It has become increasingly difficult to be a proud Jew and a proud Zionist on most American college campuses today. While the rights and civil liberties of so many minorities are being increasingly appreciated and respected, Jewish and Zionist students seem to have become the one minority group for whom it is socially acceptable to demonize, delegitimatize and subject to double standards.
You might recognize that as Natan Sharansky’s famous “3-D” definition of anti-Semitism, and it is alive and well on American college campuses. Many Jewish students face harassment and discrimination, not only from their peers, but often from their professors. We know that anti-Semitism is a growing problem in the United States. According to the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics, 63% of all religious-based hate crimes are committed against the Jewish people, although Jews represent approximately 2% of the population. And a recent study from the University of Arkansas tells us that, contrary to popular opinion, those “with higher education levels are markedly more likely than those with lower education levels to apply a double standard unfavorable towards Jews.”
This should not come as a surprise. There has been a consistent and pervasive pattern within universities, (or individual departments or faculty members), of sponsoring forums that are vehemently anti-Semitic. When the university is questioned about them, they might well say something to the effect of:
“Our university is not sponsoring this lecture. Indeed, under COVID-19 restrictions, we are not hosting any events on campus. It is an online discussion sponsored by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program of San Francisco State University, the Council of UC Faculty Associations and the University of California Humanities Research Institute.
One of our faculty members is a moderator of the discussion; The university permits faculty to use its Zoom platform for matters associated with their teaching and research and does not restrict that access based on content.
This program, as described, is about free speech, not terrorism or violence. We denounce violence and the incitement of violence in any form; we support freedom of expression as a fundamental alternative to political violence. “
This is a highly disappointing response. They hide behind free speech and academic freedom. I would like to suggest that you do a thought experiment and substitute what would be offensive to another minority group. This explanation is akin to saying that after we have David Duke of the KKK speak, because of freedom of speech, we will invite a black person to speak about racism.
This response constitutes a profoundly disturbing instance of well-financed doublespeak. The university in question here is the University of California Merced, and this Friday they will be hosting—whether they want to acknowledge this or not—Leila Khaled, who has absolutely no academic credentials. Her appeal to certain academics is that she hijacked TWA flight 840 in 1969, and El Al flight 219 in 1970.
Ms. Khaled is a convicted terrorist and member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization that is listed in our State Department as a terrorist organization. After several complaints, Zoom and Eventbrite have decided to distance themselves from this event.
For decades now, professors, particularly those in the Middle Eastern Studies Programs, have been carrying among themselves and transmitting to their students profound and overt biases against the state of Israel. This is what Natan Sharansky calls “the new anti-Semitism.” It is not, as the old anti-Semitism was, directed against individual Jews and the Jewish religion, but against the collective state of the Jews: Israel.
This ancient hatred has metastasized throughout academia and is exemplified over and over again. It was exemplified by Professor Hamid Dabashi of Columbia University’s statement, recently, that “Every dirty, treacherous, ugly and pernicious act happening in the world, just wait a few days and the ugly name ‘Israel” will pop up as a key actor in the atrocities.”
We wish this were about one or two isolated instances, but the more we speak to young students on college campuses throughout the country, the more we learn about how pervasive this ugly sentiment is. Many Jewish students have learned to keep their heads down and what classes to avoid.
That is a crying shame. Why are they being restricted from the study of what they might be interested in pursuing for their careers? Again, substitute the word, “black” for that of “Jew.” How would one feel if a black student felt uncomfortable pursuing an African Studies career because of the inherent racism endemic within the academic department?
Representative Glenn Grothman (R-WI), has authored a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, discussing this pervasive problem. In it, he asks Secretary Cardona to direct his attention to former President Trump’s Executive Order on Combatting Anti-Semitism. This Executive Order (13899) reaffirms that anti-Semitism and discrimination against Jews may well be a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, and it requires that federal agencies use the International Holocaust Remembrances Alliance (IHRA) working definition of anti-Semitism, of which Natan Sharansky’s famous 3-D definition is a part.
It goes on to urge Secretary Cardona not to overlook or ignore Executive Order 13899, and that the Constitutional rights of Jewish and Zionist students should be taken as seriously as those of any other minority group. We thank Representative Glenn Grothman for his courageous leadership on this issue.
We are asking for your help. We need every member of Congress to sign on to this letter. Please call or write an email to your member of Congress asking him to sign onto the Grothman letter on anti-Semitism. You can find your Representative’s contact information here and your Senator here.
If you do not know the name or email of your Senator or Representative’s office, please feel free to email Benjamin Weil, EMET Director of the Project for Israel’s National Security, at BWeil@EMETOnline.org and make sure to include your city, state and zip code.
We do not want the “new Jews of silence” to be the American Jewish youth on our nation’s college campuses.
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The Grothman Letter: Protect the Rights of Jewish Students of College Campuses
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