Being forced to tolerate intolerance…again



Last month there was a case of abhorrent anti-Semiitism on the Washington Avenue Bridge. One of the panels on the bridge that has served to promote the student group Students Supporting Israel had been de- faced when swastikas were reported to have been drawn on the bridge. At the time, the student group chose not to take any action because identifying the culprits who drew the swastikas was nearly impossible, and the group’s board members were simply looking forward to painting their new emblem on the panels of the symbolic bridge.

Less than a month later the new painting was on the group’s panel, and again the panel was defaced. This time, an anonymous person drew an “X” on the Jewish Star of David that has been drawn as part of an Israeli flag on the bridge. The flag is obviously a representation of the political state of Israel, however the Star of David that was defaced has been a symbol of world Jewry for generations.

“We are disgusted by the defacing of our painting and hope that the university, along with the student body, will join us in the strong condemnation of this action. It is one thing to have principled political dis- agreements with some student groups, but when people take it upon themselves to disgrace what a symbol that one finds sacred to spirit and conscious, it takes away from rational political debate. The Jewish community on our campus is deeply offended and hopes for swift future actions. The national organization Students Sup-
porting Israel recently got done battling the administra- tion and student government at neighboring Augsburg College, where the student government denied access to the group on what many claimed to be bogus and unfair premises. Ilan Sinelnikov, treasurer of students supporting Israel, claimed that ‘actions such as this and the ones at Augsburg show that discrimination against Israel is often laced with anti-Semitism at its core.’ He went on to say ‘we view it as our role as a national pro- Israel organization to combat anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism, Israel’s flag is a symbol of pride for much of the Jewish community in Minnesota and we intend to fight against it being disgraced,’” SSI said in a statement.

The group will be filing formal complaints with the Office of Student Unions and Activities. As was the case with the person who drew the swastikas, the culprit is anonymous and practically untraceable. The amount of action that can be taken by the administration is very limited, and there will unlikely be any charges that will be filed.

The fact that this is a re-occurring problem raises eye- brows about the adversaries of the group. The group has informally challenged rival groups to a debate about the Arab-Israeli conflict and has yet to receive a response. It is really a shame that such important word issues are being solved by defacing symbols as opposed to public discourse.