During the spring 2019 semester, Campus Reform has reported on multiple anti-semitic incidents, perhaps more than any other semester. As the semester comes to a close and students head home for summer, Campus Reform thought it appropriate to talk with leaders who are on the front lines of battling this type of activity on college campuses, what they think may be driving it, and how to bring an end to it.
Campus Reform has compiled a list of some of the most egregious instances of anti-Semitism on college campuses, including anything from anti-Israel internships to pro-Israel students being unable to form student organizations.
1. Syracuse University
Want to get course credit for an internship? At Syracuse University, you can receive course credit for participating in an anti-Israel internship, as Campus Reform reported. Two majors at the university offer credit for being an intern at the Syracuse Peace Council (SPC), which bills itself as an “anti-war/social justice” group, and promotes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The group held an event titled “Palestine Behind the Wall,” where one speaker openly said that “[Hamas has] done a lot of good for Palestinians. A separate speaker said that “I think Zionism needs to end….There can’t be a Zionist state. That’s just really wrong.”
2. Williams College
At William’s College, the college council rejected a pro-Israel group’s application to become officially registered as a student organization, allegedly due to the fact that the group is pro-Israel and doesn’t take a public stance against the Israeli “occupation” in Palestine. The group met all of the requirements to become a registered student organization (RSO) but was still rejected, as reported by Campus Reform.
The group was rejected due to its “complicity in [Israeli] state violence.”
3. The University of North Carolina-Asheville
The University of North Carolina-Asheville invited and defended hosting Tamika Mallory, a Women’s March leader, for Martin Luther King, Jr. Week, as reported by Campus Reform. Mallory has previously endorsed Nation of Islam founder Louis Farrakhan and called him “The GOAT,” or “greatest of all time” in a social media post, according to the New York Times. Farrakhan has called Adolf Hitler a “very great man” and has even compared Jewish people to “termites” on Twitter. UNC-Asheville defended the speech and said that it “in no way implies endorsement of that speaker’s comments, critiques, views, ideas, or actions.”
4. The University of California-Berkeley
During the public comment section of a student government meeting at the University of California-Berkeley, students shouted statements like “f*ck Zionists,” while using phrases like "white tears" and "Zionist tears." A student leader even claimed that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) teaches American police to murder black people, according to Campus Reform.
5. New York University
A New York University academic department voted to boycott the school’s Israel study abroad program due to entry restrictions but decided not to boycott the school’s study abroad in Abu Dhabi, according to Campus Reform.
Max Samarov, executive director for research and strategy for StandWithUs, told Campus Reform that anti-Semitism is increasing from all political sides, which is concerning.
“Anti Semitism is rising across the board, from the white supremacist far right to the 'anti-Zionist' far left, and students are feeling the effects,” Samarov said. “These extremist forces target campuses because that is where future American leaders and opinion makers form their views of the world.”
Samarov expressed that students can help decrease anti-Semitism by ultimately being activists on their own college campuses and making sure that those who are associated with anti-Semitic incidents are held accountable.
“[Students] should demand that campus leaders hold perpetrators of antisemitic incidents accountable and use these cases as teachable moments for the community, Samarov said. “Unfortunately, given the increase in white supremacist terrorism against Jews and others, it is also time to seriously consider self-defense and active shooter training.”
Samarov also expressed while it is possible to criticize Israel without being anti-Semitic, many times this criticism leads to anti-Semitism.
“While it is absolutely possible to criticize Israel without being anti-semitic, it is also a fact that anti-Israel rhetoric frequently descends into outright racism. Those who refuse to acknowledge this fact and hold themselves accountable are part of the problem,” he said.
Justin Feldman, president of the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) Students Supporting Israel (SSI) told Campus Reform that he’s experienced multiple instances of anti-Semitism while he’s been in college.
“One instance or example is in student government when we had the national Students for Justice in Palestine conference coming to our campus. It was brought to our attention that there would be a resolution condemning any administrative efforts to either defund the conference or to hold the organizers accountable for the way that they advertised it,” Feldman said
He said that when he and a few other pro-Israel students went to speak at the student government meeting, they were “attacked” and “scoffed" at. Feldman said that he believes anti-Semitism is becoming more frequent on college campuses because it’s becoming “normalized” for the rhetoric to be in social justice language.
“I mean, if you just attach anti-Semitism to the trend of the day, then that's going to make it a lot easier for mainstream people to digest and then use, and on a college campus where social justice culture is really permeating now people are injecting their hate within that language oftentimes, and it becomes popularized that way,” Feldman said.
In order to stop anti-Semitism on campus, Feldman said that the effort will have to reach multiple corners of campus and reaching out to groups that otherwise would not be interacted with.
The UCLA SSI president also said that anti-Semitism is coming from the extreme left-wing and the extreme right-wing. The difference at UCLA, Feldman contends, is that extreme left-wing groups often are not given much condemnation for their acts of anti-Semitism.
“It just so happens to be that on our campus at UCLA, the group that is given, less admonition less condemnation, is that from the extreme left wing,” Feldman said. “And so we're very cautious about that because normalized antisemitism is a very lethal for antisemitism."
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