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‘Heinous’: Bloodstained Palms Protest at Top Berlin University Over Gaza War Fuels Antisemitism Fears

Students at Berlin’s UdK University display palms stained with red to symbolize blood during a Nov. 13 pro-Hamas protest. Photo: Screenshot

A group of pro-Hamas students at one of Germany’s top universities have staged several protests throughout the month of November, turning their campus into an ideological battlefield that has left Jewish students feeling under siege.

On Wednesday, around 30 students at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK) — widely recognized as one of the leading art colleges in the world — called a “Strike for Palestine.” After the university administration prevented the group from assembling outside the main entrance, stating that the protest had not been properly registered, the students moved to the university’s cafe where they issued a call for a boycott of Israeli universities.

A statement from the group shared with the Berliner Zeitung attacked the UdK for its alleged “complicity with this genocide” — a reference to Israel’s military campaign against Hamas terrorists in Gaza. They demanded the severing of the UdK’s ties with two Israeli institutions, the Bezalel College of Art and Shenkar College, “in view of their active support for the Israeli occupation forces (also known as IDF).” The statement also called on UdK faculty to cancel their lectures as a gesture of solidarity with the protesters. Posts on Instagram encouraging attendance at the protest denounced Israel for “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.”

Wednesday’s action came a fortnight after around 100 students at the university gathered for another pro-Hamas protest. Carrying banners declaring “Stop Genocide,” “End Colonialism,” and “Free Palestine,” the students sat around a table with their palms facing outwards painted in red ink to symbolize blood.

While the gesture was apparently intended to condemn the German government’s support for Israel’s defensive military operation, several observers noted a striking similarity with the notorious lynching of two IDF reservists, Vadim Nurzhitz and Yosef Avrahami, in the West Bank city of Ramallah in Oct. 2000.

“Every Jewish student, actually anyone who has studied Israel’s recent history, will interpret the red hands differently: In October 2000, near Ramallah, two Israeli reservists were arrested for making a wrong turn and detained in a police station,” wrote Claudius Seidl of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in a lengthy article on the Nov. 13 protest at UdK. In an outburst of intense violence reminiscent of the Oct. 7 Hamas pogrom in southern Israel, Nurzhitz and Avrahami were brutally murdered and their bodies mutilated by a Palestinian mob while both were in the custody of Palestinian Authority (PA) police officers.

One of their assailants, Aziz Salha, appeared at the window of the police station following the murder of the two Israelis, delightedly displaying his blood-stained palms to the appreciative crowd gathered outside. A photograph of Salha’s gesture quickly went viral and has kept its place as one of the most unsettling images captured during the conflict between Israel and Palestinian terrorist organizations.

Aziz Salha displays his bloodstained palms following the Oct. 2000 murder of two IDF reservists in Ramallah. Photo: Wikipedia

While the Nov. 13 protest was underway, Norbert Palz — the president of the UdK who had earlier issued a statement condemning the Hamas pogrom — attempted to reason with the group but was shouted down. According to Seidl’s account of the protest, the barracking of Palz was orchestrated by Tirdad Zolghadr, an Iranian-born arts curator who has been a visiting professor at UdK since 2022.

Following that protest, Jewish students at UdK began reporting incidents of harassment. A music student from Israel was spat on by an Arab man in the street outside the university after he was overheard speaking in Hebrew; the student later said that he was advised by the police officers to whom he reported the incident not to speak Hebrew “too loudly.” Meanwhile, in another incident, a female Israeli student was reduced to tears after pro-Hamas students told her she was to blame for the Oct. 7 atrocities as she had served in the Israeli army.

Neither student has ventured to the UdK campus since these incidents. Josefine von der Ahé, an art student at UdK, meanwhile told Seidl that she attributed “the receptivity of so many students to the stories of ‘evil Israel’ to profound ignorance of the State of Israel and its history.”

Several Berlin politicians condemned the protests at UdK. Adrian Grasse, who sits in the Berlin parliament for the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU), told the BZ news outlet that the “heinous events at the UdK are part of a development at the Berlin universities that I am following with increasing concern. With aggressiveness, hatred, defamation, and even the demand for the destruction of Israel, such actions make no contribution to peace and mutual understanding.”

Laura Neugebauer, an MP from the left-wing Green Party, similarly condemned the protests.

“Berlin universities must be places where Israelis and Jews can study safely and freely,” she said. “There can be no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’ here.”

The UdK’s origins stretch back to the foundation of the Prussian Academy of Arts in the latter part of the 17th century. The present school was formed through the merger of a music college and a fine arts college in 1975.

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Montreal’s Jewish Public Library moves books by local children’s author Elise Gravel to closed stacks in response to her series of illustrated messages criticizing Israel

Montreal’s Jewish Public Library has relocated renowned Montreal children’s author Elise Gravel’s books to the closed stacks after Jewish advocacy groups singled out some of her social media posts as antisemitic. Gravel is “one of Quebec’s most beloved children’s book authors. Her work is vibrant, thoughtful, funny, and educational,” said a statement from the Jewish […]

The post Montreal’s Jewish Public Library moves books by local children’s author Elise Gravel to closed stacks in response to her series of illustrated messages criticizing Israel appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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‘I’m Speaking Up Against Evil’: Israeli Columbia University Professor Addresses Smear Campaign

Anti-Israel students protest at Columbia University in New York City. Photo: Reuters/Jeenah Moon

Columbia University professor Shai Davidai, a Jewish Israeli, defended his right to condemn Hamas’ atrocities on Thursday after learning that an anonymous group of graduate students has accused him of anti-Palestinian racism and demanded a professional association of which he is a member to publicly censure him.

