A pro-Israel student group is outraged after the Duke University student government prevented it from opening a campus chapter.
Students Supporting Israel (SSI), which has a presence on 160 university campuses in the United States and internationally, said in a statement that it chartered a new Duke chapter on November 10 in order to make “Israel education programming” available to Duke students.
"We were excited to know that through our movement’s activities of this new chapter, Zionist voices would be heard, and that Israel education programming will be available to students on Duke’s campus,” SSI said in a statement.
But on November 15, SSI were “surprised and disturbed” to learn that Duke’s student government president had decided to veto the approval of their campus chapter.
“We would like it to be known that SSI National is appalled by and opposed to this decision and its provided reason,” the group said.
Duke’s student government president said that the new chapter was not approved because of allegations that SSI “singled out” a Duke student in a social media post.
The student had earlier criticized the new SSI chapter at Duke, using the caption “my school promotes settler colonialism.”
An Instagram account from Duke SSI then reposted an image of the comment along with a reply mentioning the student’s name and adding: “These types of narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn, which is why Duke’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel has been officially established & is here to stay.”
According to the Duke Chronicle, student president Christina Wang said that the SSI post led her to veto the group’s Duke chapter, accusing it of “singling out an individual student with their organization’s social media account” and “exhibiting potentially hostile or harmful behavior.”
SSI said in a Tuesday statement that it condemned the student government’s blocking of its new Duke chapter, and alleged they were singled out for being pro-Israel.
“SSI national views this situation as complete theater of absurd, and condemns the student government veto, the silencing of pro-Israel students, and the singling out of the new SSI chapter and its activists,” they wrote.
“The original claim made by the student is false and SSI chapter had the full right to respond to it,” SSI said. “It is claims like that of the said student that promote hatred and cause division. It is part our chapters’ purpose to be pointing out false information and speaking up to correct it.”
The group added: “It is absurd that responding publicly to a public comment and inviting a discussion would be considered hostile, but promoting incorrect anti-Semitic information is allowed.”