Marcell Horvath is originally from Budapest, grew up in the United States and currently resides in Scotland. He studied law at the University of Glasgow and history at the University of Maryland. He is now pursuing a postgraduate qualification in law at the University of Strathclyde. Marcell has held positions in both Jewish and pro-Israel student societies. He rides a bicycle during the week and enjoys reading and musical activities in his spare time.
CAMERA Fellow Emma Enig is a sophomore at the George Washington University, and is double majoring in Political Science and Jewish history. Before college, she was the co-founder and co-president of her high school’s Israel advocacy club and became a dedicated pro-Israel advocate. After graduating from her Jewish Day School, she briefly lived in Israel, where she traveled around the country and learned about the history, culture, and politics of the land.
Around campus, Emma is known for combating anti-Israel media bias with the truth, and (much to the dismay of her roommates) she spends most of her time watching the news and debating with others. She is currently a board member for her Israel group, GW for Israel, the largest pro-Israel group on campus, and interns for the Republican Jewish Coalition.
At CAMERA’s 2017 Student Leadership Conference, young activists from around the world came together to learn about making a positive difference for Israel on campus. With 13 countries represented, we had a variety of perspectives contributing to constructive discussions.
Speaking to students from countless different campuses at the conference was also a chance to reflect on the collective successes in London from my own perspective. To many internationally, our year in London may have seemed as if it was filled with attacks and intimidation. However, despite the violent protest facing Hen Mazzig when he came to speak at University College London (UCL) in October 2016, we continued on with our programming for the year as normal. We did not let the actions of extreme, divisive anti-Zionist activists overshadow our efforts to make constructive changes to the situation on campus. We continued to hold events and start initiatives, including reaching out to new students. During Israel Apartheid week, we actively went about starting conversations with hundreds of students in London, beginning with falafel and cake but ending in positive dialogue and even new friendships.
At hostile events, like when UCL Friends of Palestine hosted renowned anti-Zionist academic Ilan Pappe, we proactively started conversations to represent our own opinions. Pappe and other speakers used snide remarks, conspiracy theories and intimidation to convince the audience that Zionism was a racist endeavour. After the event, students stayed behind for hours to talk to us, as they were curious to hear a perspective which even they realised hadn’t been equally represented at the event. However, if we had not attended the event to show our outrage at the way we were mis-represented, the students could have left with a very different impression. Our greatest successes this past academic year have been when we take initiative and go out to speak to others and represent ourselves.
The CAMERA conference was also an opportunity to hear from other inspiring students who had great success on their campuses over the past academic year. The theme of the conference above all was that Israel activism is not just about taking a defensive position- but rather, about actively educating others. Even on campuses in the US where BDS campaigns have yet to spring up, students are taking proactive action by creating new Israel groups with the support of CAMERA. When you initiate the conversation about Israel on campus, you can create a positive representation of Israeli society, as well as opening up opportunities for dialogue on neutral terms. In the UK, we are often too worried about bringing up the topic of Israel on campuses where the Palestinian society is dormant, for fear of the backlash it could have for Jewish students. However, now more than ever, the atmosphere is right for spearheading proactive discussion about Israel.
On British campuses, students of today are tiring of a focus on radical activities which discredit university politics as a minefield of extreme activists focusing on irrelevant issues. Tom Harwood’s strong contention for the NUS presidency and growing political movements for freedom of speech show that things are changing on UK campuses. Students want to be able to discuss issues in a civilised manner without descending into either radical boycott campaigns or excessive political correctness. We should use this opportunity to show that engaging with Israel in student politics is not about polarised debates and violent protests. It is about creating dialogue and a positive atmosphere for debate and engagement with the Middle East on campus.
We now have a unique opportunity to change the way student debates are framed by making civil conversations a highlight of our activity. Last academic year, we got past the fear of making people feel uncomfortable with our Zionist identities. We approached Zionism as it is, a legitimate movement for the national self-determination of the Jewish people.
