Jewish leaders upset with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE, May 19 (UPI) — The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is under fire from the city’s Jewish community for its response to a confrontation between Jewish and Muslim students.

The Milwaukee Jewish Federation, Hillel Milwaukee and the Jewish Community Relations Council issued a statement this week criticizing university officials for their handling of the April 29 incident at an event marking the creation of Israel, that escalated from shouting into a physical altercation in which a Muslim student struck a Jewish student, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday. The Muslim student was arrested by campus police.

The Jewish leaders contend the university did not enforce its procedures and has not expressed enough outrage over a swastika found scrawled in chalk near where Jewish students were gathered.

“You can yell and scream and drown somebody out — that’s all a part of American political talk,” Milwaukee Jewish Federation President Jerry Benjamin said Tuesday. “But there are certain words, certain images, that are not used. A swastika is like burning a cross. When you use it against Jews, it has the feeling of intimidation, it scares you.”

School Chancellor Carlos Santiago sent an e-mail to the campus community Monday, reaffirming the university as a “place for the free exchange of ideas” and condemning violence. He said the swastika, which had been erased when university officials went to look for it, crosses the line of free speech but added anti-Israel statements are protected political speech.

Yamin Masalkhi, head of the campus Muslim Student Association, said Muslim students weren’t responsible for the swastika or other “obscene remarks that don’t further anybody’s interests.”