What rhymes with intifada and is reportedly offensive to Jews?
The answer, of course, is “Dintifada.”
Last Sunday, UC Berkeley student Sumayyah Din announced her candidacy for her campus’s student senate. By the next day, the Muslim-American sophomore was under attack for using an imaginary word that was deemed offensive by one of the campus’s pro-Israel groups.
Din had posted the following candidacy statement on her Facebook wall:
I am honored to have the opportunity to run for ASUC Senate as an independent candidate. I believe it is tremendously important for ALL students at Cal to have a voice in our student government and I want to represent my communities in this space. My vision encompasses a collaborative force on campus that utilizes our collective identities for an inclusive campus climate. I hope to move forward with the utmost transparency, compassion, and vigor. Vote the Independent Voice for an Independent Choice! #DIN4THEWIN #DINASTY #DINTIFADA #DOIT4THEDIN
At the end of her statement, she inserted four made-up hashtags, all of which were riffs on her surname—inserted as puns, near-rhymes, and alliteration. But one hashtag was singled out by the campus pro-Israel crowd as offensive: “#DINTIFADA.”
Bears for Israel, a new student group at UC Berkeley designed “to form a unified front against anti-Israel activity and crises on our campus,” published a screenshot of Din’s post and responded to the hashtag on its own Facebook wall:
On a campus that prides itself on the power of free speech, it is so disappointing to see that power being used in such a destructive, triggering way.
For many, this word seems innocent enough. But for the Jewish community, it immediately sparks memories of death, destruction, and some of the bloodiest scenes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Last night, a UC Berkeley student announced her candidacy for ASUC Senate using the hashtag #DINTIFADA. #DINTIFADA does not create an “inclusive campus climate”—it ruins it. #DINTIFADA does not “utilize collective identities”—it marginalizes a minority group. Jewish students have the right to feel safe at all times on this campus, and election season is no exception.
In the wake of the pasage of the UC system’s first anti-Semitism bill, it is critical for the student body, its leaders, and its administrators to recognize how damaging and terrifying rhetoric such as #DINTIFADA really is.
UC Berkeley is a place of learning, not of hatred. Its Senate candidates should promote dialogue between groups, not violence.
Bears for Israel is appalled by this candidate’s words. We have a responsibility to hold our elected officials and those running for office accountable, and we ask that Sumayyah Din publicly apologize for and denounce her offensive language……
StandWithUs Facebook post results in calls for Din’s death
Other Israel advocacy groups shared the Bears for Israel Facebook post. Claremont Students for Israel, which is sponsored by the pro-Israel group CAMERA, called the hashtag “unacceptable beyond all recognition.” Hasbara Fellowships, which flies US college students to Israel to train them in Israeli PR, accused Din of “ irreverence for human life exhibited by bringing the Intifada to campus.”
Yet it was a StandWithUs Facebook post that elicited the most responses, garnering over 1,100 likes and 375 shares within eight hours.
How was it done? Simple: Instead of actually quoting Din or providing context, StandWithUs simply published a picture of the aftermath of a suicide bombing and then attached Din’s name to it, with a vague explanation of her alleged offense.