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Critics claim that a red-hands painting on a tree at Pratt Institute is being used to “terrorize” Jewish students.

A Controversial Display: Red Hands at Pratt Institute Spark Outrage

Pratt Institute, located in Brooklyn, has found itself at the center of controversy with a display that some claim is being used to “terrorize” Jewish students. The display consists of red handprints painted on a tree on campus, which critics argue is a painful reminder of the lynching of two Israelis during the Ramallah Lynching of 2000.

The red hands on the tree have drawn criticism from various individuals and organizations. Rory Lancman, senior counsel to the Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, expressed his concern, stating, “What better way to terrorize your Jewish students and faculty into submission than maintaining a display in the middle of your campus representing Jews getting lynched?” Lancman even provided a photo of the tree with the symbol removed.

The Ramallah Lynching of 2000 was a horrific event that occurred during the Second Intifada. Israeli military reservists Yossi Avrahami and Vadim Nurzhitz were lynched by a large Palestinian mob in Ramallah, West Bank, after they made a wrong turn in the Palestinian-run region. Aziz Salha, one of the murderers, infamously waved his bloodied hands to the crowd, creating a gruesome image that is forever etched in history.

However, historians argue that the use of red hands to harm Jews goes back much further. They point to the Farhud, also known as “forced dispossession,” which occurred in Baghdad, Iraq, during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot in 1941. Red hands were painted on Jewish houses for identification purposes before homes were burned and Jews were slaughtered.

Anti-Israel protesters have been seen using red hands as a symbol of their cause. They have painted them on buildings or even on their own hands during rallies. This further adds to the controversy surrounding the display at Pratt Institute.

One figure who has faced criticism for her involvement is Professor Uzma Rizvi. She mentioned the “Red Hands” tree on campus in an Instagram post, noting it as a reminder of student protests. Rizvi also heads the college’s Academic Senate, which scheduled and then postponed a vote on a resolution calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel. The Brandeis Center accused the exclusion of Jews from participating in the discussion as discriminatory.

Pratt Institute has responded to the controversy, stating that the paint has been removed from the tree. The institute emphasized its commitment to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students and faculty, where academic freedom and freedom of expression are protected. They do not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination, bias, or hate speech.

The fate of the BDS resolution, which has been deemed antisemitic by the Brandeis Center, remains uncertain. However, a vote on the resolution could potentially take place as early as Wednesday.

The controversy surrounding the display at Pratt Institute raises important questions about the line between freedom of expression and creating a safe and inclusive environment on college campuses. It also highlights the need for open dialogue and understanding between different groups to promote tolerance and respect.

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