Campus Watchdog Finds ‘Clear Relationship Between Anti-Israel Activism and Targeting of Jewish Students’
There is a “clear relationship” between anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions activism and the targeting of Jewish students on college campuses across the US, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, the head of Jewish student advocacy group the AMCHA Initiative, told The Algemeiner on Wednesday.
“The more BDS activity there is,” she said, “the more likely it is we’re going to find Jewish students and Jewish events suppressed or shut down.” These events have mostly been political in nature, she said, and related to Israel, such as when Israeli soldiers speak on a campus.
There is a “whole new campaign directed against Birthright programs” — free trips for American Jews to Israel — and there is heckling at lecturers, such as happened when Hebrew University Prof. Moshe Halbertal spoke at the University of Minnesota late last year.
Rossman-Benjamin’s comments came as her group released a database chronicling some 302 acts of antisemitic incidents at 109 college campuses across 28 states, over the past academic year. Rossman noted that most incidents fell into one of two categories: attacking Jewish students with discriminatory treatment, defamation or racism, and “defamation of the Jewish state.”
For the latter, she noted so-called Apartheid Wall installations — usually a part of “Israel Apartheid Week” — which are made to mimic the Israeli security wall erected beginning in the Second Intifada to stop the flow of Palestinian terrorists from the West Bank into Israel.
Then there were incidents at the University of California, Davis, where a “Jewish fraternity was defaced with swastikas the day after a contentious divestment vote; ‘grout out the Jews’ was etched into the Hillel house; and vandals carved swastikas and ‘F*** the Jews’ into cars and slashed tires on campus,” according to a statement released by AMCHA.
And at the University of Central Florida, “a rash of antisemitic posters swept through campus over a period of a week. One had a Star of David and the words ‘1%’ and ‘Bankers’ underneath, a second had a swastika on a flag with a message calling for an Israel boycott and others contained the phrases ‘Muh Holocaust’ and ‘Truth is Treason in the empire of lies.'” These were just a couple of examples.
Rossman-Benjamin also noted that the University of California board of regents was due to submit a draft statement at the end of January addressing intolerance, including antisemitism, on UC campuses. This comes after the California State Senate last year adopted a resolution condemning antisemitism on the UC campuses, and urging each UC to do the same.
She said, “There needs to be acknowledgement that antisemitism includes some kind of expression about Israel, some kind of anti-Zionism,” akin to the State Department definition of antisemitism that includes the delegitimization or demonization of Israel, or a double standard applied to it.
Similarly, writing in the San Diego Jewish World on Tuesday, Susan B. Tuchman, director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Center for Law and Justice, and Morton A. Klein, national president of ZOA, noted the upcoming UC regents vote.
“The forthcoming Regents statement will hopefully be an important step toward improving the campus climate for Jewish UC students,” they wrote, saying they hoped the statement would address antisemitism on campus in a “meaningful way.”