Thursday, October 9th, 2008 at 4:24 pm in Uncategorized.
Last week of our correspondents in the field, Elizabeth Pfeffer, had an item on East Bay Outtakes about tensions escalating at UC Berkeley between members of certain Jewish and Palestinian student groups. She learned of four incidents of hate graffiti and vandalism on the Cal campus or nearby in the past few weeks.
Since reporting the so-called tension between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel students at Cal, leaders of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have denounced allegations by Zionist student group Tikvah that its members were responsible for recent incidents of anti-Semitic hate graffiti on campus.
The Oakland Tribune made several attempts to contact members of SJP before it first reported the situation.
Organizer Yaman Salahi SJP sent letters of solidarity to some Jewish leaders on campus, and said that SJP’s Jewish members were also offended by the vandalism, some depicting swastikas and stars of David with equal signs.
“Had anybody from Tikvah attempted to approach members of our organization, they would have been met with an immediate condemnation of the act, its message, as well as an opportunity to clarify where we stand and why,” Salahi said.
Kifah Shah, an SJP member and student senator says the organization’s criticism of Israeli policy is not related to religion, but student senator and Tikvah member Jon Moghtader says the way SJP expresses their views is sometimes perceived as anti-Semitic.
To no avail, Tikvah has urged Cal’s chancellor and dean of students to create guidelines that would lessen confusion between free speech and hate speech.
“The chancellor should condemn any and all hate speech which creates an unsafe climate for students on campus,” Shah says. “But the chancellor should not stifle debate on campus by marginalizing students or organizations who have a certain set of political beliefs.”