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March 18, 2015

Anti-Semitism On College Campuses in 2015

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

Update — 5/26/15: An updated list of 2015 anti-Semitic incidents on campus is available here.

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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November 26, 2014

California Campuses See Increase in Anti-Israel Activity

The documented increase in anti-Israel activity so far this academic year has been most apparent in California, which has seen a significant increase in the number of scheduled anti-Israel events.

Since the beginning of the academic year, there have been 40 anti-Israel events scheduled to take place on college campuses compared to the 15 events scheduled during that same time period last year.ucla-divest-bds

These events, which are frequently sponsored by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), have addressed how to initiate Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaigns against Israel and often attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism by couching their hostility towards Israel in social justice terms, linking the conflict in Gaza to other unrelated issues.

Just this week, for example, the UCLA student government endorsed “A Resolution to Divest from Corporations Engaged in Violence against Palestinians.” The resolution, which was submitted by UCLA SJP, calls for the university to divest from 11 corporations, including Boeing, Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, Cemex, General Dynamics, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and United Technologies. Although the resolution was passed under the pretext that those corporations violate Palestinian human rights, none of those companies listed are actually engaged in violence against Palestinians.

Other examples of the types of events that California universities have hosted so far this semester include:

  • Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), a weeklong series of anti-Israel events which usually occurs on campuses in the Spring, took place at UC Riverside from November 17-20, 2014. IAW at UC Riverside featured four events, which included a “die-in” and a performance by Remi Kanazi, an Organizing Committee member of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel, who uses spoken word and poetry to promote anti-Israel initiatives like divestment and a one-state solution.
  •  A lecture delivered by Alison Weir at San Diego State University titled “The hidden history behind the US & Israel,” based on her most recent book, in which she claims that supporters of Israel have exercised undue control over American society for “over a hundred years.”

Although anti-Israel activity is not a new phenomenon on campuses in California, this year’s increase is not a surprise, as it follows 47 anti-Israel demonstrations that occurred in California during Operation Protective Edge.  Many of these demonstrations were co-sponsored by student groups like the General Union of Palestine Students (GUPS) at San Francisco State University and various SJP chapters throughout the state. At several demonstrations, participants held signs that compared the State of Israel to Nazi Germany and at a demonstration in San Francisco, participants burned an Israeli flag.

Additionally, in late September, American Muslims for Palestine (AMP), the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to college students throughout the country, began the academic year with a call for an “International Day of Action on College Campuses,” advocating for a variety of BDS-related initiatives in an effort to isolate and demonize Israel and Jewish communal organizations. ADL documented only ten “Day of Action” demonstrations in the U.S. with three having taken place at California universities such as Stanford University, San Jose State University, and UC Berkeley.

Even with the rise in anti-Israel activity on many campuses in California, most Jewish and pro-Israel students report feeling comfortable to express their religious and political beliefs at their schools.  While anti-Semitism does occur too often at colleges throughout the country, generally respect is the norm, and anti-Jewish bigotry is not openly tolerated.  This message is often conveyed by university administrations, who are on the front lines of the struggle to combat hate on campus while balancing free speech, academic freedom, and maintaining universities as the “marketplaces of ideas” simultaneously.

An example of this occurred after a very divisive and difficult quarter on the UCLA campus in the Spring of 2014 surrounding the Israel-Palestinian issue. At that time, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block issued a statement on The Importance of Civil Discourse, reminding the campus community that “Political speech that stigmatizes or casts aspersions on individuals or particular groups does not promote healthy debate but debases it by trying to intimidate individuals and groups… [I]f we listen only to those who already share our assumptions, truth gets lost, our intellectual climate is impoverished and our community is diminished.”

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September 22, 2014

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

gaza-ferguson-college-of-staten-island

Vigil for Gaza at the College of Staten Island

While Gaza and Ferguson no longer dominate the headlines, these unrelated events continue to be connected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addition to previously reported examples, more recent anti-Israel events continue to link the conflict in Gaza to the Ferguson, Missouri shooting and its aftermath, couching hostility towards Israel in social justice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent examples of anti-Israel events that draw parallels between Ferguson and Gaza include:

  • Existence is Resistance and the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home are advertising an event scheduled for October 11 at the Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz Center in northern Manhattan to address “the global systems that oppress us, from Ferguson to Gaza.” The event will feature speakers such as Remi Kanazi, an organizing committee member of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel discussion titled “From Ferguson to Palestine: Connecting Struggles” is scheduled to take place at the University of Texas-Austin on September 24 according to the event’s Facebook page. The event, sponsored by the Palestine Solidarity Committee, will feature at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City University of New York (CUNY) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter is hosting a panel discussion at the CUNY Graduate Center titled “CUNY Stands for Justice: From Ferguson to Palestine” on September 22 featuring “an evening of poetry, speakers, and discussion around repression and resistance from Ferguson, Missouri to Gaza, Palestine,” according to event flyers.

    gaza-ferguson-brooklyn-college

    SJP “die-in” at Brooklyn College

  • The College of Staten Island SJP chapter hosted a vigil for Gaza on September 17 at which the group advertised on Facebook that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in solidarity from Ferguson to Palestine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Ferguson because “Palestinians know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • According to a post on an anti-Israel Facebook page, members of the Direct Action Front for Palestine attended protests in Ferguson and spoke to people there about Gaza. On September 8, it held a meeting in Brooklyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effective in our resistance…”
  • Members of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) protested outside ADL’s San Francisco office on September 3 with a banner that read “From Oakland to Ferguson to Palestine, The US and Israel, A Deadly combination” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coalition formed in 2008 that seeks to facilitate global anti-Israel activity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Facebook, Brooklyn College SJP advertised a September 2 “die-in” on the Brooklyn College campus to “raise awareness about israel’s [sic] latest massacre” and to remember “all the victims of white supremacy and institutionalized racism in the U.S., the latest being #MikeBrown and #EricGarner.”

Events linking Ferguson and Gaza have also been organized by some university departments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Critical Race Studies Department sponsored a September 18 event called “From Gaza to Ferguson,” which according to publicity materials, explored “the relationship between race, the rise of militarized policing and the response to dissent in the United States and consider its implications in a global context.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holocaust survivor who has compared the Israeli treatment of Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of Jews.

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