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June 22, 2020 2:06 pm

Pomona College Senior Class President Apologizes for Sharing Antisemitic Social Media Post

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Pomona College. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The senior class president at a southern California college apologized on Monday after sharing antisemitic statements on social media last week.

“I have realized my previous instagram story regarding Zionism and Yemen was anti-Semitic,” wrote Malak Afaneh in a letter to pro-Israel campus group Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance (CPIA).

Addressing Jewish students on campus, she added, “I want to deeply apologize for the pain I’ve caused.”

According to the Claremont Independent, a student paper at Pomona College in Claremont, California, Afaneh had re-posted on Instagram an image of a tweet that said of the ongoing conflict in Yemen, “6 million people died in the Holocaust, we still commemorate it to this day. 18.4 MILLION people are dying in Yemen RIGHT NOW. That’s 3 holocausts at once…SILENCE IS COMPLIANCE!!!”

Also on the image, in a message below the tweet, another social media user had ranted, “[O]nce again, zionist-Israel-birthright-vacation-stuck-on-comparing-holocaust-to-racism-WW2-worshipping bitches, this should be right up ur alley. Oh wait u hate brown ppl.”

In her apology, Afaneh said she “didn’t mean to amplify” these remarks, and that her approval of the post only applied to the criticism of Saudi Arabia.

In response to the initial re-post, CPIA had sent a letter to Afaneh, Associated Students of Pomona College Executive Vice President Payal Kachru, Dean of Students Avis Hinkson and President G. Gabrielle Starr saying it was “deeply saddened and appalled,” and calling the views expressed “offensive, repugnant, and deeply hurtful.”

Afaneh’s endorsement of such sentiments, it noted, “directly isolates and targets the Jewish students she is supposed to fairly represent.”

The group called for an “immediate explanation and apology” from Afaneh, barring which she should resign.

“She is wholly unable to carry out her duties representing Jewish students if she holds these beliefs,” they said.

B’nai B’rith International also weighed in on the incident, saying it was “outraged.”

“No one with these vile views should represent Jewish students,” it declared.

Following Afaneh’s apology, CPIA was quick to put the matter to rest.

Posting the full text of the apology on Facebook, the group wrote, “We have received a timely and gracious apology from the Pomona Senior Class President which acknowledged her role in spreading antisemitic content on social media. We accept her apology and hope this can be a teaching moment for all.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed the antisemitic comments in the Instagram post directly to Afaneh. In fact they had been written by another social media user and were re-posted by the student leader.

This article has also been updated to include Afaneh’s apology to the Jewish community.

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