Education

Some Jewish U of M students report increased antisemitism amid Gaza demonstrations

flyer with weapons taped to metal panel
A flyer seen on a bridge near Coffman Memorial Union on Friday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Some Jewish students at the University of Minnesota say they do not feel safe on campus amid ongoing protests over the war in Gaza.

Flyers posted near Coffman Memorial Union recently featured slogans including "Nothing but hate for Israel and Zionism" and "Solidarity means attack."

During a news conference Friday at Minnesota Hillel, the campus organization for Jewish students, junior Carlie Sachs said she was unnerved while walking past a demonstration in support of Palestinians this week.

“When the activists on campuses glorify October 7, I feel pain to see how proud they are that my people were massacred,” Sachs said. “Jewish students are not celebrating the destruction in Gaza. There are no smiles on our faces or cheers for the death of Palestinians.”

“I think that this sort of incitement, this sort of pro-terror protests cannot be allowed on our campus,” said senior Ethan Fine. “I want to see the university responding in a way that tells me and my Jewish and Zionist peers that there is a place for us at the University of Minnesota and that they care for us.”

Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel, Fine said he and other Jewish students have had to “fly under the radar” and hide any outward signs of their identity over fears of harassment.

flyer taped to bridge panel
A flyer seen on a bridge near Coffman Memorial Union on Friday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

Sophomore Lyla Prass said she experienced this directly during a class in November while wearing a necklace that she received for her bat mitzvah that spells her name in Hebrew.

“It’s something I haven’t taken off since I was 13, and my peer next to me saw that and asked why I was killing her roommate’s cousins.”

The U said in a statement to MPR News that it stands “firmly against antisemitism and Islamophobia,” and that its code of conduct prohibits statements that pose a direct threat to individuals.

The statement goes on to say that it will respond “promptly and fully” to any reports of harassment, intimidation, or bias and that the university will also provide support to people who have been targeted by hateful speech that the school is unable to prohibit under the First Amendment.

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