NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Anti-Defamation League and others are condemning a campaign by a pro-Palestinian group that distributed fliers marked “eviction notice” to more than 2,000 students at New York University.
NYU’s Students for Justice in Palestine said they slipped fliers under students’ doors at the school’s two largest dormitories to raise awareness about the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I freaked out,” said student Insia Zaidi. “I was like what’s going on? I have to get my stuff out.”
The notices read: “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days.”
“Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israel occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity,” the fliers said. “Forced evictions are arbitrary, racist, humiliating, and in violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The leaflet acknowledges at the bottom that “THIS IS NOT A REAL EVICTION NOTICE.”
The group said the fliers were designed to look like ones Palestinians receive before their houses are demolished.
“The purpose of this action, led by New York University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, was to draw attention to this reality Palestinians face daily,” SJP said in statement.
Co-president of SJP at NYU, Shafeka Hashash, called the fliers “very, very obviously fake looking” and denied allegations that they targeted Jewish students.
“In reality, nothing could be further from the truth,” the group said in the statement. “At its very core, SJP is a group opposed to ethnic discrimination and institutionalized racism. Racism is not limited to the practices of the Israeli government, and opposing policies and racist rhetoric, including anti-Semitism, is vital.”
But Laura Adkins, vice president of NYU’s Pro-Israel advocacy group TorchPAC, said the notices were inaccurate and were “pretty alarming to a lot of students.”
She said similar incidents have happened at Rutgers and Northwestern universities.
“Sneaking around in the dark of night and breaking NYU housing policy by distributing unapproved (fliers) bearing anti-Semitic language and cherry-picked ‘facts’ is no way to launch an education campaign,” she said in a statement.
The Anti-Defamation League called the fake notices a “disturbing tactic designed to silence and intimidate pro-Israel advocates on campuses around the country rather than promote meaningful dialogue.”
“While students have a right to express their views on campus, targeting students in their residence halls is an unsettling intrusion,” the ADL said in a statement.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind also condemned the fliers, calling them “pure hate.”
“Disgusting is too nice a word for what these so-called activists did,” he said in a statement. “Their attacks directly targeted Jewish students for no other reason than the fact that they are Jews.”
In a statement released Thursday evening, NYU spokesman John Beckman said the school’s Residence Life and Housing Office will look into the matter.
“NYU encourages free speech and the free exchange of ideas, but our hope is that the discourse — including debate on controversial issues — will be conducted maturely and in a way meant to elicit thoughtful discussion rather than simply provoke,” Beckman said. “A flyer titled ‘eviction notice’ anonymously slipped under doors at night is not an invitation to thoughtful, open discussion; it is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community.”
Beckman said officials would talk with students in the affected dorms, Lafayette and Palladium. He said that school officials “don’t believe there is a perception of them as being home to a larger presence of Jewish students.”
“However, were it to be the case that the leafleting was done in these locations because either of them were perceived be a dorm with a higher proportion of Jewish students, that would be troubling, dismaying, and a matter of deep concern for our community,” Beckman added.
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