The College Democrats hung up a mural on the outside wall of room 102 in the 245 lobby on the Beren Campus Wednesday night, in response to the immigration restrictions passed by the Trump administration over this past weekend. The executive order temporarily banned immigrants from seven, mostly Muslim countries, and touched off widespread panic at airports across the country.
The mural centers around the viral image of two children on their fathers’ shoulders at a protest against the new immigration policies. One is a Jewish boy with a yarmulke and the other, a Muslim girl in a hijab. Surrounding this central image are quotes from politicians in the 1930s and 1940s rejecting the possibility of European Jewish immigration, juxtaposed with quotes from contemporary politicians like Gov. Chris Christie and President Trump, supporting bans on the admittance of Syrian refugees.
On either side of these quotes are images of refugees: on the right, present day Syrian refugees and on the left, Jewish refugees who were aboard the St. Louis, the ship that was denied entry into the United States and whose passengers later died in Auschwitz.
The mural is framed on either side by quotes from Tanach that focus on the ger, the stranger, with this overarching message: carry out justice for the stranger, because we too were strangers in a strange land.
This demonstration follows a similar move by students on the Wilf campus, who hung up images and accounts of refugees, the Statue of Liberty, and other quotes and on the prominent dividing wall in Nagel Commons on Tuesday night.
Although put up by unaffiliated groups, the these two murals evoke similar sentiments of dismay and disgust, which a number of students in both Stern and Yeshiva College feel at these new immigration policies, viewed by many as a de facto Muslim ban. Students who helped put up the Stern mural noted that, after seeing the mural at Nagel, they felt like if they didn’t respond in kind “it would be like not standing up at all.”
Another confessed that while she has felt “helpless” in the wake of the new ban, this is one thing she can do. “Protests are amazing,” she added, “but they can’t reach people who don’t go. Besides, a lot of girls won’t go to Nagel and see that mural, and it’s important for this message to be seen by as many people as possible, to get people to think about this.” “We want this to reach the emotional side, to make people see that you can’t just stand by,” another added.
They also pointed out that parts of the Nagel mural were allegedly torn down by a few students on the Wilf campus at the same time as the Beren one was being put up. “I hope it doesn’t get torn down,” one student said. Although students fixed the Nagel mural following the incident, she acknowledged that the tension and backlash regarding the executive order on campus “does add urgency to what we’re doing.”