(November 4, 2021 / JNS) A coalition of Jewish groups at Arizona State University in Tempe are urging the school to take action against anti-Semitism as police investigate fliers found on Monday, including one that was left outside the building that houses the kosher dining hall.
The fliers had the words “Jews Do” in red lettering that has drops falling from them to resemble blood was superimposed over a Star of David and a shadowy image of a hooked-nosed man with ears shaped like a devil. It ended with the words, “Happy Halloween from the ASU College Republicans United!”
The group, which has a history of anti-Semitic leanings as reported by a local media outlet last summer, denied that they were involved. They went as far as to suggest that the whole thing was a hoax.
“A crime was committed yesterday when we were falsely accused of an activity we did not commit. We demand @ASU police investigate who put the fake fliers. Review the security footage. Identify the individual or determine if a flier was even distributed.”
The official ASU College Republicans group swiftly condemned the fliers and said the group had no connection to them.
“Acts like this are counterproductive to the Republican movement and our organization, and we wholeheartedly condemn this act of hate and bigotry,” said the group’s president Cohlton Kieffer in a statement. “This blatant act of anti-Semitism does not belong on our campus or in the Republican Party. We stand with Jewish Students and the Jewish community at ASU.”
‘What starts with words often manifests into real-life violence’
In a joint statement signed by seven groups at ASU, including Hillel Jewish Student Center, Chabad at ASU and Students Supporting Israel, the Jewish community urged the school to act.
Quoting the recent Hillel University/Anti-Defamation League study that found a third of college students have experienced Jew-hatred, the Jewish Cultural Coalition said: “Change on college campuses is extremely overdue, particularly on our campus. The ASU Jewish community has faced multiple anti-Semitic attacks, and while we greatly appreciate the support from the administration, we would like to see a public statement about the issues Jewish students face at ASU.”
Rabbi Shmuel Tiechtel, director of Rohr Chabad at ASU, told JNS “these fliers don’t represent ASU at all. The ASU administration and leadership are very supportive of Jewish life on campus, and have been very responsive and supportive following these fliers on campus, too.”
According to Liora Rez, executive director of StopAntisemitism.org, who has been in contact with students at ASU, they are “furious this is happening on their campus.” She appealed to the university and others seeing an uptick in anti-Semitism to take decisive action.
“Administrations must stop brushing anti-Semitic incidents like this under the rug and start to hold those responsible accountable for their actions before a Jewish student gets physically hurt,” she told JNS. “We all know what starts with words often manifests into real-life violence against Jews.”
ASU police chief Michael Thompson urged anyone with information to come forward, posting on social media, “We condemn the anti-Semitic rhetoric reported on campus … . There is no place for anti-Semitism, or any other form of prejudice, at Arizona State University.”
In a response to a request for comment from JNS, a university spokesperson said: “The ASU Police Department is working with the Dean of Students Office to investigate anti-Semitic fliers reported on campus.”
The spokesperson directed JNS to a university webpage from Sept. 4, 2020 “Standing Up to Anti-Semitism,” which reads, in part: “Arizona State University has a long history of opposing anti-Semitic rhetoric and acts of intimidation whether they occur on our campuses, or in the community. The university has been very clear about this position, as [ASU] President Michael Crow has shared repeatedly.”
Hillel Jewish Student Center at ASU posted on Facebook that it “remains committed to our core mission of actively supporting students in navigating their needs and speaking up for what they believe. There is no place for hate on campus, and we work tirelessly to ensure Jewish students’ voices are heard and validated.”
Meanwhile, Tiechtel from ASU urged students to take a public stand.
“Let us not be shy about our Judaism or cower in the face of hate. Let us stand proudly as Jews and show your Jewish pride,” he wrote online. “Let us push away darkness with light. You can put a mezuzah on your door to show that you are proudly Jewish; we can help you with that at JewishASU.com/mezuzah. Wear a yarmulka on campus or your Jewish necklace, and come to more Jewish events.
“Show that you are proud of being Jewish and that no hate and anti-Semitism will quiet us,” he said. “We are proud Jews forever and always.”
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