Note: This story was corrected on April 28 to reflect that the fliers were distributed at two dorms rather than one, and that neither dorm has a reputation for having a particularly large Jewish population.
A student activist group flooded two NYU dorms Wednesday night with fake eviction notices to draw attention to “the reality Palestinians confront on an ongoing basis."
No organization's name was on the fliers, but NYU's chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine took responsibility for them Thursday. In a statement posted on its website, the organization said it put more than 2,000 fliers under doors in both Palladium and Lafayette halls as a protest that "addresses only one of the many horrific aspects of the occupation that Palestinians face daily."
The fliers read, “We regret to inform you that your suite is scheduled for demolition in three days. If you do not vacate the premise by midnight on 25 April, 2014 we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. … Charges for demolition will be applied to your student accounts.
“Eviction notices are routinely given to Palestinian families living under Israeli occupation for no other reason than their ethnicity. … Palestinian homes are destroyed as part of the state of Israel’s ongoing attempts to ethnically cleanse the region of its Arab inhabitants and maintain an exclusively ‘Jewish’ character of the state. By destroying Palestinian homes, the state makes room for illegal Israeli settlements. The Israeli government itself describes the process as ‘Judaization,’ the flier continues.
It concludes, “This is not a real eviction notice. This is intended to draw attention to the reality that Palestinians confront on a regular basis."
The fliers have left students feeling “uncomfortable” and “targeted,” said Laura Adkins, who broke the news of the fliers on The Times of Israel’s website Thursday morning.
“I've heard of things like this happening at other schools, but I guess I never imagined seeing it under my own door,” a student, who wished to remain anonymous, texted to a Jewish Week reporter. “I was more surprised than anything. Although I was also irritated because I feel like what is being stated is dramatically generalized and mostly erroneous." He requested his name not be used but confirmed to the Jewish Week that he received a flier.
An NYU alumna whose daughter is planning to live in Palladium Hall in the fall, said students in the dorm (and their parents) are afraid.
“I’m livid. … This was done in the middle of the night, the cowards. This is NYU, NYU. It’s unbelievable," she said in an interview with The Jewish Week the day the fliers were found. The source asked to remain anonymous to protect her daughter's privacy.
"We are scared for our children’s safety," she added.
NYU spokesman John Beckman released a statement Thursday saying that dorm officials would be "looking into the matter, and following up appropriately."
He said school administrators "don't believe there is perception of this dorm as having an a high percentage of Jewish students, but condemned the tactic as inconsistent with the school's goal of open discourse.
"A flyer titled 'eviction notice' anonymously slipped under doors at night is not an invitation to thoughtful, open discussion; it is disappointingly inconsistent with standards we expect to prevail in a scholarly community," the statment said.
SJP's statement emphasized that they weren't targeting Jewish students.
"In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. At its very core, SJP is a group opposed to ethnic discrimination and institutionalized racism. Racism is not limited to the practices of the Israeli government, and opposing policies and racist rhetoric, including anti-Semitism, is vital. The students in SJP and the participants in this action come from diverse, including Jewish, backgrounds," the statement said.
TorchPAC, NYU’s pro-Israel advocacy group, has started an online petition asking NYU President John Sexton to "take firm action" to the school's chapter of SPJ for "incitement on campus." As of Monday afternoon, the peition had 361 signatures.