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UO student government post supporting Palestine draws controversy

"Unfortunately, we've been seeing mirror statements at universities across the country."

Posted: Jun 11, 2021 3:36 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2021 6:20 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- An Instagram post released by the University of Oregon student government on June 8 is stirring up controversy.

The five-page statement said, in part: "We, the Associated Students of the University of Oregon, vehemently oppose the genocide of Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli armed forces... 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."

The statement goes on to compare the actions of the Israeli military to modern day colonialism.

This comes just one week after UO President Michael Schill released a statement condeming antisemitic violence. 

Andy Gitelson is the executive director of Oregon Hillel, a student-based organization serving to build community and inspire leadership through Jewish values. He said he wasn't surprised at the student government's statement.

"Unfortunately, we've been seeing mirror statements at universities across the country," Gitelson said.

Gitelson said Oregon State's student government also sent out a similar statement via email to more than 30,000 students on May 28.

In their statement, it said: "We condemn the violence and attacks against the Palestinian people by the Israeli armed
forces. This is colonialism, this is ethnic cleansing, this is state-sanctioned violence, this is Zionism."

Gitelson said he's concerned acts of antisemitism will rise because of this rhetoric.

"They've been targeted for being outwardly and visibly Jewish," said Gitelson. "What we've seen is some students are being targeted just for wearing a Kippah or Yamaka." 

Gitelson said he understands people have strong emotions on both sides.

"You have two people, Palestinians and Jews, who have inextricably deepened meanings to a piece of land," Gitelson said. "We believe that we can live in a world where one can support the right of Israel to exist and be deeply committed to Palestinian human rights."

ASUO released an apology a day after their controversial statement saying they are "an organization that brings all students together to fight for a better campus and world" and they "apologize for unnuanced discussion of Zionism."

KEZI 9 News reached out to ASUO but did not hear back.

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