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April 29, 2015 0

Anti-Semitism on Campus: Old Wine in New Bottles

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

As some­one who has been crit­i­cal about the some­times over­heated reac­tion to what is tak­ing place regard­ing Jews on cam­pus, I also believe it is vital to mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion closely and to be able to reeval­u­ate as things may change.

I still believe that the vast major­ity of Jew­ish stu­dents have nor­mal lives on cam­pus where they can be com­fort­able in their own skins and with their Jew­ish iden­ti­ties. That is why a recent sur­vey sug­gest­ing that more than 50 per­cent of Jew­ish stu­dents expe­ri­enced anti-Semitism in one form or another was dis­turb­ing. This sur­vey – which in my opin­ion was flawed — was not a help­ful read­ing of what is going on.

And yet, some­thing is chang­ing.  We need to iden­tify what it is and deal with it — with­out declar­ing the sky is falling.

His­tor­i­cally, many cam­puses, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to fac­ulty, have a rep­u­ta­tion of being left-wing or at least very lib­eral. Since the vast major­ity of the Jew­ish com­mu­nity has iden­ti­fied itself in a sim­i­lar fash­ion for decades, there seemed to be no problem.

Together with this, how­ever, polls of the Amer­i­can peo­ple in the last few years appear to indi­cate an increas­ing gap in atti­tudes toward Israel between those who iden­tify them­selves as con­ser­v­a­tives and those who iden­tify them­selves as lib­er­als. The lat­ter are increas­ingly ques­tion­ing Israeli poli­cies and express­ing inter­est in a more bal­anced Amer­i­can approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is this evolv­ing phe­nom­e­non which, I believe, is lend­ing force to the anti-Israel forces on cam­pus. Let’s be clear: There has always been a mea­sure of left-wing oppo­si­tion to Israel on cam­puses, whether from fac­ulty or some stu­dent groups.

For sure they are more orga­nized today.  Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine, the main orga­niz­ing force behind the boy­cott, divest­ment and sanc­tions cam­paigns, has refined and inten­si­fied its tac­tics and is pop­ping up on new cam­puses every month or so.  Regard­less of the fact that the BDS cam­paign has not gained much trac­tion on cam­pus in terms of hav­ing any impact against Israel – many, if not most, of the boy­cott votes have been soundly defeated – it is cre­at­ing a great deal of noise on cam­pus and beyond, rais­ing a lot of atten­tion, and con­tribut­ing to the sense of dis­com­fort of Jew­ish students.

But the biggest change is the fer­tile ground in which the anti-Israel com­mu­nity is sow­ing its seeds.

The trends that are appear­ing relate to the per­cep­tion of Jew­ish stu­dents and their rela­tions with other minor­ity com­mu­ni­ties.  There are sug­ges­tions that Jews do not qual­ify for par­tic­i­pa­tion in minor­ity com­mu­nity activ­ity on cam­pus, for two rea­sons:  1) They are deemed peo­ple of priv­i­lege, not minori­ties wor­thy of spe­cial atten­tion; and 2) their assumed sup­port for “colo­nial­ist, apartheid” Israel puts them in the camp of would-be oppres­sors rather than tar­gets and oppo­nents of prejudice.

Recent inci­dents at UCLA and Stan­ford bring this dis­turb­ing phe­nom­e­non into focus.  At UCLA, a stu­dent leader had her qual­i­fi­ca­tions for a Judi­cial Board posi­tion come under ques­tion due to her Jew­ish iden­tity and affil­i­a­tion with the Jew­ish com­mu­nity on cam­pus. At Stan­ford, a Jew­ish stu­dent run­ning for a posi­tion in stu­dent gov­ern­ment was asked how her Judaism might influ­ence her posi­tion on divest­ment from Israel.

What was so stun­ning to the stu­dent appli­cants was not that they were asked about their views on Israel – they were aware that, unfor­tu­nately, these bod­ies sup­ported boy­cott actions against the Jew­ish State.  Rather, that there was no shame in intro­duc­ing the can­di­dates’ Jew­ish­ness as the crit­i­cal fac­tor in assess­ing the candidacy.

It is this link­ing of atti­tudes toward Israel and atti­tudes toward Jews that raises con­cern about the future of Jew­ish life on cam­pus.  Larry Sum­mers, when pres­i­dent at Har­vard, fore­saw this back in 2002 when there was an effort to bring a divest­ment cam­paign to the university.

He, most impor­tantly, rejected it, decry­ing the abhor­rent com­par­i­son of demo­c­ra­tic Israel to apartheid South Africa.  He then went on to explain that while not all who advo­cated divest­ment from Israel were moti­vated by anti-Semitism, even those who weren’t cre­ated a cli­mate mak­ing anti-Semitism more palat­able by the assault on the good name of the Jew­ish State.

In effect, the attacks on Israel on cam­pus are unleash­ing inhi­bi­tions against expres­sions of anti-Jewish prej­u­dice and begin­ning to legit­imize attacks on Jews on campus.

