Some news outlets (but too few) have recently reported about a disturbing trend on college campuses. No- its not rape or misogynist fraternities and the like. The Brandeis Foundation did a survey and discovered that 54% of Jewish students on college campuses have experienced some form of anti-Semitism in the past year. These incidents run the gamut from comments made to physical altercations. This study also showed that these incidents occurred throughout the country and in all types of institutions- large, small, private, public, liberal, and conservative.
Most of this campus anti-Semitism goes hand-in-hand with the divestment and boycott initiatives run by Muslim and Palestinian student organizations angered over Israeli actions in the West Bank and Gaza. Having views which oppose or protest Israeli actions are not anti-Semitic per se. We cannot bemoan the unwarranted accusations of Islamophobia while making the erroneous accusation that every comment against Israel is ant-Semitic.
However, there is no doubt that there are certain groups and individuals on campus who are clearly anti-Semitic and through the expression of their views show troublesome patterns of behavior. Two professors at Columbia University- Rashid Khalid and Joseph Massad- are a good examples. Both have been accused of harassing Jewish students. The SJP- Students for Justice in Palestine- are very active and have established mock check points on campus. The same has occurred at Cornell, another Ivy League school. There were two reports of actual physical attacks on pro-Israeli demonstrators. At George Mason University, the Middle Eastern Studies Department has been very active with the campus SJP. Likewise, at Loyola University in Chicago, the administration has turned a blind eye and deaf ear towards the complaints of Jewish students and groups. When members of a Jewish group set up a table on campus, members of the SJP first harassed them then blocked other students from access to the table. At Portland State University, another Palestinian group vandalized, taunted and threatened Jewish student organizations and events. The would-be leader of a Palestinian student group at San Francisco State was investigated by the FBI after posting threatening messages on social media. Jewish students manning a table at Temple University were called “Nazi baby killers” and “kikes” by SJP members. Not to be outdone, students at Vassar used Nazi-era German cartoon pictures of Jews to denigrate them.
All of these incidents cannot be viewed as the isolated work of some Muslim zealots. Anti-Israeli protests usually devolve into anti-Jewish denunciations. Disrupting a group’s recruitment table or disturbing a Jewish celebration is one thing, but when the actions become physical or when they are designed to drown out any voice but your own, then a line has been crossed.
As should be obvious, groups like SJP certainly have a right to exist on college campuses, as do Jewish groups. Both should have a right to recruit members and get their message out on an equal basis. But, that is not what is happening. Instead, unless you are a supporter of Palestinians or the Muslim view, you are shouted or threatened out of the public square.
To illustrate that these actions are actually anti-Semitic, look at the following facts. It makes little difference whether the Jewish victim of the anti-Semitic act was conservative or liberal. The more liberal Jew supports Palestinian statehood and is a critic of Israeli West Bank settlements or incursions into Gaza. Yet, there are reports of members of the Jewish liberal J Street contingent being the subject of these attacks. Jewish students wishing to open a dialogue with Muslim or Palestinian students are regularly shunned or shouted down. In short, their’s is not a campaign of education and hopefully peaceful solutions, but an unspoken animus towards Jews in general. This is one of two things: (1) a collection of people who do not wish to peacefully resolve differences between Israel and Palestinians, or (2) a collection of anti-Semitic bigots with a strong dislike towards Jews.
In this country, free speech is a Constitutional right. That applies to Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Satanists and whatever else you like. By infringing on the rights of others by college professors and administrations and essentially taking sides, the scales have been tipped and there is no free speech- just the expression of one view and the suppression of an opposing view. That is not education; that is fascist propaganda. And that is why many on the Left have settled with the SJP/BDS types. How ironic that these very groups that have aligned themselves with the BDS movement are also major critics of the religious Right here in the US over the issue of gay marriage, yet by the same token Muslim countries (and that includes the Palestinians) outlaw and execute gay people. Even more ironic, the founder of the BDS movement- Omar Barghouti- is this very day a student at Tel Aviv University in Israel. I ask you seriously: Does anyone honestly believe that a Jewish leader calling for the boycott of the Palestinians would be permitted to study at a Muslim university? So who is the upholder of democracy and who is the anti-Semite?