A fake Facebook profile purporting to be the account of the engagement director for Hillel at UGA was used to spread anti-Israel propaganda at the University of Georgia.
The fake profile for Mara Price was spotted when another Hillel at UGA staffer, Jeremy Lichtig, received a friend request even though he and Price already were Facebook friends, according to Hillels of Georgia Executive Director Rabbi Russ Shulkes.
The fake profile included a burning Israeli flag and a Moroccan flag flying from the world’s tallest minaret in Casablanca.
Price contacted Facebook and had the profile removed, but Rabbi Shulkes said it was the third time within two months that the pro-Israel community at the university felt unsafe, attacked or harassed. For example, members of Athens for Justice in Palestine shouted at Israel Defense Forces veterans brought to UGA by StandWithUs, then staged a walkout from the Dawgs for Israel event.
Price, who recruits for and staffs Birthright Israel trips, dresses up in a camel outfit, and works at Israel information tables, is “our most high profile Jew on UGA’s campus,” Rabbi Shulkes wrote in an email message about the incident. “Additionally, we just had our most successful Israel Festival evet at UGA, and I suppose the anti-Israel community at UGA wanted to punish and intimidate us for our success. So, we are sadly not surprised that Mara was singled out to be attacked
College Debate Justified Anti-Israel Terrorism
As reported by The Tower and Tablet, college students participating in the sixth of eight opening rounds at the tournament, held April 9 to 11 at Morehouse College in Atlanta, had to argue for or against the proposition “This house believes that Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians is justified.”
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and terrorism are frequent topics at college debate tournaments. Tablet magazine reported that a competition the same weekend in Scotland asked whether civilians are legitimate targets in conflict, and the semifinal of the Israeli championships in 2015 used the proposition that “deliberate attacks on civilians, by the weaker side, are a justified tactic in asymmetrical wars.”
But The Tower reported that this is believed to be the first time that debaters were asked to defend terror attacks against specific civilians.
Under the debate format, students were given 15 minutes to prepare to argue their assigned side after hearing the proposition. The full emotional impact didn’t hit some of the competitors right away because they were focused on getting ready, The Tower said.
Jessica Weiss, a debater from Willamette University who has spent time in Israel, told The Tower that even though she and her partner were arguing against the proposition, she was shocked and spent most of the prep time crying.
Because of the time limit, debaters weren’t able to make knowledgeable arguments about such a complex region.
A student judge from Claremont McKenna College, Jordan Trafton, told Tablet that he was surprised that nobody immediately protested the proposition. He tried to get the round canceled; instead, he was barred from judging the round.
“It is outrageous and deeply offensive that students participating in the debating championship, some of whom were Jewish, were essentially forced to choose between losing points in the national championship or advocating for violence against Israeli civilians,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. “While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict provides plenty of issues that may be worthy of debate, asking students to argue in defense of terrorism against civilians is insensitive and abhorrent. It says enough that some students started crying during their presentations because they were so deeply unsettled for having to advocate in favor of terrorism and violence.”
He said it’s hard to imagine a similar prompt justifying the 9/11 attacks. “While ADL is a fierce advocate for freedom of speech and the role of debate in the public square, whoever devised the question exercised extremely poor judgment.”
The ADL called on the U.S. Universities Debate Association to apologize and avoid future questions that require the defense of immoral positions that have no place in reasonable, rational debate.