Israel on campus

The Universities Have Abandoned the Jews. Should Jews Abandon the Universities?

The campus Jacobins hate the values that once made American universities great.

MAY 10 2019 12:01AM

Making Excuses for Anti-Semitic Cartoons at Stanford

Eli Valley comes to Silicon Valley.

MAY 9 2019 12:01AM

At Williams College, All Views Are Respected—Except for Zionism

The one line that can’t be crossed.

MAY 8 2019 12:01AM

Honoring Israel-Hatred at New York University

Hiding behind insincere claims about free speech.

APRIL 23 2019 12:01AM

The Harassment of Jews Is Not a Consequence of Israel Apartheid Week. It’s the Goal

Colleges shouldn’t tolerate, much less fund, such behavior.

APRIL 22 2019 12:01AM

Don’t Rely on College Presidents to Restrain Campus Anti-Semitism

Students and faculty must fight back.

MARCH 26 2019 12:01AM

How British Universities Fell into the Clutches of the Anti-Israel Movement

The media and student unions take one side, and administrators won’t push back.

JAN. 25 2019 12:01AM

At a California University, a Textbook Case of Blindness to Left-Wing Anti-Semitism

Jewish Voice for Peace’s anti-Semitic “Deadly Exchange” campaign.

JAN. 15 2019 12:01AM

How a Christian from New Orleans Became a Pro-Israel Activist

And thoughts on the growth of left-wing anti-Semitism.

DEC. 17 2018 12:01AM

In Calling for a Boycott of Israel, Professors Express an Illiberal and Herd-Like Mentality

A foul wind that won’t easily dissipate from Pitzer College.

NOV. 30 2018 12:01AM

Asians, Jews, and Harvard

The Association for Asian-American Studies is happy to condemn Israel but won’t condemn quotas on Asian Americans.

OCT. 11 2018 12:01AM

The Department of Education Gets Anti-Semitism Right, While Its Critics Get It Wrong

Kenneth Marcus and campus anti-Zionism.

SEPT. 14 2018 12:01AM

How Intersectionality Has Become a Political Weapon against Israel

Dissenting from anti-Israel orthodoxy has social consequences.

AUG. 30 2018 12:01AM

Open Hillel’s Latest Initiative Shows Its Indifference toward Anti-Semitism

Why is a left-wing Jewish group trying to get other Jewish organizations kicked off campus?

AUG. 6 2018 12:01AM


Antisemitism Awareness Act will Proetect our Students

Why are some Jewish groups against it?
Ynet News
January 10, 2017


The US Senate has unanimously passed the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, introduced by US Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Casey (D-PA). If approved by the House, the bill will give the US Department of Education the statutory tools to examine anti-Semitic incidents in the broadest and effective way possible.

The Anti-Semitism Awareness Act will mirror the State Department's Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism's definition of anti-Semitism, including critical language to define where anti-Israel bias crosses the line into anti-Semitism. The new Act would enhance the Education Department's ability to identify, investigate, and punish all forms of anti-Semitism, including anti-Zionism and anti-Israel harassment.

When asked about the Act, Senator Casey channeled Natan Sharansky's "3D" definition of anti-Semitism and listed the following examples of where the bill's tools would be helpful:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews,
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust,
  • Demonizing Israel by blaming it for all interreligious or political tensions,
  • Judging Israel by a double standard that one would not apply to any other democratic nation.

Because of the bill's potential impact on anti-Israel activities, we have seen a steady flow of hysteria and condemnation, in particular from the far left. Israel boycott groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) claim that the bill's "overly broad language has the potential to define any criticism of Israeli policy as anti-Semitic," and that it would prevent "frank discussions of the impact of Zionism, campus disagreements about the future of Israel/Palestine, and in fact, much of what falls under Jewish studies in all facets, including courses."

The irony is that JVP in particular, which supports and advocates for boycott, divestment and sanction (BDS) against Israel, is only willing to have "frank discussions" through its own prism, which sees Israel as the source of all evil in the Middle East and something to be abolished.

University administrators like Chancellor Howard Gillman and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky from the University of California, Irvine also took issue with the bill, despite living on a campus with one of the country's most hostile educational environments for Jewish students.

Earlier this year at Irvine, a Jewish student emerging from a Holocaust-related event was chased by a mob of "anti-Israel" protesters and was forced to barricade herself in a school building as her pursuers banged on the doors and windows and chanted "Long live the Intifada!" She had to be rescued by the police.

In 2010, following the shouting down of then-Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, Dean Chemerinsky wrote that he has not seen "the slightest indication of anti-Semitism" at UC Irvine, nor "heard one complaint about an anti-Semitic incident on campus."

Despite being a distinguished constitutional scholar, Dean Chemerinsky mischaracterized the proposed Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, claiming that the bill would "require the Education Department, when deciding whether to investigate incidents on campus, to consider the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism."

That is not what the bill says. Rather, under the proposed legislation, the Department of Education would consider the State Department definition – adopted in 2010 – when deciding whether severe, persistent, and pervasive harassment and intimidation (that federal civil rights statutes are designed to prevent) were motivated by anti-Jewish animus. That distinction is critical. On its face, the proposed legislation would not in any way encourage or permit the government to investigate or take action against protected speech-based and expressive activities.

In fact, Irvine provides the strongest evidence that the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act is needed now more than ever. It is dismaying, but not surprising, that these two administrators and groups like JVP would rather misrepresent the text and constitutional soundness of the proposed legislation than address the culture of anti-Semitic hate that has arisen around the country, particularly at universities.

Academia has unconsciously revealed that Jews and Israelis are the canaries in the coal mine. If universities are indicators of social trends, then anti-Semitism is becoming more acceptable in the guise of anti-Zionism. Only Jews are seen as unworthy of having a sovereign state, thanks to various sins past and present.

Such attitudes are quite common on university campuses, and are protected by "academic freedom." Yet it is also another reason for the growing gap between academia and the public; on moral issues, like defending democracy against jihadi terror, Americans and its elected officials are learning that universities are choosing their own way to define racism which may not always align with reality.


Why the Oldest Hatred Flourishes on US Campuses By: Lori Lowenthal Marcus


Published: December 19th, 2016

In Dispatches, Richard Cravetts explains where anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism is happening on US college campuses and why

Jewish Americans who have been paying attention know there is a serious anti-Israel problem on U.S. campuses, and they have some idea of where it is happening. What most still don't know is how or why it happened.

In Richard L. Cravatts' new book,"Dispatches from the Campus War Against Israel & Jews," (2016) he lays it all out.

"Dispatches" starts with the evolution of the "cognitive war against Israel." Dr. Cravatts traces the modern trajectory of the oldest hatred. In its latest incarnation, the "new anti-Semitism" has morphed into a more widely acceptable, but just as hate-filled and irrational, version which hides behind the fig leaf of "criticism of Israeli policies."

The intense contortions of those whose anti-Semitism was not acceptable forged a more acceptable conduit for the irrational hatred, which then flowed into the most-favored blame receptacle, now represented by the Jewish State.

Cravatts names the leading players behind this movement to recast and legitimize anti-Semitism, such as the University of Michigan's Juan Cole, and Columbia University's Joseph Massad and Edward Said. "Dispatches" also reveals how various cultural currents, such as multiculturalism, moral relativism and the grotesquely misnamed social justice warrior movement buttress this new lethal narrative.

American campuses are the petri dishes in which the latest version of the oldest hatred festers. Tuition and tax dollars feed the disease, while the fecklessness of campus administrations and even most Jewish organizations ensures its continued growth.

Today's version of the Big Lie - that Israel is responsible for nearly every "pathology and failure" not only in the Middle East but for many even where Israelis have no footprint - is meticulously catalogued by Cravatts through his series of articles which make up "Dispatches."

Luckily, moral detectives were able to recognize and categorize this new version of the old disease which lurks behind the moral narcissists' claim of mere Israeli criticism. The villains are not the only ones whom Cravatts names.

Contemporary maccabees such as Martin Kramer, Ruth Wisse, Phyllis Chesler, and Canada's Irwin Cotler, whose heroic efforts to name and shame those spreading the disease in the hopes of controlling the contagion are saluted. But the numbers and the ferocity of those seeking to extirpate the Jewish State are, sadly, far greater in number.

The effort to cast Israel - and therefore its Jewish citizens and supporters - as the ultimate evil in the world includes fevered references to Israelis as the new Nazis. It is a form of ex post facto exculpation, and also lets off the hook the youthful initiates who might otherwise feel uneasy spewing hatred. The linkage between Zionism and Nazism is frequently displayed in the signs held aloft at many campus demonstrations, as "Dispatches" reveals.

But the professoriat and their acolytes also delve into more recent history to stigmatize Jews and the Jewish State. Apartheid South Africa is a favored comparison to Israel, which reveals how little concern for facts plays a role in this academic game. Israel is one of the most diverse nations on Earth, one that has absorbed people of every imaginable color and religion. A quick peek at the Israeli legislature or the Israel Defense Forces puts the lie to the claim of Israeli apartheid, but as Cravatts repeatedly points out in his book, "facts are irrelevant" because Jew-hatred blinds the hater.

