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SJP Targets U of I Hillel During March

“We find it really unacceptable that Jewish students need to be cornered in a situation where they need to cross through a field of yelling people to come and get their religious needs answered,” Illini Hillel Executive Director Erez Cohen told the student newspaper Daily Illini.
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April 25, 2022
Photo from Twitter

Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign targeted the campus Hillel during a march protesting the actions of the Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, The Algemeiner and Jewish News Syndicate (JNS) reported.

The protest, which was held on April 18, was dubbed as an “emergency protest” against “Zionist militia forces” at Al-Aqsa, was a march through parts of campus that eventually stopped in front of the Cohen Center for Jewish Life, where the campus Illini Hillel is located. While the protesters were in front of the Hillel, an unknown object was thrown through one of the Hillel’s windows. The Hillel was serving kosher food to Jewish students for Passover meals inside at that time.

“We find it really unacceptable that Jewish students need to be cornered in a situation where they need to cross through a field of yelling people to come and get their religious needs answered,” Illini Hillel Executive Director Erez Cohen told the student newspaper Daily Illini. He later added: “When people come to the Jewish center to yell against Israel, they’re creating an equation between any Jewish person and the state of Israel. That’s singling out an entire community based on a country that’s miles away.”

One of the pro-Palestinian protesters told WCIA that Hillel has “a very direct connection to Israel and that’s why we’re targeting that area in specific.” One Jewish student told WCIA that she doesn’t support Israel’s actions at Al-Aqsa and that “Hillel exists to support Jewish students,” not for supporting Israel.

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Midwest tweeted, “SJP’s targeting of a Jewish institution at @UofIllinois to protest Israeli policies is antisemitism. We are horrified it occurred during a Passover celebration and reports are an object was thrown at Hillel, crossing the line from protest to violence.”

Judea Pearl, Chancellor Professor of Computer Science at UCLA, National Academy of Sciences member and Daniel Pearl Foundation President, tweeted in response to ADL Midwest that he is “more distressed by the timidity of Hillel’s students (and director), speaking as though Israel’s actions are indefensible, and as though Israel survival is not central to Jewish life. This is not the Hillel I knew, it’s a Hillel that projects guilt and invites more bullying.”

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that SJP’s “attempt to terrorize Jewish students by targeting their cultural space is despicable. Protesting during a Passover gathering adds insult to injury.”

There have been ongoing clashes at the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, during Passover and Ramadan between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police. Rioters, many of whom are donning Hamas garb, have lobbing stones and firebombs from the mosque, prompting the police to take action and disperse the riots.

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