Yale ballet group’s pro-Palestinian fundraiser stirs controversy

The incident has raised concerns as the subsequent slides during the performance included donation information for groups like the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Gaza Mutual Aid Collective.

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In a recent development at Yale University, the Ballet Folklórico Mexicano de Yale dance group has stirred controversy by promoting pro-anarchy Palestinian fundraisers during their performances.

The group displayed a QR code labeled “Support Palestine” on their stage projection screen, which directed audience members to an Instagram post offering resources for aiding Palestine. This post was linked to the account @desolasol.colectiva.

The incident has raised concerns as the subsequent slides during the performance included donation information for groups like the Middle East Children’s Alliance, Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Gaza Mutual Aid Collective.

Furthermore, a slide titled “Support Palestinian anarchist fighters” featured a graphic and a Venmo handle, which, according to Yale Daily News, no longer exists.

The Instagram post in question also tagged @abolishtheusa, a page that supports Fauda, an anarchist movement in Palestine associated with Hamas. Fauda, as described by one of its members, is among “15 anti-Zionist resistance groups in Palestine,” which includes Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Kitab al-Aqsa. A post by a Fauda member emphasized unity among these groups against Israel.

“All resistance groups are together and follow the same goal. We should not divide them. Israel wants to divide between the left and groups like Hamas and use this division for its own benefit. So we must be alert and not play in the enemy’s playground,” a post by a Fauda member on the account read.

Group apologizes for ‘oversight’

This development comes amidst heightened tensions following an attack by Hamas terrorists on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 Israelis and the hostage-taking of 240 people, including Americans, in the Gaza Strip. The attack has escalated the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

The Ballet Folklórico’s co-presidents acknowledged the gravity of including the QR code in an email to the group’s members. They admitted it was a significant oversight to add the QR code without board or membership consultation. 

The co-presidents apologized for aligning members with these statements unintentionally and acknowledged the harm caused to the Jewish community. They emphasized their condemnation of antisemitism and all forms of violence, admitting the link to the post was a serious error.

“We realize this post brought considerable damage to the Jewish community. We should have been more prudent with our choice of platform and should have looked beyond the resources provided on the second slide and noted the damaging material on the third.

“We would also like to emphasize that we condemn antisemitism as well as any form of violence committed against any community. Our rash decision did not appropriately reflect the values we wish to represent. Although we stand behind efforts to aid and bring attention to this crisis, linking this post was a grave error,” Ballet Folklórico’s four co-presidents wrote in the email.

In response to safety concerns, the group’s leaders advised members to make their social media accounts private and dissociate from related posts. Gavin Guerrette, a Yale student and co-editor-in-chief of the Yale Daily News Magazine who attended the show, suggested that the group’s intent was to provide humanitarian support, although they inadvertently linked to content affiliated with Hamas.

“All I’d be willing to say here is that it was an attempt to provide information to people and an attempt to provide a means of supporting people who they view to be in a humanitarian crisis. If incidentally, they linked to something which is, quote-unquote, ‘loosely affiliated’ with Hamas, I don’t think it’s by any direct malicious effort,” Guerrette told the Yale Daily News.

The issue has resonated beyond Yale as US college campuses become focal points for debates over the Israel-Hamas conflict. This situation has coincided with a rise in antisemitism in the U.S. University leaders are now facing pressure from various quarters, including donors, the Biden administration, and Israeli officials, to address the rhetoric against the Jewish community.

In a related move, Columbia University and Brandeis University suspended their Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters due to their support for Hamas, deemed responsible for the October 7 attack. SJP has been active in pro-Palestinian demonstrations across U.S. college campuses.

This series of events at Yale and other universities highlights the complexities and sensitivities involved in the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially as they play out in educational settings, stirring debates and bringing attention to issues of free speech, political activism, and community safety.

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