At least five hate speech posters — with at least two naming six current and former UC Berkeley students for their involvement in either the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement or Students for Justice in Palestine — were found plastered at various sites around campus Monday.
The discovery of the posters comes just one month after the UC Board of Regents approved a new Statement of Principles Against Intolerance.
The posters describe the BDS movement as a “Hamas-inspired genocidal campaign to destroy Israel” and accuse the named individuals for allying themselves with Palestinian terrorists. The bottom of the posters included “#StopTheJewHatredOnCampus.”
“(Being defamed is) often going to be a death sentence for that person’s professional prospects … if you’ve been publicly smeared as a bigot,” said SJP member and campus graduate student Kumars Salehi, one of the students listed on the posters.
On Thursday, Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman sent out an email informing the campus community about the posters, noting that the campus is committed to opposing all forms of discrimination. SJP member and campus graduate student David McCleary, who was also identified in the posters, said, however, that the email failed to recognize SJP as a legitimate campus organization.
“They are threatening; they are defamatory. And that kind of intimidation tactic should have no place at the University of California,” said Palestine Legal attorney Liz Jackson of the posters. “(The university) needs to provide protection for the students targeted.”
The posters are associated with David Horowitz, with a link to a website that he founded included at the bottom of the posters. In November, similar posters that he claimed responsibility for were posted at UCLA, UC San Diego and George Washington University, among other campuses. Hate speech posters found last week at San Diego State University, UC Santa Barbara and UCLA were also linked to Horowitz.
Josh Woznica, president of the campus Jewish Student Union, said the posters’ statements are “really not representative of what the pro-Israel community thinks on campus.”
The personal attacks involved in the posters’ rhetoric was distasteful, said Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, executive director of Berkeley Hillel. He condemned the flyers, and added that the campus should provide settings that could facilitate dialogue between the pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups in response to the posters.
“(The posters are) counterproductive to creating a vibrant and healthy community where students can thrive and be challenged in a thoughtful way,” Naftalin-Kelman said.
The three current students named — Salehi, McCleary and ASUC External Affairs Vice President Marium Navid — all said this is not an isolated incident, but rather a continuation of attacks they have received for their activism for human rights in Israel-Palestine.
McCleary said he has since filed a hate crime report with the campus and the university. Navid said she is working to compile information regarding the incident, and intends to present the findings to the campus administration in a formal meeting.
“We want the administration to do what’s right (and) speak out against these vile, defamatory and malicious accusations,” McCleary said. “The university needs to recognize SJP as a legitimate campus organization and needs to recognize our work as part of a legitimate political debate.”