THE ANTISEMITISM PROBLEM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
In 2019 alone the University of Illinois has experienced multiple incidents of antisemitic activity, including:
Swastikas found in multiple locations on campus
Mezuzahs torn from doorposts
Fear of harassment causing Jewish students to hide their Jewish identities
As unacceptable as these individual antisemitic expressions are, they pale in comparison to a recent attempt to institutionalize antisemitism by making a virulently antisemitic course a mandatory requirement for some university employees:
At a September 27th mandatory staff meeting, resident advisors were required to sit through a presentation entitled "Great Return March: Palestinian Resistance to 70 Years of Israeli Terror."
The presentation was described by student attendees as "pro-terrorist," calling the existence of the Jewish State a terrorist enterprise, justifying terrorism against Jews, and endorsing martyrdom.
ANTISEMITES DON'T GET TO DEFINE ANTISEMITISM.
U OF I MUST ADOPT THE IHRA DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM.
Groups hostile to Israel and/or Jews urge adoption of their own definition that draws an artificial distinction between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The U.S.A. and 30 other democracies have adopted a definition, along with examples, of antisemitism developed by International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). The United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights uses the IHRA Working Definition, along with its explanatory examples, to determine whether antisemitic discrimination has occurred. The university should take a leading role among higher education institutions and implement this definition for use in assessing potential instances of discrimination against Jewish members of the campus community.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Demand that the university adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) Working Definition of Antisemitism (already adopted and utilized by the 31 IHRA member nations, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education), which properly accounts for various forms of antisemitism, including anti-Zionist manifestations.
Demand that the administration conduct a thorough investigation into how this presentation was selected as a mandatory program for university employees, create better oversight of these courses, and ensure that university employees are held accountable when they abuse their authority in a way that marginalizes a segment of the student population and potentially violates their rights under university policy and/or applicable laws.
Thank Chancellor Jones for identifying and condemning antisemitism on his campus and demand that the university's administration continue to do so while also improving the mechanisms for tracking antisemitic incidents and responding to complaints of antisemitism.