Anti-Semitic flyers attacking 'Jewish privilege' appear at UIC
- Anti-Semitic flyers appeared at the University of Illinois at Chicago Tuesday declaring that “Ending white privilege...starts with ending Jewish privilege.”
- The anonymous flyers assert that Jews are disproportionately represented among "the 1%," implying that they should be the real target of those committed to fighting income inequality.
Anti-Semitic flyers appeared at the University of Illinois at Chicago Tuesday declaring that “Ending white privilege...starts with ending Jewish privilege.”
UIC student Eva Zeltser posted a picture of one of the flyers on Facebook, claiming that she found copies posted all over campus and declaring, “My heart is broken.”
At the top of the poster, the bolded words “ENDING WHITE PRIVILEGE…” introduce the general theme of the message, below which are bullet points stating that “Jewish Americans make up 2% of the population” and that “44% of Jewish Americans are in the top 1%.”
It then goes on to translate those statistics into a hypothetical U.S. with just 1,000 people, asserting that “10 of them would be in the top 1%,” “20 of them would be Jewish,” and “9 of them would be Jewish and in the top 1%.”
To illustrate the point further, a pyramid diagram is included below the bulleted list with stick figures used to represent “the 99%” and “the 1%,” the latter being distinguished by the Stars of David imposed over all but one of the figures.
“Is the 1% Straight, White Men?” the poster asks alongside the diagram. “Or is the 1% Jewish?”
Lonnie Nasatir, the regional director for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) told Campus Reform that her group unequivocally opposes the message.
“We absolutely condemn these flyers, we feel that these flyers don't represent the ideals of the school,” she declared. “This is a school that prides itself on inclusion and all different walks of life on the UIC campus. For me, this is a condemnation of something that is really offensive.”
“Good voices need to shoot this down," Nasatir added. "I think all kids should feel a sense of unease when something like this happens on their own campus."
The UIC administration also released a joint statement decrying the “insidious discrimination” of the flyer, but also reminding students of the need for a balance between freedom of speech and tolerance.
“Today, anti-Semitic posters were found on campus that defame, insult, and negatively portray Jewish members of our campus community. Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community,” the statement begins, asserting emphatically that “acts that invoke hatred or violence toward members of our community will not be tolerated on our campus.”
“This event makes it necessary for us to reaffirm our collective commitment to two fundamental principles: the first is the importance of tolerance, inclusion, and diversity to our university community and the second is the right to free expression that ensures we are a place of open inquiry and learning,” the administrators add. “As we investigate this recent event, we strongly encourage all members of our university to exercise their right to free speech in a manner that recognizes these principles and avoids prejudice or stereotypes.”
Zeltser took an even stronger rhetorical stance in her Facebook post, desribing the anti-Semitic flyers as part of a wave of violence, vandalism, and harassment directed against Jews in the United States.
“Things like these posters are actively posted to catalyze anti-Semitism and increase hate toward Jews,” she said. “If anyone tries to deny the anti-Semitism throughout college campuses around the US, you are not only kidding yourself, but you're actively ignoring religious intolerance and discrimination.”
“This must be put to an end. Doesn't matter what your political, cultural, or religious affiliation is—if you are decent, logical person, then you will recognize how incredibly inhumane and unethical this is,” she pleaded. “If you are against hate crimes against one group, you should be against these acts of violence for ALL groups.”
Zeltser told Campus Reform that the posters “were found inside the library and one of our student centers" adding that each location featured at least “a handful” of them.
"I feel as though all people, regardless of their religion [or] cultural affiliation look to be treated equally,” she said. “It's only fair to treat others with the same regard that you would like to be treated with I think it's just that simple."
UIC student Amital Loew emailed Dean of Students Linda Deanna about the flyers, reminding her of a conversation he had had with her the previous year.
“I asked you what you and the administration are doing to combat anti-Semitism on campus,” he remarked. “At the time you didn’t have an answer to that question—now i’d like one.”
A number of alumni also expressed displeasure over the poster, saying it reflects poorly on their alma mater.
“As a UIC alum, I'm incredibly disappointed to see something like this, but nothing I personally saw or experienced during my time there would ever make me think the campus would tolerate something like this,” Avi Yudkowsky told Campus Reform. “I truly hope the administration takes a stand against whoever is responsible for this clearly anti-Semitic material.”
“I'm upset but unfortunately not surprised,” Rena Feigenbaum said. “I'm glad that UIC supports free speech and that they sent out a response to this blatant anti-semitism, But I wish they would do more. This kind of behavior towards any specific group of people cannot be condoned.”
“While I unfortunately hear about these kinds of things all the time, this hits particularly close to home as it is the school that I attended for college,” she added, saying, “I truly hope that UIC can put an end to the same kind of propaganda that started the Holocaust.”
Leah Edelman was more succinct, stating simply that the incident “makes me feel very sad and upset how such hatred can be present on my old campus.”
“When I first saw this in my newsfeed, I was both annoyed and angered,” Charise Javonillo explained. “Why annoyed? Because BS like this doesn't surprise me anymore. Slander against Jews is nothing new. Being misinformed about Jews is nothing new. This is another in a line of scapegoating stories that get foisted onto Jews.”
She also expressed pessimism that the situation would improve, saying, “I'm angered because I know this sort of ‘information’ will continue even if you fight it. I'm angered because, as you know, I have some very close friends in the Jewish community, and I would hardly call their positions ‘privileged.’ People will believe what they want to believe, especially when it's about a group of people they most likely don't have any kind of relationship with.”
Seth Winberg, the director of Metro Chicago Hillel—an organization that supports Jewish life on Chicago-area campuses like UIC—told Campus Reform that his group has been active in pressuring the university for a response, convening a meeting between students and administrators and demanding that the university conduct a full investigation.
“We appreciate that Chancellor Amiridis immediately and unequivocally called the flyers anti-Semitic,” he noted. “Based on the dramatic rise of anti-Semitism on college campuses, this could have happened anywhere and universities need to have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism.”
“It is so unfortunate for the Jewish community at UIC to experience an incident such as this,” UIC Chabad rabbi Bentzy Shemtov concurred on his Facebook page, praising the school for its prompt response.
“Let us take courage from the age-old Jewish adage that ‘a little bit of light will dispel a great deal of darkness,’” he added. “It is an indisputable reality: When light and goodness encounter darkness and hate, light and goodness will, without fail, prevail. Let's each go out of our way to do an extra mitzvah [Hebrew for “good deed”] and reach out with kindness to another.”