Petition demands Union College expel pro-Palestine student

todayNovember 2, 2023 2

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Top brass at Union College is facing outrage from students, faculty and alumni alike after an undergraduate said attendees of a recent a pro-Israel benefit on the New York liberal arts school’s campus should “burn in hell.”

Ayah Osman, a junior at Union College, got into an altercation over the “atrocious” comment after being confronted by Stephen Berk, a professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies at the college who questioned the student about a social media post.

In an Instagram Story, Osman said that everyone who attends a Bingo night on campus to “benefit Israeli victims of terror” gets “a free guaranteed spot in hell.”

A clip of the heated exchange between Berk and Osman was posted to X by nonprofit watchdog StopAntisemitism. In it, Osman can be heard saying: “Professor, you called me a disgrace, but I think it’s very important to note how irresponsible it was of you…to completely misrepresent what I said.”

“I never said that all Jewish people should go to hell,” Osman added.

Berk replied: “I said that what you said what that people who attended that rally should burn in hell. Do you stand by that?”

Union College student Ayah Osman is facing fierce backlash after posting this Instagram story, where she said that everyone who attends a Bingo night on campus to “benefit Israeli victims of terror” gets “a free guaranteed spot in hell.”

“I do,” Osman said.

Berk told The Post that he believes Osman’s “really talking about all supporters of Israel.” He added that Osman’s “inflammatory” comments have made “Jewish students more nervous” on campus for the first time in the 56 years he’s taught at the school.

“There’s been no rebuke of this [Osman’s] statement whatsoever,” Berk said. “What should be done is a public repudiation of what this young woman said and we have yet to get that.”

Attempts to reach Osman for comment weren’t immediately successful.

Union College President David Harris has yet to comment on Osman’s remarks or any displays of antisemitism on campus, including the pro-Palestine event that emeritus professor Tom Lobe hosted on Wednesday called the “Humanitarian Crisis in Palestine.”

“Hate – whether it be antisemitism, Islamophobia or hatred toward any other group of people – has no place at Union, and the College works every day to combat hate through education and constructive dialogue,” a Union College spokesman said in a Thursday statement to The Post.

“The College has robust and well-established processes for investigating claims of bias and responds to every such allegation thoroughly,” the spokesman added. “Neither the existence of such investigations, nor the results, are shared by the College in accordance with federal privacy laws.”

Andrew Sole, a hedge fund manager at Esopus Creek Advisors who graduated from Union College in 1986 and was a student of Prof. Berk, said he “will not consider donating a dime to Union, nor should other alums, until Harris resigns forthwith.”

Sole added that it was “revolting to watch this antisemite at Union try to impugn Prof. Berk and smear Jews.”

A petition that has gained 4,500 signatures has since called on Union College to expel Osman, who has “tarnished the inclusive image of our institution” with her remarks and caused “distress among the Jewish students on campus.”

“When questioned about her inflammatory remarks regarding attendees at an Israel-supporting rally…she showed no remorse or understanding for the harm she was causing,” the petition’s description reads.

Berk declined to comment on whether he agreed that Osman should be expelled — “that’s an administrative decision,” he said.

A petition demands that the liberal arts school in Schenectady, NY, expel Osman. It has nearly 4,500 signatures since it launched late last month.

Cigdem Cidam, an associate professor of political science at Union College, moderated the pro-Palestine event, according to a post on an Instagram page for the school’s political science department.

Union College’s political science department has disabled comments on the post.

Ten student groups on campus sponsored and attended the one-day “presentation and discussion on the humanitarian crisis in Palestine,” the post said, including the Muslim Student Association (MSA), Black Student Union (BSU), Women’s U, MAMBA, National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), Asian Student Union (ASU), African Student Association (ASA), World Around U (international students association), Bhangra and Cricket Club.

Signatories to the petition who commented under “reasons for signing,” included a man named Scott, who identified himself as a 2008 Union College “alumnus horrified by this breach in the code of conduct.”

The petition points to Osman’s Instagram page, which has since been taken private but still boasts a 10% off discount code for pro-Palestine apparel, including a shirt with the image of a Palestinian paragliding.

“Union graduate and donor. Halting my annual donations until this issue is adequately addressed. Outrageous,” another commenter by the name of Abh Mah said.

The online petition also pointed to Osman’s Instagram page where she goes by @TheSudaneseBarbie. The account had been taken private as of Thursday afternoon, but her profile still displayed a discount code from The Pali Project.

The pro-Palestine apparel site displays images such as a man on a paraglide where the parachute resembles a Palestinian flag that says: “Flying For Freedom.”

The image is seemingly a grave reference to the Tribe of Nova music festival on Oct. 7, when Hamas terrorists paraglided across the Gaza Strip border and massacred at least 260 people, kidnapping others.

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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