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January 26, 2017 8:56 am

Jewish Students at U of Florida ‘Shocked’ by Cyclist Wearing Swastika Armband Riding Around Campus

avatar by Lea Speyer

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A man wearing a Nazi armband seen riding his bicycle on the University of Florida campus. Photo: Shane Bartley/ Facebook.

A man wearing a Nazi armband seen riding his bicycle on the University of Florida campus. Photo: Shane Bartley/ Facebook.

Jewish students at the University of Florida (UF) were stunned Tuesday at the sight of a man with a swastika armband riding a bicycle around campus, the independent student newspaper The Alligator reported.

“When I first saw it I was shocked,” said Avichaim Snyder, adding that he witnessed University Police stop the cyclist, question him and then “[share] a laugh,” before allowing him to ride away.

“I got very aggravated about what was happening. I would have preferred the cop to tell him to take off the swastika,” Snyder said. “The fact that he let him go on his merry way without saying anything was just wrong.”

Students promoting Jewish Heritage Month at an outdoor table said they saw the man ride by as they were packing up to leave. The vice president of the school’s Jewish Student Union, who said she was scared by the incident, added that she was “very thankful” that her peers were already moving away from the area.

The co-directors of the campus Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Student and Community Center called the incident “an expression of antisemitism and hate,” while the head of UF Hillel said it was “not only unacceptable, but also the antithesis of the embracing and diverse Gator Nation.”

Photos and videos of the man riding around campus quickly made the rounds on social media. It still remains unclear whether the cyclist is a UF student or someone from outside the campus community. 

UF spokesperson John Hines said in a statement that while the school does not endorse racism on campus, the man was exhibiting a form of political expression protected under the First Amendment.

“However, it is critical to recognize that swastikas are symbols associated with the Holocaust which exterminated six million Jews as well as multitudes of individuals from other persecuted groups on the basis of their race or religion. The University of Florida encourages inclusion and respect, not hate,” the statement read.

According to the report, Tuesday’s incident is but the latest antisemitic episode at UF. Last Halloween, Snyder said, he saw someone dressed up as Adolf Hitler. Also, he recounted, he was once heckled — while wearing a Star of David — by five students who called him a “dirty Jew” and “Zionist pig.”

As The Algemeiner reported earlier this month, Kenneth Marcus — president of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law —  called the US Department of Education “paralyzed” when it comes to protecting Jewish students, due to the absence of a system-wide definition of antisemitism. Marcus said that DoEd’s department charged with combating hate crimes on campus is “stymied by antisemitism cases,” even though the phenomenon has reached a “tipping point around the country.”

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  • ‘Whites’ − Pan-European ethnics − can develop more constructive strategies to preserve their unique heritage of culture(s), language(s), and spiritual tradition(s) for future generations.

    Ethnic identity matters, and also ensures a diverse human species for the future.

    Meanwhile, Whites can learn how to confidently coexist mutually with other ethnic groups without assimilating and without losing ones own ethnic identity.

    Heh. Where can we find a good example of an ethnic group that figured out how to coexist with other ethnic groups and still survive across thousands of years?

    Love and pride of ones own ethnic identity: good.

    Hate and supremacism against other ethnic identities: bad.

    Incidentally, in Europe, the specific ethnic group is more salient: ‘German’, ‘Irish’, ‘Italian’, ‘Russian’, and so on. But in the ‘melting pot’ of US historical pressures, these ethnicities tended to intermarry and blend, so that a ‘White’ Pan-European ethnic identity emerged. Similarly, ‘Blacks’, being a Pan-African identity blends many different parts of Africa. ‘Latino’ is an other salient blend in the US. And so on.

    Ethnic diversity offers positive benefits for the human species as a whole.

    (But hate groups are stupid.)

    Jewish Americans mainly self-identified as ‘Whites’,
    which is why assimilation and loss of Jewish identity is such a strong
    pressure. Today, there seems to me a Jewish trend to self-identify with
    ‘Pan-Americans’, blending Whites, Blacks, Latinos, and others to emerge a new global blend. The resulting global homogeneity seems unfortunate. Safeguarding diversity is healthier.

    Personally, the ancient view is the most authentic and most useful for Jews. Jews (and Samaritans) are the aborigines of the Land of Israel, especially the region of Judea-Samaria. Jews are a distinctive ethnic identity from Southwest Asia.

    By being Jews, Jews help safeguard the diversity of the human species to benefit all of the human species.

  • Robert Barrett

    They say it’s part of history about the Holocaust and its okay and not hatred then I’ll wear a KKK hood and say it’s a part of history and not hatred.

  • bigrobtheactor

    “Shocked”. Not enraged. No on asked if they could take a closer look and then knock him off his bicycle, step on his neck and break his head. They want some one else to do it for them. They pretend to be Jews, the Jewish way that demands no sacrifice, paying lip service to Hillel but not rally believing him. This story should have ended in stretchers, ambulances and police cars. Pitiful.