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Pressured to resign, Pomona student official says she didn’t endorse anti-Semitic screed in post she shared

Curiously worded apology

Did Malak Afaneh notice the screed on an Instagram post she shared that referred to pro-Israel Jews as “bitches” who “hate brown p[eo]p[l]e”?

The elected senior class president at Pomona College doesn’t say in an apology addressed to “Claremont Community Leaders,” referring to the Claremont Consortium of which her school is a member.

A petition campaign called on Afaneh to apologize or otherwise resign for sharing the “antisemitic comments.” The Instagram post incorporated a Twitter screenshot that accused Saudi Arabia of responsibility for the equivalent of “3 holocausts” in Yemen.

Under the screenshot, the Instagram user mocked Jewish students who go on Birthright Israel trips, “worship[]” World War II and “hate brown” people. Afaneh shared the Instagram post and superimposed her own comment that it “put into words all I’ve been thinking.”

Her apology, posted Monday by the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance, says Afaneh thought her friend had composed the tweet. Her own approving comment referred to the tweet, not the comments about pro-Israel “bitches” below it:

In hindsight, I now realize that my friend didn’t write the tweet, but rather than anti-semetic [sic] comments below. In my haste to repost her story, I truly didn’t mean to amplify the hateful comments. Characterizing all Zionists through those hurtful words, which I chose to amplify, erases the real trauma and hurt the Holocaust caused.

Afaneh does not say explicitly that she didn’t notice the anti-Zionist comments under the Twitter screenshot.

MORE: Pomona student official must apologize or resign for anti-Semitic post

She promised to “reach out to Jewish organizations on campus,” naming the Claremont Progressive Israel Alliance, J Street and Jewish Voice for Peace, “to see what I, and the Claremont community, can do in the future to uplift the voices of both our communities.”

Afaneh wants to “embody someone who is pro-Palestinian and supportive of Jewish people,” she wrote.

The alliance, which shared the petition (since taken down) but has not claimed credit for creating it, thanked Afaneh for “acknowledg[ing] her role in spreading antisemitic content on social media”:

We accept her apology and hope this can be a teaching moment for all. We also want to acknowledge that we did not and would never contact news outlets or share a student’s personal information.

It’s not clear who else received Afaneh’s apology. The alliance posted it on Monday evening, hours after The College Fix published a post identifying Afaneh – an elected official in a student government who also founded her own clothing brand – as the person who shared the Instagram post.

The Claremont Independent had identified her Sunday as “the 2020-2021 senior class president at Pomona College” but did not name her. In an update after The Fix post was published, the newspaper posted screenshots of Afaneh’s apology, which it said came from her private Instagram account. (The screenshots cover up her name.)

The administration told the Independent late Monday night that Afaneh had “apologized and reached out to support cross-cultural dialogue, which we encourage.”

Pomona “condemn[s] anti-Semitism in all its forms, and we seek to foster an atmosphere of respect for all members of our community,” said the email statement from Patricia Vest, associate director of news and strategic content.

Read her apology and updated Independent report.

MOREPomona full of ‘pervasive, college-sponsored anti-Semitism’

IMAGE: Nina Laski/YouTube

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.