This year, we must continue to define the debate on our own terms.
Contributed by UK Campus Associate Tamara Berens.
This article was originally published in Jewish News.
You have probably heard of Schindler’s List — Steven Spielberg’s movie, that brought to life the story of a German member and spy of the Nazi party who saved the lives of over 1000 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories in occupied Poland.
You may have also heard of the heroic rescue of the Danish Jews. With the help of the Danish people and the Danish resistance movement, 7,220 out of the 7,800 Jews escaped the Nazis, finding salvation in Sweden.
What’s lesser known is the story of the fifty thousand Jews saved by Bulgaria. A story no less fascinating or deserving of recognition, yet unknown to many. Michael Bar-Zohar states in his book “Beyond Hitler’s Grasp” that “For years Bulgaria’s Communist regime had tried to suppress the real story about the rescue for a very simple reason. The Bulgarian rescue had been carried out mostly by Communism’s three worst enemies: the Church, the royal court, and the pro-Fascist politicians. The Communist regime couldn’t admit that fact because it contradicted its basic beliefs.” An even more fascinating fact about the rescue is that the fifty thousand Jews were saved while Bulgaria was an actual ally to Hitler.
Bulgaria gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. However, the newly independent state did not include all the territories it had desired, leaving ethnic Bulgarians outside of its newly formed borders. Bulgaria’s desire for complete unification was the main reason for joining the Axis. In order to gain its territories back, the country allied with Germany as Hitler promised to help Bulgaria.
That alignment came at a certain price. The rescue of the Bulgarian Jews was paved with a series of dark events. Although a fascinating and heroic story, it carries the scars of the loss of the 11,000 Jews from Thrace and Macedonia who were sent to the Nazis. Despite the fact that those territories were under Bulgarian administration, Germany did not acknowledge the annexation of Thrace and Macedonia to Bulgaria. Therefore, none of the Jews living in those areas received Bulgarian citizenship or nationality, making it impossible for the Bulgarian authority to interfere.
The deportation of the Jews from Thrace and Macedonia alerted Bulgaria to what was about to follow. In March of 1943, trains arrived in Bulgaria to transport all of the Jews straight to a death camp in Treblinka. Arrests began early in the morning as policemen gathered Jews at school yards to await their deportation. However, not a single Jew left the country. The local Metropolitan Kiril, ordinary Bulgarian citizens, and members of parliament mobilized against the deportation and succeeded in preventing it. The head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church played a major role in the rescue, having arrived on the day of the deportation at the railroads where the trains were supposed to depart.
Bishop Metropolitan Kiril sent a letter to the King of Bulgaria pleading for the Jews to be saved. The church opened its doors and provided shelter for the Bulgarian Jews. Due to the pressure of the public outcry and the persistence of the Bishop, the King canceled the deportation, leaving the trains for Treblinka entirely empty.
However, that did not stop Hitler from continuing to demand the deportation of the Jews. Months later, he tried again, requesting from the King that this time all of Bulgaria’s Jewish population be sent to Poland. In response, King Boris told the German leader that the country needed the Jews for labor, hence he created labor camps where twenty thousand men were sent to work and remained in the country. The King’s skillful and quick response to Hitler’s demand prevented the second deportation of the Bulgarian Jews to the death camps.
The rescue of the Bulgarian Jews remained a long kept-secret until the end of the communist regime in 1989. Fortunately, documents that recorded details of it were only hidden and locked up but not destroyed. For that reason, historians were able to expose to the world the bravery of ordinary citizens and the decisive intervention of the Orthodox Church and the King during the Holocaust.
After the war ended about 96% of the Jewish population in Bulgaria emigrated to Israel. The two countries have shared a special bond ever since. On a recent trip to Israel, former Bulgarian president Rosen Plevneliev said, “As a relatively new country with cutting edge entrepreneurship that also boasts an ancient history, Israel is attractive to Bulgaria, which is one of the older countries in Europe, with a Jewish community whose roots date back more than 1,300 years”.
