JCRC and Minnesota Hillel Condemn SJP’s Invitation of Poet Known For Peddling in Antisemitic Tropes

Mohammed El-Kurd to Speak at the University of Minnesota on January 21, 2022

January 12, 2022

Minneapolis, MN – Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), and Benjie Kaplan, executive director of Minnesota Hillel, issued the following statement:

“The Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) and Minnesota Hillel condemn Students for Justice in Palestine’s (SJP) decision to invite Mohamed El-Kurd, a poet notorious for peddling in antisemitic tropes, to speak at the University of Minnesota on January 21, 2022.

“Within just the past year, El-Kurd has accused Israelis of eating the organs of Palestinians and lusting for Palestinian blood. He has also compared Israelis to Nazis, denied the well-established historical Jewish connection to the Land of Israel, and vilified Zionism and Zionists.

“By evoking the ancient ‘blood libel’ against the Jewish people and deploying other antisemitic tropes, El-Kurd demonstrably crosses the line between legitimate criticism of Israel’s government into dangerous Jew-hatred. That the conflict is personal for El-Kurd, who originates from the deeply contested Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, cannot in any way excuse his blatant antisemitism.

“It is not surprising that SJP decided to invite such a notorious antisemite to speak at the University of Minnesota. Like El-Kurd, SJP frequently engages in similar speech and presents the decades-long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians through a simplistic Manichean worldview where Palestinians are infantilized as completely helpless victims without any agency of their own and Jewish Israelis are cast as bloodthirsty monsters. Such a zero-sum view of the conflict does an incredible disservice to both Palestinians and Israelis, two indigenous people intrinsically connected to the same piece of land. Both deserving of peace and the dignity of sovereignty.

“For years both the JCRC and Minnesota Hillel have advocated for a more thoughtful approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the University of Minnesota. For example, we have urged the University to invest in the people and economies of Israel and Palestine. Moreover, we have brought speakers such as Yossi Klein Halevi who model civility and the necessity of standing proudly in our own stories while creating understanding across differences. We trust that most students, faculty, and staff will recognize the advantages of this approach for building a better future for all the people who live within Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”

Photo: May 12, 2021 tweet by Mohamed El-Kurd