canada africa partner reservation Indiana University students, faculty anti-Hamas propaganda rally

Indiana University students, faculty anti-Hamas propaganda rally

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated to correct the directional relationship between the two protest locations.

About 100 students, faculty, staff and members of Indiana University rallied against “Hamas propaganda” on campus Thursday — about a quarter mile east of Dunn Meadow, where pro-Palestinian protesters have been gathering for more than a week.

Anti-Hamas protesters said Thursday that rhetoric that initially started as criticism of the state of Israel has become increasingly radicalized and anti-Semitic. Some Jewish students said they felt less safe on campus since the Hamas attacks on October 7. Participants in the pro-Palestinian protests have pushed back against accusations of anti-Semitism, saying their critics are only trying to delegitimize their protests.

Mikayla Kaplan, a first-year IU student who spent a gap year in Israel after graduating high school, said Thursday that the Oct. 7 attack has affected her deeply.

Kaplan said she has friends in Israel, including some in the Israeli military, and she thinks about them every day.

Hamas launched deadly surprise attacks on October 7 to coincide with a major Jewish holiday, with militants infiltrating towns and army bases, killing Israelis and taking hostages, many of whom are still being held. Some call the attacks Israel’s 9/11.

Kaplan said she learned of the attack the day of her midterm exam at IU. She said she and a friend sat down together 20 minutes before the exam “and we cried and we prayed and we hoped for the safety and security of our loved ones.”

“That’s a forever experience that a lot of students have had,” she said.

Kaplan thanked those who came to Thursday’s rally, saying they showed Jewish and pro-Israel students that they are not alone at a time when many of them felt very isolated.

Günther Jikeli, the Erna B. Rosenfeld Associate Professor for the Study of Anti-Semitism at IU, said that he and a group of faculty members who gathered after the Hamas attack on October 7 felt they had to organize a meeting simply to discuss Hamas and the terror to denounce. propaganda of the group.

“We just want to make it clear: this is not acceptable to us, Hamas propaganda,” Jikeli said at the Showalter fountain.

He handed out a piece of paper with statements made or shared on X, formerly known as Twitter, by two leaders of IU’s Palestine Solidarity Committee. Aidan Khamis, chairman of the PSC, retweeted an expletive-filled statement from April 4 that included the phrase “Glory to Hamas.”

Jikeli said: ‘This is dangerous stuff. It means it’s okay to kill Jews.”

Khamis said via email last week that he accidentally retweeted the message and wanted to share another tweet.

“I deleted the retweet as soon as it was brought to my attention,” Khamis said. “I regret the harm this unintentional retweet has caused to anyone at IU and in our Bloomington community. It does not reflect my values ​​or my beliefs.”

Jikeli said he would welcome Khamis to publicly denounce Hamas and the October 7 attacks, but until he does, Jikeli said he has doubts about his sincerity.

Jikeli also shared a tweet from Bryce Greene, an IU student and PSC founder, who wrote on January 18: “For those who need to hear: Hamas is morally superior to Israel in every way that matters.”

Greene said via email Friday: “You don’t have to be ‘pro Hamas’ to understand that the people who loudly and proudly commit genocide are morally inferior to the people – however imperfect – who do not commit genocide.”

Jikeli said he looked at Greene’s social media again Friday morning and found several examples indicating he favors Hamas over Israel and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed organization with ties to terrorists, over the United States.

“From what I can see, both student leaders have been radicalized in the sense that they are unwilling to condemn designated terrorist groups that have a track record of attacking civilians,” Jikeli said via email on Friday.

Jewish student: ‘No peace as long as there is Hamas’

Some attendees at Thursday’s rally against Hamas propaganda held or covered themselves in Israeli flags. Others held signs such as “Rape is not resistance.” Many joined Rabbi Levi Cunin in singing the phrase “Am Yisrael Chai,” which translates to “The Jewish people live.” Attendees also repeatedly chanted, “Take them home,” referring to the hostages still held by Hamas.

Maya Hogan, who just completed her freshman year and is studying psychology with a minor in Jewish studies, said like many of the students protesting at Dunn Meadow, she wants people to be free and safe.

She said instead of fighting together against a common enemy, students have been distracted by fighting among themselves.

“This is not about Israel versus Palestine,” Hogan said. “This is about the people who deserve rights against people who withhold their rights from them.”

“There is no peace as long as Hamas exists,” she said.

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‘Despicable’ slogans, ignorance and disinformation

IU student Jaime Katz said many things she has seen on signs and on social media are “despicable.”

Many people are simply spreading historically inaccurate information and appear to have been educated at Tik Tok University, she said.

“I see a lot of misinformation and disinformation being spread on college campuses across the country,” Katz said.

Katz came to IU from South Africa to study criminal justice, but said recent developments have left her concerned and disappointed.

“It makes me sad about the future of American academia,” she said.

Jikeli said he also believes many people are holding signs with slogans whose meaning they do not understand. He said he recently asked one of the pro-Palestinian students about an abbreviation on her sign, but the student couldn’t explain what it meant.

Jikeli said people are also calling for Intifada and using phrases like “from the river to the sea,” which for some Israelis and Jews means the destruction of Israel and the death of all Jews.

Even the phrase “Free Palestine,” often sung in Dunn Meadow, is problematic, Jikeli and Hogan said.

“When you say free Palestine, you mean someone else’s free Palestine,” she said.

Boris Ladwig can be reached at [email protected].