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October 7, 2022 2:46 pm
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“Zionism is Genocide” Chalking at University of Wisconsin Embraced by Students for Justice in Palestine Group

avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Antisemitic graffiti chalked at University of Wisconsin on first day of class. Photo: StopAntisemitism/Twitter.

University of Wisconsin’s Students for Justice (SJP) in Palestine endorsed antisemitic messages that were chalked on campus on September 7, the first day of fall term.

SJP Board Member and Representative Julian Cooper insisted, however, that “the chalking was not an SJP activity,” according The Daily Cardinal, the university’s student daily. .

“SJP supports the message of the chalking,” Cooper said. “Zionism is a project of racism, and genocide and ethnic cleansing and the stealing of territory and stealing of homes.”

Cooper’s comments come several weeks after University of Wisconsin Chancellor Jennifer L. Mnookin wrote to local Jewish leaders condemning the incident and confirming that several SJP students “took responsibility for the chalkings,” which said, “Zionism is Racism,” “Zionism is Genocide,” and accused “Zionist” student organizations of having “blood on their hands.”

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“These statements went beyond political views about Israel and Zionism and included antisemitic statements that wrongly and unfairly ascribed actions and beliefs to our Jewish students,” Mnookin wrote. “It is critical for all of us to call out antisemitism as well as other forms of prejudice and bigotry.”

Chancellor Mnookin also pledged not to discipline anyone involved in the chalking.

“Because our speech rules as a public educational institution protect even deeply offensive speech, this engagement will be educational rather than disciplinary,” she continued.

Julian Cooper criticized the university’s official statements.

“The chancellors should be proud of the anti-apartheid and anti-occupation activism taking place on their campus rather than try to silence it and discredit,” he said.

Thursday was not the first time University of Wisconsin SJP embraced the chalking. After the incident, the group issued a statement that said “the zionist [sic] organizations and the Chancellors that chose to equate zionism and Judaism” and accused Israelis of murdering Palestinians for “stolen land.”

Another organization, Madison for Palestine, denied that the messages were antisemitic, saying, “In typical zionist fashion, with zero evidence to substantiate their claims, the organizations labeled the chalked messages as ‘anti-Semitic.'”

A number of antisemitic incidents have occurred recently at the University of Wisconsin, The Daily Cardinal reported.

Last semester, a swastika was graffitied in the bathroom of a residence hall, someone screamed antisemitic slurs at a student, and another student reported being harassed for “looking Jewish.”

University of Wisconsin has called on students to “please use this semester to respectfully engage with one another while deepening our culture of belonging.”

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