Illustration by Mouad Kouttroub

SJP Expresses Calls to Action as four Tel Aviv J-Terms are Offered

For 2023, four courses based in Tel-Aviv are offered. The SJP chapter in NYUAD called students not to enroll in these J-terms by offering a context of the settler colonial situation in Palestine.

On Sept. 21, Students for Justice in Palestine called out to the NYU Abu Dhabi community through online forums, asking students not to list any courses connected to Tel Aviv as part of their J-term preferences. There were four such courses listed, with three of them being fully-based in Tel Aviv and one of them having an international trip to Tel Aviv.
J-terms, which can be taken in January or June this academic year, are a key part of NYUAD’s aims of giving its students a global education, alongside the study away semesters embedded in the curriculum. The NYU location in Tel Aviv is an option for both these forms of study away opportunities and this is not the first time there have been study away opportunities with a component in Tel Aviv. According to SJP’s calculations, however, this is the first time four J-Terms are offered in Tel Aviv at once.
Since the creation of the NYUAD chapter of SJP, the Student interest Group has been instrumental in creating awareness about the ongoing occupation of Palestine, as well as about Palestinian history and culture. The Gazelle reached out to the E-Board of the SJP to share their thoughts.
One of the driving factors behind SJP’s effort was to draw attention to the inaccurate way in which these J-terms were labeled at first, since it was not mentioned that they were based in Tel Aviv, which was later corrected through an announcement on the Student Portal. Aside from this, SJP also wanted to raise awareness about what it means for students to study abroad in Tel Aviv.
“As we welcome new cohorts of students into NYUAD every year, we thought it would be important to reiterate the different oppressive systems that our students would be subscribing to as part of their study abroad experience. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure that none of these different ways of engaging with the oppressor are normalized within the student body. Our post mentioned economically supporting a settler-colonial state through every-day purchases, engaging with appropriated culture and normalizing the crimes of the state are some examples that students should be wary of upon making their decisions. These conversations are crucial to have, especially in a university where the overwhelming majority is concerned with issues of social justice. The Palestinian cause should be no exception,” explained the E-Board.
This conversation within the NYUAD community is occurring in the midst of a global conversation regarding Israeli settler colonialism and its impact on the freedom of mobility and movement of Palestinians and those of Palestine origin.
When asked how SJP, a SIG that has been actively furthering the Palestinian cause, feels about four J-Terms being offered with a component based in Tel Aviv, they shared that they found it to be disappointing and that it did not reflect the values of the NYUAD community.
“Contrary to what we have been advocating for, the university seems to be pushing people to take courses in Tel Aviv. This sudden spike in the number of courses offered in Tel Aviv compared to other global sites and to the past years also runs contrary to our community’s values and beliefs, as the NYUAD student body has exemplified extraordinary solidarity with the Palestinian cause in the past and continues to do so now. We just hope our values are better reflected in our university’s structure,” emphasized SJP.
SJP has also been working in collaboration with administration to ask for more structural and community-wide support for the Palestinian cause and for the Palestinian community on campus. “Some of these conversations were difficult as we had to come to terms with the fact that some actions are not possible to expect from the side of admin in this specific context; however, we now have an open channel of communication with Student Life and the Dean of Students office to discuss feasible and useful ways in which the university can otherwise support the Palestinian community at NYUAD,” shares SJP.
The SJP acknowledges that it is unlikely that no students will enroll in any of the above-mentioned J-Terms courses yet, in their own words, they mention, “we would still consider our post to have had an impact on our community even if it stopped only one student from enrolling in a TA J-term.”
Githmi Rabel is Editor-in-Chief. Zhiyu Lindy Luo is Senior News Editor. Email them at
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