Weeks after anti-Semitic pamphlets scattered around Old Town, Pines condemns hatred
By Lauren Haffner and Abigail Russ
Freelance writer, editor-in-chief
Content Disclaimer: This story is about anti-Semitism.
University of Maryland student Josh Feinstein was walking home in early October when he noticed leaflets on the ground.
Phrases such as “Jews, international conspiracy, a disgrace”, “Communism: a Jewish conspiracy to take over the whole world” and “Murder of 20 million government Jews” littered the pages of brochures strewn in the streets of the city. old City.
The young international business graduate said he gathered 15-20 pamphlets that “said these really really heinous things about the Jews” and threw them away.
Weeks later, university president Darryll Pines condemned the incident and cited an increase in anti-Semitic incidents on campus, as well as in the country.
“In light of these events, I think I need to be very clear: we reject and condemn all acts of hatred, bias and racism against the Jewish community,” Pines wrote in an email to the campus scale.
There have been 25 incidents of hate bias since the start of the fall semester, according to the University of Maryland bias reporting dashboard. All of these incidents were motivated by religion, according to the dashboard. In light of the Pines email, some members of the college community indicated that anti-Semitism is an active issue on campus.
“It makes me feel like there’s something to come after this, like someone who feels so strong and comfortable in their belief that he would hand out something like that makes me feel like ‘There is a real threat,’ said Yonah Hamermesh, head of economy and government. said political major.
[âIâm not surprisedâ: Jewish community responds to anti-Semitic hate crime arrest at UMD]
Hamermesh believed the Pines email was important support for the Jewish community, but needed action.
Arieh Geller, a freshman in management, said he was frustrated that it took Pines nearly three weeks to release a statement on the leaflet.
âThe Jews on campus, although there are many, remain a minority and we still face discrimination. It happens on campus and around the world, âGeller said. “It is not talked about as much as other minorities who face discrimination, for whatever reason, but it is still very widespread, and it has increased recently.”
Nira Dayanim said the brochures showed anti-Semitism to be active on campus.
âIt kind of reminds you of all the little steps people have taken to make their hatred so pure,â the sophomore journalism and psychology student said. “To feel comfortable taking such an action, you have to really hate someone, which I think is very much the case with anti-Semitism.”
Rabbi Eli Backman, who heads the university’s Chabad Jewish Center, said he learned about the brochures just days ago and explained that the university was working behind the scenes to educate the student body.
âIt’s also important to remember that this school is ultimately a place of higher education and that education really is the answer to a lot of these issues,â Backman said.
Hamermesh noted that most of the terms in the pamphlet dated back to centuries-old anti-Semitic tropes, such as the Jews controlling the media.
Jeffrey Herf, professor of European history at this university, said there was a lack of education on anti-Semitism and a lack of interest in learning more.
âI think there is a lot of education to be done on this campus, on the nature of anti-Semitism. Very few people understand what it really is, âHerf said.
Herf offered a course on anti-Semitism in Classical, Modern and New History, but only four people signed up.
[UMD launches online dashboard to track hate bias incidents]
âOn a campus of 30,000 inhabitants, with several hundred specializations in history, four students thought it was worth taking the time to attend a seminar on anti-Semitism. It’s shameful, âHerf said.
Maryland Rabbi and Executive Director Hillel Ari Israel said he was working with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion as well as other administrators to think more concretely about campus education.
The university is adding a number of educational opportunities to teach UMD what anti-Semitism means, Israel explained.
âOne anti-Semitic incident is one too many,â Israel said.
Pines condemned anti-Semitism and offered several resources to community members who have been affected or want to learn more about incidents of hate bias, including this university’s solidarity workshop or incident support services. of prejudices.
According to a statement by university spokesperson Hafsa Siddiqi, “incidents of hate prejudice are hurtful and do not reflect our institutional values.”
Hyattsville Police Sgt. Alicia Wheeler said the brochures were originally named as a hate crime, but police are now investigating them as a hate bias incident.
Some students said there had not been enough talk about the rise of anti-Semitism on campus.
Throughout her life, Dayanim has said that she felt like she had to prove that anti-Semitism was real.
“It’s crazy to me that we have to come to the point, that people are distributing blatantly anti-Semitic leaflets accusing Jews of committing mass murder in order to realize that something is wrong,” she said. declared. âWe’ve seen this before. The Jews see this a lot.
Editor Auzinea Bacon contributed to this report.