Jewish students at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) were rattled this week by fliers that were distributed on campus reading, “Ending White Privilege Starts With Ending Jewish Privilege,” The Algemeiner has learned.
“Singling out any religion or race, in this case, Jews, is not right,” UIC student Joseph Sepiashvili said of the fliers, which appeared on Tuesday, that depict a pyramid of “privilege” — with Jews at the top, labeled by Stars of David and described as unfairly and disproportionately successful.
“Is the 1% straight, white men? Or is the 1% Jewish?” the fliers ask, citing Pew Forum studies.
Students have said the fliers — whose creator and distributor remain unknown — are reminiscent of Nazi-era propaganda.
“Yes, it’s free speech, but it’s not the right approach for college-educated students or any sane, mature adult,” Sepiashvili said. “We need to be working more on being inclusive, understanding and have more dialogue.”
Given the recent spate of bomb threats against Jewish community centers, desecration of Jewish cemeteries and anti-Israel activities on many campuses across the country, Sepiashvili added, “We need to do better, as citizens and college students.”
“It’s important to spread love and kindness even in dark times like these,” he said. “A little light can go a long way.”
Seth Winberg — executive director of the local Jewish center, Metro Chicago Hillel — said he was very concerned by the fliers and arranged for the UIC dean of students to speak on Wednesday with disturbed members of the school’s Jewish community.
“We are asking the university to conduct a full investigation and to address the campus culture that would allow such hateful targeting of Jews,” Winberg said.
The school issued a statement — signed by the chancellor and other top UIC officials — which condemned the “anti-Semitic posters…that defame, insult and negatively portray Jewish members of our campus community.”
“Such actions do not reflect the values we hold as a community,” the statement said. “Acts that invoke hatred or violence toward members of our community will not be tolerated on our campus.”
Eva Zeltser, the president of Chabad at UIC, characterized the publication of the statement as a landmark moment. “The administration has never before explicitly mentioned ‘antisemitism’ in one of their condemnations of such incidents,” she said, noting that this most recent episode was far from the first time Jews have been harassed on campus.
“I don’t wear a Star of David anymore at school because I get such nasty looks from everyone,” Zeltser revealed.
Sepiashvili said, “Hopefully, more action on the university’s end will take place in the future to avoid incidents like these and ensure safety for all students.”
(c) 2017 The Algemeiner Journal