EXCLUSIVE: University President’s Statement Opposing Antisemitism Draws Wave Of Anti-Israel Attacks

(Photo by YEHUDA RAIZNER/AFP via Getty Images)

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Kate Anderson Contributor
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Students at George Mason University (GMU) accused the university and school president Gregory Washington of failing to recognize Israel’s “war crimes” and “genocide” of Palestinians in a statement condemning antisemitism, according to a series of emails obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Washington sent an email to students and staff on Nov. 2 outlining the school’s “Patriot Plan for Community Safety and Well-Being,” which increased security measures and resources in response “to heightened tensions,” including several “disgusting” antisemitic incidents on campus. The email was met with backlash from multiple students, who voiced their displeasure and claimed that the university was neglecting its Muslim community by ignoring Israel’s targeted “genocide” of the Palestinians in Gaza, according to replies on the university’s listserv obtained by the DCNF. (RELATED: Jewish High Schools Demand ‘Security’ Plan Protecting Students From ‘Intolerable’ Atmosphere On College Campuses)

“What’s happening in Gaza is nowhere even close to a ‘conflict,'” an email from one student read. “It is a genocide …  What’s happening in Gaza is a collective punishment. Millions of Palestinian civilians — men, women, children — have been, and continue to be targets of Israeli hate and war crimes.”

Another student wrote, “Do better mason, we are watching a holocaust before our very eyes. It’s been happening for nearly a century, children are being bombed, hospitals, refugee camps, churches, mosques are being bombed with civilians in them.”

Washington’s messages since the attacks by Hamas have been supportive of Israel, and he has also come out against any attempts to curb free speech. He explained in an Oc. 17 statement that those who wish GMU would “muzzle those with opposing views” would run “afoul of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Neither the university nor Washington’s office replied to the DCNF’s request for comment.

Israeli military armoured vehicles and tanks deploy along Israel's border with Gaza on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza.

Israeli military armored vehicles and tanks deployed along Israel’s border with Gaza on October 24, 2023, amid the ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)

One student replied to the president’s email claiming that they had been “drawing art on campus … that [was in] no way … meant to be perceived as a hate crime against Jewish people,” according to an email. The student wrote that they were approached by a university police officer about the art and argued that the incident was evidence of the university’s apathy toward Muslim students.

“Now you say that law enforcement will be more present on campus to protect Jewish people, and by all means their safety matters, but what about my safety? What about my friends’ safety,” the student wrote. “Maybe I’m misunderstanding this, but a bunch of leaflets with political statements – of popular opinion and could be backed up by a lot of evidence considering the last 80 years of UN-confirmed apartheid – prompted the necessary law enforcement for the safety of Jewish people, but the murder of the Muslim 6-year-old boy in Chicago and the Muslim pediatrician in Texas, didn’t prompt you to AT LEAST reach out to our community? So, I ask you, Mr. President, will your next email keep dismissing our pain, fear, and anxiety?”

However, one student expressed concerns about fellow GMU students’ “lack of condemnation” of the Oct. 7 attacks that killed over 1,400 Israelis and wounded thousands more, according to the emails. The student claimed that many were celebrating the terrorist attacks online even before Israel began its siege in Gaza.

The university has been grappling with tensions on campus after an Oct. 30 video showed a woman tearing down posters of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas at the GMU Johnson Center, prompting the school to launch an investigation, according to ABC15 News, a local media outlet. Pamphlets were also distributed at GMU’s Fairfax campus with “deeply offensive antisemitic rhetoric,” according to Washington’s email.

One GMU student, who asked to be kept anonymous for safety reasons, told the DCNF that her Jewish friends are “fearful” and that the emails had proved that “time and time again universities have failed to protect them.”

“The reply-all tactic felt so much more invasive than the protest that got out of hand a few weeks ago on campus, the tearing down of hostage posters, and all the other antisemitic rhetoric Jews have to face right now,” the student said. “Jewish students aren’t even safe from this sitting in their dorm rooms – they have to get it directly into their school-provided inboxes. And we know the outrage that would happen if it were the other way around.”

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