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February 10, 2016 7:27 am

Broken Windows: How US Universities Encourage Hate Speech Against Jews and Israel

avatar by Leora Eisenberg

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 "Israeli Apartheid Week" in May 2010 on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

“Israeli Apartheid Week” in May 2010 on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus. Photo: AMCHA Initiative.

The facade of a building conveys the general state of affairs inside. If a building is kept clean, we conclude that those inside it care about its upkeep and productivity. By the same token, if a building has broken windows, we are left to assume that it has been abandoned — and justifiably so. It means that no one has bothered to fix it.

The broken windows principle was first established by Professors James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, and later popularized by the journalist Bret Stephens, among others. It maintains that if a window is broken and left unrepaired, people are sent this signal: you can smash as much glass as you’d like, without fear of repercussions.

Imagine that our “building” is a university campus, and its windows are its various institutions and ideals: free speech, tolerance, and open debate. Imagine further that our building, in the name of these very ideals, has allowed purveyors of anti-Israel hate speech –like the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement — to expand.

When this happens, the university’s stand against hate speech is a building with broken windows.

As someone who intends to keep windows whole, I am not against there being anti-Israel groups on campus, as long as they respect the institution’s rules. They are entitled to their point of view, however misinformed. That said, they are not entitled to shatter the democratic ideals on which an institution of higher education should be based. They are not entitled to break windows with impunity. When they promote intolerance through hate speech, they are breaking those windows.

Just a few days ago, I was the target of a hate video from a young woman who seems to be affiliated with a university that I will not name here.

Although I could not take that person’s preposterous ramblings seriously, I was dismayed at the language in the video. In it, support for terrorism ran rampant (“These people are upset… These people are not terrorists…”). Likewise, this video preached vile antisemitism (“We saved the Jews from the Nazis. Hitler tried to kill the Jew. Look what happened, it backfired. They’re like one thousand times more powerful now”). Facebook did not remove the video under the bizarre claim that it did not violate the social network’s “community standards,” and the university has remained silent.

This particular university is renowned for its broken windows. Antisemitism, often but not always, taking the form of anti-Israel activity, is tolerated on this campus and met with little other than half-baked words of criticism.

The woman in the video was not afraid to expose her opinions — them being that I am a whole host of expletives, all to the great joy of an ecstatic public that supported her with the usual cries of “Free Palestine,” as well as some choice phrases that I don’t care to repeat in print.

The fact that a university student attacked a high school student 2,000 miles away in a video of this kind shows what the anti-Israel movement has become.

And the university’s failure to do anything in response speaks volumes for its supposed ideals of tolerance, free speech, and respect of all individuals. That woman in the video represents a university’s tolerance for intolerance, and its blind eye towards antisemitism.

If I were in charge of that university, I would be ashamed.

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