The second part of "Dispatches" explains the current malevolent phenomena of the BDS (Boycotts against, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel) Movement. This section focuses on recent efforts by academic associations to attack Israel using the BDS form of warfare. Why American academic associations such as the Modern Language Association, the American Studies Association and others believe themselves justified in attacking Israel (and only Israel) is examined in-depth. What's revealed in that examination is shameful. That academics fail to recognize the moral failure of attacking Israel says volumes about the state of the American academy. It is not only a moral failure but an intellectual failure for a profession of those whose sole job is education.

The final section of "Dispatches" consists of nearly two dozen campus case studies. The role of the virulently anti-Israel organization "Students for Justice in Palestine" gets a lot of play, and deservedly so. Cravatts catalogues a plethora of outrages set on university campuses throughout the country.

Although Israel and Jews are the primary targets of the latest version of anti-Semitism, Cravatts does a masterful job of revealing one of its collateral victims: free speech. The chapters dealing with the abandonment by the left of a bulwark of freedom, that of speech, demand attention. Further, the co-existence of "safe spaces," "trigger warnings" and hate speech codes, with calls for Israel's extermination and the justification of murdering Jews because of the mythical "occupation" should boggle the mind. And yet it hasn't. Not yet.

The author of "Dispatches" told the he wrote the book with the hope that "by understanding the toxic tactics of pro-Palestinians, readers can begin to see the danger of teaching a whole generation of students a false and damaging narrative about the Jewish state.

"If we understand the tactical strategy and know its weaknesses, we can begin to combat the lies and degrade the odious campaign to vilify Israel."

Cravatts lectures around the country on higher education, anti-Semitism and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. He has published hundreds of articles on these topics and is the immediate past-president of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East. Currently Cravatts sits on the board of the AMCHA Initiative, the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under the Law, and the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism. Read his book. 

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is a contributor to the A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email:

© 2016 The Jewish Press. All rights reserved.

Printed from:

Im Tirzu


Cancelling National Service in Anti-Israel NGOs 

On Sunday, the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill that Im Tirtzu helped craft with MK Amir Ohana (Likud) aimed at cancelling National Service positions in organizations that receive the majority of their funding from foreign governments. Although the bill still needs to go to the Knesset plenum to be passed into law, this approval is a significant hurdle that signifies the coalition’s support for the legislation. 

Last night, Prime Minister Netanyahu openly called to support the bill, posting an article about the bill’s approval on his Facebook page with the accompanying words: “putting an end to this absurdity.” 

We are excited to see the fruits of IMTI’s labor unfolding before our eyes. Like the Transparency Law, we will keep working hard to ensure that this bill becomes law; a law that will help us preserve Israeli sovereignty from those seeking to undermine it.

Im Tirtzu received significant media coverage (both in Hebrew and English) together with the bill. You can read more here in English: Jerusalem PostJewish PressHaaretzIsrael National NewsIsrael HayomWorld Israel News


Fight Against Politicization in Academia

Im Tirtzu’s ongoing fight against politicization in academia also made a tremendous stride when Education Minister Naftali Bennett announced his plans to implement a code conduct in academic institutions in response to continued complaints over academic politicization. 

This reached its peak after Im Tirtzu helped a dozen of bereaved families write a letter to Naftali Bennett after the movement exposed how a Hebrew U program offered scholarships and academic credits in exchange for interning in anti-Israel organizations like B’Tselem. You can read more here: Jerusalem Post

Prime Minister Netanyahu Embraces our Call for InvestigationIm Tirzu

Im Tirtzu has also continued reacting to real time events occurring in Israel. After turning to the Attorney General with a request to open a criminal investigation against MK Jamal Zahalka, who knowingly lives in an illegally-built home, Prime Minister Netanyahu embraced our call on his Facebook page and similarly called on the Israeli public “to join in this just demand.” You can read more here: Yeshiva World News

Tours to Hebron 

Our campus branches have also begun organizing regular tours to Hebron together with the Jewish Community of Hebron. These important tours aim to strengthen the historical and national connection to the city, and provide a response to radical organizations that use Hebron as a prominent means to slander and delegitimize Israel. You can read more here: Jewish Press


Jerusalem’s 50th Reunification Anniversary Photo Celebration at Knesset

On December 27, we will be holding the inaugural event at the Israeli Knesset for our international photo exhibition celebrating the 50th year of Jerusalem’s reunification. This is an exciting opportunity to show the world the beauty of Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty (invitation attached). The exhibition will feature the pictures of renowned Jerusalem photographer, Sharon Gabay.


Zionist Conference for Human Rights

On Sunday night, Im Tirtzu held its 4th annual Zionist Conference for Human Rights, with this year’s focus on the integration of minorities into Israeli society. The conference is an important event demonstrating the unbreakable connection between human rights and Zionism. It also provides an answer to the anti-Israel propaganda that hijacks the idea of human rights to slander Israel. You can read more here: Times of IsraelIsrael National News


Seminars for Zionist Thought

On campuses, IMTI’s Seminars for Zionist Thought are in full force. The first two lectures, featuring Nobel Prize Laureate Yisrael Aumann in Tel Aviv U and Dr. Guy Bechor in Ben-Gurion U, brought hundreds of students out (pictures attached). This week, journalist Ben-Dror Yemini is coming to Tel Aviv U and next week Hebrew U is holding its opening lecture featuring Channel 10 anchor and senior defense correspondent, journalist Ben-David.

We can confidently say that Im Tirtzu is finishing the year 2016 in the right way, and we will continue working hard on behalf of the State of Israel and the Jewish People in 2017.


Eytan Meir

Development & External Relations

Im Tirtzu - Building the Zionist Dream

Hillel’s Disgrace While Jewish students are terrorized on campus, Hillel takes on another mission. Daniel Greenfield

While Jewish students are terrorized on campus, Hillel CEO Eric Fingerhut took on another mission.

“The Hillel family will watch out for our Muslim brothers and sisters on campus,” the failed Democratic pol declared. And he added, “As we hope they will watch out for us.”

There is as much hope of campus hate groups like the Muslim Students’ Association, which has a long history of terrorizing Jews on campus, doing that as there was for Fingerhut in his 2004 Ohio Senate bid which he lost with one of the worst showings by a Democratic Senate candidate in the state. But after taking Ohio Democrats down with him, Fingerhut moved on to tanking Hillel.

In his address to the Hillel International General Assembly, Fingerhut seemed to think the big campus crisis was for Muslims, not Jews. “We will stand by our brothers of the Muslim faith,” he bloviated.

But Fingerhut was only trying to outdo the ADL’s Jonathan Greenblatt who had won approval from no less a Jewish civil rights figure than J.K. Rowling for declaring at what was supposed to be an event to tackle anti-Semitism, “The day they create a registry for Muslims is the day that I register as a Muslim.”

Fighting actual anti-Semitism isn’t cool. Just ask anyone trying to bring attention to Keith Ellison’s long history of anti-Semitism and association with anti-Semitic groups as he crawls on to head the DNC. Defending Muslims against an imaginary threat however is as hip and trendy as a Williamsburg bar.

There up on stage was Eboo Patel, as one of Hillel’s partners, who had bragged of encouraging Hillel to talk to the MSA. Patel had appeared at Islamic Society of North America events, which was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in funding Hamas, and celebrated the election of Ingrid Mattson to head the Islamist group by declaring, “I’m proud to have her elected as my president.” Mattson had denounced Israeli “brutality” and defended Sami Al-Arian, the head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It only got worse from there.

Hillel had silenced pro-Israel columnist Caroline Glick, yet it provided a platform for anti-Israel activist Jill Jacobs and widely promoted her anti-Israel pressure group, T’ruah, featuring it on its social media feed. Jacobs has campaigned against efforts to fight BDS and attacked Jewish charities helping Jews in ’67 Israel.

Jill Jacobs had even signed a letter calling for “constructive engagement” with a Hamas government even after Hamas had broadcastthe threat, “My message to the loathed Jews: There is no god but Allah, we will chase you everywhere. We are a nation that drinks blood. We know that there is no better blood than the blood of Jews.”

Despite that both the ADL and Hillel gave her a prominent forum. Hillel’s own guidelines are supposed to bar opponents of Israel. And yet they were as neglected at the GA as they are on many campuses.

Also given a forum was Stosh Cotler, a former sex club dancer turned anti-Israel activist who had called for prosecuting Israeli soldiers for war crimes before she paired up with Soros’ son on Bend the Arc PAC.

Hillel International chose to promote Cotler, like T’ruah, on its social media feed. If Hillel doesn’t live by its own guidelines at its General Assembly, why expect any more from it on college campuses?

But that fit with the theme of the event which, despite the motto, had nothing to do with Israel or the Jewish people, but centered on social justice. Fingerhut echoed the same tired Trump alarmism. Peering at his notes to make sure he didn’t leave any political victimhoods out, he warned that students on campus would have to deal with “Islamophobia”, “Homophobia”, “Mockery of the differently abled” and “oppression of non-white cultures and non-white peoples”.

Fingerhut conceded that Hillel had been meant to support Jewish students and combat anti-Semitism, but he insisted that, “Fortunately we have not needed to focus on safety for many years.”

This would come as news to the Jewish students who were being harassed and intimidated on campus. But the perpetrators are allies of the social justice movement at the core of Hillel’s General Assembly.

Fingerhut instead warned about some sort of phantom “nationalist” movement coming to campus. And he didn’t mean the Arab nationalists who led the way in harassing Jews on college campuses. Besides it wasn’t about them. “Our obligation… is to pursue justice for all people, not just the Jewish community on campus.”

