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September 25, 2017 12:50 pm

University of Illinois Chancellor Slams ‘Antisemitic Attacks Hidden Under Anti-Zionist Rhetoric’

avatar by Shiri Moshe

The iconic Alma Mater bronze statue at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign draped with an Israeli flag. Photo: IlliniPAC

The chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) on Sunday condemned rising antisemitism at American universities, including “anti-Semitic attacks hidden under the guise of anti-Zionist rhetoric.”

In a statement issued in response to “growing national instances of intolerance, especially on college campuses,” Chancellor Robert Jones denounced the pervasiveness of racist and antisemitic symbols and behaviors, from painted swastikas and KKK costumes to illegitimate attacks on the Jewish state and its supporters.

“Members of our Jewish, African American, Latino/a and many other residents of our diverse community find themselves asking whether they are welcome and safe here,” Jones wrote. “The answer to that — whether in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, or any place in this country — must be a clear and resounding: ‘Yes, you are.’”

Earlier this month, while promoting a rally it was co-sponsoring, UIUC’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine equated Zionism — the movement for Jewish national self-determination — with white supremacy and fascism. The group threatened to use “any means necessary” against supporters of each ideology, including “full-scale armed conflict.”

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During the rally, SJP displayed an Israeli flag that was covered in fake blood and the word “genocide.”

Illini Public Affairs Committee (IlliniPAC) — a bipartisan, pro-Israel student group at UIUC — praised Jones’ statement on social media “for affirming to Pro-Israel and Jewish students that our voice matters, and has been heard, on this campus.”

“The University of Illinois is a pro-Israel campus that is a safe and welcoming community for all members,” Hayley Nagelberg, a junior at UIUC and co-president of IlliniPAC, told The Algemeiner on Monday. “We work year round to stay in communication with our administration.”

The group helped organize a letter campaign to the UIUC administration following SJP’s comments, allowing students and alumni to express their frustration over the university’s failure to respond to incidents that target and isolate the Jewish community.

“We feel that [Jones’] letter to the campus community responded to these statements,” Nagelberg said.

“Words must be supported by action,” she added. “IlliniPAC leaders will continue to advocate for the University of Illinois to take concrete steps toward protecting pro-Israel and Jewish students. Individuals and organizations who perpetuate hate must be held accountable. We will continue our efforts until that is achieved.”

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