Fourteen student organizations at Bates College, including the student government, expressed support for Palestinian people and denounced administrators on Thursday for their response to anti-Israel graffiti found on campus last week, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported.
Officials at the Maine college reported the graffiti to local police, and the incident is being investigated as a possible hate crime, according to the Associated Press. The graffiti included “Stop ethnic cleansing,” “Israel is killing innocent people” and expletives written in chalk on campus, and it came amid mounting tensions between Israeli and Palestinian people and as violence between Israel and Islamist terrorist organizations escalated in the region, the AP reported.
A statement posted on Instagram and signed by the student organizations called the police investigation “retaliation against human rights activism” and said it threatens the safety of Muslim and Middle Eastern students and students of color, “all of whom are valid in feeling angry and hurt” about the escalating violence and killing of Palestinian civilians.
“It is hypocritical that Bates College has chosen to neglect the humanity of the Palestinian people while claiming to be an anti-colonialist, anti-racist and abolitionist institution,” the statement said. “If the Bates administration finds this language to be concerning and offensive, then they reveal their alliance to settler-colonialism and genocide.”
The college said in a statement after the students’ post that “The depth and complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict aggravates painful generational wounds for many members of our community.” The statement, reported by the Sun Journal, said faculty and staff members have been meeting with students about their concerns.
“As an institution of learning, we are working hard with students to create opportunities to promote deeper understanding across divides and provide space for discourse focused on healing as a campus community,” the statement said.