SUPER UW ATTEMPTS TO BAR JEWISH GROUP FROM CULTURAL FESTIVAL

Fundamentally the University experience should be centered on  exposure to a diversity of cultures and ideas. Thus of all places, it is most jarring when this value is challenged on our nation’s campuses.

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SUPER UW, an anti-Israel student group affiliated with Students for Justice in Palestine have failed in their sustained efforts to prevent Hillel, the largest and most prominent Jewish student organization on the University of Washington campus from participating in the Middle Eastern Student Commission (MESC) Culture Festival held this past Saturday.  The annual festival celebrates the cultures and countries of the Middle East. 

Dozens of faith and culture based groups join the festival annually, celebrating the heritage, foods, cultures and traditions of over a dozen middle eastern countries.   Yet with the wide diversity of participants, SUPER UW objected only to the inclusion of the sole Jewish group represented at the festival. 

Despite the protestations of SUPER UW, the Hillel students manned a booth representing Israeli and Jewish culture at the May 4th event. This led SUPER UW to  issue an angry statement on Saturday morning expressing their dismay at being “forced” by the University to allow Hillel’s participation.

The anti-Israel group also demanded an apology from the University for asking festival participants to pledge “to maintain an inclusive and non-political environment” and “to ensure a family-friendly, safe, and fun time for everyone”.  Said SUPER UW, “Although the statement above claims that the goal of the event is to maintain a “non-political environment” the very presence of Hillel and the representation of a violent settler colonial state is both political and unquestionably neither “family-friendly” nor safe for Palestinian students. “

SUPER UW’s campaign against Hillel is part of a wider trend of antisemitic incidents on US campuses and in the United States as a whole. The U.S. Jewish community experienced near-historic levels of antisemitism in 2018, including a doubling of antisemitic assaults – according to new data from the ADL. The AMCHA initiative, which tracks antisemitism on college campuses has documented 702 incidents of antisemitic activity that occurred on U.S. college and university campuses in 2018 alone. 

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