The diversity officer at the helm of the University of Maryland’s anti-Semitism task force claimed in a Facebook post that Israel was engaged in an “ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”
Jazmin Pichardo, the assistant director for diversity training and education for the university’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, shared a series of anti-Israel posts in May 2021. Two Jewish alumni who are part of the school’s Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee confronted Pichardo over the posts after she was put at the helm of the committee, which is tasked with fighting anti-Jewish bias on campus.
Pichardo is the latest example of a university diversity program that ignores the tribulations of Jewish students. A 2021 Heritage Foundation study found that diversity officers, hired to foster a safe and fair environment for all students, often hold hostile attitudes toward Zionist Jews. The Department of Education this month launched an investigation into the City University of New York, where professors slammed American Jews as “oppressors.”
Pichardo posted the graphics in response to Israeli counterattacks following a days-long Hamas bombing campaign. The graphics claimed that Israel’s existence constitutes “settler colonialism,” and that it’s wrong to refer to the Israeli-Palestinian “conflict,” since Israel is the aggressor. Pichardo also claimed in her post that the media have “continuously worked to conceal Israel’s ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.”
The posts drew scrutiny in January, after Pichardo took the helm of the university’s Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee. The group, formed in October 2020, hosts workshops to address bias toward Jews as well as discussions on Jewish history and identity. In addition to diversity officers, the committee includes university staff, students, and alumni.
Two of those alumni reached out to Pichardo to discuss her posts following her appointment. One alum, who graduated in 2019, asked Pichardo to do “damage control” by sharing information about the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including high favorability of Israeli police among Palestinians. The alum said she felt that Pichardo “disregarded” her request, so the Jewish alumni subsequently decided to leave the Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee.
“I emailed her with some articles that show facts, and she was like, no,” said the alum, adding that “anti-Zionism … is undoubtedly anti-Semitism, because you are denying the Jewish people a right to self determination.”
Pichardo, who joined the University of Maryland in 2019, is a cofounder of the Racial Equity Consulting Collective, a group of teachers and mentors “with the vision to share our networks and provide financial opportunities to BIPOC, especially Black femme anti-racist educational leaders, creatives, and activist [sic].” She did not respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment.
The alumni, who spoke to the Free Beacon on the condition of anonymity, said they didn’t want Pichardo to be fired. Rather, they wanted to hold a conversation about Zionism and its importance to the survival of the Jewish people.
“I don’t believe in cancel culture,” the second alum told the Free Beacon. “I really think there are a lot of people who are unfortunately really confused about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and they say these things that are anti-Semitic tropes, that are thousands of years old and repackaged over time. I just really wanna say, ‘Hey, can we talk about this?'”
The University of Maryland has faced several anti-Semitic incidents since convening the Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee. A former professor sued the university in January, claiming she was discriminated against for her Jewish faith. And in October, students found anti-Semitic flyers posted on student residences.