Vanderbilt University's student government was called out for issuing a decidedly anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian statement over the weekend in the wake of the recent ceasefire after nearly two weeks of deadly fighting between the warring factions.
What are the details?
The unsigned statement is curiously titled "In Solidarity with Students" — but given the weight of the overall words, it seemed clear that not every student was created equal in the eyes of the college's student government.
While it makes a passing reference about extending "support and consolation to Israeli students also affected by this crisis" and that "there is no place for antisemitism or anti-Jewish sentiment of any kind" on campus, the vast majority of the two-page statement is passionately anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian — and fails to even mention the words "Hamas" or "terrorism" or the thousands of rocket attacks the Jewish state endured.
The most blatantly anti-Israel sections of the statement are found on the second page where Vanderbilt's student government catalogs death and destruction by Israel's "occupying forces" and uses phrases such as "indigenous Palestine," "targeting Muslim Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan," "ethnic cleansing," and "inhumane and cruel acts of war, supremacy, and genocide."
Hillel had something to say
In the wake of the student government statement, Vanderbilt's Hillel group put together a response on its own Instagram page — and the campus' Jewish organization was not happy.
"Vanderbilt Hillel strongly condemns the recently released, biased statement from Vanderbilt Student Government," Hillel's statement begins. "Despite VSG's claim to denounce antisemitism, their statement contributes to the continued erosion of Jewish students' sense of safety at Vanderbilt and has unleashed a torrent of offensive comments online."
The Hillel statement goes on to say that Jewish students are being "targeted for harassment and abuse for their Jewishness, Zionism, and support of Israel as a Jewish state" and are left feeling "unwelcome and threatened" on campus. The statement also urged Vanderbilt to help student leaders especially to learn "the ways that anti-Israel activism becomes antisemitism."
What did Vanderbilt have to say?
The school made note on its website of the competing social media statements without mentioning specific student groups and encouraged peaceful, restrained interactions in regard to the volatile topic.
"Some student organizations on our campus have posted statements on social media about this issue that have prompted heated debate and discussion, marked by at times offensive and inflammatory rhetoric. Student organizations do not speak for the university or the overall Vanderbilt community. They are formed and led by students as an opportunity to enhance their college experience and become well-rounded leaders, scholars and citizens who navigate the world with civility, curiosity and respect for others. As such, all our students, whether members of these organizations or not, are expected to adhere to our high standards of conduct aligned with the university's policies and rules governing such groups."
The school's statement added that "we must all ensure through our words and our actions that Vanderbilt remains a safe and welcoming community committed to civil discourse, especially when we hold strong and impassioned views. Language and actions that constitute harassment and bullying are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."