“Even though you’re a Jew, you still have to respect us”: University of Connecticut student subjected to antisemitic abuse
The University of Connecticut has been forced to deal with an incident in which a Jewish student received antisemitic abuse for removing anti-Zionist material that she found in the University library.
Natalie Shclover discovered a series of illustrations of the map of Israel contrasted with the image of a strangled child and a photograph of University President Radenka Maric placed on the walls and strewn on the floor of the Homer Babbidge Library at the University’s Storrs campus.
The flyers were reportedly produced as part of ongoing criticism of Ms Maric for taking a trip to Israel to support Connecticut’s collaboration with higher education institutions there. Soon after the trip was announced, the University’s social media channels were overwhelmed with comments calling Israelis “greedy” and calls for “another Intifada”.
When Ms Shclover and her boyfriend Zacharia El-Tayyeb learned that, because the flyers were on the ground, they are legally thought of as “public property”, the couple went back to the library to dispose of them. This led to an altercation with four other students.
One of the students filmed the exchange on her cellphone and is reported to have said “Even though you’re a Jew, you still have to respect us.” It is alleged that the other students called her a “f***ing b****”, a “f***ing Zionist”, and a “white supremacist”.
Both Ms Shclover and Mr El-Tayyeb were harrassed on the University’s Yik Yak feed – a social media platform that allows users to post messages anonymously to anyone within a five mile radius – and Ms Shclover was dismissed from The Chordials, a student a capella society of which she was President.
Radenka Maric condemned the antisemitic remarks and wrote a message to the University community contextualising the incident in terms of “the combustible combination of religion, cultural identity, politics, history, and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East.”
Ms Shclover said: “I think it fell painfully short of addressing the harassment that Zach and I endured, and calling it the ‘library incident’ is very arbitrary. We’ve had emails and communications from administrative bodies at UConn condemning acts of racism, Islamophobia, and even acts of antisemitism in years past, and I don’t understand why an issue surrounding Israel or Palestine would be treated any differently.
“I know that this is a greater issue, one that the Jews and Zionist on this campus are afraid to talk about because they fear what happened to me might happen to them, and I don’t blame them. UConn is not going to thrive if every Jewish student on this campus feels the way they do now, which is unsafe, unprotected, and unheard. UConn will not thrive as a space that is inclusive for everyone but the Jews.”
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