U. Illinois Urbana-Champaign 'Radical Anti-Fascist Demonstration' Raises Concerns of Violence

Many co-organizers have endorsed anti-Israel BDS movement

Antifa members and counter protesters gather during a rightwing No-To-Marxism rally in Berkeley, California
Antifa members and counter protesters gather during rightwing No-To-Marxism rally in Berkeley, Calif. / Getty Images
August 31, 2017

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) student groups will hold a "radical anti-fascist demonstration" next week, and the language describing the event has some concerned about its potential suggestions of violence.

The rally called "Smashing Fascism: Radical Resistance Against White Supremacy" sounds "problematic in many ways," said Erez Cohen, the executive director of UIUC's Hillel, a Jewish center.

"These are radical organizations using radical language, like 'smashing,'" said Cohen. "We condemn racism in all of its forms, but we don't support any acts of violence."

Hillel, which was not invited to participate in the rally and has a tense history with many of the co-organizers given their support for the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, will be "monitoring the event to make sure there is no misrepresentation of Jews," said Cohen.

"I hate and condemn white supremacy. I also hate and condemn applying double standards to Israel," he added.

Students affiliated with Hillel report that they will be in attendance.

Cohen said Hillel has an ongoing relationship with the UIUC administration and local police to ensure the safety of its constituents and that "violence is not an acceptable part of student behavior."

"Smashing Fascism" has been co-organized by the UIUC chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a group whose presence on a campus has been correlated with increased anti-Semitism at that campus; United Muslims and Minority Advocates (UMMA); Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that honored a convicted terrorist at its national conference; Campus Union for Trans Equality and Support; United Minority Relief; Black Rose / Rosa Negra - Anarchist Federation; Muslim Students Association; MEChA de UIUC; and Black Students for Revolution.

The demonstration is scheduled for Sept. 5 and will be held at the UIUC Alma Mater statue, located in the heart of the campus.

"Our mission is to make it clear that there is no room for racist and fascist forces to have a platform in Champaign/Urbana! This is also a great opportunity for radical organizations to introduce themselves to the community," according to the Facebook event.

A rally earlier this year protesting the Trump administration's travel ban, co-hosted by SJP and MSA at the same site, featured an Israeli flag soaked with fake blood.

None of the organizers responded to the Washington Free Beacon's requests for comment, although SJP UIUC has previously told this reporter, "If you like you can take a ticket and we can get back to you in about 69 years. It's a long wait, ask any Palestinian, but it shouldn't be too hard for a Zionist such as yourself. I mean, holding something that isn't yours for long periods of time."

Administrators in the office of student affairs were not available for comment.

The Florida State University (FSU) chapter of SJP held a rally Aug. 16, "Stand with Charlottesville Against White Terrorism," which allegedly identified Israel as one of the countries guilty of being built on "white supremacy."

"As anti-Zionists, we make the clear analysis that the nationalism being espoused against Semitic peoples—Jews, Arabs, and most Muslims—in the U.S. is a form of entitlement felt and expressed by descendants of anti-Black plantation-owners. It is a settler mentality that has enabled the colonization of lands and resources from Palestine to Puerto Rico and place all around the Global South," organizers wrote in what appears to be a now-deleted social media post seen by the Free Beacon.

The FSU Black Student Union co-hosted the event.

In recently released video titled "Beyond Charlottesville," produced by the controversial anonymous campus watchdog Canary Mission, a juxtaposition was proposed between the rhetoric and tactics of white supremacist and anti-Israel activists. Calls for Jews to be murdered, including allusions to the Holocaust and praise of Adolf Hitler, were suggested as common to both groups.

Canary Mission told the Free Beacon, "We literally gasped at the similarity of language, ideas, and conspiracy theories that are found on both the far-right and far-left anti-Israel activists."