Student Activist at Washington U: Campus Police Said ‘Little We Can Do’ About Vandalism of ‘Pro-Palestine, Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace’ Display
A student activist at University of Washington (UW) told The Algemeiner that campus police have said there is “little they can do” about the vandalization of a display “promoting peace in Israel and Palestine.”
Uri Zvi — a member of bipartisan pro-Israel student coalition Chai UW — said he was told by officers that the “chances are very, very slim of finding” the unidentified male who ran up to the group’s display of educational materials; behaved in a menacing manner toward the students manning the table; ripped a sign in two; and fled the scene.
The sign, which was made by students affiliated with the left-wing organization J Street, read, “Pro-Palestine, Pro-Israel, Pro-Peace.”
“The officer asked us how much the sign was worth, and it wasn’t much — it was just something we printed ourselves. But it was still destruction of property,” said Zvi, who was not in the immediate area at the time of the incident.
He added that it took nearly an hour for an officer to arrive after the incident was reported.
“It wasn’t an emergency, but it seems a little funny that we were told someone had been dispatched, and no one showed up for 56 minutes,” he said.
The school’s chapter of the campus Jewish organization Hillel wrote in a statement, “Such actions have no place on our campus and tear at the fabric of our diverse community.” UW Hillel added that it “is working with university administrators and campus police to ensure this matter is investigated and that swift and proper actions are taken to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”
The sign was part of Chai UW’s response to “Palestine Awareness Week,” previously known as “Israeli Apartheid Week,” which ended Friday and was organized by the school’s chapter of Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights (SUPER). The Chai UW display was set up near the “apartheid wall” erected by SUPER.
According to Zvi, SUPER was behind an attempt to have the pro-Israel students removed from the campus square where both groups had organized.
“We found out that they called the Student Activities Office and complained that we were ‘too close.’ A senior adviser came out twice and tried to get us to move. We were not protesting SUPER directly — which would have been a violation of their rights — and we had made sure that we had the necessary information on permits for our extremely temporary display,” he told The Algemeiner. “There was no legitimate reason I can see for why we should have been told to move. Never before have we or any other group been asked to evacuate for ‘being too close’ to another group.”
Zvi said he believes the Chai UW display was a success, with 13 student volunteers speaking to many of their peers over two days.
“I really enjoyed the conversations I had with students. I told people to come hear our story and decide your own truth — and everyone I spoke to ended up being at least sympathetic to the Israeli side,” he said.
UW ranked seventh on The Algemeiner‘s 2016 list of “40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students,” in part due to anti-Israel activity on campus spearheaded by SUPER.