Ahmad Daraldik, a Palestinian-American student at Florida State University and former student senate president, has filed a complaint with the US Department of Education against the university.
He alleged that the university failed to protect him against anti-Palestinian harassment after old social media posts against Israel and Jews attracted widespread outrage.
Social Media Posts Retrieved After Student Senate Presidency
In June 2020, students of FSU petitioned for Daraldik’s removal as student senate president over anti-Semitic posts from his youth.
We condemn the discriminatory campaign to remove from office recently elected FSU Student Senate President Ahmad…
Posted by FSU Students for Justice in Palestine on Friday, June 12, 2020
The outrage was based on two posts, one on Facebook and the other on Instagram. In 2013, he shared a Facebook photo with the caption “stupid jew thinks he is cool.” The photo appeared to be a soldier of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) with his foot on a Palestinian child. Daraldik was 12 years old at the time.
“I understand it could potentially be staged, but I was 12 years old and it was hard to differentiate what was real and was not real because there was so much happening. I was a resident in Palestine at the time and I couldn’t differentiate between a Jew, a Zionist and an IDF soldier because of the [military] occupation.” Daraldik explained to FSU News.
“When I made that post in 2013 I was in Palestine witnessing death on a daily basis,” he added. “They were not directed to the Jewish community as a whole or at FSU.”
Daraldik also posted a photo of himself on Instagram in 2019, standing next to a statue of Nelson Mandela. He captioned the photo with, “Iconic. #fucktheOccupation. #fuckIsrael.”
Despite a written apology, the backlash against Daraldik escalated into personal attacks. It even attracted the attention of Florida State politicians.
Last night, the @cityofaventura passed a resolution condemn FSU Senate President Ahmad Daraldik’s antisemitic posts and called for his removal. Will more cities in Florida do the same? pic.twitter.com/XhF2iK8ZgT
— BDS Report (@BDSreport) July 16, 2020
“I have gotten over 100 messages ranging from death threats to Islamophobic comments. I’ve been called a monkey, a dog, a terrorist and told that no one has even died in Palestine [by way of the IDF].” he revealed, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
A Result of Student Politics?
Some believe that the backlash against Daraldik was politically motivated. Daraldik was voted in to replace Jack Denton, whom students campaigned to remove after he made transphobic and racist remarks in a Group-Me chat following the murder of Tony McDade, a Black trans man.
“Some students are upset with Denton’s removal and are trying to compare the two incidents to each other but Denton’s [statement] was from pure bigotry and Ahmad was speaking from experience and pain. Many don’t realize how much pain and hardship Palestinian people have had to experience at the hands of the IDF,” Palestinian FSU student Alexa Senan, who says she can understand Daraldik’s perspective, told FSU News.
However, others have voiced concerns that Daraldik may not fairly represent the Jewish student population, many of whom found his comments “excluding, alienating, and hurtful.”
Denton was reinstated as president after a hearing on October 19.