10 Notable Campus Stories From 2016
Jewish and pro-Israel students around the world have been facing a deluge of hostile activity in the form of Palestinian human-rights advocacy. This year, through the establishment of The Algemeiner’s Campus Bureau, we have have reported on this phenomenon. As 2017 kicks off, here is a list of what we consider the most significant examples from the past year.
1. “Cesspool” of Antisemitic, Anti-Israel Racism Uncovered at University of Tennessee, Knoxville
The Algemeiner revealed information obtained by covert watchdog group Canary Mission about an online “echo chamber of hate speech” conducted by 34 students associated with the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine and Muslim Student Association. On social media, members of these groups referred to Hitler as a “boss,” posted images glorifying terrorism against Israelis and Jews and harassed Jewish students. The Campus Bureau’s extensive reporting on this topic garnered the attention of the international press.
2. Mobs Violently Protested Jewish, Pro-Israel Events
In two separate incidents, campus mobs attacked students participating in Israel-related events, first at UC Irvine and then at University College, London. In California, protesters tried to prevent students from watching a film about the Israel Defense Forces. One Jewish student was forced to hide from violent protesters, and eventually had to be rescued by police. In the UK, some 50 demonstrators descended on a lecture by an Israel advocate, forcing members of the audience to barricade themselves in the room where the talk was being held. Police had to escort Jewish and Zionist students out amid shouts of “Shame!”
3. Jewish Students in the UK Lost Their Voice
Many Jewish students on UK campuses said their voices have being stifled and their concerns widely ignored. Malia Bouattia, the president of the country’s umbrella student organization, who repeatedly failed to apologize for antisemitic anti-Zionist remarks and social media posts, was accused by both the British government and Jewish groups of downplaying antisemitism. A prominent UK parliamentarian recently warned that certain universities have become “no-go zones” for Jews.
4. Hindu Student Leader Forced to Leave UCLA Due to BDS Harassment
Student leader Milan Chatterjee decided to leave UCLA after he was bullied by the BDS movement and the administration for remaining neutral on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Chatterjee told The Algemeiner in an exclusive interview that he found it “very scary how BDS activists will go to any measure to destroy people’s reputations and careers.”
5. Oberlin Said Goodbye to Antisemitic Professor Who Accused Jews of Carrying Out 9/11 Attacks
After dragging its feet for months, Oberlin College finally announced its decision to fire professor Joy Karega for years-worth of blatantly antisemitic social media posts, which included conspiracy theories taken from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Oberlin officials first promised in March to investigate Karega, but it was only in August — two days after The Algemeiner reported on alumni outrage over her continued employment — that the school announced she was being placed on leave, pending the results of the final investigation. The inquiry was completed in November, with Karega’s termination.
6. UC Berkeley Students Learned How to Exterminate Israel
The Campus Bureau broke a story in September about a student-run course offered at UC Berkeley that explored how the Jewish state might be obliterated. Watchdog groups decried the class as a “classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism.” UC Berkeley administration flip-flopped, first suspending, then reinstating the course. Days after the class was placed back on the schedule, posters pointing to “Jewish influence” were found on campus.
7. Spate of Antisemitic Vandalism Hit US Campuses
Following the conclusion of 2016’s tumultuous US presidential elections, campuses across the country were witness to what campus watchdog groups called an “unprecedented” spate of antisemitic vandalism. In the month of November alone, some 40 cases of swastika and other anti-Jewish graffiti were recorded.
8. Antisemitic Rutgers Professor Gave Lecture on Evils of Israeli Government, Military
Rutgers University professor Jasbir Puar — who infamously accused Israel of harvesting the organs of Palestinians — became, yet again, the center of controversy, this time for propagating a blood libel against the Jewish state during a lecture she delivered at Dartmouth. Puar accused the IDF of engaging in “shoot-to-cripple practices,” as part of “biopolitical” tactics to control the “occupation.” She said that to achieve its “aims of settler colonialism,” Israel purposely maims the Palestinian people and targets their children. The head of the society who sponsored Dartmouth talk defended her remarks as “uncomfortable truths.”
9. ‘Failed’ CUNY Antisemitism Investigation Encouraged Further Campus Jew-Hatred
Despite blatant incidences of antisemitic anti-Zionism at City University of New York (CUNY) campuses — such as a Hunter College rally at which protesters shouted “death to Jews” and “Zionist out of CUNY” — an internal investigation concluded that much of what was concerning Jewish groups fell under the category of “protected speech.” The findings of the investigation — which came six months after the head of the Zionist Organization of America sent a letter to CUNY Chancellor James Milliken charging that his schools’ chapters of SJP are responsible for creating “a hostile campus environment” for Jewish students — were slammed by campus watchdogs and Jewish groups.
10. The Algemeiner Released Its First Annual Ranking of Universities, Based on Experiences of Jewish Students
This December, the Campus Bureau released its inaugural ranking of the “40 Worst Colleges for Jewish Students” in North America, alongside a supplementary list of the “15 Best Colleges for Jewish Students.” Topping the “worst” list was New York’s Columbia University. The main purpose of the ranking was “first and foremost to draw attention to the problem of rising hostility faced by many Jewish students on campus today.”
Lea Speyer is senior campus correspondent for The Algemeiner.