FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We as SJP launched our divestment campaign on February 15th with the below graphic:
We included the olive branch as a symbol of Palestinian heritage (calling back to traditional Palestinian olive tree groves) and as a sign of peace.
We are sad to say that we have received news that it has been defaced in a very offensive manner:
THE PREMIER JEW HATING GROUP ON YOUR CAMPUS
(we make hating jews cool)
This was posted by the Academic Engagement Network (AEN). The AEN was founded by Mark Yudof, a former president of both the University of California and the University of Minnesota. They imply in their post that it was made by SSI, Students Supporting Israel, at the University of Minnesota. SSI president, Sami Rahamim, reached out to us and has denied involvement in the creation of this graphic. It is not currently confirmed who made this obscene picture.
The use of the swastika on our Divestment logo is a prime example of the backlash and attacks that Palestine advocates have to face. Legitimate criticism of Israel is often met with fierce accusations of anti-semitism. Members of SJP, and those who support them, are attacked with hateful words, smear campaigns, and intimidation tactics.
This attack on UMN Divest is an attack on everybody who supports the campaign. This includes the members of SJP, the 35 groups that have sponsored our resolution, and the faculty who have placed their professional careers and personal safety on the line. Many of our supporters fear for both their reputation, and more importantly, for their safety.
This triggering image evokes a violent history and is also an attack on the Jewish community. This includes the group of marginalized Jews who support our resolution and the call for divestment. They are subjected to the same hatred and abuse we are.
Anti-Semitism is violence, discrimination, or hatred against Jewish people. We strongly stand against it and other forms of oppression. Advocating for human rights is not anti-semitic. We speak what we know to be true from the reports written by the UN, by Human Rights Watch, by Amnesty International, by B’tselem, and by the US State department reports. We speak from Palestinian student’s experiences in Palestine. We speak out about a people’s oppression under an occupation.
We should not be attacked for speaking out against oppression. We should not be demonized as Nazis for asking our university to support human rights. We should not be targeted and wrongly labeled as anti-semites because we advocate for Palestinian rights.
These attacks are an attempt to scare us away from our work. We ask our campus community, and community at large to stand against this fear-mongering.
Even in the face of hatred, we will continue to stand up for the oppressed and work to get our University to stand on the right side of history.