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University of Michigan must condemn intifada-themed rally, Israeli NGO says

“There is only one solution: intifada revolution” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” were among the antisemitic chants at a rally coinciding with Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to campus.

Pro-Palestinian students march through the University of Michigan chanting calls for an intifada on Jan. 12, 2023. Source: Blake Flayton/Twitter.
Pro-Palestinian students march through the University of Michigan chanting calls for an intifada on Jan. 12, 2023. Source: Blake Flayton/Twitter.

The Israel-based NGO International Legal Forum (ILF) sent a letter on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day to University of Michigan President Dr. Santa J. Ono, calling on the university to publicly condemn calls for an intifada that took place during Vice President Kamala Harris’ Jan. 12 visit to the campus.

A number of student groups called for the violent destruction of Israel in a rally that included antisemitic chants such as “there is only one solution: intifada revolution” and “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

“Although we firmly believe in the principle of free speech and right to protest on campus,” wrote ILF CEO and international human rights lawyer Arsen Ostrovsky, “this event was not a mere expression of difference in political opinion, but rather a direct and unadulterated call for violence, placing Jewish students, faculty and staff, in harm’s way.”

ILF is a global network of more than 4,000 lawyers and activists around the world committed to combating antisemitism and terror in the international arena, while also promoting peace in the Middle East.

Ostrovsky went on to explain in his letter that the first and second Palestinian intifadas were “brutal Palestinian terrorist uprisings” where several-thousand Israelis were murdered. Chants such as “from the river to the sea” have become common euphemisms for a call to arms to destroy the State of Israel.

“At a time when antisemitism in the United States is at record highs, such rhetoric has no place on campus—or—anywhere else,” wrote Ostrovsky. “Furthermore, not only is it in direct violation of the widely accepted International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, but the direct call to violence and hate speech, may also be in breach of federal and state legislation, particularly as the University of Michigan is a public institution.”

Ostrovsky concluded by calling on the University of Michigan to issue an immediate and unequivocal condemnation of the rally, and for appropriate disciplinary measures to be taken against those who advocated violence.

The university president, Ono, has not returned multiple requests for comment from JNS.

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