Duke University by the Forward

Duke pro-Israel group loses charter after Instagram call-out

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A new pro-Israel campus group at Duke University won official recognition from the school’s student government last Wednesday.

It lost it in less than a week.

Duke’s student government president vetoed Students Supporting Israel’s recognition Monday after the group used its Instagram account to challenge a student who said it represented “settler colonialism.” Singling out a student from the chapter account violated the student government’s code of conduct, the president said.

It was the first veto exercised by a Duke student president since 2016, according to the Duke Chronicle, which first reported the news.

Students Supporting Israel (SSI), whose stated mission is to be “a clear and confident pro-Israel voice on college campuses and to support students in grassroots pro-Israel advocacy,” has established dozens of chapters at universities across the U.S.

After the Chronicle reported that Duke Student Government had approved SSI’s charter, a college sophomore, Elyana Riddick, tweeted the article with the comment “My school supports settler colonialism.” The Duke SSI chapter account then posted a screenshot of the tweet to its Instagram Story and created a separate Instagram post using the screenshot.

Referring to Riddick by the first name in her Twitter handle, SSI captioned the Nov. 15 post, “To Yana and others like her, please allow us to educate you on what ‘settler colonialism’ actually is and why Israel does not fall under this category whatsoever. These types of narratives are what we strive to combat and condemn, which is why Duke’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel has been officially established & is here to stay.”

According to the Chronicle, on Monday, after student president Christina Wang vetoed the charter, the group deleted the post and apologized, calling it a “naive mistake” made due to inexperience.

The next day, it deleted the apology, too. The Chronicle saved screenshots of the posts.

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“After being gaslighted into believing we did something wrong but afterward digesting the extent of this double standard, we have realized with complete clarity that we have nothing to apologize for and rather have more conviction than ever to work together to put an end to antisemticic rhetoric,” Duke SSI posted to Instagram Tuesday.

The original approval from Duke Student Government, which would allow the group to access funding from student fees, required two extensions of the typical questioning period for new student groups, the Chronicle reported.

The last time the student president reversed a senate vote was when it vetoed funding for the school yearbook. Student government’s senators can override the veto with a two-thirds vote.


Louis Keene

Louis Keene

Louis Keene is a staff reporter at the Forward. He can be reached at keene@forward.com or on Twitter @thislouis .

Duke Students Supporting Israel chapter loses

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