Shalom Life | October 21, 2014

Experts Say that Mock Eviction Notices May be Fake, But Their anti-Semitism is Real

Over the last two years, anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic mock eviction notices have appeared on at least a dozen universities around the U.S.

By: Alina Dain Sharon, JNS.org

Published: June 23rd, 2014 in News » World

AMCHA makes the case that at federally funded universities, Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act—which prohibits discrimination on the grounds of race, color or national origin by federally funded programs—can apply on college campuses if a group is being singled out with harassment, intimidation, or by otherwise negatively impacting students’ rights to a normal academic experience.

This kind of harassment is evident, Brett Cohen said, not only in the mock eviction cases but also in other SJP anti-Israel protests and incidents on campuses, such as the recent University of California, Los Angeles student government elections, in which SJP asked candidates to sign a pledge that they would not take educational trips to Israel.

Laura Adkins, a pro-Israel NYU student activist wrote an op-ed about the mock eviction notices on her campus for the Times of Israel, told JNS.org that while opinions remain divided on whether Jewish students were specifically targeted by the notices, she believes they were in fact targeted, especially because the flyers used the term “Judaization.”

“Additionally, one of the two dorms, the Palladium, is well-known to be a dorm that lots of Jewish students choose, in no small part due to the presence of a Shabbat elevator (which automatically stops on each floor so that Shabbat-observant students don’t need to press a button),” she said.

Though the university contested this by saying the elevator exists because of a stairway that exits to the street and cannot be accessed through the lobby behind the security desk, the wall next to the elevator has a plaque written by NYU’s Rabbi Yehuda Sarna.

Rayna Rose Exelbird, the StandWithUs Emerson fellow at Florida Atlantic University and the current social media manager for Howls for Israel on her campus, told JNS.org that when SJP members distributed mock evictions at her campus in 2012, she felt targeted given her experience as an Israel advocate.

Although non-Jewish students also found the notices posted on their doors, “it definitely wasn’t a coincidence that my door was included in their activities,” she said, adding that she could not find any other notices posted on doors on her floor.

Mock eviction notices have also been posted in dormitories at Claremont Colleges, a California-based consortium of five undergraduate liberal arts colleges and two graduate institutions.

The Claremont McKenna College cafeteria was the site of a 2013 incident in which an Israeli professor tried to get SJP activists to move a protest away from the entrance, so that students would not be blocked from entering and forced to participate in a protest against their own interests. The professor got into altercation with an SJP student, calling him a “little cockroach,” which led to an accusation of racism against Arab students. The professor, however, denied the accusation and said he was provoked.

In the wake of that incident, mock eviction notices appeared at the Claremont Colleges. The Office of Students Affairs at one of the consortium’s schools, Pitzer College, “did respond swiftly and called for the fake eviction notices to be taken down, highlighting the violation in policy,” said Elliott Hamilton, a rising senior at Pitzer, co-president of Claremont Students for Israel, and a founding member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity chapter at the Claremont Colleges.

But while the administration “did a good job of getting the flyers taken down, they did not openly condemn the students of SJP for violating college policy,” Hamilton told JNS.org.

While Hamilton does not believe SJP specifically targeted Jewish students at the Claremont Colleges, he said that “did not stop Jewish students from feeling targeted, hated, and vilified.”

Kenneth L. Marcus, president & general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law and former staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, told JNS.org that university leaders “must ban these eviction notices if they enforce their policies on flyers against any other group.” Those leaders, he said, should also “take these eviction notices as a teachable moment to explain that hostility to Israel often crosses the line into anti-Semitism.”

Reprinted from JNS.org

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