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Jewish Students, Organizations ‘Disturbed’ After Posters Accusing Israel of Genocide Pasted on Chairs in Northeastern Classrooms

Chairs in several Northeastern classrooms were plastered with flyers reserving seats for Palestinians killed by the Israeli military April 3, prompting a committee within the university’s Jewish Studies Program to say it was “disturbed” by the incident.

The posters, which were not circulated by the university, can be seen in a video posted by the account @StopAntisemites on X. The posters’ appearance occurred during Northeastern’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week and is now being investigated by the university and Northeastern police, according to a statement from Northeastern’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Committee

The brief clip showed every chair in what appears to be a Ryder Hall classroom plastered with a poster reading, “RESERVED,” followed by the name of a civilian killed by Israeli forces in Gaza, the civilian’s age and the statement: “Martyr of the Gaza Genocide.” The committee said the posters appeared in “a number of Northeastern University classrooms.”

Multiple countries and organizations have accused Israel of inciting a genocide against Palestinians, while Israel rejects the claims.  

The heading of the posters depicted the Northeastern logo and the words “Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week.” The bottom of the posters read, in italics, “Northeastern refuses to recognize the 30,000+ victims of Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza. For Genocide Awareness Week, we demand divestment.”

Several student organizations have called for the university to divest from and cut ties with companies that do business with the Israeli military. The university rejected those demands in February. 

The video posted by @StopAntimsemites focused on two posters displaying the names of 5-year-old Ahmed Abdel Karim Mounir Ghabayen and 5-year-old Ahmed Abdel Hadi Adel Daher, who were both reportedly killed by the Israeli military, according to Al Jazeera.

The News was unable to confirm who was responsible for the placement of the posters and the origin of the video.

Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week, which runs from April 1 to April 7, is dedicated to raising awareness and fostering understanding about the Holocaust, genocide and the history of antisemitism, according to its website. The committee changed the annual event’s name to “Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week” — adding “Genocide” — in 2018 to “better reflect the mission of learning from the past,” its website states.

“The students, faculty and staff responsible for organizing the University’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week events are disturbed by the misuse of our name and the misrepresentation of our programming,” the statement by the Northeastern University Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Committee read. 

The flyers were immediately taken down, and the Northeastern University Police Department is currently investigating the incident, according to the statement. 

“The individual or group responsible for circulating these flyers is unconnected to the University’s Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Committee or the activities of Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week,” the statement from the committee read. 

In an Instagram story statement posted by Huskies for Israel, or HFI, the group expressed anger and frustration at the “exploitation” of such a significant week. 

“Today, our history has been taken and warped,” the statement on the group’s page read. “This day has underscored the undeniable link between anti-Zionism and Antisemitism, affirming that they are inherently intertwined.” 

HFI’s statement also added that the posters promoted Holocaust “inversion and revisionism,” which it said is a form of antisemitism and an “extremely disturbing way to promote an anti-Israel agenda.”

“The irony of using the systematic, industrialized murder of Jews to libel the Jewish state is sick and twisted,” the Instagram story read. “You can protest without trivializing and minimizing the massacre of Jews. It’s a shame that this needs to be said during a week dedicated to the Holocaust.”

Lori Lefkovitz, director of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies program, said she was most disturbed by the misappropriation of the Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Committee’s title.

“The most inappropriate part was the use of the logo,” Lefkovitz said. “To misrepresent what the work of the committee is, is wrong.” 

Lefkovitz noted that several students contacted her to express their distress and concern about the incident.

“I’ve heard from students who were just very shaken by it and felt there was something very assaultive about it,” she said. “Some people felt that this was targeted against Jewish people and that it was an attack on Israel.” 

Max Abrahms, an associate professor of political science and affiliated faculty of Jewish Studies at Northeastern, said the placement of flyers on classroom chairs disrupted the educational environment.

“The biggest transgression was how they went about disseminating their message, and not at all about the message they were disseminating,” Abrahms said. “You can’t go into classrooms and basically force students to consume this kind of controversial content.”

Abrahms also responded to the original post on X, writing, “Very little of the craziness gets picked up by media.”

Sabrina Chevlin, vice president of HFI and a third-year psychology and music combined major, said an intense feeling of uneasiness overcame her after hearing about the incident. 

“When Jews see people equating the Holocaust to anything or using that word to refer to current events, it inherently is minimizing and trivializing what happened to us and our grandparents and our great-grandparents 80 years ago,” Chevlin said. 

Chevlin said the incident particularly unsettled her because it was carried out during Holocaust and Genocide Awareness Week. 

“Those flyers were used during a week dedicated to Holocaust education and awareness to protest what’s going on in Israel. Those things should be independent of each other and to confound the two is really scary for Jews to see,” Chevlin said. “My first reaction was fear and I think I speak for most of the Jewish community at Northeastern when I say that.”

Source: https://huntnewsnu.com/77010/campus/jewish-students-organizations-disturbed-after-posters-accusing-israel-of-genocide-pasted-on-chairs-in-northeastern-classrooms/