The latest distribution of mock eviction notices being distributed in the dorm rooms of students – primarily Jewish – in order to inflict upon those American students what they claim are the “horrors of life” for Palestinian Arabs took place at New York University on Wednesday evening, April 23.
The mock eviction notices were distributed in Palladium Hall, a dorm at NYU which most students acknowledge is known for having a heavy representation of Jewish students.
These notices misrepresent reality and are a cowardly method of harassment. It allows anti-Israel students and their leadership both to make themselves feel as if they are actually doing something constructive and also to make life unpleasant for Jewish students. It has happened at enough campuses – half a dozen others already this year alone – that one would expect university leadership would be fully prepared to respond quickly and effectively.
But if you were expecting that, you’d be wrong.
NYU students at Palladium Hall woke up early on Thursday morning and found the mock eviction notices in their rooms.
A current NYU student, Laura Adkins, wrote about the matter in a blog at the Times of Israel. Variations of the story appeared throughout the day, including at the influential legal blog, Legal Insurrection.
The Jewish Press reached an NYU spokesperson mid-afternoon on Thursday and was told the school was still “investigating and preparing a statement.”
WERE JEWS BEING TARGETED BY THE LEAFLETS?
When the school finally released its official statement late in the day, the school insisted that it did not believe that Palladium Hall was targeted because it has a disproportionately large number of Jewish students (the presence of a Sabbath elevator in the building was explained by a stairway issue and security concerns).
It is unclear why the flyering took place in this particular dorm; we don’t believe there is perception of this dorm as having an a high percentage of Jewish students (the presence of a Sabbath elevator is the result of a stairway that empties to the street and cannot be entered through the lobby behind the security desk, not because of a disproportionate presence of Jewish students in the building). However, were it to be the case that the flyering was done there because it was perceived be a dorm with a higher proportion of Jewish students, that would be troubling, dismaying and a matter of deep concern for our community.
The notice was sent out under the name of John Beckman, who is NYU’s vice president for public affairs. The person with whom we spoke in the Public Affairs office, Philip Lentz, is the director for public affairs.
Lentz insisted that the research done by NYU revealed that Palladium is not known as a dorm known as having a large Jewish population. Students and hard evidence prove otherwise.
While NYU went to some length to explain away the existence of a Shabbat elevator in Palladium, a simple visit to the building would have revealed that it is there to serve the Jewish population in the building.
Adkins, an economics major from Springfield, Missouri who is the vice president of TorchPac, NYU’s pro-Israel advocacy organization, said that as long as she has been on campus Palladium has had, and is known as having “a large Jewish population,” even for NYU, which itself has a large Jewish population. It is listed as number one in the “Top 30 Private Universities by Jewish Population,” according to a 2013 Hillel survey. NYU’s Lentz was adamant that the school does not keep information about student housing location by ethnicity, which is good, but ignoring the facts on the ground is hard to understand.
Jewish undergraduates at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts received mock eviction notices last week which had been distributed by a radical anti-Israel group, the Harvard Palestine Solidarity Committee, in advance of and as a “coming attraction” to Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week.
The notices read:
We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in the next three days.
If you do not vacate the premise within this time frame, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We are hereby released of any liability for damage to any persons or effects including gross negligence. You will receive an invoice for the charges of demolition and waste removal soon.
This may seem like unrealistically harsh treatment, but this is the actual state of affairs in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaa Strip. Around 25,000, homes have been destroyed by the Israeli military occupation forces since 1967 resulting in the internal displacement of over 160,000 Palestinians. All of this is against international law yet continues to this day.
Harvard’s Israel Apartheid Week took place this past week, March 3 – 9. However, other than the mock eviction notices and some tattered sandwich board-type signs protesting the “Illegal Occupation,” some of which looked as if they had been re-cycled from other protests, there were only two scheduled events.
The first event was the propaganda movie about protests against the security fence, “5 Broken Cameras,” which was shown on March 7. Then, on March 8, one of the oldest voices against Israel, linguist Noam Chomsky, spoke about “Lessons from Apartheid South Africa.” That’s it.
Harvard students were apparently less blase about the “Israel Apartheid” events than had been the case in the past.
Senior Seven J. Triconowicz shared his negative view of the events with the school paper.
“I feel like [Israeli Apartheid Week] goes against what Harvard stands for as a place for open academic dialogue, open thoughts, and open intellectual activity,” said Tricanowicz. “I find it kind of concerning that an event is going on in a way that promotes polarization and closed-mindedness.” His statements echo similar sentiments expressed by Oxford University students about an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions motion which was soundly defeated last month.
One of the organizers of the mock eviction notices, senior Yacoub H. Kureh, was reportedly “dismayed” that some of the notices had been ripped up and thrown down on the ground. Imagine.
Even Jewish student leaders expressed disapproval of what amounts to childish pranks and one-sided information filled with inaccuracies, a welcome change from the past and from the situation at many other campuses.
Junior Sara Kantor ’14, co-chair of Harvard Students for Israel, told the school paper that she believes the Harvard Israeli Apartheid Week is “inherently problematic.”
“We feel bad responding to something that is so outside the spectrum of what we are willing to engage in,” said Kantor. “The issue is that it no longer becomes a question of dialogue—it simply becomes rhetoric and demonizes an entire nation and people.”