A mandatory event on Thursday for the University of Michigan’s art students compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolf Hitler.
The event was hosted by the Stamps School of Art & Design for their “Penny Stamps Speakers Series Presentation” and featured Emory Douglas. On the department’s website, it explains that Douglas “worked as the resident Revolutionary Artist and Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1967 through the 1980s.”
During the event, a slide was put on the screen that showed a picture of Netanyahu and Hitler with the words “Guilty Of Genocide” written across Netanyahu’s and Hilter’s faces. Below the photo was the definition of genocide.
The university confirmed that undergraduate students receive academic credit for attending 10 of the 14 scheduled Stamps events.
A student who attended the event first posted about it Friday morning. “Yesterday I was forced to sit through an overtly anti-Semitic lecture,” Alexa Smith wrote on her Facebook. “In what world is it ok for a mandatory course to host a speaker who compares Adolf Hitler to the Prime Minister of Israel?”
“I sat through this lecture horrified at the hatred and intolerance being spewed on our campus,” she continued. “As a Jew who is proud of my people and my homeland, I sat through this lecture feeling targeted and smeared to be as evil as the man who perpetrated the Holocaust and systematically murdered six million Jews.”
Smith added that two years ago she was forced to sit through another mandatory Stamps lecture where she said Joe Sacco “made references to Israel being a terrorist state and explicitly claimed that Israeli soldiers were unworthy of being represented as actual human beings in his artwork.”
“This time I will no longer sit quietly and allow others to dehumanize my people and my community,” she wrote. “The administration is repeatedly failing to forcefully respond to anti-Semitism, and so it comes back worse and worse each time. A line needs to be drawn and it needs to be drawn now.”
In a statement, the university’s spokesperson, Rick Fitzgerald, said the presentation included a video and 200 slides of images and discussed “a wide array of topics and subject matter, much of which was focused on the oppression of people across the globe by governmental powers.”
Fitzgerald added that the lecture series “is intentionally provocative and we are clear with our students about this.” He added that students are told the following in the introduction to the lecture series: “The menu of speakers is diverse and dynamic and we do not control or censor what they say. You may find that you discover even more about yourself and the world around you from that which you debate or those with whom you find conflict in view. Discovering what you do not agree with will help you find your voice as much or more perhaps than the things you find resonance with.”
“Once again, the University of Michigan has ostracized Jewish students on campus,” Dylan Berger, the president of the University of Michigan College Republicans, said in a statement. “From refusing to write a letter of recommendation for a student seeking to study abroad in Israel, to comparing Prime Minister Netanyahu to Nazi Dictator Adolf Hitler, the University has time and again violated its commitment to intellectual diversity. This latest transgression is an insult to the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. By including this wildly inaccurate and offensive claim at a mandatory event, the University has sought to indoctrinate hatred of the Jewish State in its students”
Berger added that “as both a Jewish student and a conservative on campus, I have felt the malevolent effects of the University’s demonizing of the Jewish State and those on campus who support it. The College Republicans Community stands with our classmates who are also spurned by this University-sponsored hatred. Instead of another empty statement, we demand the University take concrete action to bring an end to the indoctrination of its students.”
The University of Michigan also found itself in controversy last month after a professor refused to send a student’s letter of recommendation — after originally agreeing — because the student wished to study in Israel.