COLLEGE
05/18/2010 07:50 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Jewish Groups Criticize U Of Wisconsin-Milwaukee For Failure To Respond To Anti-Semitic Incidents

On April 29, an Israel Independence Day celebration at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee went awry: Students hung Palestinian flags near where the event was being held and chalked anti-Israel words and images -- including a swastika -- on the ground.

Milwaukee's Jewish leaders are now lambasting the school's officials for not issuing an appropriate response to the event, saying they are outraged, effectively, by the college's "lack of outrage."

An excerpt of their statement, from the Jewish Chronicle:

In the days that followed, Hillel Milwaukee's Executive Director and the Interim Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council phoned and visited with several University administrators. They made a number of suggestions and requests: for enhanced security, sensitivity training for dormitory staff and for a strong statement by the University. They were told that a number of concurrent investigations into possible misconduct had been launched, and that a statement from the University was imminent. Although communications were respectful and positive, a strong statement has not been offered.

We are deeply disappointed both by the incidents of April 29 and by the lack of outrage on the part of University officials. Common sense has been abandoned, and further, there is a failure to distinguish: between free speech and hate speech; between anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Semitism; between spoken disagreement and physical violence; between political expression and deliberate intimidation; between academic freedom and rhetoric that threatens acts of terror.

Inside Higher Ed reports that Milwaukee Chancellor Carlos Santiago released a statement Monday, more than two weeks after the incident:

In Santiago's statement, he said that he wanted to "reaffirm the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as a place for the free exchange of ideas and perspectives. Such exchanges, however, should be made in a civil, peaceful and constructive manner. UWM does not tolerate violence as an expression of any viewpoint." He said that he would encourage the creation of "programs that will enhance our campus community's commitment to a culture of safety, civility and respect in the exchange of ideas and opinions."

Santiago did not, however, reprimand students for the chalked scrawlings, saying that a drawn swastika was never confirmed and that by the time he got to the event, there wasn't one. (The Jewish Chronicle says otherwise).

What do you think?