In February of 2017, President Plevneliev was given the Friends of Zion Award in recognition of the fifty thousand Jews rescued during the Holocaust, acknowledging that Israel will not forget the lives saved by Bulgaria. With all its dark and heroic moments, the story of a country that managed to protect its entire Jewish population while being an ally to Hitler is one that deserves to be recognized and remembered. Israel does it, hopefully the rest of the world will do, too.
Contributed by Katrin Gendov, former Campus Coordinator for the Midwest.
This article has since been republished at The Algemeiner.
Prior to the summer of 2014, CAMERA campus coordinator Ben Suster was politically indifferent towards Israel. Although he had been there multiple times before to visit family and participate in programs, this trip was different. He landed a few days before the bodies of the three murdered yeshiva boys were found and was in Israel for the duration of Operation Protective Edge. The rocket attacks from Gaza resulted in hundreds of thousands of Israelis living in bomb shelters and makeshift bunkers. In Sderot, a missile landed 2 kilometers away from where he was. He attended soldier’s funerals and spent much time underground. This was an eye opening experience for Ben.Initially, the basis of his support for Israel came from his American Israeli background, but after living in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Sderot during the operation he became invested in fighting for what he now considered his home.
When he returned to the United States, he learned that Israel was not only being attacked militarily, but also assaulted verbally on his college campus and in the media. He started teaching himself about the history of Israel and the conflict, and felt invested in combatting media bias and anti-Israel sentiment at his university.
Ben started working with the pro-Israel group on campus and eventually became the president of the CAMERA-supported group Knights for Israel at the University of Central Florida. As a group, they worked a lot with CAMERA to plan successful events. The club put together campaigns in response to Israel apartheid week and, most importantly, the members grew into leaders.
Now, as a campus coordinator for the tri state area and Canada, Ben travels to schools throughout the year and helps students by providing them with the resources they need to improve their group, execute successful events, and gives advice based on his personal experiences.
He has spoken at countless events, such as fundraisers, Chabad Shabbatons, and educational events for college and high school students, as well as invested parents. His speeches are based on how CAMERA helped him grow into an Israel educator, and how students can become a strong influence on their campus.
Ben shares what he and Knights for Israel accomplished, creating leaders who prepared and hosted events that attracted a wide range of students, half of whom were not Jewish.
Most importantly, he focuses on how the media poorly represents Israel, creates myths and misinformation and how this parallels the atmosphere on college campuses across the world today. He believes anyone can provide input on why BDS is bad, but he focuses on why empowering the students to educate about and defend Israel is the most important thing.
Contributed by CAMERA Intern Ilana Sperling.
University of Connecticut student Nathan Schachter describes his Jewish faith as “a part of me since I was born.”
The West Hartford-born junior communications major grew up in a tight-knit Jewish community, and said that he is “proud” of practicing Judaism, participating in UConn Hillel events as a member of the student board and wearing a UConn-embroidered kippah– a traditional religious head covering worn by practicing Jews.
“In Israel, [where everyone is Jewish], people don’t wear a kippah,” Schachter said. “But when you’re in a predominantly non-Jewish population, it’s not so much a religious thing as an identity thing. When I came to UConn, I decided I wanted to wear it wherever I go.”
Schachter was wearing his kippah on the evening of August 31st when he was walking with a friend to the Towers dining hall on the way back from a Hillel meeting. As the two walked, a car passed by.
“The back windows opened,” Schachter said. “The girl sitting in the back seat yelled out, ‘Go to the fucking ovens!’ and just… [drove] on. It was being said because I was there, wearing my kippah.”
Schachter said that it took him a moment to process what had happened to him, and called Hillel staff shortly afterwards, who directed him to Community Standards.
“[Hillel staff] just stayed and talked with me. I was with friends. I was safe,” Schachter said.
