Following Kent State Decision to Retain Golda Display, Advocacy Group Threatens Legal Action Against University for Failing to Protect Students From ‘Network of Well-Funded Zionists’
An anti-Israel legal advocacy group is demanding an apology from Kent State University for failing to protect its students from “a network of well-funded right-wing Zionist organizations” and sympathetic media, following the school’s decision to leave in place a campus display featuring a photo of and quotation by the late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, The Algemeiner has learned.
Palestine Legal issued a letter to Kent State President Beverly Warren on behalf of members of its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, who requested the display be taken down as it “threaten[ed] their ability to access equal educational opportunities.”
The legal group accused the university of violating its responsibilities under the First Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — which prohibits programs and activities receiving federal funding from discriminating on the basis of race, color or national origin — and of exhibiting “callous treatment” towards those complaining about the Golda display.
Palestine Legal demanded that school administrators meet with members of SJP to “listen to [their] grievances and needs,” issue a public apology for “failing to defend them from the false and malicious accusations of supporting terrorism” and “make public” the process that went into the decision to keep the display.
Failure to ensure a safe space, the letter stated, where “Palestinians and Muslim students and Palestine solidarity activists enjoy the right to speak out in favor of Palestinian freedom without discrimination based on the viewpoint they express,” could result in legal action.
As The Algemeiner reported, the demand to dismantle the Golda installation was issued by SJP president Yousof Mousa — with the support of the Spanish and Latino Student Association (SALSA), Ohio Student Association and Muslim Students Association (MSA) — in an op-ed published by independent student website Kent Wired.
According to Mousa, the late prime minister participated in the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians” and her quote — “Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement” — was causing Palestinian and black students discomfort and “contribut[ing] to a climate that makes us feel like we do not belong here.” The installment, Mousa wrote, serves as a daily reminder of racism on campus.
“[R]emoving the quote from Golda Meir, which is nonsectarian and which reasonably could be read by many as inspirational, would be counter to our core institutional value of supporting a diversity of cultures, beliefs, identities and thought,” Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost Todd Diacon wrote to Mousa.
According to a Kent State spokesperson who spoke with The Algemeiner, the Golda display, along with the entire accompanying exhibit, will be removed next summer due to construction on the site.
Kent State did not immediately respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment on Palestine Legal’s demands.