(JTA) — The North Carolina Hillel said it was “disappointed” that the University of North Carolina-Asheville invited Women’s March co-chair Tamika Mallory as keynote speaker for its Martin Luther King Jr. Week celebrations.
The organization, which represents the Jewish communities on 15 campuses throughout the state, including the five UNC campuses, noted in its statement “Mallory and her co-chairs’ failure to address the concerns of anti-Semitism within the Women’s March movement.”
Mallory has called the establishment of Israel a “human rights crime” and is an unapologetic supporter of Louis Farrakhan, a known anti-Semite and homophobe.
The university defended its decision to invite Mallory, citing “freedom of thought and expression” and noting that the invitation did not represent an endorsement of her views.” It also said that “the university’s fundamental principles reject bias in all of its forms including anti-Semitism and discrimination.”
Hillel called MLK Week “an important opportunity to promote the values that Dr. King’s legacy represents, including equality, dignity and respect for all people, and how those values can be furthered on our campus. Offering a platform to someone with a track record of divisive views and associations sends the wrong message to our campus community, especially to Jewish students.”
It noted that the university chancellor “has demonstrated sensitivity to the Jewish community’s disappointment and is engaging with Jewish students and the Asheville Jewish community to explore educational opportunities and advance our shared values.”