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‘Bridging The Divide’ two-day DEI summit at UW-Madison omits antisemitism

Gathering will also feature anti-Israel artist

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement office is set to host a two-day diversity forum next week called “Bridging the Divide: Realizing Belonging While Engaging Difference.”

The topic of antisemitism is not on the agenda, even as tensions at UW-Madison and college campuses nationwide persist in the wake of the deadly Hamas attacks against Israel and the subsequent war it prompted against Palestinian-populated regions harboring terrorists.

At UW-Madison in late October, a heated protest took place in front of UW-Hillel.

“Madison Police responded to a call from Hillel for assistance. In addition, UWPD was present to ensure safety. Out of an abundance of caution, and at the request of some concerned students, UWPD did escort several students into Hillel during last week’s protest,” the university stated.

The Wisconsin-based Spectrum 1 News reported that Jewish students say they feel under duress at UW-Madison currently as “pro-Palestinian protest groups have been gathering outside of UW-Hillel, making the Jewish community on campus feel very uncomfortable.”

“Listen, protests are protected speech, there are plenty of places to protest, they could be protesting in the public square, but coming here feels like it’s intimidating,” said Greg Steinberger, the director of UW-Hillel, told Spectrum, adding “Jewish residents with white boards are getting Swastikas written on them or ‘free Palestine.’”

But the dedicated topics to be discussed at the DEI summit include a Black, Indigenous, People of Color student panel, mastering difficult conversations, a LGBTQAI+ affinity group, understanding linguistic bias and discrimination, ableist issues, the power of inclusion, “code-switching,” “becoming better allies,” and “How to be a confident pluralist.”

Next week’s DEI summit will also feature as a keynote speaker Josè Olivarez, a poet and artist, who will share his works on the topic “Citizen Illegal.

He is the son of formerly undocumented Mexican immigrants and “writes poems that use the lenses of immigration, in-betweeness, gender, class and family to examine and praise the world,” according to the university’s website.

Olivarez has signed a Statement of Solidarity against Israel, accusing the country of an “eliminationist assault on the Palestinian people.”

UW-Madison’s events team for their DEEA office and their media contact, Krystal Tucker, were contacted by The College Fix about the exclusion of antisemitism as a topic and Olivarez as a speaker. They have not responded to requests for comment.

Olivarez, following the Hamas attack on Israelis, which killed over 1,200 civilians, also reposted tweets echoing antisemitic verbiage.

“An end to all occupying forces in our lifetime,” he reposted on Oct. 7, which also included a call for an end to America and Israel, using the countries’ flags as symbols.


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