chair.
AMP provides funding, printed materials (including "Apartheid walls" for
public demonstrations), and staff to SJP chapters.
"Hate Spaces" ... includes footage from an AMP event with several
disturbing quotes. "When I look at the people who fight with the Israeli
Occupation Forces," says AMP's Munjed Ahmad, in one example, "I don't
think we understand how many American Jews who were involved in the
assault of Gaza the past summer were American ... Of those people
massacring those 500 children and those civilians, there were American
Taher Herzallah asks: "What if as Muslims, we wanted to establish an
Islamic State? Is that wrong? What if, as Muslims, we wanted to use
violent means to resist occupation? Is that wrong?"
"Hate Spaces" attempts to explain how campuses became so hostile to
Israel. By manipulating identity politics, SJP created an anti-Israel
alliance of hard-left groups. They exploit the academically trendy
concept of "intersectionality"—the idea that all injustices are
interconnected—to demonize Israel and make common cause with activists
from totally unrelated movements, like the campaign to address police
also attracts well-meaning students concerned about equality and social
justice by portraying Palestinians as blameless victims of wholly
unjustified Israeli attacks. "What drew me to SJP was my motivation to
support equal human rights," one student says in the film. "I joined
them because I felt that the Palestinian people were being oppressed." (Screengrab via "Hate Spaces" trailer/Vimeo/via Charisma News)
Another student explains how "SJP deliberately works with
anti-Zionist Jewish organizations because working with those
organizations helps to immunize them ... against charges of bigotry and
anti-Semitism. It gives SJP cover."
"Hate Spaces" points out that student demographics have also helped
SJP, because tens of thousands of students from Muslim countries that
are traditionally hostile to Israel have arrived on U.S. college
campuses in recent years. As noted by a former-SJP activist interviewed
in the documentary, "There's definitely a lot of ethnic solidarity
between Muslims and Palestinians because [a] majority of the
Palestinians are Muslims, so it's almost like a brotherhood."
Goldwasser describes the intended audience for "Hate Spaces" as
"decent Americans, especially, those in leadership positions." He
believes that "once they are educated about this outrage on campus,
there is a chance that changes will be made. All we ask is that Jewish
students be treated equally, receive the same protection as any other
minority on campus."
The film notes that professors and administrators have only
exacerbated the campus movement promoting BDS, through their
indifference or open complicity with the movement's campus leaders and
tactics: "Many university officials are uncomfortable dealing with
hatred that comes from a non-Western minority, preferring to selectively
invoke the concepts of academic freedom and free speech instead of
fulfilling their responsibility to Jewish students."