Close to two dozen posters critical of American and Israeli policy were found at the Tufts Granoff Family Hillel Center on Feb. 12. We believe these posters are intended to distress Jewish students.
Antisemitism is a racist ideology that sees Jewish people as ‘other’. This ideology often manifests as anti-Jewish imagery and propaganda, including medieval images that portrayed Jewish people suckling from pigs, later used by the Nazis in the 20th century. The posters at Hillel intentionally targeted a Jewish religious and cultural center with imagery of pigs that refer back to these historical tropes and dehumanize Jewish people.
Further, these posters appropriated cartoons used by the Black Panther Party in the late sixties as part of their struggle against imperialism. Portraying American soldiers and the police who engaged in repression against the Panthers and war crimes in Vietnam as pigs is not in itself anti-Semitic. Rather, it is connected to a long tradition of struggle against white supremacy and imperialism in the United States. The person responsible for the act has wrongly appropriated images from black and anti-imperialist struggles in the U.S. while targeting a Jewish community center and place of worship.
Moreover, not all Jewish people should be held accountable for the actions of Israel. The struggle for Palestinian rights and self-determination must not be associated with the dehumanization of Jewish people.
Putting posters up in the middle of the night, then refusing to take responsibility for this act and the hurt it caused, is cowardly. The person who did this is clearly afraid to take responsibility for their antisemitism.
Taken in combination with the “It’s Okay to Be White” posters found earlier this school year, the blackface fiasco and other well-publicized racist incidents both on campus and in the nation at large, the targeting of Hillel shows that emails from the president condemning hate are not enough of a response. Whether through inability or unwillingness, Tufts has become a school where people think it’s okay to wear blackface or deliberately target places of worship for political intimidation. Both of these actions are manifestations of white supremacy, an ideology that links personal worth to race and religion.
Letters like Monaco’s are not action. Monaco’s letter did not explicitly address the antisemitic nature of the act. In calling the posters simply “derogatory,” we feel Monaco’s letter created more confusion than it solved. The ways Tufts’ past attempts have sought to address white supremacy and antisemitism in the past are not enough. These letters are the equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers’ and are useless in changing campus culture.
CORRECTION: This article has been updated to reflect The Tufts Daily’s standardized spelling of the word “antisemitism.”