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UIUC students claim ‘anti-Zionism is never antisemitic’

Proposed resolution comes in response to chancellor's condemnation of antisemitism

Students for Justice in Palestine at UIUC 1019 image
Students for Justice in Palestine students took to the Quad to protest Chancellor Robert Jones' statement.

A resolution declaring that "anti-Zionism is never antisemitic" has been introduced in the U of I Urbana-Champaign Student Government by supporters of Students for Justice in Palestine.

The action followed Chancellor Robert Jones' Oct. 10 statement to students condemning antisemitism, which JUF President Lonnie Nasatir strongly applauded and called a "watershed moment" for the university.

Jones' statement came in response to ongoing incidents on campus that were capped by a mandatory staff meeting for resident hall advisers that included a presentation on "Palestinian Resistance to 70 Years of Israeli Terror."

Resolution backers said "the presentation was improperly characterized, had no Anti-Semitic content in it." The proposal's authors are not Jewish and did not work with any Jews to craft it. The resolution currently is in committee.

During an initial Student Government hearing, Jewish students spoke passionately about why they chose to oppose the resolution in its entirety.

"I don't need anybody here to tell me what antisemitism is. I don't need anybody to tell me what it feels like to hide my Jewish star when I cross the quad. To fear hanging a mezuzah on my door. To fear bringing my Israeli family to campus. That fear, the deep fear of antisemitism, is something that I do not need anyone to define for me," one freshman student said. 

Erez Cohen, executive director of the U of I Hillel, said it is critical that every Jewish student feel welcome and safe on campus. "I want to express my gratitude to Chancellor Jones for his commitment to combatting antisemitism alongside the Jewish community." 

""I don't need anybody here to tell me what antisemitism is," one Jewish freshman said. "The deep fear of antisemitism is something that I do not need anyone to define for me." "

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