“We must never stand by when we see injustice on campus,” Fingerhut insisted. Unless it is against Jews. Sometimes at the hands of Fingerhut’s own organization. “We could not name all faiths,” he quipped, but he then proceeded to offer a special shout-out to Muslims.

“We cannot fail to mention specifically our brothers and sisters from the Muslim community.”

Or the Illegal aliens and the rest of the left’s favorite victims. Unlike the Jewish students struggling with Muslim and left-wing anti-Semitism on campus, they are part of the left’s big victimhood tent.

Fingerhut talked about Jewish continuity, but the younger leadership of the anti-Israel movement is full of Hillel veterans. The Hillel International General Assembly just showcased the situation at many campus Hillels where anti-Israel groups such as Kesher Enoshi thrive. But Hillel’s problem is also structural. The focus on a hard left agenda of identity politics alienates most pro-Israel students and leaves behind those who struggle to reconcile their support for the left’s entire ideological baggage train while leaving the Israel car at the station.

Meanwhile they end up hearing from speakers who encourage them to turn on Israel.

The outcome can hardly be surprising.

The ADL and Hillel are uncomfortable discussing campus anti-Semitism when it comes from its Islamic allies. Instead they would rather climb into the left’s cozy coalition fighting for Muslims and the whole laundry list of social justice identities while pushing the plight of Jews to the back of the bus.

Hillel International’s General Assembly embodied the hollowness of the liberal Jewish establishment in its visible hunger to be part of the progressive consensus, its desperate need to be seen connecting with younger audiences and its incompetent efforts to tap into online technologies and trends.

That hollowness made it all too easy for the anti-Israel left to hijack so much of the establishment. Despite the semi-random interjections of Biblical verses, the liberal Jewish establishment doesn’t really believe in anything. Its leaders reflexively follow the ideological pied pipers of the left. They have no convictions or allegiances that won’t be discarded at a moment’s notice when the piper blows his tune.

And Hillel, like the ADL and many other establishment groups, is hoping that Trump’s victory will allow it to abandon Israel and head as hard to the left as it can without too many protests from its donors.

Hillel is a tragedy and a disgrace. But it’s the tragedy and disgrace of the American Jewish establishment which has nearly run out of time to make a final choice between Judaism, the Jewish people and the left.


Jewish students realize SJP is about HATE, ONLY HATE

“There is one metric by which #BDS is an unqualified success: inciting #anti-Semitic hatred”

Posted on December 10, 2016by ArchitectGuy

Jewish students must realize that SJP is about hate—only hate
by Rabbi Yaakov Menken
December 9, 2016

[Toronto] Ryerson student Tamar Lyons experienced firsthand the real agenda of SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine) as well as the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA). An Emerson fellow with the Israel advocacy group StandWithUsLyons found herself feeling threatened while she stood in line at the Student Union meeting, waiting to voice her support for Holocaust Education Week. In a conversation, with the Haym Salomon Center, Lyons explained, “The president of MSA and the vice president of SJP stood in front of me as I went to speak in support of a motion to have Holocaust Education Week. Knowing that I am a proud Jew and Zionist, they both glare at me and very aggressively tell me, ‘You need to sit down because there are too many of you,’ referring to Jews.” READ MORE

In the Safe Spaces on Campus, No Jews Allowed - The Tower

In the Safe Spaces on Campus, No Jews Allowed

College students have risen up to fight racism on campuses across the country. But it is often those very same students who subject Jewish students to anti-Semitism.

When Arielle Mokhtarzadeh and Ben Rosenberg arrived at University of California, Berkeley on November 6 to attend the annual Students of Color Conference, they had no way of knowing that they would be leaving as victims of anti-Semitism.

The University of California Student Association’s “oldest and largest conference,” the Students of Color Conference (SOCC) has maintained a reputation for 27 years as being a “safe space” where students of color, as well as white progressive allies, can address and discuss issues of structural and cultural inequality on college campuses. Students who attend are encouraged to be cognizant of their language while exploring topics that directly affect students from marginalized communities: the school-to-prison pipeline, sexual violence, decreased funding to ethnic and LGBT studies departments, racially insensitive speech, and perhaps most importantly, a “disquieting trend” of hate crimes on university campuses statewide.

It was this disquieting, yet growing, trend of hate speech and crimes directed towards Jewish students within the UC system that spurred Mokhtarzadeh and Rosenberg, both Jewish sophomores at UCLA, to attend the conference. Their freshman year was punctuated by incidents of anti-Semitism that were both personal and met with national controversy. They were shocked during their first quarter in school, when students entered the Bruin Cafe to see the phrase “Hitler did nothing wrong” etched into a table. Months later, Mokhtarzadeh’s friend, Rachel Beyda, was temporarily denied a student government leadership position based solely on her Jewish identity, an event that made news nationwide. Throughout the year, they saw the school’s pro-Palestinian group, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), issue criticism of Israel that overstepped into anti-Semitic rhetoric and hate. The campus was supposed to be their new home, their new safe space—so why didn’t they feel that way?

At the conference, progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—were propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.

Mokhtarzadeh applied to the Students of Color Conference with the hope “of learning more about the experiences of communities of color at the UC… [and] sharing with those communities the experience of my own,” she told me. As an Iranian Jew, she believed her identity as both a religious and ethnic minority granted her a place to belong and thrive at the SOCC. Rosenberg (who requested a pseudonym so that he could speak freely about campus issues without fear of potential retaliation) said that growing up in the Bay Area had taught him to be an active member of social justice movements and progressive communities. “I was always encouraged to take initiative on issues and movements that didn’t directly affect me,” he said. “I wanted to learn more about the struggles that my fellow students were going through.”

But their experiences as Jewish students at the SOCC would soon inspire a rude awakening: the campus progressives who were fighting for justice on college campuses for students of color weren’t only ignoring anti-Semitism and attacks on Jewish identity—they were sometimes the ones perpetuating it.

This was quickly made clear on the first day at a session called “Existence is Resistance,” hosted by leaders of UC San Diego’s SJP chapter. Students discussed the boycott of Israel as an issue of urgency for students of color. Rosenberg and Mokhtarzadeh told me that they originally had no intention to engage in dialogue about Israel at the conference, but they were horrified at how attacks on Israel soon devolved into attacks on the Jews. “The session went way beyond the boundaries of what was appropriate or truthful at the SOCC,” Rosenberg recalled.

For example, they said that Israel was poisoning the water that they sell into the West Bank, and raising the price by ten times. Any sane person knows that this is not true. They also said that when Jewish-American students go on Birthright trips, the Israeli government offers you money to live on a settlement. A number of things like that.

Rosenberg also stated that “there was also no mention of the Holocaust when talking about the history of Israel. They said that in the late 19th century, Jews decided to move into this land and take over it. They completely whitewashed our history as a people.”
Mokhtarzadeh was also horrified by the rhetoric used during the session.

Over the course of what was probably no longer than an hour, my history was denied, the murder of my people was justified, and a movement whose sole purpose is the destruction of the Jewish homeland was glorified. Statements were made justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians, blatantly denying Jewish indigeneity in the land, and denying the Holocaust in which six million Jews were murdered. Why anyone in their right mind would accept these slanders as truths baffles me. But they did. These statements, and others, were met with endless snaps and cheers. I was taken aback.

At a conference facilitated by peers who they believed were fighting the righteous battle against racist speech and hate crimes, Mokhtarzadeh and Rosenberg heard anti-Semitic statements that were met with applause and approval—statements like “the state of Israel pays Jews to move to Israel to join the army and kill Palestinians,” and even “you shouldn’t buy Ben and Jerry’s because they’re Jewish and have a shop in Israel.” But perhaps the most painful, and upsetting portion of SJP’s presentation was the section called “Intifada: Peaceful Uprising.”

Mokhtarzadeh, a proud Zionist, raised her hand to protest, but it was too late. The whole room—representing a diverse cross-section of progressive activists and students of color—was holding hands, embraced in each other’s support and calling out “Free, free Palestine!”
They walked out, Mokhtarzadeh on the verge of tears. Rosenberg tried to reflect on what he had heard and experienced. “It wasn’t even just about that session,” he confessed.

It was a prevailing sentiment that I felt at the conference and in the progressive community, that because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. When I heard that among my peers that “the Jews are oppressors and murderers—How can you care about students of color on campus when they’re murdering our people abroad?”—it quickly dawned on me that it wasn’t that they don’t like us because we’re pro-Israel—they don’t like us because we’re Jews. We were targeted. It’s such a shame that the SOCC solidified and supported this belief of mine.

It was, ironically, in a safe space intended to protect students from discrimination and bigotry in which their Jewish identity was marginalized, ostracized, and politicized. And it was the progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—who were the propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.
Mokhtarzadeh still painfully remembers that weekend. “I was made to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in a space that was meant to be inclusive and safe,” she said. “It was in that moment, during that conference, that I realized that every identity and every intersection of identity was to be welcomed and championed in progressive spaces—except mine.”

Excluding Jews from the progressive movement for racial justice is not isolated to the Students of Color Conference. The recent surge of progressive activism on college campuses across the country has led to many debates on the merits of concepts like “microaggressions” and “safe spaces” in educational settings that should respect free speech and dialogue. Student uprisings against racial injustice and discrimination at Yale, the University of Missouri, and dozens of other universities have shown the power of students who have banded together against institutionalized racism in academia and the student body. But little has been said about how the idea of “intersectionality”—the idea that all struggles are connected and must be combatted by allies—has created a dubious bond between the progressive movement and pro-Palestinian activists who often engage in the same racist and discriminatory discourse they claim to fight. As a result of this alliance, progressive Jewish students are often subjected to a double-standard not applied to their peers—an Israel litmus test to prove their loyalties to social justice.

