In large bold letters the poster reads: "Ending white privilege...starts with ending Jewish privilege."
The flyer depicts a pyramid with silhouettes of people with Star of Davids on their chests standing at the top of it, an arrow pointing to them accompanied by the words "the 1%."
Citing a Pew Research study from 2013, the poster states that Jewish Americans make up 2% of the population; it then states that "44% of these Jewish Americans are in the top 1%," referencing another Pew Research Study from 2009. What that Pew study shows, however, is that 44% of Jews earn $100,000+, a bracket which 18% of the US population falls into according to that study.
Alan Cooperman, director of Religion Research at Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project, told The Jerusalem Post that the claims made about US Jews in the poster are baseless.
“While it is true that Jews are roughly 2% of the US population and that 44% of US Jews report a household income of $100,000 or more, the poster’s claims about income distribution among American Jews are groundless and should not be attributed to the Pew Research Center," he said. "We do not know what share of Jews are in the top 1% US of individual income earners and have never reported such a figure."
According to data from the Internal Revenue Service, the top 1% in the US had an adjusted gross income of approximately $466,000 or higher for the 2014 tax year. In the recent years prior to that, the figure wavered between $352,000 (in 2009) and $435,000 (in 2012), according to a CNN report published in 2015.
"Our surveys ask about total household income; 44% of Jews have a household income – that is, the combined income of family members – of $100,000 or more," Cooperman clarified. "We do not know what share of Jews are in the top 1% of individual income earners, but it stands to reason that it is considerably less than the share who have household income of $100,000 or more.”
The offending poster was shared on social media by President of Rohr Chabad House at UIC Eva Zeltser, garnering thousands of views.
Zeltser wrote a letter to the Dean of Students, citing the university's non-discriminatory statement which says: "The commitment of the University of Illinois to the most fundamental principles of academic freedom, equality of opportunity, and human dignity requires that decisions involving students and employees be based on individual merit and be free from invidious discrimination in all its forms, whether or not specifically prohibited by law."
"On behalf of myself and other Jewish students. My heart is broken," Zeltser wrote.
"If you are against hate crimes against one group you should be against acts of violence for ALL groups," she continued. "It is absolutely undeniable that if this was posted about other minorities such as African Americans, Muslim, and Hispanics the whole school would be protesting in the quad. But everyone seems to be silent."
Noting that these posters were found all over campus, she said: "I understand free speech, but what about my freedom to feel safe on campus?... Things like these posters are actively posted to catalyze antisemitism and increase hate toward Jews."
Fellow student Amitai Loew also shared his letter to the dean, joining Zeltser’s call for action by the dean's office to combat antisemitism on campus.
The Jerusalem Post also contacted the dean for comment, but had not received a response by press time.
The outraged students noted the context of the poster, coming during a period of unrest for the US Jewish community triggered by an uptick in antisemitic incidents including waves of bomb threats against Jewish Community Centers across the country.
"The attached image in unsettling because it is yet another reminder of how fragile the idea of my safety and the safety of the Jewish community on campus is," wrote Loew.
The incident occurred the same week as police launched a probe into vandalism of a Jewish student's front door at the UC Hastings campus in San Francisco.