Shortly afterwards, Schachter posted about his experience on his Facebook page, which generated over 1,000 likes, 240 shares and dozens of comments.
“I [wrote] the post to kind of get some closure. For my whole life, including my years at UConn…[,] never could I have imagined this would be said to me,” Schachter said. “In that moment it’s where it hit me: This was said to me, and it bothers me.”
Schacter said he created the post in order to make people aware and didn’t think it would be read past his friends and family.
“I think it’s important that people in my community know that this happened,” Schachter said.“I think it was a moment of awareness for both the greater UConn community… and people all over.”
UConn Hillel has stated its support of Schachter, and that they are working with UConn administrators to address the incident.
“We appreciate the care and commitment that the University of Connecticut has provided in investigating the event and supporting Nathan and the Jewish community on campus,” Scott Selig, executive director of UConn Hillel, said. “UConn Hillel takes the security and safety of all students seriously and is confident that UConn is a safe and welcoming environment.”
The Dean of Student’s office, as well as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Institutional Equity have been notified of the incident, according to UConn Spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
“UConn has no tolerance for discrimination, harassment and intimidation based on bigotry or bias. We want our campuses to be welcoming and inclusive for everyone, and any behaviors that contradict those values are taken very seriously,” Reitz said. “The information that was shared with the university about this incident has been provided to UConn Police, who are investigating.”
In the meantime, Schachter said that he is both trying to move on from incident and reflecting on it.
“This happened on the day after the [Charlottesville] Vigil, which shocks me,” Schachter said “Literally less than 24 hours beforehand, I was standing with students and faculty… against discrimination.”
Schachter said that he will continue to speak out against discrimination, in light of what he has experienced.
“I think my role is to… speak up against what has happened to me, so that others can be aware that it can happen right on our campus,” Schachter said. “I think it’s important to remind [others] that, [they] are not alone. It’s happened all over. I think it’s important for people to know that, instead of hiding in a corner, continue to be proud of who you are, and continue pushing on. One thing that one person says about your outside appearance doesn’t define who you are.”
Schachter said that if he had the opportunity to meet with the person who harassed him, he would try and communicate his feelings about the incident.
“I think I would want to sit down [with the perpetrator] and express what I felt when I went through it, and somehow find a way to make her aware, what this kind of speech does,” Schachter said.
Overall, Schachter encouraged his fellow students to remain aware of the discrimination close to home.
“It’s not just big events, like Charlottesville,” Schacter said. “It can happen in Storrs, Connecticut, in the same regard.”
If you have faced harassment or discrimination, contact UConn Community Standards at 860-486-8402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nathan Shachter is a member of CAMERA-supported group UConn Huskies for Israel.
Contributed by Marlese Lessing.
This article was originally published in UConn’s campus paper, The Daily Campus.
On March 15, 2017, East Carolina University’s CAMERA-supported group Pirates for Israel arranged for scholar Dr. Asaf Romirowsky to talk about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Romirowsky is the co-author of Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief. He has served in the Israel Defense Forces as an International Relations liaison officer in the West Bank and to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Currently, Romirowsky is a Middle East historian and a fellow at the Middle East Forum, a Philadelphia-based think tank. He publishes across a wide variety of national press in addition to scholarly journals while traveling around the world to make appearances in media outlets and give lectures.
Romirowsky came to teach the ECU community about the origin and details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Although the crowd of forty students and staff was not as large as desired, it made for a more active and engaging question and answer session. The majority of the attendees were pro-Palestinian and not there to necessarily learn, but despite the disagreements, they and Dr. Romirowsky were able to get to a point of dialogue on certain topics. Although they had their differences, people were respectful of one another. After the event, all attendees thanked Pirates for Israel for extending the invitation to people with all stances on the issue.
Although the event had a somewhat small turnout, Pirates for Israel did gain more followers on their Facebook page and saw an increase in emails inquiring about more information. They plan on making their next event more focused on Middle Eastern culture to give students and staff a taste of the region’s food, games, and music.
