Was a pro-Palestinian group confused by the meaning of Hanukkah? Their chalk message indicates yes, organization says.

The University of Wisconsin believes a 'single group' was responsible for the message.

A Jewish student told Campus Reform that the chalking 'conflates an apolitical, Jewish holiday celebration with stalwart support of Israel.'

On the first night of Hanukkah, members of the Jewish community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) were met with pro-Palestine chalk messages outside of their building on campus.

To celebrate, members of the university’s Jewish community gathered outside of the Hillel Building to light the Hannukiah, or menorah. 

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That is when the group discovered the phrase “HAPPY INT’L DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE” written above a picture of the Palestinian flag and next to the chalked message “HAPPY HANUKKAH,” according to a photograph in a university email obtained by Campus Reform

“On the first night of Hanukkah, after our community gathered to light the Hannukiah and welcome the light into our community, the sidewalk in front of UW Hillel was chalked with political messaging conflating our holiday with the Israel-Palestine conflict,” UW Hillel’s statement reads. 

Hannakuh commemorates the Maccabees’ victorious liberation from the Seleucids and the subsequent miracle of the Temple oil. 

“I think [the chalking] conflates an apolitical, Jewish holiday celebration with stalwart support of Israel. And to me, that neighbors on antisemitism and definitely wanders from a strictly political anti-zionist cause,” Noah Brown, a Jewish student at UW, told Campus Reform

He told Campus Reform that “our Hillel does run Israel-related programming. But it’s not in blind support of Israel.”

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A university spokesperson provided Campus Reform with a statement.

“As a university, it’s our goal to create an environment where everyone is at home and feels welcome,” the statement reads. “We encourage respectful and courteous dialogue in our community. We’re aware of the recent chalking at Hillel and have been in contact with the staff there.”

Though the suspect(s) are yet to be identified, however, the spokesperson said, “My understanding is that the entire message was chalked by a single group—we’ve seen this misreported online.”

Campus Reform reached out to the UW Hillel Foundation for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

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