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April 30, 2015 7:58 pm

Anti-Semitism on College Campuses is Growing, and Jewish Students Must Wake Up

avatar by Hayeem Rudy

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Antisemitic graffiti at UC Davis following the passage of a resolution urging divestment from Israel. Photo: Instagram.

Earlier this month, Brooklyn College (BC) President Karen Gould emailed a statement to the BC community in response to frightening anti-Semitic graffiti that was scrawled on a men’s restroom wall in the Library, and on the third floor of Ingersol Hall. President Gould’s swift condemnation of these events demonstrated her commitment to an open and inclusive campus as would befit an institution of higher learning.

Yet an undercurrent of animosity could be felt among some Brooklyn College students regarding President Gould’s comments. “Every piece of offensive bathroom graffiti needs to be publicized? I see.” wrote one sarcastic commenter on the Facebook group Brooklyn College: In The Know. Another student with a comparable tone of cynicism wrote, “Wait, someone wrote something offensive on a bathroom wall, and the president emails the entire community about it?”

As a Jewish student who is aware of the rising demonstrations of anti-Semitism that are occurring on college campuses across the United States, I am concerned by the naiveté demonstrated by some within our community regarding the severity and scope of this problem. In other words, President Gould’s email was not merely a response to two isolated acts of random graffiti. Rather, her comments were made in full knowledge of the surge of Jew hatred and anti-Semitism that is being seen today at universities across the United States.

A cursory survey of anti-Semitic activity on US campuses this year alone shows that at least 10 independent incidents of swastikas being drawn on campuses occurred at 10 different major universities including Yale, Emory, Northwestern, Northeastern, UC Davis and UC Berkeley, and even at CUNY member John Jay College. Just last month, administrators at George Washington University’s Zeta Beta Tau fraternity expelled a student who vandalized the Jewish fraternity house, AEPi, with swastikas.

One of the most recent incidents of campus anti-Semitism that made headlines befell Rachel Beyda, a Jewish student at UCLA. In her bid to serve on the Judicial Board of UCLA, Beyda’s ability to be an unbiased member of the board was challenged because of her Jewish faith. Fabienne Roth, a member of the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council can be seen in a recording asking Ms. Beyda, “Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?”

The New York Times reported on this incident writing, “The session [at UCLA]… has served to spotlight what appears to be a surge of hostile sentiment directed against Jews at many campuses in the country, often [as] a byproduct of animosity towards the policies of Israel.”

Indeed, it is often the case that anti-Semitism follows anti-Israelism, as was demonstrated by the surge in anti-Semitism that European Jews experienced following last year’s war in Gaza. Notably, the incident involving Ms. Beyda occurred only days after a divisive Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction bill passed at UCLA’s sister school, UC Davis. The passing of the BDS bill at UC Davis also prompted vandals to spray paint swastikas on the walls of the AEPi Jewish fraternity house.

Many other instances of anti-Semitism on college campuses can be mentioned, and all of them contribute to the climate of hatred that President Gould responded to in her comments about the vandalism at Brooklyn College. Perhaps President Gould’s comments may have been better received by those students who criticized them had she mentioned the broader context of growing anti-Semitism on campuses.

Certainly, we must see these events as a reminder that we must all seek to be informed about injustices occurring around us, and that we must be willing to defend the ideals of mutual respect and inclusion, as President Gould did.

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  • Emanuel

    I recently saw a news article on a man who was drawing penises around potholes in the roads in order to prompt their repair,(I saw a mostly tasteful tv show actually use swastikas to prompt pothole repair and was not offended) if this were done on my property I would consider the same for a few reasons, it makes light of the swastika in the face of the perpetrators, it draws attention and it prompts cleanup. It may seem silly but it brings attention to the “why” are we cleaning this up which is important especially at universities etc.

  • Kris Kristian

    It appears as though anti Semitism has spread all over the world where the countries have allowed mass immigration of Muslims.
    How many mosques were there in New York, London, Washington, Paris etc before the Muslims were allowed in?
    Hardly any.
    Now there are more mosques than churches.

    There has always been Muslim hatred of Jews sine centuries ago.
    One must also compare how many Muslims have been awarded the Nobel Prize, with their 1.6 billion members?
    The Nobel prize inners of Jewish faith runs into many dozens.
    The Muslims hate the Jews/Israel because they have attacked that small state so many times, especially, the day that Israel was reborn, and have been beaten in every war, that this has added to the hatred of Israel.
    The Gaza war was so badly reported by CNN< BBC etc (all financed by the Arab/Muslim nations) that they made Israel look like the aggressor, not the country protecting itself from Islamic murder.
    I hope the Christians will take note of how well the Christians are treated in Israel, and how the Christians are persecuted by Islam
    Only a few weeks ago, the Muslims refugees, threw Christians overboard on a ship escaping from Islamic
    If the Christian world does not wake up NOW, they will face murder at the hands of Muslims.

  • The role of ‘anti-Israelism’. Those who use a range of media see the role of media slant and bias in generating ‘anti-Israelism’ and anti-Semitism.The usual suspects — BBC, Guardian, Independent, NY Times and Haaretz — are not the only media guilty of selective reporting,failing to mention thousands of Hamas rockets raining down on southern Israel over about seven years; failing to note that Israel spent millions on bomb shelters while Hamas spent millions on bombs and rockets targeting Israeli civilians. How many media reported that top brass of both the USA and UK military praised Israel for complying with every detail of the Laws of War? How many media reported Israel’s efforts to contact all civilians in areas about to become a war zone, giving civilians time to move out? Last summer’s war in Gaza — the EU fully supported Israel’s right to respond to the ongoing Hamas attack, but the media managed to turn the public against Israel, even though Israel agreed to every ceasefire on offer. Think back to Jenin, where civilians were told to leave and 48 ‘militants’ died, but the media spoke of a genocide with hundreds of civilian deaths, prepared to accept any and all Hamas lies.

    • Yasmin Brenner

      my cousin was an IDF solder in Jenin…most of his best friends were killed before his eyes…good to hear some people have not forgotten the lies and truth-twisting that occurred, though it feels like most have…