Contributed by CAMERA intern Jake Greenblatt.
South Florida college students were among those who participated in the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’s annual student leadership and advocacy training conference that took place over the summer in Boston University.
Every August, CAMERA hosts this student conference for Israel advocates on campus who are brought together from all over North America, South America, Europe and Israel. The conference teaches both CAMERA Fellows and its Emet for Israel group activists how to effectively combat anti-Israel and biased propaganda on college campuses.
Meraises Miranda of Miami, a senior who attends Florida International University, feels that the best way the conference allowed her to be prepared to combat anti-Israel and biased propaganda on campus was being put in real-life scenarios and given real-life opportunities.
“We had a mock-BDS trial and things like that, so I think the fact that we had the opportunity to really learn is what’s going to help me, because I’m a very hands-on person and being able to put that into practice is what’s really helped me learn and prepared me for such things,” Miranda, 21, said. “If I could go to the CAMERA conference again I would. It was such a great experience. I recommend it for anyone who is really passionate about Israel and their Jewish culture.”
Allison Taylor from West Palm Beach, a junior at the University of Michigan, enjoyed how well the conference prepared the students to any kind of anti-Semitism or anti-Israel behavior they may see on campus.
“They did a lot of awesome hypothetical scenarios where they would play pro-BDS people or they would kind of play devil’s advocate and force us to really put ourselves in that defensive position if we were to encounter that at our university,” Taylor, 20, said. “It felt very real because they were very informed of the other side. They really tried to inform us on the other side and what the arguments may be.”
Taylor, who considers herself a very strong pro-Israel advocate, concluded, “I think that they instilled in me the importance of being understanding and being passionate for what I believe in.”
Tatiana-Rose Becker, campus coordinator for CAMERA, said, “A lot of students that we work with have passion and love for Israel, but they don’t know how to express it, so the conference gives them access to each other. They bounce ideas off each other and they collaborate.”
“They also have our expertise to teach them what are really the most effective methods of communication on campus,” she continued.
Miranda said that the CAMERA conference really emphasizes on the fact that “we are all one.”
“Everyone who is in Israel is Israel. It’s not just the Jews who live there, even though it’s a Jewish state, and there were participants at this conference that weren’t Jewish. There were Christians, there were Muslims and there were some people who don’t even have a religion, and I think that is something that’s so important.”
Due to the diversity at the conference, Miranda said she’s made it a point that for most of the events of Shalom FIU, the school’s pro-Israel group that she’s a part of, they will be geared towards both the Jewish and general communities.
“They will be relating to everyone and the different cultures and the different religions,” she said.
Miranda is an active pro-Israel Jewish student. She is also involved in Chabad FIU and Hillel. She is also starting a new colony of a Jewish sorority and is a David Project intern. She was also approached by a CAMERA representative to start a group with a focus on Latinos for Israel on campus. Contact Miranda at email@example.com for more information on local pro-Israel events she’s planning to host on campus.
Taylor, a CAMERA Fellow for the University of Michigan, said this conference was her first step towards being much more involved in pro-Israel and Jewish groups on campus.
“I’m hoping to either join the Israel group on campus or possibly even start a CAMERA affiliated group on campus. Through this fellowship, I also have to host an event, so I’m hoping to bring in a new speaker or new guest to help them get involved with the Israel groups on campus or co-host.”
Other college students from the state of Florida who participated in the conference were: Jared Samilow from Weston; Craig Covitz and Matt Rabinowitz who attend Florida State University; Michael Katz from Miami who attends the University of Florida; Shrin Rostamian, who attends Florida Atlantic University; and Jake Suster, Samantha Busey and Jesse Benjamin Slomowitz who attend the University of Central Florida.
This article was contributed by Sergio Carmona and was originally published at the Sun Sentinel.
“I’ve always been a Zionist, but I was too timid to be an activist,” said Rebecca Fliegelman of Suffern, a 23-year-old senior at Hunter College.
