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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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March 18, 2015 4

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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February 27, 2015 2

College Campuses Continue To Face Divisive BDS Campaigns

Through­out the 2014–15 aca­d­e­mic year, a con­sor­tium of stu­dent groups have ini­ti­ated cam­paigns on cam­pus call­ing on their schools to divest from com­pa­nies that they believe either profit from or aid in the Israeli occupation.BDS-campus-anti-israel

The efforts are part of the larger Boy­cott, Divest­ment, and Sanc­tions (BDS) move­ment, a global effort to iso­late and pun­ish Israel because of its poli­cies toward the Pales­tini­ans. While sup­port­ers of the BDS move­ment claim to embrace the tac­tic as a non­vi­o­lent way to pres­sure Israel into nego­ti­a­tions, one of the prin­ci­pal com­po­nents of the cam­paign calls for a full and com­plete right of return for Pales­tini­ans which would result in a non-Jewish major­ity and erase the Jew­ish char­ac­ter of Israel. The BDS cam­paign is clearly a biased effort to demo­nize Israel and place the entire onus of the con­flict on the Jew­ish state.

While these ini­tia­tives have failed to have any prac­ti­cal out­comes in terms of uni­ver­sity invest­ment poli­cies, it can­not be ignored that some have had a divi­sive and cor­ro­sive effect on the cam­pus cli­mate. On some cam­puses, divest­ment ini­tia­tives have left Jew­ish and pro-Israel stu­dents feel­ing belea­guered and iso­lated. Other stu­dents report a tense atmos­phere on cam­puses where stu­dents and stu­dent lead­ers are pres­sured to “choose sides” on a con­flict they know lit­tle about.

So far this aca­d­e­mic year, nearly 300 anti-Israel events have been sched­uled, with about 40% of them focused on BDS cam­paigns. In addi­tion, BDS res­o­lu­tions have been voted in stu­dent gov­ern­ment on or ini­ti­ated by anti-Israel stu­dent groups on 11 campuses.

In the com­ing weeks, addi­tion BDS activ­ity will be coor­di­nated on cam­pus as part of the eleventh annual Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW), which began on Feb­ru­ary 23 and is sched­uled to run through March. IAW Events have been sched­uled on at least 25 col­lege cam­puses in the U.S. thus far. Some cam­puses are sched­uled to host pre­sen­ta­tions on top­ics such as the false Gaza-Ferguson anal­ogy and oth­ers will set up mock “apartheid walls” on their cam­puses, and/or dis­trib­ute mock “evic­tion notices.”

Below is a list of cur­rent cam­pus BDS cam­paigns and res­o­lu­tions which have been voted on:

  • North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity – The North­west­ern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent gov­ern­ment passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group NU Divest on Wednes­day, Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. The vote was 24–22-3.
  • Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity – The Under­grad­u­ate Sen­ate of Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity passed a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the student-group Stan­ford out of Occu­pied Pales­tine on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 10–4-1.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Toledo – The Uni­ver­sity of Toledo stu­dent gov­ern­ment ruled that a BDS res­o­lu­tion sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter was uncon­sti­tu­tional on Tues­day, Feb­ru­ary 17, 2015.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Davis – The UC Davis Stu­dent Sen­ate passed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter on Thurs­day, Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2, but it was chal­lenged and over­turned by the student-led Court of Asso­ci­ated Stu­dents, which is beyond the juris­dic­tion of the Stu­dent Senate.
  • United Auto Work­ers (UAW) 2865 – The Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Stu­dent Work­ers Union (UAW 2865) endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion on Thurs­day, Decem­ber 4, 2014 call­ing on the UC Board of Regents to divest from com­pa­nies that are allegedly prof­it­ing from or aid­ing in the Israeli occu­pa­tion. The res­o­lu­tion also called for an end of U.S. aid to Israel and for UAW Inter­na­tional to divest from the same cor­po­ra­tions. The vote was 1411–749.
  • Uni­ver­sity of California-Los Ange­les - On Tues­day, Novem­ber 18, 2014, the UCLA stu­dent gov­ern­ment endorsed a divest­ment res­o­lu­tion that was sub­mit­ted by the cam­pus Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine chap­ter. The vote on the res­o­lu­tion was 8–2-2.

Below is a list of BDS cam­paigns cur­rently tak­ing place:

  • Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan –  The student-group Stu­dents Allied for Free­dom and Equal­ity (SAFE) at the Uni­ver­sity of Michi­gan announced plans to ini­ti­ate a divest­ment cam­paign called “#UMDi­vest” on Feb­ru­ary 18, 2015. To go along with this, they are host­ing a BDS sym­po­sium to dis­cuss the cam­paign, read the res­o­lu­tion, and answer ques­tions from the audience.
  • Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton – The Uni­ver­sity of Hous­ton Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter announced plans to ini­ti­ate a BDS cam­paign on Feb­ru­ary 12, 2015. The group spon­sored a pro-BDS demon­stra­tion on their cam­pus that day where the cam­paign was announced.
  • Ohio State Uni­ver­sity – A newly-founded group called Ohio State Uni­ver­sity Divest (OSU Divest) started a divest­ment cam­paign on Jan­u­ary 29, 2015. They announced their cam­paign through a press release and state that they were call­ing on the Uni­ver­sity to divest from com­pa­nies that allegedly harm and/or profit from harm­ing Palestinians.
  • San Diego State Uni­ver­sity – SDSU Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine launched a divest­ment cam­paign and new group called San Diego State Uni­ver­sity Divest (SDSU Divest) on Jan­u­ary 25, 2015. To go along with the cam­paign, they have been cir­cu­lat­ing a peti­tion to cur­rent stu­dents, alumni, fac­ulty, staff, and com­mu­nity mem­bers that calls for divest­ment “from com­pa­nies that profit from vio­lence against the Palestinians.”
  • Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida – The Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Florida SJP chap­ter put up a pro-BDS bill­board near cam­pus to claim that 10,000 stu­dents were silenced because BDS was not enforced by the Uni­ver­sity Admin­is­tra­tion after the group allegedly col­lected 10,000 sig­na­tures call­ing on the uni­ver­sity to divest from cor­po­ra­tions that allegedly profit from the Israeli occupation.

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