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UNC Has Become a Beacon for Jew Hatred; No One Seems to Care

Students sit on the steps of Wilson Library on the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, US, Sept. 20, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

On November 24, a group of 50 students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) — the majority of whom are Jewish — sent a letter to a US senator, saying that “Jewish students at UNC do not feel safe.”

The letter states:

After October 7th, the day of the [Hamas] terror attack, anti-Jewish rhetoric hit an all-time high. A Jewish student with an Israeli flag on his back had drinks thrown at him in our dining hall. Members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) threatened several peaceful protesters with violence, and some brandished pocket knives and threatened our members.

A Professor [who is Israeli] was pushed down a flight of stairs by these protesters who proceeded to pour drinks on him. Jewish students across campus are being harassed by student “reporters” so they can continue to publish antisemitic-driven narratives. Posters for SJP and other affiliated organizations across campus depict terrorists flying into Israel and the Hamas missiles aimed at Israel.

A signatory of this letter told me that on October 12, at SJP’s pro-Hamas Day of Resistance Rally at UNC, Jewish students who were silently counter-protesting were approached by two masked activists who allegedly said, “Let’s fight” and allegedly brandished knives.

Before the rally, SJP publicly “recommended” anti-Israel protestors wear “face coverings” to this outdoor event, even though UNC policy states that masks may not be worn to “conceal identity.”

In early December, I was at a local breakfast establishment near campus, and was chatting with a woman who was in town to tour UNC. She told me that her tour guide said UNC’s campus had become unsafe due to SJP rallies.

On Nov. 28, I attended and reported on the event “No Peace Without Justice: A Round-Table Talk about Social Justice in Palestine,” hosted by numerous departments at UNC.

One of the speakers, Dr. Rania Masri, said: “Oct. 7 for many of us from the region was a beautiful day.”

Masri spoke with pride and admiration for Hamas and their paragliders, saying she is not “the least bit apologetic of the violence of the oppressed or the occupied.”

Several panelists openly agreed with her. None challenged Masri, or appeared concerned about her calls to eliminate Israel. Masri went on to say, “Let us demand the eradication of Zionism. Let us have that be our goal.”

The absence of a question and answer period meant that nothing could be challenged by audience members.

On December 10, Masri posted a video on Facebook that glorified Hamas and called Hamas “our heroes.” How could UNC subject Jewish students — or any students — to such a vile and hateful person?

Not only did UNC host this antisemitic event, but plenty of free pizza was provided.

One event sponsor — UNC’s Student Life & Leadership — has even kept the event flier posted on their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

A week before leaving UNC to take a position at another university, UNC’s Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz responded via email to concerned community members without even mentioning the word antisemitism. His weak response profoundly disappointed the Jewish community.

On December 9, UNC faculty published a petition letter titled “UNC Faculty stand against antisemitism, insist on respectful engagement with challenging topics.” It gained over 100 faculty signatures in just its first day.

The letter reviews evidence first reported in The Algemeiner and then states: “Sponsorship by academic units and the failure to disavow the [November 28] event after the fact implicitly sanctions antisemitic speech that harms people and is wholly at odds with the values of our campus community and institution.”

Jessica Smith, Distinguished Professor of Public Law and Government, told me:

The purpose of our letter was twofold. First, to ask our colleagues to join us in condemning antisemitic hate speech that occurred at a UNC-sponsored event, calling October 7th a “beautiful day.” And second, to join us in calling for balanced and respectful dialogue on controversial issues … Free speech and academic freedom provide the right to speak. They do not, however, provide a shield from criticism for antisemitic hate speech.

In 2019, UNC hosted a conference that featured an antisemitic rap performance, which led to UNC entering into a Resolution Agreement with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR), requiring UNC “to ensure that students enrolled in the university are not subjected to a hostile environment.”

On December 7, 2023, a Title VI complaint was filed with OCR. It concludes that Jewish students at UNC should not be “marinated in blatant antisemitism.”

“The fact that the Resolution Agreement executed in 2019 has been violated in 2023 indicates very clearly that stronger remedies are called for today,” it says. “The OCR should impose such remedies as soon as it is able to do so.”

For years, UNC has tolerated and fostered a campus climate that is hostile towards Jewish and pro-Israel students. When will UNC finally act to end this hostility so that Jewish students are afforded — like all other students — a safe and productive campus environment?

Peter Reitzes writes about issues related to antisemitism and Israel.

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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation

Graphic posted on a social media account administered by University of California-Davis chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine on February 17, 2024. Photo: Screenshot/Instagram

The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.

“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”

Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”

Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.

“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.

A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.

SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.

“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”

Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.

The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza 

Ofri Bibas Levy, whose brother Yarden (34) was taken hostage with his wife Shiri (32) and 2 children Kfir (10 months) and Ariel (4), holds with her friend Tal Ulus pictures of them during an interview with Reuters, as the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas continues, in Geneva, Switzerland, Nov. 13, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel. 

Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.

IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate. 

“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday. 

“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages. 

The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children. 

The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”

“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said.  “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”

The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas. 

Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”

“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.

Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”

A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7. 

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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College

Illustrative: Pro-Hamas demonstrators are detained by police officers in New York during a protest at the Brooklyn Bridge. Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.

The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.

A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”

A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.

StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi  wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.

“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”

“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.

Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.

The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.

“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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