“They can’t take away our identity or our culture”: UNF, city leaders speak out against antisemitic messages in Jacksonville

Nathan Turoff and Carter Mudgett

University of North Florida President Moez Limayem, the Jewish Student Union and other leaders condemned antisemitic messages that were displayed in the city last weekend, including a projected message the Jacksoville Jaguar’s stadium after the Georgia-Florida game. 

Projected onto the back of the video board at TIAA Bank Field, the words “Kanye was right about the Jews” were seen in videos circulating on Twitter. The message was a reference to antisemitic comments made by rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. Similar messages were seen projected on a building downtown and hung from an overpass.

UNF’s Jewish Student Union made a statement on Instagram on Monday:

UNF JSU speaks out against the recent antisemitic messages in Jacksonville over the weekend. Antisemitism cannot be tolerated in our city or anywhere. At times like these, it can feel scary and unsafe to be Jewish, but we’re stronger together. We’re here for you. The Jewish community at UNF and in Jacksonville can support you. Your voice matters. Be proud of being Jewish!”

“I felt betrayed that something like this would happen in the city I call home,” JSU Treasurer Lee Jordan told Spinnaker. Jordan helped draft JSU’s Instagram statement. 

Jordan first saw images of the antisemitic displays from the highway overpass on Twitter, before later learning of the others. 

Describing himself as “visibly Jewish,” Jordan said he felt nervous but was grateful to see the Jewish community come together to condemn hate. 

UNF President Limayem gave the following statement to Spinnaker on Monday:

“We strongly condemn the hateful and disturbing messages recently displayed throughout our city and country. We are dismayed by these acts of intolerance, and I want to reaffirm our support for the Jewish members of our community and all others who were hurt by these appalling acts. The University of North Florida is committed to diversity and inclusion on our campus and in our community.” 

Limayem’s statement also invited members of the community to attend a Candlelight Vigil for Unity and Hope on Thursday. The event was hosted by UNF’s OneJax institute, which promotes diversity and inclusion, and was held in James Weldon Johnson Park where at least 100 people attended, according to News4Jax

“The antisemites can try to make us afraid, but they can’t take away our identity and our culture,” Jordan said. 

Condemning antisemitism, other officials and organizations also released statements. Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry tweeted about the previous night’s sighting and the University of Florida and the University of Georgia released a joint statement on Monday. 

Other officials also made statements, including Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, whose district includes Jacksonville.


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