Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Antisemitism and self-exculpation at the University of Illinois at Chicago

A denunciation of the antisemitic posters found at the University of Illinois at Chicago has just been posted to Mondoweiss, of all places: "Regarding the anti-Semitic, anti-Black, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim posters on UIC’s campus."

If this was intended to reassure Jewish students and faculty at UIC it's hard to imagine that placing this statement at Mondoweiss would have that effect. I haven't found it placed in any other online media. Hence, I don't think that Jews are actually the audience (except for far left anti-Zionist Jews).

In my opinion, this statement is mostly intended to prove how pure the authors of the statement are of antisemitism - even though there is antisemitism in the pro-Palestinian movement, which its leaders hardly ever acknowledge (and sometimes spread themselves), and both the pro-Palestinian movement and some parts of the Black Lives Matter movement make statements calling for the dismantling of the state of Israel, which I regard as antisemitic. It's also intended to portray themselves as equal victims of these posters - even the headline to the article grabs the attention away from the explicitly anti-Jewish nature of the posters.

It's also remarkable that the statement says nothing about supporting Jewish students or faculty at UIC, or Jews in the city of Chicago. This also says to me that the main interest is to distance themselves from the flyers, rather than stand in actual solidarity with Jews.

[On March 15, 2017, the top leaders of the university, including the Chancellor and Provost, denounced the first poster, which appeared several days before the next four, with these words: "Today, anti-Semitic posters were found on campus that defame, insult and negatively portray Jewish members of our campus community. Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community. Acts that invoke hatred or violence toward members of our community will not be tolerated on our campus." See also an article on the Algemeiner website, which expresses the views of some Jewish students - End Jewish Privilege Fliers Distributed at Illinois University Have Students Up in Arms].

That said, I believe them. I don't think people in the pro-Palestinian movement or Black Lives Matter are responsible for these posters. As the BLM statement that I published yesterday says, "We’ve noticed a disturbing new trend where people have been using language from social justice circles to hide their racist agenda." (I found the BLM statement more to the point and less involved in self-exculpation). I find it far more likely that NeoNazis are cloaking their antisemitism in pseudo pro-Palestinian language.

This is the statement:
On March 16, a series of flyers were posted on University of Illinois at Chicago’s (UIC) campus that exploit social justice issues to spread anti-Semitic views. First and foremost, as units on campus that work at the forefront of UIC’s commitment to diversity and social justice, we condemn all forms of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, anti-Blackness or any forms of hatred, phobia, or dehumanization. 
Secondly, the damaging and hurtful nature of these posters is that they seek to malign and divide some of the very groups that are fighting injustice and xenophobia in the first place. They erroneously depict the groups “Black Lives Matter” and “We are Muslims” as authors of the anti-Semitic hateful flyers. No specific group takes credit but hashtags are added to suggest authorship of the incendiary flyers by Black and Muslim/Arab organizations. If real groups authored these flyers, why not take credit? If they did not want to be associated, why incriminate their movements? It makes no sense. Moreover, the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag is not even the # most commonly used by either the national or Chicago chapter, neither of which know anything about the origin of these flyers. 
Many of us either work with or have students involved with Chicago’s Black Lives Matter, Palestine solidarity and Muslim organizations on campus and in the city. These groups would never circulate anti-semitic or hateful literature like this. It is antithetical to their mission and work. These fake posters are consistent with a long history whereby hate groups have cited marginalized communities as authors of hate speech to smear them and incite mistrust between them. They serve the goals of both provoking anti-Semitic hatred and justifying the targeting of Palestine solidarity and Black Lives Matter movements, wrongly indicting them as purveyors of hate. 
We stand united against hatred and discrimination against all communities. 
We condemn these anti-Semitic assaults as well as the divisive suggestion that Black and Muslim students are the source of this racism. 
We disavow any attempt to use the painful realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or the Holocaust as fodder for anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Blackness. 
We will not allow this or any incident to pit one of our communities against the other.
 The signers of the statement are:

Chair of the Department of Philosophy
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Asian Americans (CCSAA)
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Blacks
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Latinos
Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGBTQ People and Allies
Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education, College of Education
Disability Resource Center
Gender and Sexuality Center
Gender and Women’s Studies Program
Germanic Studies Department
Global Asian Studies Program
Great Cities Institute
Hispanic and Italian Studies Department
Head of the Department of English
Honors College
Institute for the Humanities
Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement (IPCE)
Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy
International Studies Program
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
Jewish Studies Program
Latin American and Latino Studies Program
Latin American Recruitment and Educational Services (LARES) Program
Middle East and Muslim Societies Cluster
Moving Image Arts Minor
Museum and Exhibition Studies Program
Native American Support Program
Office of the Dean of Students
Office of Undergraduate Research
Rafael Cintrón Ortiz Latino Cultural Center
Religious Studies Program
School of Art & Art History
School of Literatures, Cultural Studies & Linguistics
School of Theatre and Music
Social Foundations of Education Program
Social Justice Initiative
UIC United Faculty (UICUF)
Women’s Leadership and Resource Center

[Update - I just read an article in the online Forward about this denunciation - - but there's nothing about how the reporter received the statement or where he found it].

Further update - other places where the statement has appeared:

From the Arab American Center at UIC - a much more robust statement, issued on March 16:
March 16, 2017 
Yesterday, fliers were distributed around campus targeting the Jewish population on our campus. This incident, coupled with the proliferation of anti-Semitic statements and attacks on Jewish community centers, graveyards, and synagogues is a reminder that white supremacy remains a powerful force and impacts our campus. 
We fear that the unleashing of racist and fascist projects on a national scale has helped to legitimize such attacks against the Jewish population, as well as those against Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian, Arab, and Muslim people. These realities make it more urgent than ever to boldly condemn anti-Semitism and to affirm, in speech and practice, a safe and welcoming campus free of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of racism and dehumanization. 
We believe that our well-being as a campus community depends on refusing to tolerate violence and hatred, reclaiming safety, and building mutually supportive communities.

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