While much of this is in a nascent stage, it is impor­tant to deal with it now on sev­eral levels.

First, greater efforts must be made to gen­er­ate a more bal­anced view of Israel and the region among minor­ity stu­dents.  Some are undoubt­edly locked in to their anti-Israel per­spec­tive for ide­o­log­i­cal rea­sons.  But many oth­ers are cer­tainly open to hear­ing a dif­fer­ent take on the Mid­dle East.  Not one in which Israel is always in the right, but a com­pli­cated nar­ra­tive about com­pet­ing inter­est and needs.

Sec­ond, it must be made clear that what­ever one’s views on the con­flict, treat­ing Jews dif­fer­ently is unac­cept­able and it is what it is, anti-Semitism. Uni­ver­sity offi­cials must speak out clearly and unequiv­o­cally against even the slight­est hint of sin­gling Jews out that way.

Third, we must con­tin­u­ally assess the sta­tus of Jews on cam­pus in a calm and ratio­nal way, dis­tin­guish­ing between the real chal­lenges Jew­ish stu­dents face with­out send­ing alarm sig­nals which could under­mine the nor­mal life on cam­pus that exists for most of them.

Jews in Amer­ica have made too much progress over the last half-century to cause us to over­re­act. Still, we can­not afford to be com­pla­cent. We have to address these cam­pus issues now before they expand fur­ther and spin out of con­trol, truly cre­at­ing a wide­spread wor­ri­some atmosphere.

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April 1, 2015 2

50% of Anti-Israel Events in Illinois on Three Campuses

Anti-Israel activ­ity on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses in Illi­nois has remained steady over the last two years with student-groups actively work­ing to pro­mote Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) cam­paigns against Israel and false alle­ga­tions such as that Israel is an apartheid state.

Tweets from pro-BDS stu­dents dur­ing and after the BDS vote at Loy­ola University.

Since Sep­tem­ber 2013, more than 70 anti-Israel events have taken place on uni­ver­sity and col­lege cam­puses in Illi­nois and over 50% of those events were held on three cam­puses: Loy­ola University-Chicago, DePaul Uni­ver­sity, and North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity. So far this year, there have been two divest­ment res­o­lu­tions passed by stu­dent gov­ern­ments at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity and North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity and 25 anti-Israel events have either taken place or been sched­uled on Illi­nois campuses.

Lead­ing up to the BDS vote at Loy­ola Uni­ver­sity, there was a week-long pro­gram called “Loy­ola Divest­ment Week,” which fea­tured sev­eral events pro­mot­ing BDS and the “Loy­ola Divest” cam­paign. Exam­ples of those events included dis­cus­sions about divest­ment, a “Pales­tine 101” ses­sion which pro­vided his­tor­i­cal con­text about the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict, and a con­ver­sa­tion titled “Reclaim­ing Our Voices through Social Activism.”

ADL described the Loy­ola Divest effort as “mis­guided” and stated that it will likely serve to “divide and polar­ize the cam­pus community.”

The polar­iz­ing effect of the res­o­lu­tion could be wit­nessed dur­ing the vot­ing ses­sion and after its pas­sage, as stu­dents reacted on Twit­ter with the hash­tag “#Loy­olaDi­vest.” One stu­dent remarked dur­ing the vote that there were a “hand­ful of priv­i­leged white peo­ple on one side of room” and that the “rest of human­ity [was] on [the] other.” Another stu­dent echoed that tweet and wrote “Never under­stood ‘white tears’ more than now –white jew­ish stu­dents are ‘uncom­fort­able’ while the Pales­tini­ans are suf­fo­cat­ing,” and another stu­dent cel­e­brated that the cam­pus Hil­lel allegedly lost mem­bers “because #divest­ment made them uncom­fort­able and afraid,” stat­ing that, “That’s a win for #Loy­olaDi­vest no one should join Hillel.”

North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity, the Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter formed a group called “NU Divest” which worked to pro­mote divest­ment. Lead­ing up to the Stu­dent Government’s vote on their BDS res­o­lu­tion, the group spon­sored sev­eral anti-Israel events such as a pre­sen­ta­tion from Hatem Baz­ian, a founder of Amer­i­can Mus­lims for Pales­tine (AMP), on Fri­day, Feb­ru­ary 13, 2015 titled  “Colo­nial­ism is not Over: Con­tem­po­rary Move­ments.” The group also pub­lished pro-BDS arti­cles in the cam­pus news­pa­per to inform their student-body about the BDS cam­paign and on Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015, the stu­dent gov­ern­ment voted to pass their BDS res­o­lu­tion with a 24–22-3 vote.

