University of Minnesota appears unwilling to connect antisemitism on campus with pro-Hamas encampment 

After appeasing protesters and granting them an audience with the Regents, why is addressing anti-Jewish messaging and antisemitism too much for firm commitments from the U of M?  

Photo: “VICTORY TO AL-AQSA FLOOD” is written in chalk on the U of M campus quad. (“Al Aqsa Flood is Hamas’ codename for the Oct. 7 massacre). The inverted red triangle symbolizes support for violent Palestinian resistance.

This situation is evolving. Check back for updates. 

May 10 – Board of Regents meeting open to the public

Begins 7:30 AM – 6th floor of University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center, 200 SE Oak St, Minneapolis
Watch recording

May 6 – Advocacy Alert: Urge U of M Board of Regents to reject BDS and speak out against campus antisemitism

The pro-Hamas students who shut down campus for nearly a week with an illegal encampment at the University of Minnesota are scheduled to address the Board of Regents on Friday, May 10. This opportunity was given to them as part of the U’s concessions to end the encampment.

The Regents also need to hear from you. While Jewish student leaders will also speak at the May 10 Regents meeting, the Regents also need to hear from University of Minnesota alumni, donors, faculty, staff, parents, and Minnesota taxpayers. Use our advocacy template to email all 12 UMN Regents.

May 5 – University of Minnesota appears unwilling to connect antisemitism on campus with pro-Hamas encampment (joint JCRC + Minnesota Hillel statement)

It should have been easy: Jewish student leaders asked the University of Minnesota to improve the campus climate in concrete, low-barrier ways and were met with political maneuvering. 
 
Students asked that the University condemn slogans calling for the murder of Jews (‘Glory to the Resistance,’ ‘Globalize the Intifada,’ or ‘Victory to Al Aqsa Flood’) that have blanketed the campus since October 7 — and which escalated while the University allowed a pro-Hamas encampment to disrupt campus life.  
 
In an all-campus message, the University was unwilling to connect those violent, hateful slogans with antisemitism.    Due to the University incorporating the Palestinian “right” of armed resistance (“Thawabit”) in its agreement with the protestors, Jewish students requested the U clarify that they condemn terrorism.  
 
The U was unwilling to meet that request, too.  
 
Students also encouraged the U to join other Big 10 schools with extensive antisemitism training through Hillel International’s Campus Climate Initiative (CCI).
 
Despite being one of the few Big 10 schools that hasn’t participated, they were only willing to commit to exploring the possibility.
 
Minnesota Hillel Executive Director Benjie Kaplan says, “Due to the toxic climate around Israel/Palestine here, we have been encouraging our University partners to participate in this important program for years. Now, when it is most needed, I am pained that this was not an easy ‘yes.'” 
 
While hundreds of Jewish students on campus find community and support from Hillel, Chabad, Greek life, and the broader Twin Cities Jewish community each year, it is deeply frustrating that the University itself is so far unwilling to truly stand up for these students and confront the destructive atmosphere permeating significant segments of the campus.
 
As the protesters are granted time to present their demands to the University’s Board of Regents this coming week we call upon others, including Jewish and non-Jewish elected officials, to use their voices and make clear that singling out or calling for terrorism against, Jews or Israelis has no place at the University of Minnesota or anywhere else in our state.
 
There is still time for the University to act.
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May 2 – JCRC outraged by University appeasement of pro-Hamas protesters

The University of Minnesota continues to let our community down.

In a document outlining their agreements with the organizers of the illegal encampment, the Office of the President suborned violent anti-Israelism by recognizing the Palestinian “Thawabit” or “Palestinian red-lines,” which include a “right” to violence against Israeli civilians.

In a message to all University students, faculty, and staff, Interim President Ettinger failed even to mention the words ‘Jews,’ ‘Israel,’ ‘Zionism,’ or ‘antisemitism’ and instead only raised concern for ‘Palestine.’ Interim President Ettinger’s communication stated, “While there is more work to do, and conversations are still planned with other student groups affected by the painful situation in Palestine, I am heartened by today’s progress.”

We are further frustrated by the University’s response to Jewish students’ requests sent to them last night to address systemic campus antisemitism. The fact that Interim President Ettinger didn’t come prepared to make the same detailed commitments to Jewish students that it did for pro-Hamas protestors is deeply discouraging. We again note that according to the University’s own statistics, antisemitic and anti-Israel incidents make up 1/3 of all reported bias incidents over the past academic year even though Jews comprise just 1% of the undergraduate student body.

The University’s capitulation sends a message that students who violate UofM policy, openly celebrate violence, and shut down campus are rewarded with time before the Regents and “regular meetings moving forward” with the President’s office. By contrast, students targeted by antisemitism are apparently supposed to suffer silently, while their University appeases those very same activists who demonize Jews and Israelis.

It’s not too late for the University to course-correct, but proactive leadership is urgently needed beginning with Interim President Ettinger using his voice to condemn and confront campus antisemitism, within and outside the classroom.

By contrast, we praise Gov. Tim Walz for his comments on Almanac and ongoing support of our community, as well as Rep. Tom Emmer, for directly asking Interim President Ettinger what steps he will take to ensure the safety of Jewish students.

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Video via TC Jewfolk of JCRC’s press conference with Jewish students at Minnesota Hillel following their inconclusive meeting with Interim President Ettinger:

April 30

Friday of last week, JCRC joined Jewish students at Minnesota Hillel to publicly call out pro-Hamas and anti-Jewish rhetoric on University of Minnesota campuses. Since then, the vitriol and disruption on campus has only escalated; and the University has acquiesced to an anarchistic, antisemitic mob by closing campus buildings during finals. This an utter disgrace and leadership is urgently needed to restore safety and equal access to learning for all students.

At the press conference, every single student shared personal experiences of a toxic campus climate that has distracted from their academic studies and caused concern for their safety and sense of belonging. Jewish students deserve a safe and welcoming school environment. JCRC will continue to do all we can to ensure one.

April 24 – JCRC stands with Jewish students, calls out pro-Hamas campus rhetoric

Media Coverage

May 2, 2024

Star Tribune: University of Minnesota, protesters reach deal to end pro-Palestinian encampment
CBS News: Jewish student group express unease over U of M’s agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters
The Minnesota Daily: Closed buildings to open Thursday at noon, encampment scheduled to end
KARE 11: U of M encampment taken down after demonstrators, school reach agreement

April 30, 2024

Star Tribune: Another pro-Palestinian protest camp goes up at University of Minnesota

April 29, 2024

TC Jewfolk: Anti-Israel Protesters Force Closure Of UMN Buildings

April 24, 2024

FOX 9: U of M Jewish students speak out against anti-Semitism amid pro-Palestine rallies
KARE 11: As colleges continue to struggle with balance of free speech and safety, Jewish students raise concerns
MPR: Some Jewish U of M students report increased antisemitism amid Gaza demonstrations
TC Jewfolk: Jewish Students Angry, Scared Of “Toxic” Campus Climate
WCCO Radio: Jewish students at the University of Minnesota say campus protests are disrupting and make them feel unsafe
WCCO TV: U of M students and staff feel ripple effects of pro-Palestinian protests

Further Analysis

Message From a Gazan to Campus Protesters: You’re Hurting the Palestinian Cause, by Hamza Howidy (Apr. 25 / Newsweek)

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As the consensus public affairs voice of the Jewish community, JCRC builds relationships to fight antisemitism and bigotry; educates about Judaism, Israel, antisemitism, and the Holocaust; advocates for Jewish values and priorities; and safeguards our community.