She was one of 80 students from 13 countries who gathered in Boston for six days in August for the seventh annual Student Leadership Training Conference sponsored by the media-monitoring, research, and membership organization Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America — more easily known as CAMERA.
“The most important skill I gained from the conference is confidence,” said Ms. Fliegelman, a Frisch School graduate who spent a gap year in Israel from 2012 to 2013.
“I’m a very shy girl and the thought of a microphone in my hands and eyes focused in my direction, waiting for me to say something fabulous and impressive, would usually send me into a panic,” she continued. “And though I did not actually speak at this conference, watching my friends get up there, forget about themselves for a moment and stand up for a worthy cause — Israel — has inspired me to take on a leadership role as an advocate for Israel on my campus for the semesters to come.”
The all-expense-paid conference, funded by CAMERA for students selected as one-year fellows in the CAMERA on Campus international program, imparted learning techniques for defending and promoting Israel in the upcoming school year.
In preparation for their Israel advocacy work, the fellows attended lectures and studied academic papers on the Middle East conflict, did role playing, learned debating skills, practiced public speaking, wrote newspaper articles, and even trained in the Israeli martial art Krav Maga.
Ms. Fliegelman learned that she can be an effective Israel advocate without having every fact memorized. “Before CAMERA I thought if I didn’t have all the answers I would not only not be helping my cause, but actually hurting my cause as well,” she said. “CAMERA has reassured me that this is not the case. We don’t lose or let anyone down because we need to look something up.”
She said that she left the conference “with newfound confidence, friends, memories, and motivation to step out from behind my laptop and become a vocal activist for Israel.”
Participants came from the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Israel, Hungary, Venezuela, Columbia, Papua New Guinea, France, Ukraine, and Mongolia.
“There’s a global problem on college campuses, which is attested to this year by the many countries the kids are coming from,” Andrea Levin, CAMERA’s president and executive director, said. “But the very good news is the spirit and positive energy of the wonderful students who care about Israel and its cause.”
Robert Miller of Englewood, a 19-year-old graduate of SAR High School in Riverdale, says he “was motivated to attend the CAMERA training conference in Boston and apply for the CAMERA Fellowship because as an incoming freshman at NYU College of Arts and Science, I was acutely aware of the challenges that awaited me as a Jewish pro-Israel student. I’ve always admired the work CAMERA does every day to ensure that anti-Israel slanders are corrected, and I knew they could help me combat anti-Zionism on campus.”
He plans to be a board member of the NYU Realize Israel club and hopes to “fulfill my duties as a CAMERA fellow by writing op-eds in response to Israel’s detractors in my campus newspaper and hosting events about Israel’s geopolitical situation.”
Mr. Miller said the most important skill he gained at the conference was how to properly answer critics who claim that Israel is an “apartheid state” and that Israel’s settlement enterprise in the West Bank is illegal.
“What students get from the conference are practical strategies, lots of resources for handling discrimination, and also a firm understanding of the moral case for Israel,” said Gilad Skolnick, CAMERA’s director of campus programming.
Aviva Slomich, CAMERA’s international campus director, said that the conference “develops the students’ intellectual and leadership skills. It’s an in-depth, detailed program that addresses the major challenges facing pro-Israel students today.”
Other local CAMERA fellows at the conference in Boston were Avraham Novick, a Yeshiva University student from Clifton; Shlomo Hendler, a Rockland Community College student from Suffern; Roni Sokolsky, a Baruch College senior from West Nyack, and Malka Kirsh, a Rockland Community College student from Spring Valley.
The fellows heard from two London students about frightening situations they endured on campus last year.
Khulan Davaajav, a Mongolian student at SOAS University of London, said she was assaulted by a SOAS Palestine Society member, who stole an Israeli flag from Ms. Davaajav’s bag.
“People often don’t realize how violent the BDS activists on campus can get,” Ms. Davaajav said. “When I became vocal on campus about my support for Israel, the BDS activists questioned my right to debate and take part in a discussion on Israel because of my ethnic origin. I was slurred with racist language, in which they cruelly mocked my Asian heritage.”
Tamara Berens, a student at King’s College London, was present at a CAMERA event at University College London where dozens of police officers were called in to protect Jewish students barricaded inside a room against an anti-Israel mob that gathered outside a private event.
“It was terrifying,” she said. “That’s partly why I came all this way to CAMERA’s conference, because I’ve seen firsthand what we’re up against. There’s a concerted effort to shut down our rights to free speech and assembly. We need support and assistance, and that’s what CAMERA provides.”
Ms. Fliegelman said she feels ready to face strident anti-Israel groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine.
“I plan to use my winning smile to meet as many people on my campus as possible and spread a positive message about Israel that would combat SJP’s misrepresentation of Israel,” she said. “I want to use my days off to set up a table at school and help students who don’t know much about Israel care about Israel.
“I will also be writing about Israel, its need to exist in this world, its misrepresentation in the media and by SJP, and about the psychology behind the conflict and why peace is so far away. I plan to attend SJP meetings for as long as they let me in order to psychoanalyze the members who want to see Israel wiped off the map.
“Hopefully my school will allow me to publish controversial content. Even if they refuse, CAMERA is there to help my pieces get published elsewhere.”
This article was originally published at The Jewish Standard.
“I hate Jews.”
These were the words found carved on the door of a bathroom on our campus this week.
“There is no room for … Zionists at UIUC.”
This statement came on a post by Students for Justice in Palestine, written publicly on Facebook for anyone and everyone to see.
These words do not belong on our campus, nor anywhere else.
Calling into question, let alone vilifying someone’s identity based on religious reasons, ideological reasons, ethnic background or any other identity is entirely unacceptable.
Moreover, these words are a blatant violation of the University’s Student Code.
The Student Code states that “Registered Organizations and Registered Student Organizations shall not practice discrimination against a member or prospective member on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation …”
The Student Code also requires each member of this University community to live up to a set of values, stating, “These values include the freedom to learn, free and open expression within limits that do not interfere … with respect for the dignity of others, and personal and institutional openness to constructive change.”
Beyond these standards, the Student Code states that students may be disciplined for “inciting, aiding, or encouraging others to engage in a behavior which violates the Student Code.”
Hateful words on social media often lead to hateful words in person, and hateful words often lead to hateful, intolerant action: actions like two swastikas being found scrawled on the doors of the bathroom in Altgeld Hall.
Yes, this also happened this week — in the same building where the inscription on one door stating “I hate Jews” was found.
None of this information was presented to the student body when it was known; and yet faculty were made aware of the swastikas and anti-Semitic scrawls via an email sent to the math department.
Our University’s leadership and certain students have bred an environment where words and actions like these have become acceptable.
There are thousands of new freshmen walking around campus, meeting new people and learning what this campus stands for.
Words of hate and acts of intolerance should not be a part of new student orientation.
Words of hate and acts of intolerance are not what this campus stands for.
Very little is spoken about the Student Code on this campus. I can’t recollect being asked to sign off that I would live up to the guidelines set forth in that Code, yet that is my responsibility as a student. So, I have taken the time to learn what is expected of me and what is not allowed. Clearly, some other students, and possibly administrators, have not taken this responsibility upon themselves.
This is not the first time that hateful, anti-Semitic language or symbols have been found on social media pages of campus organizations or on our school grounds. Our administration’s failure to address these matters has fostered a culture of intolerance and prejudice.
Furthermore, failing to share with the student body the occurrences of these disgraceful acts makes the administration complicit in accepting this hate.
Both the students and administration need to revisit the guidelines of this University and uphold their responsibilities to this campus and to every student who calls it home.
Contributed by ’15-’16 CAMERA Fellow Hayley Nagelberg.
Originally published in UIUC’s campus paper, The Daily Illini.