This is something Rosenberg knows all too well as a progressive at UCLA. “It’s becoming increasingly aware to me that, regardless of my views on Israel, people are viewing being a Jew and being a social justice activist as being mutually exclusive,” he said. “The conversation surrounding Israel on campus has turned into a conversation about Jews. Even if Jewish students care about social justice issues, they can’t participate.”

Progressive Jews continue to support anti-racism groups like Black Lives Matter, but when they are the ones subjected to racist rhetoric, Jewish students are often left to fend for themselves.
In an interview with The Jewish Week, Aryeh Weinberg, director of research at Be’Chol Lashon, a nonprofit that advocates for racial diversity in the Jewish community, shared research showing that progressive Jewish students feel like they have to hide their Jewish identity in order to belong in these movements. Such was the case of Michael Stephenson, a Jewish sophomore at the University of Missouri who participated in the racial justice protests last fall, and yet felt his Jewish identity undercut his “social justice” credibility. He told The Jewish Week that there were countless moments when his social justice cred was questioned, including statements that “bordered on anti-Semitism.” A rabbi who attended a Black Lives Matter meeting was deemed a “true terrorist” for donating funds to Israel; some activists tried to justify the recent wave of Palestinian stabbings of Jews in Israel. Stephenson is still a staunch supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement, but, he said, “it’s started to feel like Jewish lives don’t matter.”

While the effectiveness of campus protests is worthy of debate, it should remain undeniable—and undeniably troubling—that the progressive college movement, and specifically pro-Palestinian groups within it, have pushed anti-Semitic rhetoric in the name of progressive values. For example, the SJP chapter at Northeastern University likes to fashion itself a progressive organization, but in 2012 the school’s SJP advisor was recorded telling members to be proud to be called an anti-Semite—to wear it as a “sign of distinction. This proves that I’m working for the right side, the just cause.”

The ramifications of ignoring the normalization of anti-Semitism cannot be understated: The most recent FBI hate crime report found that 58.2 percent of hate crimes motivated by religious bias were targeted at Jews. Jews make up 2.2 percent of the American population, so the FBI’s statistics make it clear that Jews are the most disproportionately attacked religious group in America. It should be troubling to everyone that an SJP member at Temple University physically assaulted a pro-Israel Jewish student two years ago, calling him “kike” and “Zionist baby killer.” But it should be far more troubling that the SJP chapter at Temple (like all SJP chapters) promotes itself as a progressive organization, claiming solidarity with movements such as Black Lives Matter.

Brennan Thorpe, a pro-Israel student at Portland State University, told me how the pro-Palestinian movement has used “intersectionality” to co-opt the struggles of marginalized communities and promote themselves as a progressive movement.

The [university] administration is very progressive and liberal, and understands anti-Semitism, but most of the hate comes from the student body, especially the pro-Palestinian people. They tie the Palestinian cause to environmental issues, Black Lives Matter, feminism, LGBTQ rights, and pretty much all progressive causes. And, while they pursue these progressive causes, they also say that Israel doesn’t have a right to exist and Jews don’t deserve a state, even though they admitted they had no problem with any of the other modern nation states that have a particular ethnic identity. It’s frustrating because it’s a cultural trend in the student body that I feel like we can’t stop.

To understand the festering anti-Semitism within the progressive movement, it’s important to dissect how SJP and similar groups have co-opted and mobilized campus progressives to further a cause that is anything but progressive.

It may not surprise you that Students for Justice in Palestine was founded at UC Berkeley, the self-proclaimed apex of progressive activism. But anti-Israel co-option of progressive causes dates as far back as 1959, when the General Union of Palestinian Students was founded in Egypt. Supportive of anti-Israel terrorist groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the GUPS saw a need to create a unified plan and message for student activists. It released a statement calling for students to channel their activism into supporting the “Armed Struggle” and fighting Israel from abroad. It is in this statement that the first mention of alliance with progressives is mentioned, as Ido Zelkovitz recounted in Students and Resistance in Palestine: Books, Guns and Politics.

GUPS members located outside of the Arab countries would be called upon to join forces with other local progressives sympathetic to the Palestinian revolution. Members in the Palestinian diaspora would be encouraged to cooperate with the progressive political forces in their host countries to counter official Zionist activities, lectures and movie screenings.

When the GUPS established a chapter at San Francisco State University in 1973, it organized accordingly, focusing its mission on “social justice” while simultaneously supporting Palestinian liberation through armed struggle. The GUPS at SFSU strategically gained support from progressive activists during an era when San Francisco was embracing and propelling radical identity politics and progressive activism. For the GUPS, San Francisco would serve as a launching point for spreading support for the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel cause in the American progressive community.

This coincided with the growing sympathy that the American New Left—an anti-war, anti-establishment political movement which gained steam in the 1960s and ‘70s—had for the Palestinian cause. Until the late ‘60s, the American New Left had very little concern for Middle Eastern affairs. While people like Noam Chomsky and organizations such as the Young Socialist Alliance were critical of Israeli policy, they failed to reach and resonate with the larger movement.

The Six-Day War in 1967 was a critical turning point in how the American New Left viewed Israel—and in turn, Jews. This change was largely spurred by the Left-aligned radical Black Power movement, which gradually grew to view Arabs in the region as an oppressed Third World people—and therefore Jews as oppressive, white “imperialists.” They subsequently came to express sentiments about Jews that were blatantly anti-Semitic. After the war, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a black civil rights organization, published a cartoon in its newsletter depicting a hand with a Star of David marked with a dollar sign, holding a noose hung on the neck of black activist and boxing champion Muhammad Ali. SNCC had been a widely influential student group during the Civil Rights movement, inspiring the New Left with its grassroots approach to community outreach. But growing identification with the Arab world had turned SNCC into a hostile and even anti-Semitic place for progressive Jews. Dotty Miller, a Jewish graduate student who worked in the SNCC offices in Atlanta, recounted details of an anti-Semitic incident that could easily have happened today.

[Someone] came into the SNCC office and began denouncing the presence of Jews in the civil rights movement. “The only wrong thing that Hitler did was that he didn’t burn up all the Jews,” [he] said.

During the ‘70s, the aggressive anti-Semitism prevalent in SNCC, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panthers affected the closely-aligned New Left movement, and subsequently alienated progressive Jewish supporters. Progressives within the New Left movement started perceiving Jews as “white”—a category of “other” that excluded Jews from a movement that was increasingly focused on identity politics. This perception materialized during a controversy at the University of Washington in 1990, when Jewish groups fought for classes focused on anti-Semitism and Jewish identity to be included in the ethnic studies graduation requirement—a requirement that was “deemed necessary in order to combat racism and to sensitize students to the problems of discrimination and oppression.” Minority faculty and student groups vehemently opposed the inclusion of these courses, on the basis that “Jews were not a people of color” and therefore could not understand institutionalized oppression. One ethnic studies professor was recorded during the debate saying that he could not “accept the inclusion of Jews and anti-Semitism in the proposed ethnic studies curriculum unless other Semitic people, especially Palestinian Arabs, were also included.” Another ethnic studies professor argued that Jews could not necessarily be victims of anti-Semitic hate because they weren’t of Semitic descent. She argued that “anti-Semitism was historically not as much as a problem as white racism.”

While the GUPS and the New Left movement predate the founding of SJP and other current progressive groups, the history of discomfort towards Jews and Israel within both the pro-Palestinian movement and the progressive movement are important contexts to consider—especially given the fact that Hatem Bazian, the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, served as the president of the GUPS at San Francisco State University, the chairman of the National People of Color Student Coalition, and an executive board member of the United States Students Association (USSA). During his time as an influential figure at SFSU in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Bazian fashioned himself a progressive advocate for affirmative action, authoring a resolution, adopted by the USSA, calling for cuts to American aid to Israel.

But, as Bazian’s influence and support for anti-Israel causes grew, so did reports of anti-Semitic incidents. During the early ‘90s, Jewish students reported that Bazian’s advocacy was cultivating a climate of anti-Semitism. Bazian notoriously blocked the appointment of a pro-Israel Jewish student to SFSU’s Student Judicial Council because the student’s support for Israel defined him as an unequivocal “racist.” When Jewish students spoke out about Bazian’s anti-Semitic actions, he attacked the offices of the student newspaper for being a “haven for Jewish spies.” In 1999, the Detroit News reported that Bazian endorsed a passage of the Qur’an that advocated violence against Jews: “The Day of Judgment will not happen until the trees and stones will say, ‘Oh Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’” (Bazian later denied having done so.) And after 79 SJP members were arrested in 2002 for illegally occupying UC Berkeley’s Wheeler building (a protest that coincided with the Holocaust Day of Remembrance), Bazian organized a counter-demonstration to protest the arrests. Playing on old anti-Semitic tropes of Jewish power and money, Bazian allegedly pointed towards donor names engraved on school buildings and said, “Take a look at the type of names on the buildings around campus—Haas, Zellerbach—and decide who controls this university.”

