Nearly 1,000 undergrads at a predominantly Jewish dorm at New York University woke up Thursday morning to “eviction notices”:
The notices — reportedly slid under dormitory room doors in the middle of the night at Palladium Hall — told students that the building was slated for demolition in three days and they would have to remove their personal belongings or else.
“If you do not vacate the premise by midnight on 25 April, 2014, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings,” the notice stated.
After the first paragraph are explanations that the notice is similar to those “routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity.”
And then then the bottom of the flier announces in all capital letters and a bold typeface: “THIS IS NOT A REAL EVICTION NOTICE.”
After the initial shock wore off, students who found the notices disturbing complained to the university. NYU spokesman John Beckman told the New York Post that the stunt crossed the line: “It is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community.”
One unnamed Jewish student told the Times of Israel that the notices “made me feel targeted and unsafe in my own dorm room and I know others feel exactly the same as myself. I understand free speech rights, but if this was targeted solely to Jewish students then this appears to be of a more threatening nature rather than informative.”
Both the Post and Times of Israel attributed the leaflets to a pro-Palestinian campus group known as Students for Justice in Palestine. But nowhere on the notice is there any mention of the organization. Similar activities by Students for Justice in Palestine inspired Northeastern University in Boston to suspend the group from campus for at least a year.
This type of stunt is not new. The Times of Israel recalled two similar incidents on American college campuses in the past two years. Two hundred students at Florida Atlantic University were targeted with a similar notice in 2012; and just last year Harvard students received mock eviction notices during the ninth annual Israeli Apartheid Week.
Various offices of the Anti-Defamation League have responded to previous “eviction notice” stunts by categorizing them as “intimidating” and “anti-Israel.”
A representative from Students for Justice in Palestine could not be reached for comment.