Prof Charles Snell’s anti-Israeli sentiments on his Instastory
A Duke University SGA president has been removed from his position after the university received a complaint that the student was “attacking” Israel.
On 11 April, a post on SGA president Charles Snell’s Instagram page showed a cartoon of an Israeli soldier holding a handgun while Palestinians – the caption reads “unacceptable”, making reference to the Goldstone Report – are shown in stretchers.
In a statement released to press on April 14, Duke University said: “The image in question does not appear within the context of legitimate discourse about peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, nor do its contents promote peace and reconciliation.”
“I’m shocked. I’m completely shocked by this,” Snell said in a telephone interview with NPR on Monday, before going on to add that his Instagram post was not anti-Semitic: “It was directly connected to the plight of the Palestinians, it was absolutely clear to me,” he said.
“This is not anti-Semitism. I think that unfortunately some of the things that are being tweeted from Duke [University] students have got the university in a little bit of trouble. I was actually surprised at how inaccurate a tweet actually was.
“This wasn’t anything having to do with anti-Semitism, and hopefully they can use this as an example.”
On Thursday, March 22, Snell himself posted to his Instagram account a photo depicting a party thrown by one of the SGA’s largest donors as being an anti-Semitic event, using the hashtag “#DukeHathAshAwe”.
A post on Snell’s Instagram account
Snell’s post follows a recent event, during which the Dental Society hosted an event named, “Criticizing Israel in the media: negative consequences for Dental students”, where dental students from around the world spoke about their experiences of working in Israel as Jewish professionals.
The event was well-attended, but there were critics of the event, including the Duke Dental Students Association and Jordan Peterson.
“Criticizing Israel is a much stronger case than being a Jew in Israel. Being able to express your views that Israel does things wrong or shouldn’t be in control over Palestinians in the Occupied Territories or within the territories is reasonable,” Jordan Peterson said at the event.
In the statement released on Saturday, Snell said he was “disappointed that some students misunderstood my intention”, but was “very saddened” that the whole situation resulted in a “very negative personal and professional moment”.
The SGA president said the social media post was simply “a moment of horror” and insisted it would be the last time he posts it.
“This is a difficult moment for me, for my family, for my parents, my friends, my girlfriend, and the entire Duke community.
“I sincerely apologize for being insensitive, but I am proud of the fact that I make a statement like this to my followers once a year,” Snell continued.
Despite reports suggesting that the incident may result in a permanent ban, Snell said he would fight the punishment.
“Duke University is a progressive and respectful school and I would hope that Duke would treat me with that regard,” he said.
“My respect for the university and for the traditions of the university remains as it always has, and I hope that they continue to honour that as well.”