Anti-Zionist TikTok influencer Jessica Burbank first reported the accusations the graduate students lodged in a letter to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), an organization founded in 1974 to promote the social psychology field and its usefulness to society. Comprising over 7,500 student and faculty members, it provides invaluable funding and networking opportunities.

Accusing Davidai of “targeting individuals — especially Palestinians and students of color,” the students’ letter describes his efforts to hold pro-Hamas student groups accountable for harassing Jewish students and defending terror as “decolonization” as “blatant dereliction of duty with respect to his responsibilities and ethical standards as a professor and faculty member of SPSP.” The students additionally accused him of promoting “doxxing” and “misrepresenting” the views of pro-Hamas groups, all of whom have defended Hamas’ atrocities on Oct. 7 while calling for a ceasefire, a strategy they have employed to portray themselves as a pro-peace movement.

On Thursday, Professor Davidai told The Algemeiner that the man depicted in the letter is not someone his community, students, and peers would recognize, and he accepts that enduring assaults on his character is a consequence of defending the Jewish people wherever they are, be it Israel or New York City.

“Look, I’m speaking up against evil, and against the support of evil,” he said. “I’m willing to take the reputational hits because people that won’t like me for saying what I’m saying — I don’t need them to like me. This isn’t about the performative virtue signaling that is en vogue right now. This is about having a moral compass and standing up for what’s right.”

Davidai went on to express concern that his colleagues in the field have not defended him, a silence which suggests that criminating pro-Israel activists with baseless accusations will not be denounced or resisted even by moderates holding nuanced views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Israel’s war against Hamas.

“If I have to pay the price, I’ll pay the price. Thousands and thousands of Jews and non-Jews contact me to say that calling out pro-Hamas support on US college campuses is the right thing to do,” he continued. “And the irony is that I won’t be silenced. They might take away my reputation. They might take away my job and my career. But I’m not the kind of person who will be quiet now that there’s a personal cost for telling the truth. They’re just proving my point.”

Davidai first achieved national notoriety after delivering a thunderous speech before a crowd of students and others gathered on campus in which he called the school’s president a “coward” for refusing to condemn Hamas apologists and anti-Zionist demonstrations on campus.

“I’m talking to you as a dad, and I want you to know we cannot protect your children from pro-terror student organizations, because the president of Columbia University will not speak out,” Davidai said to the students, whom he asked to film and send the remarks to their parents. “Citizens of the US are right now kidnapped in Gaza, and yet the president of the university is allowing — is giving — her support to pro-terror student organizations.”

In many ways, becoming a public figure has been a detriment, Davidai said. His email is flooded daily with notes from antisemites accusing him of being an “Elder of Zion” and a “genocidal baby killer.”

His colleagues, furious that his exposing antisemitism and left-wing radicalism at Columbia University has caused important donors to pull their support from the school, have never commented on the hate mail even though they are always copied as recipients of it, he alleged.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘We Have Lost All Confidence’: Bipartisan Letter Urges Blinken to Demand Top UN Officials Resign

View of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) building in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90.

A bipartisan group of 12 US legislators sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken earlier this week urging him to demand that United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and the head of UNRWA — the UN agency dedicated to Palestinian refugees — Philippe Lazzarini resign over the recent revelation that UNRWA employees were involved in Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack.

“We have lost all confidence in Secretary-General António Guterres’ ability to ensure that the U.N. is not actively supporting terrorism or giving refuge to known terrorists. Therefore, we ask you to demand that Secretary-General Guterres and UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini immediately resign from their posts,” the letter states. 

The signatories were Democratic Representatives Josh Gottheimer, Don Davis, Jared Moskowitz, Brad Schneider, Haley Stevens, and Ritchie Torres — along with Republican Representatives Don Bacon, Anthony D’Esposito, Brian Mast, Max Miller, Michelle Steel, and Claudia Tenney.

The letter laments what the legislators say was an inappropriate response to October 7 by the UN, pointing out that “While innocent blood was still fresh on the ground, the UN’s first response to these atrocities was to draw a moral equivalency between the Hamas terrorists and Israel, who acted in her own self-defense and the defense of innocent civilians, including Americans.”

“UN Women,” the letter continued, “also failed to condemn the heinous attacks on women in a timely manner — even after widespread, well-documented cases of sexual assaults, rape, and genital mutilation.”

It then turned its attention to UNRWA, the UN agency dedicated solely to Palestinian refugees. Recent reports have revealed that at least twelve UNRWA employees — including teachers — took part in Hamas’s October 7 attack. Seven infiltrated Israel itself along with Hamas terrorists, others helped to kidnap Israelis and provide ammunition.

Not only that, but the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza has exposed that “Hamas has stored weapons in UNRWA buildings, used UNRWA resources for terrorist activities, and built tunnels under UNRWA facilities,” the letter says. The reps ask: “How long before we acknowledge the truth and label UNRWA as a tool for Hamas and others to recruit and train?”

A recent Wall Street Journal report estimates that around 10% of UNRWA employees are terrorist-linked — about 1,200 of the 12,000 UNRWA employees in Gaza.

Blinken has not yet responded to the letter. But after the initial allegations against UNRWA were made, he wrote in a statement that The United States is extremely troubled” by them and that “The Department of State has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”

The reports, based on evidence gathered and shared by Israel, caused more than a dozen countries to pause funding to the agency.

However, the statement also noted that “UNRWA plays a critical role in providing lifesaving assistance to Palestinians, including essential food, medicine, shelter, and other vital humanitarian support.  Their work has saved lives, and it is important that UNRWA address these allegations and take any appropriate corrective measures, including reviewing its existing policies and procedures.”

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