Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Brooklyn College, The Sunday Times and the Most Effective Response to Anti-Semitism

February 10, 2013 7:51 pm 10 comments

The anti-Semitic cartoon including The Sunday Times masthead.

The public expression of ugly anti-Semitic sentiment recently seems to have become more frequent.

The rise of far Right parties in Europe, and the success of radical Leftist efforts to attach the most horrific of false accusations to Israel mean that the hatred emanates from both sides of the political spectrum.

It is unfortunate that concerned Jewish organizations and individuals who have been active in their opposition to the hateful speech, depictions and action have often faced criticism for speaking up.

Two arguments that I have most often heard, go something like this:

  1. The ‘cry wolf’ argument: If Jews are too vocal, or speak out too often against anti-Semitism, the public will begin to take their charges less seriously, and like ‘the boy who cried wolf’ when they are really in need, nobody will come to their aid.
  2. The ‘lose anyway’ argument: It is pointless for Jews to take on a battle against something offensive that can’t actually be won, because it will make them appear weaker, and they may burn bridges without achieving the desired results. “People will hate Jews more,” goes the argument.

Both lines of reason are counterproductive and in truth encourage the spread of anti-Semitism.

It is correct that hatred of Jews is widespread, in the United States and further afield, but so is hatred of blacks, gays, Hispanics and other minority groups. So why is it that offending those groups is far less socially acceptable than criticizing Israel in a fashion that is considered anti-Semitic according to the European Union Working Definition of Anti-Semitism? Examples of this include: 1. Denying the Jewish people the right to self-determination, 2. Applying double standards to the Jewish state, 3. Using the symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism, and 4. Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. (As a side note, I don’t believe that the European Union should be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes anti-Semitism, but for the sake of argument, let us for now stick with this definition.)

The simple answer is that as is so often the case in life, boundaries are determined by the point of resistance. Haters will go as far as they can get away with, and will back down when met with blunt opposition.

The publication of an anti-Semitic cartoon two weeks ago by the Sunday Times provided a perfect case study of how anti-Jewish bigotry should be effectively opposed.

Hours after the edition hit the newsstands, the Anti-Defamation League issued a harsh condemnation of the blood libel-esque depiction of Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The criticism was followed by a barrage of outrage directed at the Times from all corners. British Jewish, and Zionist groups spoke out against the offensive imagery. UK Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Members of Parliament, the Speaker of the Knesset, columnists, pundits, Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, hundreds of concerned members of the public and multiple other Jewish groups joined in unison to express offense.

The sustained message was clear: The cartoon was unacceptable and intolerable, and our position on this is simply not up for discussion.

The eventual result after repeated attempts at evasion was a full “unreserved” apology printed by the paper a week later.

In another incident  which took place more recently at Brooklyn College, where the political science department co-hosted a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions event directed against Israel, those standing in opposition were unsuccessful in preventing the event, let alone eliciting the warranted apology from the disgraced college.

The BDS movement is inherently anti-Semitic according to the EU definition above, first and foremost because it denies the Jewish right to self-determination. Even anti-Israel activist Norman Finkelstein acknowledged simply that “they don’t want Israel.”

“The BDS movement views Israel’s very existence as a Jewish state as illegitimate,” affirmed the New York Daily News in an editorial Saturday.

In addition its members are routinely guilty of drawing parallels between Israeli policies and that of the Nazis, as highlighted by the Daily News in its report of the event: Founder Omar Barghouti, “declared that Israelis were infected with a strain of racism against Palestinians that is similar to the European anti-Semitism that led to Nazism.”

The response to Brooklyn College’s sponsorship of the event started out in much the same way as the response to the Sunday Times cartoon. City officials strongly expressed opposition, as did mayoral candidate Bill Thompson, and Jewish groups including the ADL and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Concerned individuals and members of the public spoke up as well. But many Jewish groups sat out the round, as did representatives of the state of Israel. Then New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg disgracefully endorsed the College’s sponsorship of the event, and there was nary a response from Jewish leaders. The opposition went cold and a publicly funded institution of higher learning got away with sponsoring a bigoted hate fest.

The lesson is clear: to be effective, as in the case of the Sunday Times cartoon, the opposition to institutionalized hate speech must be sustained, consistent, broad and uncompromising. The challenge is great, but for the sake of our humanity it must be overcome.