The BDS cam­paign at DePaul Uni­ver­sity was also active this semes­ter because of the campus-wide BDS ref­er­en­dum that was passed by a vote of 1,575–1,333 on May 23, 2014. To fol­low up on the vote, the DePaul Divest coali­tion sub­mit­ted a request to the DePaul Fair Busi­ness Prac­tices Com­mit­tee (FBPC) in Jan­u­ary 2015 and asked them to rec­om­mend that DePaul divest from Hewlett-Packard, Boe­ing, Lock­heed Mar­tin, Veo­lia, and Cater­pil­lar. The pro­posal was report­edly rejected by the FBPC.

Flyer from DePaul University SJP Fundraiser for Rasmea Odeh.

Flyer from DePaul Uni­ver­sity SJP Fundraiser for Ras­mea Odeh.

The SJP chap­ters at both Loy­ola and DePaul also hosted events to defend and dis­cuss the case of Ras­mea Odeh, a Pales­tin­ian accused by Israel of hav­ing taken part in two 1969 bomb­ings by the ter­ror­ist group the Pop­u­lar Front for the Lib­er­a­tion of Pales­tine (PFLP), who was just con­victed on a count of unlaw­ful pro­cure­ment of nat­u­ral­iza­tion and is fac­ing eigh­teen months in prison and depor­ta­tion to Jor­dan. While Odeh’s case was only dis­cussed at Loy­ola, at DePaul, the SJP chap­ter actu­ally hosted a fundraiser for Odeh where all pro­ceeds were to be donated to her legal defense team.

Of the more than 70 anti-Israel events on Illi­nois cam­puses since Sep­tem­ber 2013, SJP has spon­sored the major­ity of those events, which were focused on BDS cam­paigns and cas­ti­gat­ing Israeli policy.

Other recent anti-Israel events on other cam­puses in Illi­nois include:

  • Shirien D, an Exec­u­tive Board mem­ber of the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion for Pales­tin­ian Equal Rights, spoke about alleged sim­i­lar­i­ties between Fer­gu­son and Gaza at the Illi­nois Insti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy on Feb­ru­ary 11, 2015.
  • A teach-in for stu­dents to learn about and get involved with the BDS move­ment took place at the Uni­ver­sity of Illinois-Urabana Cham­paign (UIUC) on Mon­day, Novem­ber 10, 2014.
  • Ilan Pappe, an Israeli anti-Zionist pro­fes­sor who is famous for writ­ing a book titled The Eth­nic Cleans­ing of Pales­tine, spoke at the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago on Fri­day, Octo­ber 24, 2014.

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March 18, 2015 4

Anti-Semitism On College Campuses in 2015

Anti-Semitic flyer posted at UC Santa Bar­bara in Sep. 2014

After the alarm­ing anti-Semitic inci­dent at UCLA ear­lier this month, the prob­lem of anti-Semitism on col­lege cam­puses has become a national discussion.

While such inci­dents are cer­tainly dis­turb­ing, it must be noted that these inci­dents are rel­a­tively rare, and the vast major­ity of Jew­ish stu­dents feels safe on their cam­puses. When such inci­dents do occur, they are gen­er­ally con­demned by admin­is­tra­tors and the wider cam­pus com­mu­ni­ties at their respec­tive colleges.

That being said, the inci­dent at UCLA was not the only anti-Semitic inci­dent to take place so far in 2015. Other anti-Semitic inci­dents include:

  • A dorm at Pur­chase Col­lege, SUNY was van­dal­ized on March 18 with swastikas and other hate­ful graffiti.
  • Swastikas were spray-painted inside the house of a Jew­ish fra­ter­nity (Alpha Epsilon Pi) at Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­sity on March 15.
  • At Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley, the phrase “Zion­ists should be sent to the gas cham­ber” was found in a cam­pus restroom in March and a swastika was found on a uni­ver­sity owned build­ing in February.
  • On Feb­ru­ary 22, Uni­ver­sity of Chicago stu­dents and staff reported anti-Semitic posts on a Face­book page called UChicago Secrets, such as “Peo­ple are hyp­ocrites. This is a fact. One exam­ple? The Jews at UChicago…” and “As a Per­son of Pales­tin­ian descent, I don’t think it is unrea­son­able or hor­rific for me to hate Jews…”
  • Also at the end of Feb­ru­ary, threat­en­ing anti-Semitic com­ments were posted on Yik Yak (an anony­mous social media app that allows peo­ple to send and receive posts in a local­ized area) for the Uni­ver­sity of Chicago area. Some posts named spe­cific stu­dents, while other expressed more gen­eral anti-Semitic sen­ti­ments such as, “Gas them, burn them and dis­man­tle their power struc­ture. Human­ity can­not progress with the par­a­sitic Jew.”
  • At the end of Feb­ru­ary, three swastikas were drawn inside a George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity dorm.
  • On Jan­u­ary 31, two large swastikas were spray-painted on the Alpha Epsilon Pi fra­ter­nity house at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Davis.

If you have expe­ri­enced an anti-Semitic inci­dent on cam­pus or else­where, please report it to ADL through our web­site.

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