NYU Student Protest: ‘We Don’t Want no Jew State, We Want All of It’

By Matis Glenn

New York University students who left class Wednesday in protest for Palestinians denied Israel’s right to exist, vandalized posters pleading for the release of Hamas hostages with hate speech, and assaulted a Jewish student, according to sources at the university.

Hundreds of incidents of antisemitism, including harassment, discrimination, vandalism, and the use of hateful slurs have occurred at New York University in recent weeks, as pro-Palestinian and Hamas-sympathetic rhetoric continues to be heard across the school, according to the Rabbi of the school-affiliated Jewish students center there. But a walkout on October 25, in which students left class to demonstrate against Israel, included overtly antisemitic and hateful messages, including an incident of assault.

Rabbi Yehudah Sarna, head of the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life and Chief Rabbi of the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, released a letter explaining the situation.“If you are reading this message and were previously unsure whether or not students were experiencing antisemitism, take it from me: THEY ARE.“We have received hundreds of complaints over the past two weeks of members of our university community enduring discrimination, harassment, and vandalism.” Rabbi Sarna said even Jewish students who are sympathetic to Palestinians have found themselves “confronted by straightforward antisemitic slurs, including ‘Hitler should have finished the job.’ We will not allow a permission structure for antisemitism to be built.”“NO SYMPATHY FOR HAMAS,” he wrote, in all capital letters.

“It’s pretty scary to walk around,” one student said. “I’m always looking over my shoulder to see who’s around,” he said. Other students expressed the same sentiment.

The “student walkout” took place at 1 p.m., where a large number of students left their classes to protest. That afternoon, a poster calling for the release of the hostages taken prisoner by Hamas was vandalized with the words “They will not return home alive.” The same day, protestors carried pictures of a Star of David in a trash bin, calling to “keep the world clean,” likely a reference to the antisemitic trope of “dirty Jews.”

At one demonstration, protestors – holding signs accusing Israel of genocide – chanted “We don’t want no Jew state, we want all of it.”

Additionally on the day of the walkout, a person riding on a bike reportedly threw hot coffee on a Jewish student who was putting on tefillin.

Professor Andrew Ross is member of the Faculty for Justice in Palestine, which includes 206 NYU teachers and experienced a significant rise in membership following the Octobe 25 walkout and ensuing antisemitic incidents. He spoke at an event held during the walkout, behind a banner which said “Free Palestine”: “When the NYU administration speaks about Palestine it only speaks for the administration. It does not speak for the NYU community.”

Possibly referencing antisemitic tropes of Jewish money power, Ross said: “It’s a chain of command. A lot of the commands come from the trustees, some of the wealthiest and most powerful people in this town. Members of the permanent government of NYC.” Behind him was a student wearing a full face covering, of the variety seen worn by terrorists. Ross went on to say that the Israeli/Palestinian issue is not a “conflict,” but a “colonial war.”

As another pro-Palestinian crowd gathered, including young men with full face coverings, chants of “from the river to the sea” were accompanied by bullhorns. A group of pro-Israel young men stood opposite them, hand-in-hand, swaying back and forth while calmly and passionately singing the acheinu prayer. Acheinu is a prayer which beseeches G-d to rescue all Jews in distress or captivity, and to swiftly deliver them from trouble to relief, from darkness to light, and from bondage to freedom.

Rabbi Sarna is organizing a gathering in Washington Square Park on October 26, where he recommends that students bring American and Israeli flags, but that hateful signs or slogans will not be tolerated. He also announced a symposium titled “October 7 and the Antisemitism Surge in U.S. Higher Education.”

“I am a bridge builder, a peacemaker,” Rabbi Sarna, whose shul is one of the only active synagogues in the Arab world wrote. “But I will never sit back while voices on our campus that legitimize, minimize erase or celebrate the ethnic cleansing of jews and destruction of the Jewish state take root at the university I love.”


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