Anti-Israel Posters, Tied to White Supremacist Group, Posted on Campus
BY: LAUREN LUMPKIN AND ALEXIS ARNOLD
A group unaffiliated with American University posted anti-Israel flyers on campus early Tuesday morning. The posters follow anti-immigration stickers that were hung throughout campus in January.
The posters read, "No more wars for Israel" and "#AIPACgohome." The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is a bipartisan, pro-Israel organization. Its annual policy conference starts Saturday.
The posters also bear the Operation Homeland logo, a group with ties to white supremacist leader Richard Spencer, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group is pro-free speech, but takes a strong stance against immigration and "'wars fought in the interest of foreigners,'" reported the Anti-Defamation League.
AU Police spotted the suspect, who was in possession of the posters, at 1:47 a.m. Tuesday morning, said university spokesman Mark Story in an email to The Blackprint. Officers stopped, questioned and apprehended the suspect in front of Katzen Arts Center.
The suspect has been barred from campus, according to Story.
The posters were found at the School of International Service, McKinley Building and in other areas on campus. They have since been removed. Officials have not confirmed the total number of posters located.
Sean Palmer, a freshman at AU and international studies major, said he caught the suspect hanging some of the posters on the terrace doors of the McKinley Building.
"1:30 in the morning is sort of an odd time to be hanging up posters, so I thought I would check it out," said Palmer in an email. He said the suspect had a stack of posters "probably half-an-inch thick...and a roll of tape."
"My heart sort of sunk after I read about the organization who had put it up," said Palmer. He said he contacted AU Police about 1:50 a.m. after he saw the suspect hang the flyers.
Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw issued a statement Tuesday afternoon condemning the acts. "Part of our response is to not give these groups attention, which is what they want, and we want you to know we are being as proactive as we possibly can."
Aw also addressed increased alt-right activity on campus. AU Police introduced several safety measures in response, including "surveillance, immediate response, identification of people who should not be on our campus, informing those people this is private property, and barring those people from campus and/or arresting as appropriate," the statement read.
While these flyers are connected to an alt-right organization, scholars say anti-Israel messages are not unique to either side of the political spectrum. "The anti-Israel sentiments expressed in the poster can be heard on both extreme ends of the political spectrum," said Dr. Michael Brenner, director of the Center for Israel Studies at AU, in an email. "The implication that Americans fight wars for Israel (i.e. the Jewish state) is closely connected with antisemitic stereotypes."
While the posters target Israel, Women's & Gender History professor, Dr. Pamela Nadell, believes the flyers also target Jewish people. "Attacks on Israel’s right to exist as a nation-state are ipso facto antisemitic. It does not matter whether they come from the right or the left," she said in an email. Dr. Nadell is also director of the Jewish Studies Program.
AU continues to be a target for acts of hate. While there is no evidence that suggests these incidents are related, university officials do believe outside groups target AU because of the school's values, said Aw in the statement.