Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

Exactly. The world likes Israel vulnerable, not strong. Israel had the support of the entire world (minus Arab countries) for the first 30-40 years of its existence. When Israel was a scrappy, semi-third-world country with spotty phone service and a formidable military the world cheered her on. As a liberal Zionist, I can’t wrap my head around what goes on now on campuses and elsewhere. I constantly find myself saying, “Wait—what? That’s not true at all! What are you saying? Those are outright falsehoods!” Providing facts and data is useless. They have a narrative and they’re sticking to it. Before they left for college, my kids attended workshops on how to counter anti-semitism on campus. Never in my life did I ever think I’d have to do that.

Trackable database of antisemitism on college campuses

@brantly. My kids went through the antisemitism lectures when transitioning from middle school to high school. They chose not to do it again for college since it is very similar. Sad we even have to talk about it actually. I am going to ask my son if he encountered anything at Michigan. I really don’t think he has not to say there aren’t things going on. He is doing a study abroad for engineering in France then going right to Israel for a engineering internship through onward Israel…

We bought him a University of Michigan Kippa. He doesn’t wear one at all but we thought it would be great when in Israel for Shabbat with all the other students… My wife wants to hide it or not send it with him when he goes to France… Yes, she is that uneasy about sending it with him. This is how the world has changed our views.

We just honored Yom Hashoah. We can never forget.

I think schools can be listed as great for Jewish students, yet still be a hotbed of anti-semitism. Let’s face it, people who protest Israel, support BDS, and use anti-Israel language as a cover for anti-semitism, want a reaction. They won’t get one if there are few Jewish students on campus.

Evangelical schools are often very supportive of Israel, but I wouldn’t say they are good schools for Jewish students.

Example–my niece is at a small private liberal arts school in Pennsylvania. There are about 3 Jews on campus (her words; she’s likely exaggerating, but you get the point). She has never encountered anti-semitism, there is no BDS movement, etc. There is a Hillel but it is tiny and not very active.

My son is at a private prestigious university in the south. There is both Hillel and Chabad on campus which offer tons of programming. Israel Apartheid Week this year was positively awful. Eviction notices, campus anti-Israel protests, etc. (Ironically, his second choice was U Mich, which had problems this year too.)

Which is better for Jewish students?

When my son was looking at colleges, we took several off the table for anti-Semitic activity–NYU, Oberlin, virtually all the University of California schools. At most college visits we were able to ask Jewish students about anti-Semitic activity, BDS, etc.; it was a consideration in deciding which schools to apply to. Ironically, the school he attends never had an issue until this year, so in spite of our best efforts we were not successful in avoiding it.

I agree about hiding the kippa when he goes to France. Better yet, ship it to his destination in Israel in time for his arrival. Or send it with a friend going directly to the Onward Israel program from the U.S.

I never imagined that standing up for the right to offer the opinion that Israel has a right to exist— and by implication, that people of Jewish ethnicity have a right to exist— would become a defining issue of the college experience. Anti-Israel sentiment on college campuses is much, much stronger than I had ever realized.

A ray of hope has been the outpouring of support for vocally pro-Israel students at various colleges from a range of alumni, media, social media, etc., along with some fellow students and professors. Word spreads fast! They may be a minority on campus, but they are not alone.

A tragedy of the current era is the divisions among students belonging to various minority groups, who should be natural allies trying to make the world a more accepting place for ALL peoples. I liked the Tower article link I shared above, because it delves into some of the origins of this surprising division between Jewish liberals and other liberals that has left Jews on the outside, as the one ethnic group that the far-left and the far-right both hate.

I feel that unless there is one nation with all population under earth, these divisions will continue.

It’s being tried in America right now and failing miserably, so I’m quite dubious it would be successful on a global scale. I just can’t imagine Chinese, Russians, Americans, etc submitting to global governance.

@eastcoast101. Interesting. My daughter went to Illinois Wesleyan then transferred to Beloit college. Neither a hot bread of Jewish students but also never any antisemitism. No Bds either. She helped in making a Passover seder but for all that wanted to partake not just the handful of Jews on Campus. I think learning about each other is the key to understanding each other.

