Two days after the militant group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, Evyatar Marienberg, a tenured professor in the religious studies department, sent his class a Canvas message.
“I am not functioning in the last few days. I will do class tomorrow of course, I will try my best, I cannot read posts, grade, or think about the midterm at this point,” he said in the Oct. 9 message.
Marienberg was born in Israel and came to the University in 2009. According to his biography published on the religious studies department’s website, his research interests include Rabbinics, contemporary Catholicism and the social history of Jews and Christians in Medieval Europe.
Three days after the message, Marienberg attended the Oct. 12 pro-Palestine demonstration in front of Wilson Library as a counter-protester. He raised an Israeli flag in front of the protesters as they chanted "Free, free Palestine."
Later during the demonstration, Marienberg shouted “Nazis" at pro-Palestinian protesters. UNC Police escorted him from the scene but did not arrest him. Marienberg remains employed as a member of the UNC faculty.
Marienberg did not respond to The Daily Tar Heel's multiple requests for comment.
Following the protest, more than 20 UNC religious studies graduate students and alumni signed a public statement denouncing Marienberg’s actions. The statement was circulated via a listserv for graduate students in the UNC Department of Religious Studies.
Ellis Azcona, a religious studies doctoral student who signed the statement, said it came together because some graduate students wanted to provide a different perspective within the department apart from Marienberg's.
“Marienberg is not new to this kind of behavior: on numerous occasions dating back to 2016 he has targeted faculty in our department who are Muslim and have shared information about boycott, divestment, and sanction efforts in support of Palestinians, facing little-to-no repercussions or formal disciplinary actions from department heads,” the statement said.