Petition urges university to establish Antisemitism Task Force
The Jewish community at the University of Maryland is calling for “immediate action” to address antisemitism in the wake of the phrase “Holocaust 2.0” being graffitied on campus during a pro-Palestinian protest.
Nearly 40 UMD Jewish and allied organizations launched a petition this month urging the University of Maryland to take action.
The petition asks the Big Ten university to adopt an internationally recognized definition of antisemitism, create an Antisemitism Task Force, offer antisemitism awareness education, and establish a standard procedure for handling antisemitic behavior on campus.
The University of Maryland’s Jewish Student Union, one of the groups leading the effort, told The College Fix that Jewish students “have definitely felt very uncomfortable and even unsafe on campus” since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.
The Jewish leaders told The Fix that they are gathering signatures on the petition and plan to present it to the university within the next few weeks.
“By signing our letter, you’re telling the UMD Administration loud and clear that the Jewish community stands together in the belief that embracing the definition of Antisemitism and holding antisemitic incidents to this standard will make our campus a better place for Jewish students,” the petition states.
A Students for Justice in Palestine protest on Nov. 9 helped prompt the petition.
There, “an SJP demonstrator led the crowd with the chant, ‘There is only one solution, intifada revolution,’” the Jewish group told The Fix.
“Intifada,” refers to “either of two periods of Palestinian terror in Israel,” and “it was antisemitic and just awful to hear fellow students calling for a repeat of those heinous attacks,” it said.
“Also, the ‘one solution’ part of the chant can be interpreted to be a play on the Nazi Final Solution. That’s not okay,” the group told The Fix.
The phrase “Holocaust 2.0” also was chalked on the school’s campus plaza during the protest, prompting an investigation.
The University of Maryland Police Department told The Fix last week that it does not have any updates on the investigation.
The university communications office referred The College Fix to its Nov. 10 statement condemning the “hateful, antisemitic sentiments expressed” at the Nov. 9 protest. It also promised “responsible parties will be held accountable.”
The institution noted that “the offensive actions of a few should not reflect on the vast majority of protesters who were there to peacefully express their views, but there is no place for any antisemitic message, behavior or action at the University of Maryland.”
The Jewish Student Union told The Fix that Jewish students do feel adequately protected by campus police, saying: “We definitely feel that the UMPD has been keeping us safe. We appreciate UMPD.”
However, the group said the Jewish community wishes the University of Maryland would take a firmer stance in preventing antisemitism on campus.
Given recent events, the UMD Jewish community feels a “profound sense of urgency” and a determination “to ensure that all Jewish students feel safe and accepted on our campus,” the petition states.
Asked how it would respond to individuals spreading hateful messages, the Jewish Student Union said it “would tell them that the Jewish people are a strong people and you will not get us down.”
The petition asks university administrators to acknowledge and comply with the definition of antisemitism in President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13899: Combating Antisemitism, hoping it will offer “a framework for identifying and confronting antisemitism on our campus.”
Additionally, it calls for “the issuance of clear and unequivocal statements condemning antisemitism” in accordance with President Joe Biden administration’s “U.S. National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism,” the implementation of “antisemitism awareness education in new student orientation programming,” and “a formal process explicitly addressing antisemitic incidents on campus.”
Ultimately, this task falls to the school’s administration as the First Amendment “has no prescription to limit free speech, no matter how vile,” the petition states.
Given the reportedly “nearly 400-percent increase in preliminary antisemitic incidents” since Oct. 7, Jewish students and staff believe it is “crucial that our academic community is well-informed about the history and current representations of antisemitism,” the petition states.
The Fix also contacted Terps for Israel, MEOR Maryland, Hillel at the University of Maryland, and Kedma Orthodox Jewish Community, which endorsed the petition, twice in the past two weeks, but did not receive a response. The Fix asked about the petition and reactions to it, as well as recent acts of antisemitism on UMD’s campus and its impact on Jewish students.
IMAGE: Jonathan Allen/X