  • This is another op-ed that fails to understand the difference between “blunt opposition” and dumb opposition.

    It’s not hard to run your mouth every time some little thing goes wrong. It’s a lot harder to listen to research and common sense that strongly suggests doing so is counterproductive.

  • Rabbi Moshe Pesach Geller

    All of you are so wrong. There 7 billion of them and 13 million of us. It’s not our job, 3,700 years ago God gave us a Book. In it, He tells us, “Hein Am Levadad Yishkon.” – They are a Nation that dwells alone!It was always thus and will always be thus. Torah also teaches us “Esav Spnei Yaakov, Halacha Moshe MiSinai.” Literally, ‘Esau hates Jacob, It’s a law of Moshe from Sinai.’

    This is not the place to give over what all this means and its significance at this time. Just to know that fighting them is a Sisephean effort, And we have more important things to do. Chief among them is GET OUT!!!! and COME HOME!!! All you exile’niks will find out out if you stay, how wrongheaded and misguided you are thinking, wishing and/or believing that you can defeat them with good arguments, correct words, etc. YOU DON’T BELONG THERE! And your worry and arguments about all the ‘thems’ in the world betray your foremost concern: Fulfilling the American religion: Safety, comfort and security. The only safety is in Eretz Yisrael. The only security is n HaShem and to seek comfort outside of Shabbat is a sin in a world filled with so much suffering. As long as these are your true desires, you will stay amongst them. And until you come home, neither you, nor the Jewish People nor the world will ever come to know real Shalom. Simple as it is.

  • Think then of Jewish support this last election cycle for candidates who “verbally” say they support Israel. When asked about JEWS they give the same patent ‘Israel support’ answer-YET many of these candidate support vociferously positions that are anti-gay,anti-Black and anti-Hispanic…believe me Jews are the unspoken other “anti” in their minds.
    Many Jews it seems this cycle turned their backs on the history of their own people..and remained silent while programs that are against other minorities were espoused..a deathly silence…the silence of fear-fear that in speaking against these haters support for Israel would be lessened…..and the they came for us.
    We must never live in fear…never again.

    • You live in an alternative universe of your own lunatic making…

    • Bathsheva Gladstone

      Yes, absolutely Jerry! When we are silent regarding other people’s woes, we are in fact unwittingly aligning ourselves with those who have no real feelings of solidarity with us. And we appear elitist and undeserving.

      • Sorry, you are a libtard like 2/3 of American “Jews”, who are clearly not Jews in the right sense of the word. And I think I’m more Jewish than that 2/3 vast dumb, narcisstic mass (including you, sadly), even though formally “only” my father is Jewish. But this is a meaningless detail.

  • If we regard prejudice as a species of sickness and put our research funds to isolating the infections, we may be doing a service to mankind no less than for other virulent diseases. We are actively identifying incidents of disease, but should be devising cures as well.
    “All in the Family”and Archy Bunker of TV a generation ago was a kind of first step. Prejudice is usually an indicator of personal inadequacy of some kind. We should be making all haste to isolate and devise cures.

  • The canary in the coal mine analogy is also an historical truism. Minorities, the poor, whoever is seemingly powerless becomes the scapegoat. Foreign wars, economic recession, natural disasters…yup, “f*****g Jews”.

    “Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must — at that moment — become the centre of the universe.”
    “• Elie Wiesel

  • Bathsheva Gladstone

    I’m thinking that one way to overcome it, is to hit them where it hurts. Being that this hate mongering bunch of fools like the idea of sanctions and boycotts ect… maybe donations rescinded, withdrawal from a hate mongering school, law suits questioning the right to keep money (tuition and other monies diverted) given that their advocacy for their school and why people should go their etc never disclosed the fact that a big part of the school was a front for those with an anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic agenda.

    Maybe they should disclose where their big donations are coming from, that this was and will be not only permitted but encouraged.

  • richatd sherman

    Mayor Bloomberg cares about the Jewish people as much as Gertrude Stein.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.

