Petition Against Antisemitism and Zionophobic Bias At OSU
Petition Against Antisemitism and Zionophobic Bias At OSU
As OSU Jewish and allied students, parents, faculty, and alumni, it has come to our attention that an antisemitic and discriminatory letter was sent by ASOSU recently, which cast unfounded accusations, perpetuating the demonization of the State of Israel, the world’s only Jewish-majority state and refuge for expelled Jews of the Middle East, Africa, and of the Holocaust in Europe (and home to approximately half of the global Jewish population). These same students have expressed their fear and insecurity regarding the shifting climate at OSU. Students who identify as Jewish and/or Israeli are struggling to be heard and feel that the dialogue surrounding the current events in the Middle East has been one-sided, alienating, and misinformed.
The letter that was wrongfully sent en masse to the entire OSU student body encouraged subscription to organizations like IMEU, which aligns with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, an international campaign that has perpetrated antisemitism in civic institutions for more than 15 years. Representing unequivocal support to their cause creates an incredibly unsafe situation for Jewish and Israeli students on our campus. Standing behind organizations that support BDS (and its National Committee which includes terror factions like Hamas) is standing behind the terrorism and the antisemitism they represent. To support Palestinian lives is not to condemn the existence of Israel but to condemn terrorism in all its forms. Gaza is currently under the rule of Hamas, an internationally-recognized terrorist organization, seeking Jewish genocide and the destruction of Israel. Hamas uses civilians as human shields and as bait in order to gain global support and to continue taking innocent lives within both Gaza and Israel alike.
In the latest operation conducted last month, Hamas fired over 4,000 rockets and anti-tank missiles in less than 2 weeks, injuring 1,900 Israeli-Arab and Jewish civilians in southern and central Israel and killing 13, including 16-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel, Nadine Awad, and her father, Khalil Awad. 15% (680) of these Hamas rockets and missiles failed to reach Israel and ended up killing many Palestinian civilians in Gaza (which contributed to the described death toll in Gaza significantly), such as the nine children and other relatives of Atallah al-Masri in Beit Hanoun of Gaza (May 10). Such failed rockets have also destroyed Gazan power lines. Furthermore, on at least two separate occasions during this latest conflict, Hamas has fired mortar shells on humanitarian aid officers (May 18-19) and denied vital assistance to Gazan civilians - even arresting dozens of Gazans for releasing online the truth of where and how locations have been hit. Lastly, footage of Hamas in the second week of the conflict, shared by Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid, shows that Hamas even cut off pipes (limiting water sources) for Palestinians in Gaza in order to use the pipes to build more rockets against Israeli civilians.
Rather than condemning this, ASOSU’s statement mirrors Hamas propaganda and shifts all the blame for the conflict onto Israel. Furthermore, the statement also makes false claims which further villainize Israel and Jewish people, such as the unfounded claims of ethnic cleansing and apartheid. The Palestinian population has been consistently growing for decades, which would have been impossible if ethnic cleansing was indeed taking place. Arabs also make up more than 20% of Israeli citizens, and they have the same rights and opportunities as all other citizens.
In fact, Israeli Arabs serve as supreme court justices and leaders in the highest levels of government, as exemplified by the newly formed coalition government. Not only does ASOSU’s statement completely misrepresent the reality of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, it also erases 4,000 years of Jewish history by falsely claiming that Israel is a colonizing power, despite historical, archeological, and genealogic evidence which shows that Jews are in fact indigenous to the land of Israel.
Additionally, ASOSU’s call to “Free Palestine” overlooks the destructive connotations of the slogan “Free Palestine (from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea)”, which calls for the displacement or murder of half of the Jewish people. Affiliated rallies that have taken place from New York City to Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Brussels, Milan, Paris, Berlin, and more have all incorporated antisemitic chants and violence against Jewish citizens, some of whom even claimed to not be Zionists. Hate crimes against Jews in the U.S. and around the world have spiked, going up to 75% in the US and even 600% in the U.K.
There is a well-documented history and direct correlation between public statements and resolutions unfairly targeting Israel on campus and a spike in harassment against Jewish students, many of whom are children or grandchildren of refugees from the Holocaust, pogroms in the Soviet Union, Middle East, North Africa, and beyond. In a time where many have recognized the damage that hate speech against China has inspired hate crimes against the Asian American community at large, we would expect a basic understanding that the demonization of Israel, too, has inspired and continues to inspire hate crimes against Jewish Americans of every age. As students at OSU, we hold the administration accountable for the safety of all students, including Jewish and Israeli students.
The erasure of Jewish history and the demonization of the State of Israel reflects the same antisemitic tropes, such as scapegoating, baseless blaming, and blood libel, which were weaponized against Jews during the Middle Ages, in Nazi Germany, in the Soviet Union, and so on. The use of such tropes on a college campus puts Jewish students in danger, is discriminatory, and completely unacceptable. It is incumbent on students and faculty of conscience to affirm the right of every student to academic freedom, without intimidation or exclusion predicated on their national origin, ethnicity, or religion. Furthermore, the targeting of civilians to advance political gains (the definition of terrorism) must be condemned on campus.
The role of the members of a student government, as elected officials, is to represent the student body, not to make one-sided, biased, misinformed statements on political conflicts in other parts of the world. The statement released was not representative of the views of many Jewish and Israeli students, as well as others who disagree with its contents. Thus, as students, alumni, family, and friends of Jewish students, we call on ASOSU to retract and issue an apology for the discriminatory statement published, to issue a statement condemning rising antisemitic violence, and affirm that discriminatory statements which effectively alienate and endanger students with cultural affinities with the country of Israel, do not belong in the sphere of higher education and the free exchange of ideas.