Daily Israel Report

Jewish NYU Students 'Evicted' By Pro-Arab Activists

Students at largely Jewish dormitory wake up to mock eviction notices, against regulations, railing against 'Israeli occupation.'
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 4/25/2014, 9:15 AM

Eviction notice (illustrative)
Eviction notice (illustrative)
Thinkstock

Over 2,000 students of New York University (NYU) reportedly woke up on Thursday to mock eviction notices under their doors, in another anti-Semitic "dorm storm" initiated by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). 

"Dorm storming," as defined by Legal Insurrection, is the now-growing practice of pro-Palestinian groups sliding "eviction notices" under students' doors overnight, allegedly to show how Arab residents of Judea and Samaria are treated.

As the report notes, the practice has been banned for aiming to intimidating students at their most vulnerable place: their home-away-from-home on campus, where they sleep. 

Thursday's flier reads: 

EVICTION NOTICE

We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days. 

If you do not vacate the premise on April 25, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside the premises. Charges for demolition will be applied to your student account.

Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no reason other than ethnicity. Forced evictions are racist, arbitrary, humiliating, and in violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. 

Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state of Israel's ongoing attempts to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants and maintain an exclusively "Jewish" character of the state. By destroying Palestinian homes, the state makes room for illegal Israeli settlements. The Israeli government itself describes this process as "Judaization." 

The United States government, American universities, and NYU faculty pension funds support these policies through foreign aid and investment. 

The fliers were slid under the doors of the mostly-Jewish Palladium dormitories at the top university - against an explicit ban on the practice as part of university policy.

A student at the university noted that Palladium has such a high Jewish student population that it is the only dormitory with a Shabbat elevator, giving the incident even more ominous anti-Semitic undertones. 

Sidestepping the Issue

NYU did not release a statement on the issue until the incident was leaked to the press. Late Thursday, they finally responded to Jewish students crying foul over the letters. 

“The University became aware today of an incident involving the distribution of flyers in one of our student residences," NYU spokesman John Beckman stated. "The flyers were titled 'Eviction Notice,' and went on to express concerns about Israeli policies towards Palestinians. It came to our attention when two student RAs (Resident Advisers) alerted the hall’s professional staff."

“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 in a fashion that is mature and that is meant to elicit thoughtful discussion rather than simply provoke," Beckman continued. "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. Our Residence Life and Housing Office will be looking into the matter and communicating with the students in the dorm."

Beckman denied that the incident was deliberately anti-Semitic, however. 

“It is unclear why the flyering took place in this particular dorm; we don’t believe there is perception of this dorm as having an a high percentage of Jewish students (the presence of a Sabbath elevator is the result of a stairway that empties to the street and cannot be entered through the lobby behind the security desk, not because of a disproportionate presence of Jewish students in the building)."

"However, were it to be the case that the flyering was done there because it was 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.”

Subsequent emails from the university continued to state that the dorm is not well-known as a "Jewish dorm," and that the Shabbat elevator there is simply to allow Jewish students to exit via a particular doorway, not due to a Jewish-majority student population.

The follow-up emails also addressed the fact that the incident violated university policy by sliding fliers under dorm doors in the first place. 

Growing Phenomenon

As Legal Insurrection notes, the practice is not only a growing phenomenon across college campuses in the US, but shows increasingly anti-Israeli policies from NYU faculty. 

The incoming president of the American Studies Association (ASA), which has instituted an academic boycott against Israel, is a former NYU professor, according to the blog, and has organized an anti-Israel conference at the top institution using that position. 

As Rutgers SJP President Aman Sharifi admitted in October, the "dorm storming" tactic itself originated at NYU.

Since then, additional "dorm storming" incidents have infected other universities across the US, including Harvard University, Florida Atlantic University (FAU), the University of California, Berkeley, and Northeastern University. 

Ari Yashar contributed to this report.