Oberlin Alumnus, Teacher Call on College to Stop Ignoring Antisemitic Climate on Campus
An Oberlin alumnus and faculty member are calling on the campus community to stop ignoring the antisemitic climate promoted by both students and administrators.
In the blog IsraellyCool on Sunday, a recent Oberlin college graduate — the content of whose story caused him to remain anonymous — recounted the abuse he and fellow Jewish and Zionist students were forced to endure.
The alum said that his “first brush with true mob mentality” occurred during an anti-Israel rally that took place when he was a junior. He wrote that while heading into the library to study for finals, “I heard ‘Zio,’ and ‘Kike!’ shouted at me along with actual raw bacon, thrown by a cowardly student protester.”
In addition, the alum wrote, he was fired from his editorial job at the school’s satirical student newspaper, because “my positions on Zionism and Israel made some of the other editors uncomfortable.”
“I was immediately placed into the box of ‘Zio,’ a word I began to hear more and more at Oberlin,” he said.
While the alum said he blames Oberlin administrators “for fostering an academic environment tolerant of open acts of antisemitism, it is through fear of its own students rather than malice.”
Referencing the recent controversy surrounding Oberlin professor Joy Karega, who, as reported by The Algemeiner, was put on paid leave months after a slew of her antisemitic and anti-Zionist social media postings were made public, the alum slammed the administration’s seemingly lax response.
“Despite her blatant antisemitism, the college was utterly paralyzed by the event, as many students dismissed the feelings of Jewish students as ‘Zionist apologia’ or more ignorantly ‘white privilege.’ They flocked to the antisemitic teachers’ aid, saying that accusations of antisemitism simply served to ‘silence people of color,’” he wrote.
It was only after “nearly an entire academic year” and “a full year of this bigot remaining a teacher for young, impressionable minds,” did the Board of Trustees “step in and [do] the right thing,” he wrote.
The above criticism was echoed by Jade Schiff, an assistant professor of politics at the college.
In a recent letter addressed to the editors of the student newspaper The Oberlin Review, Schiff called out their downplaying of Jew-hatred in coverage of the Karega investigation, writing:
…I remain troubled by the equivocation about the substance of the Facebook posts — “many considered” they were antisemitic — which I had hoped would have been settled by the many, many interventions about them in the Review and in campus discussions last year. Clearly, it has not been settled, so to reiterate: The content of the posts was antisemitic. Period. As a matter of historical and contemporary context, as a moral matter and as a matter of intellectual honesty, we have got to stop waffling about this. The fact that the posts were antisemitic ought not to dictate any particular outcome of the…investigation, but it is a fact nonetheless.
This is not the first time that our community has confronted bigotry and been called upon to acknowledge it. It has never been easy. That we still cannot do it suggests that we have a lot to learn.
Schiff and the Oberlin alum are among a growing number of people expressing concern about antisemitism at the college.
As reported by The Algemeiner, Oberlin’s official governance and disciplinary investigation into Karega has now reached its fifth month. Faculty have been complaining about the drawn-out investigation, which, according to school policy, must conclude within a maximum of 52 days.
A member of an Oberlin alumni organization told The Algemeiner that while the group is closely monitoring the Karega inquiry, “Oberlin has larger, underlying problems that still need to be addressed, including antisemitism and an unwillingness to listen to each other. We’d like to be able to move forward so that we can tackle these others issues.”
In March, as was reported by The Algemeiner, it was first revealed by The Tower that Karega’s Facebook page was riddled with years’ worth of antisemitic posts, which have subsequently been deleted.
In one January 2015 post, following the infamous Charlie Hebdo massacre, Karega shared an image portraying Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a secret Islamic State (ISIS) terrorist. The caption accompanying the picture implied the attack was a “false flag” aimed at halting French support for Palestinians.
Two months later, she also accused Israelis and Jews of being behind ISIS, the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 and of controlling the world.