Jewish Students at Cornell Respond to Anti-Israel Defacement of Flyers on Campus
by Zach Pontz
Jewish students have voiced their disappointment to Cornell’s student newspaper regarding the anonymous distribution of anti-Israel posters in a Cornell University Rec Center last week.
More than 20 posters that showed a defaced promotion for a Cornell Hillel event that brought Israeli soldiers to speak on campus were left scattered in a university rec center last week . The posters, which were marked up with red ink, denounced the “exclusively Jewish” soldiers — asserting that they engaged in “war-crime[s],” not “combat,” and served in “massacres,” not “missions.”
The Cornell Daily Sun reported that on Sunday Students for Justice in Palestine, an organization that describes itself as being dedicated to “raising awareness of the Palestinian experience,” took credit for making the posters. SJP claimed it produced the posters to “condemn the nature of Hillel’s event.”
The event “normalize[d] an illegal military occupation and illegal wars of aggression that have cause[d] immense suffering and death in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon,” the organization wrote in a statement to The Sun.
Jordana Gilman, president of Cornell Hillel, told the student newspaper that she was disappointed that the flyers were left anonymously, leaving no way for students to respond or conduct a dialogue with those holding opposite viewpoints. Ultimately, what was more frustrating than the content of the posters was the way in which they were distributed, Gilman told the paper.
“If what we want — which is what I think we want — is for the two governments to talk to each other, then we need to model that,” she said, adding that Muslim and Jewish community members did just that — convene — at a Shabbat dinner Friday.
Eli Shaubi, co-president of the Cornell Israel Public Affairs Committee, said the posters showed a “lack of acceptance of any Israeli suffering by the other side at Cornell.”
“I am personally disappointed that some people feel the need to demonize Israel and delegitimize the political expressions of such a large portion of the student body,” he told The Sun.
Shaubi said CIPAC acknowledges the suffering of both Palestinians and Israelis, but said that it does not seek to “delegitimize the Palestinian cause.” The posters, however, showed blatant intolerance for the pro-Israel movement, he said.
“Supporting the Palestinian people and accepting national Jewish self-determination are not mutually exclusive, and many members of CIPAC and the pro-Israel community at large have learned how to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian,” Shaubi said. “I expect the same respect from supporters of the Palestinian cause, whether we agree politically or not.”
In promotion of its views, SJP said it is organizing an Israel Apartheid Week to raise awareness of what it called the “racist, colonial nature of the Israeli occupation.”
Gilman was nonplussed, calling into question the need for such a negative and divisive event.
“I want to emphasize that not every Jew is a poster child of being pro-Israel, and I understand that not every Muslim is a poster child of being anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian. I really want us to view each other as individuals, and the only way to do that is if we sit down and talk,” Gilman said.