Flyers Promoting Talk With Israeli Druze, Arabs Defaced at University of Houston
Posters promoting an event with Israelis from minority communities were vandalized at the University of Houston (UH) in Texas on Tuesday.
Messages scrawled on the flyers with red maker accused the speakers — who belong to Israel’s Arab, Druze, and Christian communities — of complicity “in genocide of Palestinians,” according to photos posted online by Nofar Salman, a Jewish Agency Israel fellow at Houston Hillel and one of the event organizers.
“Israel is a racist states (sic) & these are their murders (sic),” one message read. “Blood is on your hands,” charged another.
The speakers, part of the group Reservists on Duty (RoD) — which was founded by Israeli reserve soldiers who oppose boycotts of their country — came to share stories of their lives as minorities in the Jewish state. They ultimately proceeded with the event as planned.
Salman said the speakers represented Israel’s “racially and ethnically diverse” population, and sought to share “their unique perspectives so that Cougars can learn more about life in Israel and gain a better understanding of people from a different country and culture firsthand.”
She said the posters were defaced “with insidious lies and troubling accusations” against the guests.
“Not only is the vandalization deeply offensive and a crime, the accusations are grossly untrue and libelous,” Salman argued. “Spreading unfounded lies and hiding behind false accusations is against the values that our university prides itself on.”
Hillel urges “those behind these attacks to come forward, to renounce their hatred, and to open their minds to diverse viewpoints,” she continued. “Through mutual respect, understanding, and dialogue, we can bridge gaps, better understand one another, and stamp out hatred.”
Jonathan Elkhoury, one of the RoD speakers, suggested that anti-Zionist activists vandalized the posters because “they think they will frighten us and put a stop to our activities.”
“The opposite is true,” Elkhoury observed, “we understand more than ever the importance of reaching every campus where there is a delegitimization campaign against Israel and its citizens, in order to support the Jewish and pro-Israel communities and share the only real truth.”
“Israel is a democratic state and as such we will do everything in order to defend our home in the hostile international community,” he added.
The incident comes shortly after more than 80 posters advertising a lecture with an Israeli journalist at the University of Missouri were “systematically torn down” and vandalized, according to an organizer.
Last week, Salman called out members of UH’s Students for Justice in Palestine group, after they led a workshop at an immigrant youth conference that compared Israel with Nazi Germany and equated the movement for Jewish self-determination with white supremacy and genocide.
Members of RoD’s minority initiative have previously attracted some criticism for their efforts to fight what they described as the delegitimization of Israel abroad.
Dema Taya, an Israeli-Arab Muslim who toured US campuses with RoD last October, said she received a barrage of abusive comments after her views on her country were shared on Arab media.
“I received a lot of messages on Facebook threatening me and attacking me,” Taya told The Algemeiner at the time. “It was emotionally very difficult for me, because they wrote very harsh comments and insulted me personally, just because I am saying the truth … it was really painful.”