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Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,933 Forum Champion
The purpose of this thread is to spend some time discussing the experience of Jewish students on college campuses with anti-Semitism, including in its form as anti-Zionism.

Before engaging in this thread, it is important to clarify that, in this thread, anti-Zionism does NOT refer to disagreement with any one particular Israeli policy or some of the beliefs of its current leadership. One can criticize Israel or Netanyahu without being an anti-Zionist, just as one can criticize America or Trump without being anti-American. Anti-Zionism refers to the idea of eliminating altogether the state of Israel, the world's only state with a Jewish majority.

For those who will insist that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are not the same: to explain how they may be experienced as interrelated by Jewish students on campus, I would like to introduce two recent New York Times opinion pieces that speak eloquently to this relationship:



Anti-Semitism is growing on college campuses, and these experiences have taken place at enough colleges that it cannot be said to be unique to certain college communities. Jewish students I know have sat in classes and/or read class-related blog posts in which fellow students have spoken of how Jews secretly control the United States and direct its policies in regard to Israel from the shadows, and that Jews seek worldwide dominance. These are age-old anti-Semitic tropes. They have also heard fellow classmates proclaim that "the Jews" control finance, the government, and the media. The BDS movement is common on campuses, singling out Israel alone among the world’s nations for boycotting. And observe the following:

2018: The AMCHA Initiative, whose goal is to combat anti-Semitism at colleges, documents 77 swastika incidents on college campuses in 2018 alone.
2018: A "Disorientation Guide" distributed by some Vassar students suggests such action steps as "slap a Zionist.”
2018: Two University of Michigan professors refuse to write letters of recommendation for students to study in Israel, with their stated reason being “an academic boycott against Israel.”
2018: A Columbia professor tweets that Israel is responsible for “every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world.”
2016: A speaker at Vassar and a professor at Rutgers revives the medieval blood libel against Jews, claiming that Israeli Jews kill Palestinians to use their organs.
2016: An Oberlin professor is finally dismissed after many anti-Semitic statements, including claiming without evidence that Israel secretly controls ISIS and was behind the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris and after posting an image on social media of a Jew, Jacob Rothschild, stating, “We own your news, the media, your oil, and your government.”
2015: At UCLA, the Undergraduate Student Association Council questions a student’s nomination to the council’s Judicial Board, because “given that [she is] a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community,” she would be unable to be “unbiased.”
2014: Students at Vassar picket a class because it involves a trip to Israel.
2013: At Oberlin, the Kosher-Halal Coop is kicked out of the Oberlin Student Cooperative Association, swastikas appear in dorms, Students for a Free Palestine interrupt a meeting of Hillel, and students object to a Shabbat dinner at Hillel featuring typical Israeli food as “cultural appropriation” of other middle-easterners’ food.

If you are a student, an alumnus/a, a professor, or a parent of a student who has experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism on their college campus, this thread is intended as a location to vent about the experience... and also to share any hope with stories of how you, your child, or your child's peers and/or college worked to counter anti-Semitism on campus.

Replies to: Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

  • Le ProfessionnelLe Professionnel Registered User Posts: 21 Junior Member
    edited February 10
    If the statistics checks out, this is a very sad and alarming development.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Registered User Posts: 73,616 Senior Member
    Doesn't it look like:

    * Some on the left hate Israel based on the simplistic view that the Israel is the oppressor = total evil, and it can bleed into anti Jewish stuff, even if they otherwise are not hostile to Jewish people in domestic contexts.

    * Some on the right dislike Jewish people in domestic contexts, but support Israel in international contexts as someone fighting against Muslims and Arabs whom they hate more (= terrorists in their view).

  • tpike12tpike12 Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    I have never supported a BDS movement and I never will. I support Israel and their right to self-determination. However, I do support any American that wants to peacefully protest against anyone or any country, including Israel.
  • KnowsstuffKnowsstuff Registered User Posts: 2,140 Senior Member
    The thing that bugs me is when the bds wants to ban Israel and to have people not buy their products. OK then.. If you support this then they would need to stop using their wireless phone, any computer with an Intel chip, anything made by Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Amd etc etc. Since just about every main technology company does their RD at Technion is Israel.

    Israel wanted to partner with the Palestinians to do the same in Gaza and they were going to pay for it but it was rejected....

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Israeli_inventions_and_discoveries this is an old list but.....
  • millie210millie210 Registered User Posts: 493 Member
    It’s all very worrisome and depressing.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,933 Forum Champion
    edited February 11
    A student I know heard the EXACT same comment that Ilhan Omar just apologized for, in a college class this past fall. (Seriously, the same words, minus the expression “Benjamins”!)

    I think it takes courage for a student of any minority group to speak out when a prejudicial comment or stereotype is made about a group they belong to, especially as a lone voice speaking up.
  • tpike12tpike12 Registered User Posts: 231 Junior Member
    Yes, Ilhan Omar is ignorant. AIPAC cannot legally make donations, though it is their purpose to advocate for what is best for Israel and part of that includes connecting politicians with wealthy pro-Israeli donors.
  • LikebikesLikebikes Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    Was just in Coral Gables last week. Lots of yamakas and tolerance at UM. Awesome campus. Go where there are less douches.
  • HamurtleHamurtle Registered User Posts: 1,708 Senior Member
    edited February 11
    WashU supposedly has a high percentage of Jewish students. Active Chabad/Hillel as well.
  • ScooterDeeScooterDee Registered User Posts: 15 Junior Member
    I was not aware of the incidents you mention so thank you for this thread. Would you all consider some of these schools (Vassar, Oberlin...) unsafe or uncomfortable enough to recommend that Jewish applicants avoid them?
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Forum Champion Williams College Posts: 1,933 Forum Champion
    edited February 12
    @ScooterDee- Me? No, not at all. I think most Jewish students can be and are very happy at those schools and probably never ever will experience an incident where they themselves or someone they know are singled out in any way. Most people at these colleges are friendly and nice... and would never want to make a classmate feel bad. What is more common is just some anti-Israel rhetoric on campus, some of it sloping into anti-Semitic tropes. So a student has to make a choice sometimes, in class, in social conversation, etc.: ignore it or speak up.

    I know students who have chosen to speak up on some occasions. They absolutely love their college and their friends, and would never want to go anywhere else. Most people are at least respectful of a different perspective, especially when it comes from someone they hang out with socially or interact with regularly in a small discussion class. Maybe you can change someone’s view a little bit on Israel, or help them realize that something they said was a trope- they may not have realized it and probably never meant it to be hurtful.

    But it can be upsetting to hear these comments, made in reference to Israel. Hence, this thread. It is a bit scary to see the rise of anti-Semitism in two different ways, on opposite ends of the political spectrum. The white supremacist/neo-Nazis will not be present on the college campuses you name. But the anti-Israel people are there. And sometimes the combo of both ends of the spectrum bringing anti-Semitism more into the mainstream than it has been in all the years since the Holocaust makes me worry about the safety of Jews in the long-term. Hence, this thread.
  • 3SailAway3SailAway Registered User Posts: 302 Member
    I had not heard about the incidents at Vassar. It would be upsetting anywhere, but Vassar was D19’s second choice, and D21 loves it also.

    I did find this article by a current Jewish student which talks about what the Vassar community has done to confront anti-Semitism, promote a welcoming atmosphere for Jewish and/or pro-Israel students, and encourage respectful dialogue on all aspects of Israel: http://miscellanynews.org/2018/11/07/opinions/vassars-concern-for-jewish-students-deserves-praise/
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