The University of Oregon’s student association executive on Wednesday published an offensive statement accusing Israel of genocide, ethnic cleansing and “modern day colonialism” and then hours later, claiming to act after complaints from Jewish students, published a second statement that condemned anti-Semitism but again used offensive tropes, accusing Israel of “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”
On Wednesday, the the Associated Students of UO (ASUO) executive posted to Instagram a statement titled, “ASUO exec stands in solidarity with Palestine.”
The post began, “We, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, vehemently oppose the genocide of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli armed forces.”
The letter went on to accuse Israel of being not a liberal state but “an apartheid state.”
“Despite the clarity of oppression, over the last few weeks, the words conflict and war have been thrown around, rending the Israeli forces a passive character rather than an oppressive force.”
It continued, “This is not a war to take sides on - supporting Palestine and condemning Zionism is doing the bare minimum to uphold the values of human rights, equality, and justice.”
Shortly after the statement was released, the University of Oregon Hillel issued a condemnation of the post, which is still on their Instagram account, reported the Algemeiner.
Hillel stated, “We are deeply disappointed and saddened to see the Executive Branch of the (ASUO) Instagram post an entirely one-sided statement on the complicated Israeli-Palestinian conflict, furthering divisiveness among students. Many students are extremely hurt by this statement and its inflammatory language that puts the blame entirely on Israel.”
They added that the statement represents “an attack on our community, our beliefs, and so much of what we have held dear as a people for thousands of years who were forcibly evicted from our homeland. We are deeply offended by its contents and its lack of connection to facts and decades of history.”
Later on Wednesday, the ASUO Instagram account published a response, noting that members of the Jewish community on campus contacted them to let them know that “our statement does not represent them.”
They wrote, “We apologize for our unnuanced discussion of Zionism and greatly appreciate the members of the UO community who took time to comment on our post and DM us about the topic. As your student government, we will do better.”
They continued, “The ASUO Executive condemns the anti-Semitic violence that has increased in recent years and that has existed for centuries. Jewish people on campus, and around the world, deserve to be able to live safely and in peace.”
However, the letter went on to double down on their previous offensive statement, saying that the ASUO Executive also “stands with our students who have reached out to us condemning the actions of the government of Israel against the Palestinian people. The Human Rights Watch has called these actions ‘so severe that they amount to the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.’”
They claimed that the “region that Israel exists in” had previously been “resided in peacefully for centuries” by “Palestinians and Jews.”
“We stand against all forms of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and against all forms of apartheid,” they wrote.