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Letter to the Editor: The walkout’s purpose was derailed by anti-Israel sentiment

Members+of+the+Northwestern+community+join+a+demonstration+at+the+Multicultural+Center+in+opposition+to+President+Trump%E2%80%99s+travel+ban.+One+of+the+signs+hanging+on+the+center+read%2C+%E2%80%9CIf+you+support+Israeli+apartheid+you+support+a+Muslim+ban.%E2%80%9D
Members of the Northwestern community join a demonstration at the Multicultural Center in opposition to President Trump’s travel ban. One of the signs hanging on the center read, “If you support Israeli apartheid you support a Muslim ban.”

Members of the Northwestern community join a demonstration at the Multicultural Center in opposition to President Trump’s travel ban. One of the signs hanging on the center read, “If you support Israeli apartheid you support a Muslim ban.”

Photo by Leeks Lim

Photo by Leeks Lim

Members of the Northwestern community join a demonstration at the Multicultural Center in opposition to President Trump’s travel ban. One of the signs hanging on the center read, “If you support Israeli apartheid you support a Muslim ban.”

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I am an American Jew who is critical of Israel and who also does not think criticism of Israel equates automatically with anti-Semitism. However, I was deeply disappointed at the turn that the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration took on Wednesday.

The demonstration was advertised as a protest in response to the Trump administration’s Muslim ban. This was the focus of the three banners that hung on the porch at the start of the demonstration. However, well after the crowd had assembled and speeches were underway, two students crawled out of a second-floor window and unfurled a banner that in good part covered the other banners. This new banner stated, “If you support Israeli apartheid you support Muslim ban.”

My assumption at this point was that the #NoMuslimBanNU demonstration was being co-opted by another group of students for their purpose. However, when I and another faculty member confronted the group about the new banner, we were told that this was planned from the beginning by the students who organized the demonstration.

Two things about this concern me. First, it seems to me that the group who organized the demonstration deceived the Northwestern community. The demonstration was presented as a response to the Trump administration’s action, not to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration. Second, as a result of what appears to be an act of deception and co-option, an opportunity for a single-minded full-throated condemnation of President Donald Trump and his administration by the full Northwestern community was sadly squandered.

Mark Sheldon
Assistant Dean of Weinberg
Senior lecturer in the Philosophy Department

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