She also did study abroad in Indonesia and the most sweet and lovely people in an mostly Muslim country. They are pro Palestinians causes but not necessarily against the Jewish faith.

For what I read the pro Bds is Iran controlled and supported. The ambassor of Israel was at our shul last year and said as much about this topic.

It amazes me that antisemitism is being normalized in our society.

I can remember in the 1980s, at MIT, the Roman Catholic priest, a liberal Paulist, got together with the MIT Rabbi and offered a class on the Talmud/Old Testament. It as attended by Catholic, Christian and Jewish students. Those
were the days we talked to each other! I cannot remember if Muslim students were attending but they would have been welcome by these two learned men at MIT, who were great teachers.

I couldn’t disagree with this statement more.

What I remember in the 1980s was that the loudest voices on Israeli - Palestinian politics were the most bigoted ones.

Wow @TheGreyKing - so according to the William’s student newspaper Israel’s rights are no more righteous and worthy of defending than those of straight white men. Those students really do see the world through one perspective. Good luck to them when they graduate and come out of their simplified bubble.

Does this type of SJP/BDS activism exist in the U.S. outside the bubble of college campuses? I am talking specifically about the “activism” that translates into harassment of Jewish students. Does it move into the workplace?

SJPers at elite colleges will be working side by side with Jews of all ages in banks, government, consulting companies, etc. They’ll be attending graduate or professional schools with Jews. How will the harassing behavior fly in those settings? It would be troubling if they attempted to grab the microphone away from a Jewish colleague giving a presentation, or interrupted a Jewish doctor giving grand rounds, or if they slipped eviction notices under the doors of their Jewish colleagues’ offices or homes. Or if they vacated a corporate lunch table when a Jewish colleague came over to join them (as was done repeatedly at Oberlin, according to reports). What about affinity groups or cultural groups at work? Google is famous for this. Are SJP/BDS activists at Google disrupting the “Jewglers’” (that’s what they call themselves!) activities? Jewlgers around the globe build a Sukkah inside the offices. Passover services were disrupted by BDS activists at University of Michigan. Do the activists dare do that at Google?

I wonder if there are reports of what happens with these SJP/BDS activists after college?

ETA: Actually, I answered my own question. There was the medical resident who stated she would sabotage Jews’ medical treatment at her hospital in Ohio. She was fired.

@AriBenSion - Just want to clarify: the comments you allude to were comments made in an op-ed sent in by some students at the college, not by the student editorial board of the student newspaper. The student newspaper’s reporting on this issue was balanced and fair. And they received and published op-eds from students both for and against WIFI.

But yes, the College Council’s singling out of WIFI, as the only group in at least the last recorded decade of the college’s history not to be accepted as a registered student organization, was very disturbing.

@AriBenSion @TheGreyKing The administration at Williams recently bypassed the student government and gave WIFI official RSO status. Considering that the president herself teaches Jewish history at the college, this decision was not at all surprising, and it does send a message of support to students who may have felt unsafe due to the controversy.

^Yes, WIFI has now become an RSO through a different process, involving administrators as well as students.

It is a real learning experience to see that, as a student, your voice can make a difference. The students who spoke up for their beliefs and did not back down when faced with opposition, soon received an outpouring of support from media, alumni, etc., from throughout the U.S. and even in Israel, that changed the dynamic and allowed WIFI to be recognized.

Evidence of the power of a free press in preserving people’s rights in a democracy: twice in the past few weeks, the press and the alumni were updated by the college sooner than the students were. Today was the second time that the college sent a message to alumni on this topic, which indicates how concerned the college must be about perceptions of it following this incident.

For anyone reading this thread with any anxiety about whether to apply to Williams, please be reassured that it is a great place to go to college. In addition to the fact that there has been similar anti-Israel sentiment at many other colleges, it is also true, as the rabbi at Williams wrote in the letter to alumni, that “Williams continues to be a school that supports the flourishing of Jewish life, as the vibrancy of programming run at the JRC and across campus, run by student leaders in WCJA and in other groups, amply demonstrates.”

@TheGreyKing Those are good points to make! Williams is not at all unique with regards to these incidents happening on campus, and it is evident that the college cares about the opinions of students and alumni.

Events at NYU: