Middle East studies in the News
Target of Anti-BDS Fliers: "These Remarks Are Not a Light Claim in America"
by Alex Ward
Over the past week, posters targeting members of the UChicago community as "terrorist supporters" appeared around campus and have since been removed by the University.
The posters included the names of 26 members of the University community, including the names and drawings of the faces of two members of the faculty.
The students named on the posters are affiliated with the Muslim Students Association (MSA), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and U of C Divest. The David Horowitz Freedom Center placed similar posters on campus in October of 2016 and May of this year, after College Council (CC) approved a resolution calling for the University to divest from companies connected to the Israeli occupation in May 2016.
Another poster depicted Rasmea Odeh, a community activist convicted in 1970 of bombing an Israeli supermarket who later came to the U.S.
Odeh was convicted of immigration fraud in 2014 for not mentioning her conviction for the bombings, which she says she only confessed to under torture by Israeli police. The posters called Odeh a "terrorist murderer" and a "hero to SJP and JVP."
The posters are part of a campaign by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a conservative organization that oversees campaigns criticizing leftism and opposition to the state of Israel, particularly on the issue of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.
The poster campaign coincides with an announcement by the Center that it has named UChicago and DePaul University to its list of the "Top Ten Worst Schools that Support Terrorists." UChicago's inclusion is credited to the presence of an active chapter of SJP and the divestment campaign.
On Wednesday, Dean of Students Michele Rasmussen sent an email to the University community condemning the posters and vowing to remove any further related postings. Rasmussen, along with Provost Daniel Diermeier, sent a similar email to the University after the postings last May.
Like May's posters, the most recent posters include names that can all be found on Canary Mission, a website that posts information about individuals connected to the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement across the US.
In a Facebook message, one of the individuals mentioned in the posters who asked to remain anonymous said that the posters amount to slander and pose a threat to their safety. "Most of those named 'terrorists' are Muslim (many visibly Muslim) students living in the United States. We don't just 'not appreciate' being called terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. These remarks are not a light claim in America."
The individual also said that those targeted by the posters have asked the University several times to pursue a lawsuit, among its other actions, though no lawsuit has been filed. According to internal University documents obtained by The Maroon in July, the University considered legal action against and public condemnation of the Center after the postings in May. Individuals mentioned on Canary Mission who were contacted by The Maroon during the summer did not indicate that they had heard about any further action by the University.
The documents included an annotation mentioning that the Center had threatened legal action against UCLA after its vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion, Jerry Kang, publicly condemned the organization for a similar set of postings on UCLA's campus.
The Maroon has reached out to the University and both of the faculty members whose faces were included in the posters for comment, but has not received responses as of publication time.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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