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August 9, 2016 11:31 pm

Major Jewish Groups Rebuke ‘Irresponsible’ University of Tennessee for Failure to Condemn Antisemitism on Campus

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Major campus watchdog groups slammed the University of Tennessee for failing to condemn campus antisemitism. Photo: UTK.

Major campus watchdog groups slammed the University of Tennessee for failing to condemn campus antisemitism. Photo: UTK.

Major Jewish campus groups rebuked the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) on Tuesday for failing to outright condemn antisemitism on campus, telling The Algemeiner that the school’s approach to the issue was reckless. 

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative — which combats, monitors and documents antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America — and Aron Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s (SWC) campus outreach arm, were reacting to a statement released by UTK  on Monday in response to an exclusive report by The Algemeiner last week highlighting antisemitism and racism at the school. 

UTK must “vociferously condemn and repudiate any and all antisemitic statements and activities by past and present members of the campus community,” SWC’s Hier told The Algemeiner, while Rossman-Benjamin described the administration’s response as “irresponsible.”

“What UTK should have said was this type of speech is heinous and despicable and call it out as antisemitism, plain and simple,” she said.

In UTK’s statement, a spokesman downplayed the reports of campus antisemitism while defending the students’ rights to use offensive language, telling local television station ABC 6:

The university does not condone the statements included in the story; however, we believe those current and former students were within their constitutional rights to post their personal viewpoints. None of the statements included in the story was made on behalf of any of our student organizations.

According to AMCHA’s Rossman-Benjamin, while UTK is “technically correct that what was said by the students is a form of free speech,” the school’s response shows that “they don’t know the first thing about campus climate and the relationship between antisemitic expression and antisemitic action, action that really targets and harms Jewish students on campus.”

In July, AMCHA published a shocking report revealing the dramatic rise of antisemitic activity across more than 100 US college campuses between January and June 2016. The survey also found that Jewish college students are the largest university population “coming under systematic attack.” Reports out of UTK, Rossman-Benjamin said, should serve as a wake-up call for the university administration.

“AMCHA found in our two recent studies that there is a very direct and strong correlation between antisemitic expression — particularly antisemitic anti-Zionism expression — and incitement of anti-Jewish hostility which targets Jewish students for harm, assault, harassment, intimidation, suppression of speech and discrimination, all because they are Jewish. Whether or not this is currently the case on UTK’s campus, this type of rhetoric is creating a fertile ground for such incidents to happen,” she told The Algemeiner.

UTK’s failure to outright condemn the rhetoric is a “lost opportunity,” Rossman-Benjamin said, adding, “University leaders have their own free speech to condemn. They can use good speech to condemn antisemitic and racist speech.”

As reported by The Algemeiner last week, Canary Mission — a secretive group that monitors anti-American, anti-Israel and antisemitic activities on college campuses — said it had uncovered a “disturbing trend” of extreme Jew-hatred and other forms of bigotry at UTK. This, the group said, is being spread by members connected to the school’s branches of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Students Association (MSA).

One UTK SJP member proudly praised Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, tweeting, “Had to write about a leader for DCL class. Wrote about Hitler. Cuz he’s a boss.” A recent UTK graduate attacked a Jewish social media user, referring to “dirty filthy Jews,” while the founder of UTK’s SJP chapter tweeted in support for terror against Israel. 

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  • The reason blacks force schools to action and Jews don’t is that Jews don’t demonstrate forcefully and in large numbers.

    Break their heads and threaten force and the school will react properly.

    But that’s asking too much because Jews are so busy being busy and productive and good citizens.

    Give me 42 million Jews and this country will cease having all the problems its has today.

    • A.

      Jews don’t exist “in large numbers,” do they? Who could possibly “give” you “42 million Jews”?

  • Leslie Benjamini

    It is absolutely unbelievable that in the United States of America in the year 2016 that this kind of behavior is not only tolerated but encouraged by the administrations of universities & institutions of higher learning. It is encouraged by not standing up & stopping this disgusting behavior by SJP & the MSA. THIS HAS BEEN GOING NOW FOR 20 years & it is getting worse year by year. UCI in Irvine, California & UCDavis in Davis, California are two of the worst in California although not the only in California. It is inconceivable that in a country founded on freedom to practice your religion & discrimination is supposedly not to be tolerated these two disgusting groups, funded by countries outside the USA, who hate Jews & Israel are allowed to torture one group of students & make their lives a living hell just because they are Jews. When is this government going to take a stand & protect its young Jewish population from foreign intruders who seek to disrupt our tolerant & inclusive way of life. This country should be ashamed.

    • Bob uknowho

      You’re a disgusting person. You know what they say about stones and glass houses.

      There is fiction in the space between
      The lines on your page of memories
      Write it down but it doesn’t mean
      You’re not just telling stories
      There is fiction in the space between
      You and me

      There is fiction in the space between
      You and reality
      You will do and say anything
      To make your everyday life
      Seem less mundane
      There is fiction in the space between
      You and me

      There’s a science fiction in the space between
      You and me
      A fabrication of a grand scheme
      Where I am the scary monster
      I eat the city and as I leave the scene
      In my spaceship I am laughing
      In your remembrance of your bad dream
      There’s no one but you standing

      Leave the pity and the blame
      For the ones who do not speak
      You write the words to get respect and compassion
      And for posterity
      You write the words and make believe
      There is truth in the space between

      There is fiction in the space between
      You and everybody
      Give us all what we need
      Give us one more sad sordid story
      But in the fiction of the space between
      Sometimes a lie is the best thing
      Sometimes a lie is the best thing

  • A great of anti-Semitism and racism comes directly from the political left and Muslims in general so where is the worthless ADL. No, they are too busy claiming “America first” as anti-Semitic but Muslim and left-wing racism and anti-Semitism is ignored – in particular by left-wing Jewish groups. the PC nutjobs and leftist run these campuses so where’s the lefties on this?

  • Lia

    No more money for UTK, neither as donations, contributions or tuition fees. Let the SJP fund the uni from here on.

  • Yaakov

    There is a difference between prohibiting something and condemning it. Anti-Jewish statements should be condemned even if they are allowed as part of free speech.

    In the first sentence, there should be a comma after “Knoxville (UTK)” because it is in apposition to “University of Tennessee.”

    • walter77777

      Yaakov has the right idea. We rightly condemn the antisemitic mamzerim at UTK, but freedom of speech requires us to permit it.