The history of SJP and its founder’s anti-Semitism will likely fall on deaf ears to progressive supporters of the anti-Israel cause. And while SJP likes to fashion itself as an intersectional, progressive group with the noble cause of combatting racial injustice and structural oppression, the group (much like its leader and the causes that started it) is often guilty of perpetuating anti-Semitic speech and actions on college campuses.

Today, discussions of racial “microaggressions” have been especially prevalent on American college campuses—and have been weaponized by SJP to both perpetuate anti-Semitism and ostracize Jewish students from discussions of Israel. Microaggressions, as defined by a guide circulated by University of California president Janet Napolitano, are “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.” The guide notes that context is key in understanding if a microaggressive statement was intended to negatively malign a student. For example, telling an Asian-American student that they “speak English very well” can be construed as a racial microaggression because it implies that Americans who “look different or are named differently from the dominant culture are assumed to be foreign-born.”

The recent surge in progressive activism on college campuses has seen students actively combatting racial microaggressions in the classroom and the student body. The passion that rose from the University of Missouri protests ignited similar racial justice protests across the country, and SJP chapters have been at the forefront of opposing microaggressions against racial minorities. In response to events in Missouri, a coalition of 15 SJP chapters signed a statement that harshly condemned anti-black microaggressions; 26 SJP chapters in the Midwest signed a statement against anti-black microaggressions and institutionalized racism within higher education.

These signatures and statements may seem sincere when viewed at face value, but when I asked Hannah Smith, an African-American Jewish student at Clark University, about her experiences with racial microaggressions, she challenged the notion that SJP members truly cared about or understood the issue. She said that their alliances with the Black Student Union have led to both anti-Semitic and anti-black microaggressions against her. “Usually, they [SJP] assume that since I’m black, that I can’t be Jewish,” she said. “They usually ask me if I’m adopted, and if they know that Jews can be colors other than white, they ask me if I’m Ethiopian.”

But what troubled Smith more was the effect that SJP has had on her black peers at Clark, and how it has prompted them to propagate anti-Semitic microaggressions towards her.

Many black students have told me that they see me as less black, not because my mom is white, but because she and I are Jewish. I do not think that my peers think that anti-Semitism exists at a PWI [predominantly white institution] that is 33 percent Jewish, but it’s actually really bad. Most people think that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist and is only a religion issue, not anything having to do with appearance. But, I can attest personally that this isn’t true.

SJP and affiliated individuals, while claiming to fight microaggressions on behalf of people of all backgrounds, have often been responsible for perpetuating anti-Semitic microaggressions against Jewish students. Dr. Lewis Z. Schlosser, then of Seton Hall University, gave a presentation at NYU’s Berman Jewish Policy Archive in 2008 about microaggressions faced by American Jews. He proposed that in a Jewish context, microaggressions can take the form of:

  • Assumptions of Jewish wealth, power, control or intelligence;
  • Exclusion or failing to acknowledge people’s marginalized identities;
  • Jews being depicted as traitors because of assumed allegiance to Israel;
  • Invisibility of Jewish identity (“You don’t look Jewish, Jews are not a minority because they are not a POC, Jews have white privilege and do not suffer from institutionalized discrimination or oppression”);
  • Jews not being seen as an ethnic minority group;
  • Denial of anti-Semitism or Jewish persecution;
  • Denial of the Holocaust;
  • Statements such as “I’m not anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends”;
  • Holocaust/Hitler analogies.

One need not look far to realize that anti-Israel activists on college campuses are frequently responsible for propagating anti-Semitic microaggressions against Jews when discussing boycotting or divesting from Israel. A recent example occurred at UC Santa Cruz, when Jewish student Daniel Bernstein, an elected representative on his college council, received a message from the SJP-aligned chair of the student council instructing him to abstain from a vote on divestment from Israel because he was elected with a “Jewish agenda.” I asked Bernstein about his initial reaction to the request:

I was literally in awe. Just the phrase “Jewish agenda” is so volatile and anti-Semitic. To think that my own council members think that I am unable to uphold their beliefs and ideals in the greater student assembly because I am Jewish is beyond anything I ever thought would be told to me.

In an impassioned Facebook post, Bernstein expressed his outrage at this display of blatant anti-Semitism and drew parallels with a similar case at UCLA, where Rachel Beyda was rejected from serving a position from the Student Council’s judicial board after being asked, “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” (The council’s ruling was later overturned).
In Beyda’s case, her Jewish identity acted as a “conflict of interest,” which would, apparently, bias her decisions in discussions of Israel. These assumptions of Jewish loyalty to Israel are notorious anti-Semitic microaggressions, and it comes as no surprise that the four Undergraduate Student Association Council representatives who questioned Beyda’s eligibility were all supporters of SJP and were instrumental in endorsing and passing an anti-Israel divestment resolution at UCLA.

This does not even begin to scrape the tip of the iceberg of SJP’s anti-Semitic statements, which it seems to spread with little consequence. Jews have been called “baby killers” and told to “wipe the blood off their boots.” Northeastern’s SJP chapter was so persistent in their anti-Semitic harassment—from defacing the statue of a Jewish donor to disrupting Holocaust awareness events—that the university was forced to temporarily suspend the organization in 2014. The SJP chapter at Vassar College even tweeted Nazi propaganda from 1944.

When these events happen, there are no outcries from the progressive community about the prevalence of microaggressions. Tyler Fredricks, a student at Duke, has noticed the variation in responses from the SJP-aligned progressive crowd when instances of anti-Semitism occur.

When someone wrote “No n*****s, whites only” on a Black Lives Matter flyer, the Duke community held a march where over a hundred students marched and rallied in support. They did the same thing when someone wrote a homophobic slur in the dorms. When someone wrote anti-Semitic comments on a Duke Friends of Israel flyer, there was no march, rally, or campus outrage.

Perhaps more interesting than the lack of response from progressive allies of anti-Israel activists are the responses from SJP itself when these acts occur. Often, when SJP is documented to be responsible for anti-Semitic speech or actions, their responses can sound a lot like what happened after the assault of the Jewish pro-Israel student at Temple, when SJP released a statement on Facebook denying allegations of anti-Semitism.

SJP Temple in particular has Jewish members and allies it cherishes and cannot risk alienating because of their sincere and invaluable support for Palestine. SJP has collaborated with Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) on numerous instances in organizing protests for Gaza among other events.

The president of SJP Temple went on to explain to the student newspaper that the group couldn’t be anti-Semitic because they had Jewish members. Using token Jewish members as a defense against allegations of anti-Semitism is not unique to Temple University. In fact, statements from SJP chapters at UC Berkeley, Pitzer College, and Tufts University (among many others) have used Jewish members, and alliances with fringe anti-Israel Jewish organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, to give the impression that they cannot be anti-Semitic because they have Jewish allies. Ironically enough, this defense is itself an anti-Semitic microaggression as defined by Schlosser’s presentation. Statements such as “I’m not anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends” are just as much microaggressions against Jews as statements such as “I’m not racist, I have black friends” are to African-Americans. Even in their apologies, SJP manages to propagate microaggressions in the name of progressive values.

While campus progressives righteously fight all forms of bigotry that exist on college campuses, their “intersectional” alliances with pro-Palestinian movements have mobilized them to regurgitate anti-Semitic rhetoric. If incidents of anti-Semitism at LGBTQ conventions and Black Lives Matters meetings should tell us anything, it’s that SJP’s blind spot for anti-Semitism has nested itself well within the progressive community. This has made Jews of all ages question their place within higher education. “Jewish students and their parents are intensely apprehensive and insecure about this movement,” Mark Yudof, the former president of the University of California system, told The New York Times. “I hear it all the time: Where can I send my kids that will be safe for them as Jews?” Two more questions come to mind: If the progressives who have fought against racial injustice and bigotry for so long eventually become the ones who perpetuate it, who will remain to call them out? At this rate, if anti-Semitism is normalized through the efforts of the rising progressive movements on college campuses, what will the future look like for Jewish college students?

Despite her experiences at the Students of Color Conference, Arielle Mokhtarzadeh—a proud Iranian, American and Jewish Zionist—sees a bright future for Jewish students in higher education, and even within the progressive community. But, she believes, it’s a future that needs to be fought for.

We are made to feel that their Jewish identities somehow disqualify them from inclusion in progressive spaces—despite the fact that for many of us, it is our Jewish values that drive us to join these spaces, in spite of the negative experiences we have in them. We have become numb to the hateful rhetoric, we’ve built up a tolerance for the defamations of our character, we’ve given into our mother’s pleas to take off our Jewish stars, we’ve stomached the assumptions, and we’ve endured in silence. We are here to break the silence. We are here to put in the same painstaking, GPA-dropping, exhausting work of the students before us, for the sake of the students who will come after us.

Bernstein, the student government representative at UC Santa Cruz accused of a “Jewish agenda,” was just as resolute.

I will not give up until the world knows that anti-Semitism is still very much a problem that each and everyone one of us are faced with every single day. As horrible as the situation, I am glad that this is finally coming to light and perhaps we will finally be heard and change will come.

When faced with racist events and structures, activists feel compelled to work to change the status quo. One method that students are increasingly taking to speak out about on-campus anti-Semitism—particularly coming from anti-Israel groups and aligned progressive activists—is drafting student government resolutions condemning anti-Semitism. In 2015, six schools passed such statements, which include the State Department’s definition that the demonization, delegitimization, and holding of double standards towards Israel was also anti-Semitic. As the statement passed at the University of Nevada, Reno noted in its preamble: “Whereas, anti-Semitism is a growing trend on college campuses; Whereas, anti-Semitic actions are correlated with movements to boycott, divest, and sanction against Israel.”

