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October 22, 2018 5:03 pm

George Mason University Students Condemn Antisemitism After Local JCC Vandalized

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George Mason University’s School of Public Policy. Photo: Ron Cogswell.

Student leaders at George Mason University in Virginia condemned antisemitism on Thursday, after a nearby Jewish community center was vandalized with 19 swastikas earlier this month.

The measure — passed by the school’s Student Senate — came some 18 months after the same JCC was defaced with the symbol of the SS Nazi military unit and the words, “Hitler was right.”

It embraced the Jewish community as “a vital part of the Mason community,” and pledged not to “stand for hatred and acts of malice.”

The resolution was sponsored by student senator Max Kim, and co-sponsored by Amir Mahmoud, chairman of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs Committee.

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McKenna Bates, speaker pro tempore of the Student Senate, said following the resolution’s passage that her school “does have an antisemitism problem,” though she and many of her friends are working to address the issue.

“Tuesday afternoon, before I attended a private event with Ron Dermer, my other club (the Israel Student Association) hosted a kiosk in the university’s main food court,” she explained on social media on Thursday. “Our kiosk was centered around media bias, which is something that I’ve been focused on since this summer.”

“During this kiosk, I was told that Palestinian lives matter more than Jewish lives, and that the murder of Jews is justified because Palestinians are at the bottom of the oppression system and thus any expressions of resistance are ultimately justified,” she added. “Unfortunately, I hear these kinds of remarks so often that not only am I desensitized — I subconsciously normalize these statements.”

Bates said that she had become so used to such treatment, that “events are weird to me if they don’t have some kind of protester telling me that Jews deserve to die or spouting some other kind of hatred.”

“The fact that I and my peers have come to expect this is awful,” she continued, calling the passing of the antisemitism resolution “a step in the right direction, one that I can deepen to begin to change the attitudes towards Jews on campus.”

The measure was also applauded by George Mason’s Hillel chapter, which thanked Kim and Bates for their work. “We can always count on you to help empower and protect the Jewish community at Mason,” the group wrote.

George Mason has less than 1,000 Jewish undergraduates, from a broader population of some 25,000. The school is also home to the anti-Zionist club Students Against Israeli Apartheid, which support the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel.

In 2016, George Mason hosted the annual gathering of National Students for Justice in Palestine, a leading anti-Zionist group. An Israeli flag was reportedly used as a doormat during the conference.

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