Current day month ye@r *


  • Arts and Culture Features Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel

    Jerry Seinfeld to Make Comedy Debut in Israel – Famed Jewish-American comedian and actor Jerry Seinfeld is slated to make his comedic debut in Israel later this year. Seinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn to Jewish parents from the Ukraine and Syria, will perform in Tel Aviv’s Mitvtachim Menorah Arena on Dec. 19 as part of a world tour. The comedian is most known for his enormously popular NBC sitcom Seinfeld, which ran from 1989-1998 and is widely considered one of the greatest TV series of all time. […]

    Read more →
  • Food Israel New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    New Video Shows American Kids Reviewing Israeli Food After Tasting Dishes for First Time (VIDEO)

    A new video circulating online shows eight American children reacting — mostly positively — to their first taste of the famed Israeli eggplant salad/dip, known in Hebrew as “salat hatzilim” and in other parts of the Levant as baba ganoush. The clip, created by, features the youngsters trying a variety of exotic dishes from other countries as well, such as Hawaiian poi, Colombian pork belly and Russian borscht. The Israeli delicacies served include schnitzel, slices of pita, hummus and the baba ganoush salad. “If someone […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Pioneers/Philanthropists ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit

    ‘Start-Up Nation’ Israel to Host Forbes Magazine Young Entrepreneurs Summit – Forbes magazine announced Tuesday that it will host its Under 30 EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Summit in Israel for the first time in April 2016. The conference is expected to bring together some 600 young entrepreneurs, with 200 from Europe, 200 from the U.S., and 200 from Israel. The summit has been hosted in Philadelphia for the past two years. It will include presentations, speeches, a pitch competition, and cultural immersion opportunities in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Beliefs and concepts What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David?

    What’s That Huge White Bridal Dress Floating Over the Tower of David? –  “What’s that huge white bridal dress floating over the Tower of David?” That’s what visitors to Jerusalem’s Old City asked last week. The wedding gown, created by leading Israeli artist Motti Mizrachi, is part of the 2nd Jerusalem Biennale for Contemporary Jewish Art, an event that blew into town as the Sukkot holiday got underway. Mizrachi, who lives and works in Tel Aviv, created the dress that floats majestically over the Tower of David, the main exhibition site […]

    Read more →
  • Features Opinion The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    The Top 10 Places to Visit in Israel

    Israel is a holiday destination on many travelers’ bucket lists. No matter the style of holiday you are after, Israel has the answer. Whether you prefer to relax by the beach, hike up mountains in the desert, visit religious and historical sites, eat your way through the country or just enjoy some retail therapy, your journey through Israel will be one to remember. While there are obviously so many things to see and do, here is a list of 10 of […]

    Read more →
  • Pioneers/Philanthropists US & Canada Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO

    Jewish American Fashion Mogul Ralph Lauren to Step Down as CEO – Jewish American fashion mogul Ralph Lauren announced his plan to step down as chief executive officer of the renowned fashion brand. The head of Gap Inc’s Old Navy brand will take over the position. The 75-year-old Lauren, who founded Ralph Lauren Corp. in 1967, will continue to serve as executive chairman and will continue leading the fashion house’s design team, according to a statement by the company. After the announcement, Ralph Lauren shares rose 3.79 percent while Gap shares […]

    Read more →
  • Featured Sports US & Canada Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish Boxer Dustin ‘White Tiger’ Fleischer Scores Fourth Knockout Victory

    Jewish boxer Dustin Fleischer, who said his quest is to become the first world champion descended from a Holocaust survivor, stayed unbeaten with a first-round knockout. Fleischer, nicknamed “The White Tiger,” moved to 4-0 with the defeat of Ira Frank on Saturday night in Beach Haven, New Jersey, near his home, he reported after the fight on his Facebook page. The 26-year-old welterweight has won all his bouts by knockout. Read full story at JTA.

    Read more →
  • Featured Israel Pioneers/Philanthropists Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Meet Israel’s Santa Claus, the Trustee Tasked With Handing Out Leona Helmsley’s Billions (INTERVIEW)

    Renowned New York attorney Sandor (Sandy) Frankel, one of four trustees of the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, was in Israel earlier this month to look at additional philanthropic options and to observe the progress of those endeavors already funded – to the tune of multi-millions. Frankel, who recently joined the prestigious Park Avenue law firm Otterbourg P.C., met with Israeli politicians and other bigwigs to get a sense from them about which projects in the country […]

    Read more →