Progressive outreach is also imperative. The issue is systemic, and so the solution must also be systemic. This means making the progressive community understand the ramifications of anti-Semitic speech. Engaging this audience—through trips to Israel, visits to Holocaust museums, and even simply interacting with Jewish students—can help change the narrative. To be a social justice activist is to speak up against injustice despite popular opinion, and to be silent is to be complicit in acts of hate. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.”

Mokhtarzadeh will not remain silent. She said she wanted to share her story so that students, Jewish or Gentile, will realize the magnitude of the issue and speak out against anti-Semitism just like they would against any other form of hatred or bigotry.
“I share my story,” she told me, “not for the sake of gaining your sympathy, I don’t need it—but for the sake of inspiring those who have also been subjected to anti-Semitism, and other forms of identity-based hatred, and empowering them to define their experiences instead of allowing their experiences to define them.

Look to the students when assessing campus climate by Hayley Nagelberg

Special to NJJN
November 30, 2016

In “The challenge of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment on campus,” Martin Raffel’s “Riff’s” column of Nov. 17, he addressed the problem of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on university campuses. In addition to quoting the research done by the Maurice and Marilyn Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University and giving his own opinions, Raffel also quoted three adult professionals in the Jewish world. He talked to one student, who suggested that the findings of the study might be inaccurate, yet he did not get any more perspective from the point of view of a student.

I grew up in the New Jersey Jewish community. I was a student in the Solomon Schechter system from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade; through Schechter, I visited Israel and got involved with the Israel Club and Israel Advocacy Club. I was an active member of my synagogue and a leader of Hagalil, New Jersey’s USY region, where I served as the regional vice president on Israel affairs. The opportunities for me to learn about Israel were all around me, and I made use of only a handful of them. 

Today, I am a sophomore at the University of Illinois, which a survey included in in Mr. Raffel’s article said was a location high on the list for anti-Semitism. On my campus, I am an active member of the pro-Israel community, serving not only as the Hillel Israel Affairs vice president, but also as copresident of IlliniPAC — an AIPAC trained group — and as the education vice-president of Illini Students Supporting Israel.

While I might be more involved than many students, I am by no means an exception on campuses across the country. And when I read this column, I was frustrated by the acceptance of the survey with no explanation of where the basis for such research comes from and without a more complete look at the situation. 

Surveys researching anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism on campuses today tend to focus on a few measures: Have there been public displays of classic anti-Semitism such as swastikas found on campus, and has the BDS movement — the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement — been active in any way? While these factors may be relevant, they do not in and of themselves reflect the totality of the sentiment toward Israel on campus. They do not capture the feeling among campus Israel activists, they negate the work being done by students on the ground, and they frame the situation from the points our detractors want to focus on instead of from our own work. And certainly, articles pigeonholing students as uneducated and uniformed on the conflict do not help the situation.

In the year and a half that I have been on campus, fellow activists and I have organized and participated in dozens of pro-Israel social and educational programs, rallies, and other public displays; in-person discussion groups; and social media conversations about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We have lobbied our local congressmen and attended conferences and seminars on Israel advocacy all over the country and in Israel. In an effort to focus on positivity and coexistence on campus, last spring, when tensions were high, we helped launch an initiative to build bridges to peace on our university campus. This initiative was very successful, and our work was commended on the floor of the U.S. Congress, as well as in the local print and television media. We have been recognized for our work from multiple national organizations and have been nominated, along with many other amazing student groups, for an award from the World Union of Jewish Students.

I have learned so much from the students who have held leadership roles in Israel advocacy before me and from the staff and faculty who guide us through our work. Alongside my friends, I have helped teach a student-led and student-driven eight-week course on Israel. Together, we have helped bring student voices from the political Left and the political Right together on the topic of Israel. We have written articles for the student paper, local paper, and multiple on-line platforms discussing the conflict. We have become a resource for others when they have questions about Israel, instead of their turning to biased media sources or simply avoiding the subject. 

As students, we can accomplish a lot on our own, but we do need help from adult communities. Encourage early learning about and love for Israel at home. Be involved and informed about the realities on the ground on campuses and talk to students to see how you can help. Support those of us who are making a difference on campuses and try and prepare more students to fill our shoes when we move on. Rather than generalize about the climate on campus, listen to the voices of those on each campus, take pride in our accomplishments, and join us in our efforts.

Hayley Nagelberg of East Brunswick is a sophomore at the University of Illinois.

Colleges aren’t just politically correct — they’re anti-Semitic By Andrea Peyser

December 5, 2016 | 1:50am 

It was billed as a rally for students to demand free tuition from public institutions of higher education and lodge a cornucopia of grievances.

Instead, some giddy demonstrators devolved into a pack of rabid haters.

“Death to Jews! Death to Jews!” members of the crowd shrieked.

This didn’t happen in Germany in the 1930s, nor was it a modern-day ISIS extravaganza. The hatefest occurred last year at the Million Student March at Manhattan’s Hunter College, part of the City University of New York.

It was supposed to be an exercise in economic rage against the machine, taking place on campuses throughout the United States. But the Hunter event resembled a pogrom, with scared Jews slandered, scapegoated and made to fear for their physical safety.

Welcome to today’s colleges and universities, many of them venues in which Jew-bashing is not just tolerated, it’s tacitly encouraged by the frequent inaction and support of woefully politically correct administrators and radical leftist professors.

“This has metastasized into a cancer,” Charles Jacobs, special consultant on the fascinating new documentary film “Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance,” tells me. The title evokes the “safe spaces” — rooms stocked with such stuff as crayons and videos of frolicking puppies — set up on campuses to shield students from “microaggressions,” or ideas considering too “triggering” for delicate flowers to contemplate.

Hatemongers hijack a New York student protest

But with all the nonsensical coddling of infantilized kiddies, few places of learning are free from threats, harassment and verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Jews. As my own Jewish daughter prepares to go to college next year, this frightens me to the core.

Fighting the power is proving elusive.

Hunter’s president and student leaders released a statement a day after the rally declaring they “strongly condemn anti-Semitic comments.” Oh, that’ll stop them.

But in a CUNY-commissioned report released in September, lawyers Barbara Jones and Paul Shechtman of Bracewell LLP essentially concluded that they were shocked — shocked! — to find that anti-Semitic words and deeds have befouled four of the system’s campuses. Then the kicker: “Much of what we have reported is protected speech.”

Imagine the public outcry if a report about attacks waged against Muslims, blacks, Latinos, women, gays, lesbians, transgenders or members of any other protected group were deemed “protected speech.”

The concerted assault on Jews and the American value of inclusion masquerades as anti-Israel activity. But the two faces of hate are one and the same.

Anti-Semitic incidents at CUNY considered 'protected' speech

According to the documentary, put out by the Americans for Peace and Tolerance organization, of which Jacobs is president, anti-Jewish unrest at Hunter and elsewhere is ginned up by well-funded organizations with missions to destroy Israel, particularly Students for Justice in Palestine.

The groups promote the sickening international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement — BDS. The aim is to stamp out trade with, and investments in, Israeli companies and to end cultural and academic exchanges with the Jewish state, the only country in the Middle East in which women enjoy equal rights and homosexuals don’t fear being thrown off tall buildings.

Two more examples:

A screening of a pro-Israel documentary this year at the University of California, Irvine, drew protesters who blocked the exit paths, chanted, “Long live the intifada,” and prompted attendees to fear for their safety and call campus police.

Mock “eviction notices” were slipped under dormitory room doors of more than 2,000 students believed to be Jewish at New York University in 2014 by members of a pro-Palestinian group, ordering them to leave.

The cruel prank has spread to at least a dozen other campuses.

“Hate Spaces” is executive-produced, directed and written by Ralph Avi Goldwasser, who 12 years ago helped create the doc “Columbia Unbecoming,” in which 14 students and graduates of Columbia University describe being intimidated by professors for expressing pro-Israel views.

“Since then, it’s only gotten worse,” Goldwasser tells me.

A 2013 workshop held at Yale University promoted “sensitivity,” even toward participants who’d indulged in or fantasized about such fetishes as bestiality. Yet what protections are afforded to those of the Jewish faith?


Near the doc’s end, Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, says, “We have to do more, we have to fight harder . . . because the facts are on our side, morality is on our side, history is on our side.”

I can only hope truth prevails.

Who is funding BDS on campus?

**  How Rockefeller Brothers Fund and New Israel Funds Use Grant Money to Cover Up Their Role in Fomenting Campus Anti-Semitism  -  RBF provides hundreds of thousands of dollars to a number of organizations that delegitimize the Jewish state and promote the BDS movement, both on and off campus.  These BDS-promoting grantees of the RBF active on American universities include Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)Palestine Legal, and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  -  Many RBF grantees are deeply involved in myriad anti-Israel activities, either by directly coordinating and participating in them, or by providing training and legal aid to activists.  The RBF has made the waging of economic, political and cultural warfare on Israel a central theme of its grant-making.

