Student senator’s Middle Eastern garb draws criticism

(JTA) — A Jewish student government senator at the University of California, San Diego was accused of insensitivity for dressing in Middle Eastern garb at a costume party.

The senator, Ashton Cohen, was blasted by Amal Dalmar, a co-chair of the Student Affirmative Action Committee, and Noor El-Annan, a member of the Arab Student Union and Students for Justice in Palestine.

Cohen told JTA that the outfit was not intended to make light of anyone.

The criticism was reported in an article published last week in The Guardian, a campus newspaper.

El-Annan said she was "offended and disgusted" by the photo because "something that my grandparents would have worn was funny to him."

The criticism centered on a photo posted to Facebook of Cohen posing in traditional Middle Eastern attire with three women who were described in a caption as Cohen’s “three wives.” Cohen said a Muslim friend wrote the caption.

Cohen, who is of Middle Eastern descent, said he bought the outfit in Dubai. He said the criticism from the Students for Justice in Palestine member was "an intimidation tactic because of my vote against divestment" from Israel in the student Senate.

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