Conservatives accused of ‘hate speech’ for posters criticizing ‘#Jewhaters’
A conservative group is being accused of “hate speech” and “Islamophobia” for putting up posters accusing Palestinian activists of advocating violent “Jew hatred.”
The David Horowitz Freedom Center, which caused a stir several months ago with a poster campaign linking the Muslim Student Association (MSA) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) campus organizations to Islamic terrorism, recently upped the ante with new posters identifying prominent advocates of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement by name, prompting harsh criticism from students and administrators on campuses where the signs have appeared.
The original posters, which bore the slogan “#StopTheJihadOnCampus,” featured provocative imagery linking both groups (but especially the SJP) to terrorism, including photos of knife-wielding children that the Freedom Center claims “were posted on social media by proud Palestinian parents” and a depiction of former Al-Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was once president of the MSA chapter at Colorado State University.
The new campaign, called “ #StoptheJewHatredOnCampus,” not only picks up where the last one left off with a poster asserting that the BDS movement is “a Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel, the world’s only Jewish state,” but also includes two other posters calling out “prominent campus BDS activists,” including students and faculty members.
One such poster, distributed on the campus of the University of California-Santa Cruz, shows a photo of retired UC-Santa Cruz professor Angela Davis—who is allegedly “known for her anti-Israel activism”—along with the caption, “Communist Anti-Israel BDS Supporter.”
Another poster, tailored specifically for each campus, states that “the following students and faculty at [name of school] have allied themselves with Palestinian terrorists to perpetrate BDS and Jew Hatred on this campus.”
Since the campaign began last week, the Freedom Center says it has displayed the posters on five campuses in California (UC-Santa Barbara, San Diego State University, UC-Santa Cruz, UCLA, and UC-Berkeley), and plans to hit another 20 campuses across the country over the next month.
Even at this early stage, though, the messages are already eliciting a reaction, particularly at UCLA, where both the administration and the school’s SJP chapter have responded with statements of condemnation.
“These posters are a clear example of hate speech directed against Students for Justice in Palestine, as well as supporters of Palestinian freedom and equality,” the SJP statement declares. “They rely on Islamophobic and anti-Arab tropes to paint Palestinians as terrorists and to misrepresent Students for Justice in Palestine as anti-Semitic.”
UCLA Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Jerry Kang subsequently followed that up with his own statement Tuesday expressing sympathy for those targeted by the posters, who he noted have also received personalized messages of support from the Chancellor.
“My job as Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is to build equity for all, and to make sure that there is an equal learning and working environment for everyone, regardless of political or religious affiliation,” Kang says. “But if your name is plastered around campus, casting you as a murderer or terrorist, how could you stay focused on anything like learning, teaching, or research?”
Kang acknowledges that there is often “little practical recourse” to “negative, unfair, and often anonymous statements” made over the Internet, but “[refuses] to believe that we can do nothing about hateful posters pushed into our school and workplaces by outsiders,” pointing out that university policy requires non-affiliated groups or individuals to secure permission before posting any materials on campus.
He then alludes to the potential enforcement of those policies, pledging to “deploy all lawful resources to counter any harassment or intimidation,” but does not specify how he would go about penalizing the Freedom Center for violating the policy, instead diverging into an aside outlining his general views on blacklisting.
Horowitz, for his part, contends that the Freedom Center’s poster campaign is merely an attempt to counter what he considers the spread of Hamas-inspired “propaganda” on college campuses.
“Virtually every major university campus in America is host to student organizations dedicated to spreading the propaganda lies of Hamas designed to weaken and delegitimize the Israeli state, and promoting Hamas campaigns like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) whose goal is its destruction,” he said in a statement.
“Any other group that preached hatred of ethnic groups or supported barbaric terrorists who slaughter men, women and children as part of a demented mission to cleanse the earth of infidels would be immediately shunted off campus and denied all university privileges and funding … yet these student organizations whose sole purpose is to slander the Jewish state and its defenders are richly rewarded by campus administrators.”
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