Fourth Estate/Andani Munkaila,
On March 14, “$26 mill to Israel.” was written along Wilkins Plaza and in front of a Liberation Wall put up by Students for Justice in Palestine at Mason.

Students for Justice in Palestine at Mason addresses investment claims towards Montano Student Investment Fund.


Editor’s Note: The full transcript of the interview between Fourth Estate reporters and SJP Mason President “Jena” on March 14 can be viewed on Fourth Estate.

At the Student Senate meeting held on Thursday, March 14, Students for Justice in Palestine President who identified themselves as “Jena” and SJP Mason Executive Officer “Bash” gave a presentation which addressed Mason investments.

The SJP Mason representatives said that the university invested $26,000 which is allegedly “involved in the genocide in Gaza.” Previously, they have made a claim that Mason was investing $26 million.

The $26 million figure has been used and seen at multiple pro-Palestine campus protests and demonstrations by SJP Mason and other pro-Palestinian groups. This included chalk with text that read, “$26 mil to Israel,” which was outside the entrance to Merten Hall where the SJP Mason representatives were giving their presentation.

During the presentation, Bash shared with the Student Senate that the alleged $26,000 investment to Israel is part of the Mason’s Montano Student Investment Fund, an all-equity investment fund administered by select finance students at Mason, highlighting the fund’s investment in corporations within the industrial sector.

“For the sake of the conversation of investment, the Student Montano Fund does invest $26,000. So there is a form of investing that the university allows in that way. It begs the question, the moral question, ‘is this just,’” Bash said.

According to the Montano SMIF 2023 Annual Report, the fund finances roughly $292,708 across ten sectors.

The report indicated that 8.32% of the fund, totaling $26,612.01, was allocated to investments within the industrial sector, which SJP Mason alleges are “involved in the genocide in Gaza.”

“$26,000 is ammunition that kills children. $26,000 is bombs that are being used to destroy homes. $26,000 is the Caterpillar equipment used to destroy a water pipeline that is necessary for the village to grow their crops. That’s what we’re talking about… what can $26,000 be used for,” Bash said.

As of Jan. 1, 2024, the fund has increased its allocation to the industrial sector to 9.99%, a 1.67% growth from the previous year.

Jena added, “It’s important to know just that this is the $26,000 that we could find… if the university has different contracts with these companies in different forms for different departments or colleges within Mason, you can very easily assume that it’s happening at a much greater scale with the GMU foundation.”

“So right now, the 26,000 is what’s confirmed, but we can assume that there’s a lot more given that needs to be done to find the largest sum of money that’s being invested into these defense contracting companies,” Jena said. 

However, before the presentation, $26 million being invested by Mason had been quoted at protests and campaigns held by SJP Mason.

On the day of the teach-in, a chalked claim that read, “$26 million to Israel. SHAME!,” was found outside the entrance to Merten Hall and next to GMU Coalition for Palestines student sit-in.

The same day, another chalked claim that read, “26 mil to Israel.,” was found along Wilkins Plaza in front of SJP Mason’s Liberation Wall.

During the Feb. 7 Student Town Hall, a “representative of SJP” who was recognized by the SJP President in our interview, made a similar claim to Mason President Gregory Washington:

“I am a representative for Students for Justice in Palestine… $26 million, approximately 10% of the student investment fund, is funding the ongoing genocide to murder innocent civilians, men, women and children.”

On Feb. 8, a protester attending the GMU Coalition for Palestine Divest from Death protest said, “I feel like it is important for us to speak up and speak on the $26 million that George Mason directly funds to bomb the children in Gaza.”

During the Q&A portion of the presentation, Fourth Estate Senior News Reporter Brandyn Fragosa asked Bash if he could provide a source for the $26 million claim made by the “representative of SJP” at the Student Town Hall.

“I don’t know what you are referring to,” Bash said.

When asked about the chalked claim written outside Merten Hall, Bash said, “I didn’t write that so I’m not sure, but we’ll talk after.”

Fourth Estate/Ali Ali,
On March 14, ‘$26 mill to Israel. SHAME!’ was written outside the entrance to Merten Hall, where SJP Representatives were inside giving their presentation to the Student Senate. GMU Coalition for Palestine was also outside the building on Merten Lawn hosting their student sit-in to, “demand that George Mason University divest from military contractors and all institutions funding the ongoing occupation in Palestine.” They were on day 25 of their sit-in.

The SJP Representatives then invited Fourth Estate to have a conversation after the Student Senate meeting.

In an interview with the SJP President, Fourth Estate Social Media and Graphics Editor Andani Munkaila played the video clip of the $26 million investment claim made at the Feb. 7 Student Town Hall.

“If that’s what was said then I think she was just misspeaking. Because if it’s coming from the student fund [SMIF], then it can’t be $26 million… We definitely do not have $26 million, I wish we had $26 million,” the SJP President said.

When asked if the claim was an error, the SJP President said, “I can’t say for a fact that it’s incorrect. But I can say that $26,000 is the number for the Montano Fund… You can’t mix up a million and a thousand.”

The SJP President then confirmed that the $26 million investment claim is a number that has been used in proximity to their protests and campaigns.

“Yeah, no, I mean, I’ve heard it around, but I couldn’t-I mean, what am I gonna say, ‘stop saying that,’ you know?” the SJP President said.

“I will reiterate, the number came from somewhere and I know they have been trying to track it down. But, I haven’t been the one, so I really can’t speak to it… I’ve heard the 26 million coming from people who have nothing to do with the campaign at all… people are doing their own research, people have come up… with different numbers that are completely unrelated. But yeah, unfortunately, I can’t confirm where it’s coming from at this time,” the SJP President said.

When asked what she would do if the $26 million claim were to be chalked again, the SJP President said, “What position am I in, I guess, to remove what other people do?”

“I think at this point, it has been spread too far… I haven’t seen that people are writing the 26 million, like the chalk appears.” 

“… I haven’t been one to stop people because there have already been issues with telling people to not do things both on the university administration level and also on the personal level. I’m not here to tell people what to do. I’m here to kind of advise them. So when it comes to that number, I have asked that… you know, just write Free Palestine, things like that. But on a personal level, I don’t know, it’s kind of hard,” the SJP President said.

As of March 31, 2024, neither the Fourth Estate nor SJP Mason officials have verified the $26 million investment claim.