Despite its history as a haven for Jewish students and faculty, the University of Pennsylvania is now ground zero for the alarming increase of antisemitism on American university campuses. On Sunday night, protests and remarks by student groups purportedly in favor of the Palestinian cause escalated into acts of violence and property damage on campus.
As part of the larger protests in Philadelphia, which also featured the damage of a Jewish-owned restaurant, students from Penn marched across campus, chanting anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli, and anti-State sentiments.
“Intifada” and “avenge Gaza” were among the slogans daubed over academic buildings and private businesses.
Protesters can be heard chanting (in Arabic): “From river to sea, Palestine will be Arab.”
Noah Rubin, an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, shared these videos and photographs.
Rubin sent a poll to the Jewish community at Penn to get their feedback after Sunday night’s events. Testimonials show that he isn’t the only Jewish student at Penn who anticipates problems.
Rubin stressed that while the antisemitic incidents on Sunday night were the worst that the university has seen so far, they are hardly unique to events that have taken place on campus since October 7.
According to Rubin, Penn Students Against the Occupation is the group responsible for these homicidal chants, graffiti, demonstrations, and protests. The problem is that such discourse has been given by people other than students. The intifada and Hamas have received endorsements from academics as well.
Faculty members Margo Natalie Crawford, Eve Troutt Powell, Ania Loomba, Almallah, and Fakhreddine have been active with Penn Students Against the Occupation. They both spoke at a walkout organized by the group responsible for intifada calls shortly after the October 7 attack.
Penn has yet to comment on the protests and damage on Sunday night. President Liz Magill will join the Harvard and MIT presidents in a hearing called “Holding Campus Leaders Accountable and Confronting Antisemitism.”
The hearing will be held before the House Education & Workforce Committee.