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Monday, June 17, 2024

Chabad UF Rabbi Berl Goldman stood silently and stared intensely at the small group of right-wing antisemites in front of him at the Plaza of the Americas Thursday. 

As the group laughed and unveiled a "Ye is Right" poster across from him, he remained steady. 

Self-identified Christian Nationalist streamers Tyler Russell and Dalton Clodfelter began tabling at the Plaza of the Americas at about 1:30 p.m., donned in Yeezy merchandise, with a few supporters. A few feet across from them, the UF Jewish community showed up en masse.

“Thank God the entire campus community rejected their presence — almost ignored them,” Goldman said.

Russell and Clodfelter only filmed for about an hour before packing up their streaming equipment. The two are moderators of Ye-supporting Twitter account and streamers from Florida. Their stop at UF follows visits at Florida State University and Florida Atlantic University

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, of UF Hillel, said Hillel regularly works with university administrators and the University Police Department to monitor antisemitic threats against UF students. 

“It’s really important to us that all students, Jewish students, feel safe and welcome on this campus,” he said. “That’s why we’re here today.”

Jamie Zinn, Jonah Zinn’s wife and UF Hillel’s chief advancement officer, said Hillel became aware of the group’s potential on-campus presence after being notified about the antisemitic chalk markings across campus Wednesday. 

"Our hope today is that by having a strong presence out here that they will learn UF is not a place where they are welcome,” she said.

Alejandro Ortiz, the 21-year-old head of Student Government agency Students Taking Action Against Racism, said SG collaborated with UF Hillel on the “Spread Cream Cheese, Not Hate” campaign, where students signed an antisemitism pledge in exchange for a bagel. 

Ortiz was sad the Jewish community was hurting, he said, and shared in their grief.

“It breaks my heart as a student government officer, as a human being and as a minority,” he said. 

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Rabbi Goldman was thankful the campus community seemed to ignore the streamers’ presence, he said.

“The voice of this university and the voice of humanity together is one rejecting antisemitism, hate and bigotry,” he said.

Alissa Gary, Amanda Friedman and Christian Casale contributed to this report.

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