by Arnold Ahlert | FrontPageMag.com | April 23, 2012
Students who vocally call for the destruction of Israel have created a stir in Florida with their promotion of modern-day blood libels and lies demonizing the Jewish State. On March 30th, 200 mock eviction notices were placed on dorm-room doors by the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) in Boca Raton. “We regret to inform you that your home is scheduled for demolition shortly,” begins the notice, which can be seen here. “You have three (3) days to vacate the premise persuant (sic) to code no. 208.2A or you will be subject to arrest. If you do not leave, we reserve the right to destroy your home. Anyone left inside is not our responsibility.”
The notice continues: “Harsh? So is this reality: The Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions reports about 25,000 homes have been destroyed by Israeli military forces since the Occupation of Palestine began in 1967.” Further down, the notice repeats the lie that Israeli forces deliberately murdered American peace activist Rachel Corrie.
For the legions of college students reliably ignorant of history, 1967 is the year of the Six Day War during which Israel neutralized the attempt by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq to annihilate the Jewish State. As for Corrie, she was killed when she attempted to interfere with Israeli counter-terrorism operations taking place in a declared war zone. The zone was part of an area concealing weapon smuggling tunnels used to attack Israel. Corrie was acting as a human shield and was accidently crushed by falling debris. Yet her death remains a cornerstone of anti-Israeli propaganda.
SJP campus leader Noor Fawzy claims the notice was nothing more than an attempt to educate students. “The intent is to expose Israel’s illegal policies and give students a feel of what it’s like to live under occupation” she said, further noting that the notices were posted at random and Jewish students were not singled out. “We don’t discriminate, we’re here to raise awareness about the plight of Palestinians,” said Fawzy. “This was done randomly, we were escorted by a housing official as we distributed the notices.”
With respect to that last contention at least, Fawzy is telling the truth. The FAU Housing and Residential Life Department not only approved the notices, but provided a department employee as an escort when the anti-Israeli activists posted them on dorm doors and elevators. Initially, Charles Brown, FAU’s Senior Vice President for Student Affairs, contended the university did not condone the fliers. Yet FAU was eventually forced to accept responsibility. “The recent mock eviction postings did not comply with the policies of University Housing and Residential Life or the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership concerning the distribution of printed material,” said a released statement.
The notices also contained a mock Palm Beach County seal that PBC Commissioner Steven Abrams noted was illegal, even though it contained a disclaimer “not affiliated with county.” Abrams contended the posting was done “to scare or confuse students, which I am informed was the case in many instances,” he said.
Fawzy remained unrepentant. “We have the right to express ourselves,” she said. “There is no reason for the Jewish community to feel afraid.” Student Rayna Exelbierd, who had one of the eviction notices posted on her door, wasn’t buying it. “We’re taking it very seriously,” she said. “We’re considering it a hate crime. The flier promotes hate; it doesn’t promote peace. People were scared by it. People felt threatened by it.”
Students do have the right to express themselves, yet the point at which such expression crosses the line into outright intimidation–make that university-sanctioned intimidation–may in fact be a violation of anti-discrimination laws that do not allow for the creation of a hostile environment targeting specific groups. The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a group that has led the charge to defend Jewish college students from campus hate, demanded that FAU condemn the notice. They contend the flyer was anti-Semitic, citing a 2005 study by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recognizing that anti-Semitism “should be distinguished from legitimate discourse regarding foreign policy,” and that “anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.”
The ZOA has a legitimate point. In 2010, after six years of campaigning, they got the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to clarify that Jewish students finally would merit the same protection “against exclusion from participation in, denial of benefits of, and discrimination under federally assisted programs on ground of race, color, or national origin” that Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act confers on all minorities. Thus, it is possible that FAU, due to its official sanction of the notices, may be in violation of federal law.
Yet FAU remains defiant. In announcing the conclusion of their investigation, the university claimed it had taken “appropriate corrective steps” with staffers who approved the notices–even as they refused to detail those steps, citing the tiresomely familiar excuse that the university does not comment on personnel matters. An email released by Charles Brown echoes that opaqueness, but offers up yet another familiar fallback position for university administrators: moral equivalence. “We have received disturbing reports of threats, hostility and intolerance from and against fellow members of our community in connection with these postings,” it states, implying those who posted the notices have been as intimidated as those who received them. Again, since no details are provided, we are forced to accept Mr. Brown at his word.
Yet further on in the email the senior vice president for Student Affairs demonstrates a startling disconnect from reality: “We can confirm that, although the postings failed to comply with University policy and should not have been distributed as they were, we have found no evidence that the postings were intended to target or intimidate individuals of any particular religion, national origin or faith” (bold in the original). Why? Because the postings were “distributed randomly.”
Utter nonsense, and Mr Brown is well aware of it. ZOA met with him in 2011 and made him aware of the SJP’s growing radicalization, including the fact that their leader, Noor Fawzy, had been involved with organizing “Miami’s Third Intifada Rally for Palestine” and a “Freedom Flotilla II” rally. Video of Fawzy chanting, “Long live the Intifada” and “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” can be seen here. Furthermore, there is no mistaking the meaning of the word “intifada,” which is a call for a “violent uprising,” nor the implication behind “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” which is a call for the annihilation of the Jewish State. As for the flotilla, it was the second attempt by hard-left, anti-Israeli activists to break an Israeli naval blockade aimed at preventing the arming of Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.
Overt anti-Semitism is hardly confined to FAU. Rutgers University is investigating an incident in which the Daily Medium, a student-funded newspaper, published a “mock” article in its April 4th edition. “What About the Good things that Hitler Did?” falsely attributed authorship to conservative Jewish student Aaron Marcus, whose grandparents lost family in the Holocaust. Prof. Ronald Miskoff, an advisor to the newspaper, defended both the article and the false attribution, contending that “permission is not required for a parody” and that Marcus “is a columnist for the Daily Targum and also a public person.”
In both of these incidents and numerous others, the protagonists’ position is that they are exercising their First Amendment rights, and aside from the limitations imposed by Title VI, they are undoubtedly correct. But it has become clear that a mystifying double standard with respect to Jewish students exists on today’s campuses. The fact of the matter is, not all minority groups are treated equally at the university. For some, it is open season, which allows those who oppose and despise the Jewish homeland to spread their hate and lies delegitimizing its existence totally unimpeded. Imagine if, for example, the College Republicans circulated “random” eviction notices to students to promote “awareness” about illegal immigration. Or sent students “pink slips” informing them that they lost their campus job because it had been given to an illegal immigrant. Undoubtedly such expressions of free speech would be condemned as racist, invariably followed by an investigation into the “targeting” of Hispanic students.
At the very least, FAU owes their Jewish students an official, university-sanctioned apology for the part it played in abetting campus radicalism directed at a specific group. The “random distribution” excuse is a pathetically weak explanation that would neither be offer or accepted by any university, if virtually any other group were the target of posted eviction notices. Calls to other university officials, most notably Mr. Brown and university president Dr. Mary Jane Saunders, went unanswered. The aforementioned email was deemed sufficient communication regarding the incident. It isn’t.
Duck and cover never is.
*Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at email@example.com.