U of M’s Jewish students decry use of “Thawabet” in campus agreement with pro-Palestinian protesters

MINNEAPOLIS— A pro-Palestinian encampment cleared on Thursday morning after organizers reached an agreement with the administration, but Jewish students say they still have many concerns.

Joined by community leaders, Jewish students spoke at a press conference about the past week, and their meeting with university administrators on Thursday morning.

“I appreciate that the disruption is gone. I do not appreciate that they are getting rewards for it,” said Alex Stewart, Hillel student president. “We were hopeful that they would use that free speech to put out a statement condemning the language that’s being used on campus.”

In addition to condemning anti-Semitic language used by some protestors, Jewish leaders say they are upset people who violated campus rules, aren’t being charged with crimes. They are also upset that protesters are being allowed to address the Board of Regents later this month.

“That was also one of the requests of the Jewish students here who did not break the rules. They were not given any such guarantee. Why? That’s a great question to ask the administration,” said Ethan Roberts with the Jewish Community Relations Council.

Jewish leaders say they’re troubled by the language used in the email sent from interim president Ettinger to protestors that essentially marked the end of the encampment. In particular the use of the Arabic word “thawabit”, a term used to characterize the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people.WCCO researched the word through sources locally and with our partners at CBS News and found no evidence linking it to violence or radicalism.

Jewish students say they want to know what’s next for them, and how will they be made to feel safe on campus moving forward. They’re pushing for more education so all students feel welcome.

“Something that was thoroughly discussed was an education program and educating other students about the thin line between the freedom of speech and hate speech,” said sophomore Halle Wasserman.

Jewish students did say they feel hopeful that positive changes will happen on campus, and they are hoping administrators will support the Hillel campus climate initiative, which focuses on training and addressing issues regarding hate.