From 11/27 QR-  'Hate Spaces' Gives Horrifying Glimpse Into Anti-Israel, Anti-Semitic Activity on US Campuses  -  Student activism has always centered on freedom, anti-authoritarianism, opposition to oppression of minorities, and support for civil rights, especially free speech.  -  What is happening on campuses is that these principles are being twisted so that the outcome, rather than a reduction in oppression and increased human rights, is the intimidation, marginalization, silencing, and persecution of Jewish and (especially) pro-Israel students.

'Anti-Colonial Thanksgiving' (What ???) Held at Smith College to Protest 'Physical, Psychological Violence of Imperialism' in Israel, America


Nov 18, 2016 Posted By Elysia Martin In AllAnti-SemitismArticlesBDSIsrael

There is a war raging across the United States and the world–a war that is being fought through infiltration and propaganda, trying to reach the hearts and minds of young people who think they are advocating for justice and peace. This is the work of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (bds) movement, which masks its true motives behind the slogan, “Freedom, Justice, Equality,” yet demonizes the State of Israel and systematically compares it to apartheid South Africa.

The BDS movement contradicts itself in theory and in practice. Its website reads: “bds is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia.”  BDS claims to promote human rights and that it is opposed to anti-Semitism, yet its supporters are very public about the fact that the movement is about something else entirely. As’ad Abukhalil, a professor at California State University, Stanislaus, said, “the real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”  BDS activistmichael warschawskisimilarly stated, “peace-or better yet, justice–cannot be achieved without a total decolonization (one can say de-Zionization) of the Israeli state.”  john spritzler, a pro-BDS author, said:  “BDS’s stated goals (ending the Occupation, equality for non-Jews and Jews, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees) logically imply the end of Israel as a jewish state…The ‘state of the Jews’ is actually an instrument by which a Jewish elite ruling class of billionaires and generals and politicians secures its oppressive grip on ordinary Jews in Israel…This is why there should not be a Jewish state.” These comments are very telling of the kind of anti-Semitism being promoted within the BDS movement–not religious anti-Semitism, but racial anti-Semitism– the same sentiments which paved the way for the murder of two-thirds of European Jewry.

Being critical of Israel’s policies is one thing, but that is not what BDS is doing. Rather, the BDS movement aims to single out and demonize the only Jewish State and democracy in the Middle East–which, simply put, is anti-Semitism. Furthermore, the BDS movement is promoting institutional oppression, which can be defined as the “systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group, supported and enforced by the society and its institutions, solely based on the person’s membership in the social identity group.” Thus, any boycott of the only Jewish State, as well as equating Israel with apartheid South Africa, is in fact systematic mistreatment of a social identity group–the Jewish people.

Moreover, it must be acknowledged that anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism, since Zionism is a movement advocating for the empowerment of the Jewish people through self-determination and autonomy, and the modern State of Israel is the product of such self-determination. Natan Sharansky, an Israeli politician and former Russian refusenik, notes that the “‘new anti-semitism’ is aimed at the Jewish state,” which can easily be hidden behind “legitimate criticism of Israel.”  Thus, the claim that “BDS is an inclusive, anti-racist human rights movement that is opposed on principle to all forms of discrimination, including anti-semitism and Islamophobia” is false.

Furthermore, the movement contradicts itself on all fronts.  One who is uninformed might assume from the BDS website that the movement is doing positive work by advocating for human rights on behalf of those oppressed; however, BDS is actually doing the opposite, while launching political and economic warfare against the Jewish State through its divestment tactics, boycotts, and demonization of Israel.  Indeed, BDS tactics also hurt Palestinian lives. While BDS activists boycott Jewish-owned businesses in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), they are also boycotting the livelihood of those Palestinians employed at these businesses. The most famous case is that of the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, which previously had a plant at the West Bank industrial zone of Mishor Adumim which employed 1,300 workers, including 350 Israeli Jews, 450 Israeli Arabs and 500 Palestinians from the West Bank.  Due to BDS pressure, in October, 2015, SodaStream was forced relocate the plant to Israel’s Negev Desert, forcing it to layoff the majority of its Palestinian workers.  Despite the obvious loss this caused to the Palestinian employees at SodaStream, BDS activists called the move a victory.  The company was forced to layoff the last 74 Palestinians working in the plant in February 2016 after a permitdispute with the Israeli government.

BDS’s argument that Israel should be blamed for the “oppression” of the Palestinians is a fallacy.   It is the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is oppressing its own people by doing virtually nothing to build the Palestinian infrastructure and economy, and creating a society where violence and terror is celebrated. In fact, the PA mostly uses foreign aid for weaponry, launching terror attacks against Israel, paying stipends to families of terrorists, and encouraging and perpetuating terrorism.  A recent poll found that nearly all Palestinians, 95.5%, believe the government of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is corrupt, according to the associated press, with many perceiving Abbas and his aids as “elitist.”

It should be noted that pro-Israel does not necessarily mean anti-Palestinian empowerment; rather, it means that one acknowledges Israel’s right to exist, to defend its borders, and to govern itself as an autonomous, democratic, modern state. As BDS continues to criticize Israel, and the UN singles out the only democracy in the Middle East for crimes against humanity, many are getting the wrong impression of Israel. This false narrative being perpetuated by a plethora of sources can only be combatted with the truth. It is essential that American policy-makers and citizens alike recognize what is at stake if businesses, schools, and organizations are successfully pressured to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel and Israeli-made products. What hangs in the balance is the existence of the only Jewish State in the world.

Originally published at FrontPage Mag:

Reinventing the Blood Libel for Contemporary Consumption

by Robbie Friedmann and Asaf Romirowsky

A mock Israeli checkpoint set up during “Israeli Apartheid Week” at the University of California, Los Angeles campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

Blood libels have typically focused on far-fetched accusations that the Jews are to blame for whatever ills inflicted a community. More specifically, the claim was that Jews needed the blood of Christian children to bake matzot for the festival of Passover.

Numerous cases of blood libels were recorded, and not all in Europe. As an extension of the phenomenon, false and incendiary charges against Jews were introduced by the Church with political motivations (i.e., the Protocols of the Elders of Zion) and by the Nazi Germany propaganda machine, which used the Big Lie technique to propagate charges against Jews that led to the murder of six million in the Holocaust.

What is common to all these blood libels (figurative or symbolic) is that they are based on falsehoods. The more far-fetched the falsehood, the more it was accepted by the mob that carried it out and the leadership that disseminated it. What links the Protocols and the Nazi ideology is the universal damage they inflicted.

NOVEMBER 20, 2016 8:40 AM

Making Jewish Education Better, Safer and More Affordable

We hear the same complaint every year: The cost of tuition for day schools is a burden that many Jewish families can’t...

In the 19th century, the blood libel was “imported” to the Middle East. Damascus in 1840 saw Christian antisemitism reinforced by local Muslim anti-Jewish sentiments. The Damascus Affair is important, because the falsehoods on which it was based were widely accepted on the European continent, which originated them in the first place. Since then, these lies have served as the basis for TV series in Egypt and Syria, usually broadcast during Ramadan, which promote the notion that Jews kill small children to extract their blood for Passover and help engender an age-old stereotypical view of the Jew as evil and conniving.

The establishment of the state of Israel was met with fierce resistance by the surrounding Arab countries, which, in 1948, tried to obliterate the nascent country. That attempt failed, as did ensuing wars, particularly in 1967 and 1973. In addition to doing military battle, the Arab countries — through the Arab League — declared an economic boycott (which was a continuation of the Arab boycott against the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine). The 1994 Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf ended its member nations’ participation in the boycott, and since then, the economic boycott no longer has a significant impact on Israel.

With the failure of military offensives and economic boycotts, a new form of a boycott re-emerged after the UN World Conference against Racism (Durban, South Africa, 2001). The UN conference was hijacked by pro-Palestinian activists who — on the platform of the fight against racism — propagated an effort to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

This campaign, like the Big Lie technique before it, was based on falsehoods, such as accusing Israel of being an “apartheid state” and a “colonialist entity” that “stole the land from the native inhabitants.” In a sense, the antisemitic charges were now channeled into anti-Zionist charges and the individually persecuted Jew morphed into the persecuted country of Israel. Thus far, the impact of the economic boycott and divestment is relatively small, yet the danger of the BDS movement lies in its spewing of vicious falsehoods about Israel in an attempt to erode the Jewish state’s moral foundation.

In today’s age of technology, we see more rapid use of social media and soft power by pro-Palestinian groups hijacking the narrative of peace, justice and human rights, while in reality they yearn for Israel’s destruction.

Moreover, we have now witnessed groups — predominately on the political Left — adopting the Palestinian cause as their own under the guise of “intersectionality,” a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in the 1980s to highlight the dual oppressions faced by black women (sexism and racism), and to bring attention to the feminist and anti-racism movements that failed to fully represent and advocate for them. Currently, it has become a slogan under which minority groups join to fight what critics see as unrelated battles, but what activists see as iterations of the same struggle for justice.

As it is clearly articulated by the Black-Palestinian solidarity statement:

Palestinian liberation represents an inherent threat to Israeli settler colonialism and apartheid, an apparatus built and sustained on ethnic cleansing, land theft, and the denial of Palestinian humanity and sovereignty. While we acknowledge that the apartheid configuration in Israel/Palestine is unique from the United States (and South Africa), we continue to see connections between the situation of Palestinians and Black people.

