Hillel JUC and Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Joint Statement on Anti-Israel Protests at Pitt’s Cathedral of Learning

The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center (Hillel JUC) and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh are outraged by the recent encampment organized outside the Cathedral of Learning. This group has made several antisemitic comments and demands, including the immediate termination of Hillel JUC. The call to terminate Hillel JUC is a reprehensible attempt to target the primary Jewish organization that serves close to 2,200 Jewish students across Pittsburgh area universities. Their motivation is clear: to threaten Jewish safe spaces and make Jews feel unwelcome at the University of Pittsburgh.

The group’s antisemitic comments include calls to “globalize the intifada,” “reject Zionism,” and use of the phrase “from the river to the sea Palestine must be free.” “Globalize the intifada” is a call for indiscriminate violence against Israel and potentially against Jews and Jewish institutions around the world. “Reject Zionism” is a call to eliminate the State of Israel and marginalize groups that support it. “From the river to the sea Palestine must be free” is a call to eliminate Jews from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, which includes the more than 7 million Jews in Israel.

Among this group’s demands included a call to “reject the normalization of ties with the Zionist regime.” Rejecting institutions and organizations connected with Zionism would effectively mean rejecting the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community, along with every major Jewish institution, organization, and religious movement. Furthermore, the encampment organizers call for the removal of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, an insulting attempt to dictate how Jews can and cannot define bigotry against themselves.

Additionally, this group perpetuated the myth that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. As John Kirby, the White House National Security Communications Advisor, stated, “Israel is not trying to wipe the Palestinian people off the map. Israel is trying to defend itself against a genocidal terrorist threat.” While we deeply mourn the loss of civilian lives in Gaza, it is crucial to recognize that the situation does not constitute genocide. Misusing the term “genocide” not only trivializes the experiences of those who have suffered actual genocide but also exploits the historic trauma of the Jewish people.

This current climate of intolerance and discrimination cannot be ignored. These hateful acts violate the principles of cultural and religious diversity that universities cherish and create a hostile environment that threatens the physical and emotional security of Jewish individuals at Pitt.

Hillel JUC remains a central hub of Jewish life on campus and will continue to proudly serve its students and uphold Jewish values, including Zionism. We call upon our community and leaders to condemn this abhorrent display of antisemitic bigotry and stand in solidarity against hate. As the focal point for Jewish campus life for more than 2,200 Jewish university students in Pittsburgh, The Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center (Hillel JUC) mission is to enrich the lives of Jewish undergraduate students so that they may enrich the Jewish people and the world. Together, we are building a new generation of Jewish leaders.

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