Israel’s widespread use of detention and imprisonment against Palestinians evokes the mass incarceration of Black people in the US, including the political imprisonment of our own revolutionaries. Soldiers, police, and courts justify lethal force against us and our children who pose no imminent threat. And while the US and Israel would continue to oppress us without collaborating with each other, we have witnessed police and soldiers from the two countries train side-by-side.

As for the “D” in divestment, the long-term effect is not measurable as of yet, but poses a risk of setting the exact state of mind that allowed the Damascus Affair to be accepted at face value in Europe. Indeed, when an interest group demands that the mayor of Atlanta “divest” the police budget, it is fairly clear which terminology inspired this rhetoric. And that “D” for divestment is then followed by the “B” in boycott, which calls for a stop to professional ties between US law enforcement agencies and the Israel Police.

BDS constitutes the modern version of the old blood libel. It is targeting Jews and Israel (even if some vocal Jews are helping this effort). It ignores any transgressions in the Arab and Muslim worlds and other locations where major atrocities take place, and it is focused on national character assassination that is aimed to set the ground for the annihilation of Israel. It is time that the marketplace of ideas forthrightly reject such discriminatory, racist and despicable ideas.

Finally, we can no longer ignore, wish away or hide from the problem. The onslaught is vigorous, well-funded and deadly serious. Therefore, joining forces against the BDS is important not only for Israel’s sake but for the sake of democracies anywhere in the world. Legislators, elected officials and civic associations have recently demonstrated the power of public resilience in the face of BDS activities, thus paving the way for an effective strategy. More should join in this effort.

Professor Robert Friedmann is the founding director of the Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange (GILEE) and Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at Georgia State University; Asaf Romirowsky is the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East and a fellow at the Middle East Forum. This article was originally published by Ynet.

A Harvard student's open letter to the delicate flowers of the Ivy League 

By  Jacob Russell

 Published November 17, 2016  

So your candidate lost. You have a right to be upset, frustrated and angry, but you also have an obligation to be respectful to others and to the will of the American people. Intellectual hypocrisy continues every day on campuses, where opinions that are not the norm are vilified or silenced.

Imagine if you treated people of different races as you treat people with different opinions. There would be a tremendous outcry! But somehow it is fine to discriminate against those with different views.

Did it ever occur to you that this may be why people voted for Trump? That it might not have been the racist proclivities of the U.S. or the dangerous nationalism of the people, but that it was people who tell them not to think or speak the way they do.

Trump won, and he did not overthrow the government or kill people to silence them. He won in the standard fashion  by getting 270 votes in the Electoral College. As I said, you have a right to be upset, but what we have on our hands now is an embarrassment.

And this does not lie only with the undergrads. Universities themselves are making all types of provisions to coddle those who have been traumatized by the will of the American people. At Harvard, the Introduction to Economics midterm was made optional; the reason provided was that the election results came in too late, but we all know it would have been mandatory if Clinton had won by 10 p.m., as expected.

If the faculty was worried about students not getting enough sleep the night before the exam, then the exam should have been scheduled for a different day. A note to all faculty: If you did not know, the election is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. It was going to go one way or the other, and the undergrads and faculty should have known that and been prepared for any result. The Economics Department’s decision to make the midterm optional has set a bad precedent. Does this mean that whenever someone is upset, he/she can opt out of taking an exam? If you had the hubris to make the midterm the day after the election, you should have stuck with your decision instead of capitulating to the hysteria of the Flowers.

Now protests are popping up at universities all over America. What are you protesting, … the democratic process? There are callls for changing the Electoral College to just a popular vote; but, of course, if Hillary had won the electoral vote and lost the popular vote, you would be reprimanding those who called it an injustice.

Protesting the orderly transfer of power under the Constitution is a head-scratcher. Maybe we can trace the root cause of this behavior to our generation receiving participation trophies while growing up. Many never learned how to be graceful in defeat, much less handle it.

The election is over. The people have made their decision. You can be angry, happy or indifferent, but above all you can be polite. have some etiquette. There is a difference between political correctness and politeness etiquette, and unfortunately one has taken over universities while the other has been lost.

It's time to put away your Play-Doh (yes, some universities are actually handing out Play-Doh to help students cope), move on and do what it takes to better our nation, because we are all on this ship together.

Jacob Russell is a sophomore at Harvard College studying history.

My Halloween email led to a campus firestorm — and a troubling lesson about self-censorship

By Erika Christakis October 28 at 12:35 PM

Erika Christakis is an early-childhood educator and the author of “The Importance of Being Little.” 

The right to speak freely may be enshrined in some of our nation’s great universities, but the culture of listening needs repair. That is the lesson I learned a year ago, when I sent an email urging Yale University students to think critically about an official set of guidelines on costumes to avoid at Halloween. 

I had hoped to generate a reflective conversation among students: What happens when one person’s offense is another person’s pride? Should a costume-wearer’s intent or context matter? Can we always tell the difference between a mocking costume and one that satirizes ignorance? In what circumstances should we allow — or punish — youthful transgression?

“I don’t wish to trivialize genuine concerns about cultural and personal representation,” I wrote, in part. “I know that many decent people have proposed guidelines on Halloween costumes from a spirit of avoiding hurt and offense. I laud those goals, in theory, as most of us do. But in practice, I wonder if we should reflect more transparently, as a community, on the consequences of an institutional (which is to say: bureaucratic and administrative) exercise of implied control over college students.”

Some called my email tone-deaf or even racist, but it came from a conviction that young people are more capable than we realize and that the growing tendency to cultivate vulnerability in students carries unacknowledged costs.

Many at Yale maintain that my email prompted widespread and civil conversation, and that the ensuing controversy was just a matter of competing expressions of free speech. I aired an unpopular opinion, which was answered by an equally legitimate response.

But these sanguine claims crumble on examination. The community’s response seemed, to many outside the Yale bubble, a baffling overreaction. Nearly a thousand students, faculty and deans called for my and my husband’s immediate removal from our jobs and campus home. Some demanded not only apologies for any unintended racial insensitivity (which we gladly offered) but also a complete disavowal of my ideas (which we did not) — as well as advance warning of my appearances in the dining hall so that students accusing me of fostering violence wouldn’t be disturbed by the sight of me.

Not everyone bought this narrative, but few spoke up. And who can blame them? Numerous professors, including those at Yale’s top-rated law school, contacted us personally to say that it was too risky to speak their minds. Others who generously supported us publicly were admonished by colleagues for vouching for our characters. Many students met with us confidentially to describe intimidation and accusations of being a “race traitor” when they deviated from the ascendant campus account that I had grievously injured the community. The Yale Daily News evidently felt obliged to play down key facts in its reporting, including about the two-hour-plus confrontation with a crowd of more than 100 students in which several made verbal and physical threats to my husband while four Yale deans and administrators looked on.

One professor I admire claimed my lone email was so threatening that it unraveled decades of her work supporting students of color. One email. In this unhealthy climate, of which I’ve detailed only a fraction of the episodes, it’s unsurprising that our own attempts at emotional repair fell flat.

Yale students confront administrator over Halloween e-mail response:

Play Video1:21--

But none of these examples captures the more worrying trend of self-censorship on campuses. For seven years I lived and worked on two college campuses, and a growing number of students report avoiding controversial topics — such as the limits of religious tolerance or transgender rights — for fear of uttering “unacceptable” language or otherwise stepping out of line. As a student observed in the YaleDaily News, the concept of campus civility now requires adherence to specific ideology — not only commitment to respectful dialogue.

The irony is that this culture of protection may ultimately harm those it purports to protect. The Yale imbroglio became a merciless punchline, leaving no one unscathed, because the lack of a candid internal reckoning emboldened partisan outsiders to hijack the story. In reality, these debates don’t fit neat ideological categories. I am a registered Democrat, and I applaud Yale’s mission to better support underrepresented students. But I also recognize the dizzying irrationality of some supposedly liberal discourse in academia these days.

I didn’t leave a rewarding job and campus home on a whim. But I lost confidence that I could continue to teach about vulnerable children in an environment where full discussion of certain topics — such as absent fathers — has become almost taboo. It’s never easy to foster dialogue about race, class, gender and culture, but it will only become more difficult for faculty in disciplines concerned with the human condition if universities won’t declare that ideas and feelings aren’t interchangeable. Without more explicit commitment to this principle, students are denied an essential condition for intellectual and moral growth: the ability to practice, and sometimes fail at, the art of thinking out loud.

Certain members of the community used me and my family as tinder for a mass emotional conflagration by refusing to state the obvious: that the content of my albeit imperfect message fell squarely within the parameters of normal discourse and might even have been worth considering on its merits as an adjunct to prevailing campus orthodoxy. There was no official recognition that the calls to have us fired could be seen as illiberal or censorious. By affirming only the narrow right to air my views, rather than helping the community to grapple with its intense response, an unfortunate message was made plain: Certain ideas are too dangerous to be heard at Yale.

The collective denial of responsibility risks shortchanging students’ intellectual maturation and gradual assumption of autonomy. Moreover, the university’s careless conflation of talking (of which we had plenty) with listening (not so much) has the unintended effect of creating an inhospitable learning environment for the entire community, not just those who had no problem with my Halloween advice.

It takes more than Yale’s admirable free speech code to ensure a healthy habitat for learning. My fear is that students will eventually give up trying to engage with each other, a development that will echo in our wider culture for decades. My critics have reminded me that there are consequences to my exercise of free speech. Now it’s Yale’s turn to examine the consequences of its own stance: the shadow on its magnificent motto, “Light and truth.”