Back to School: Jewish Students Should Be Prepared for Hate on Campus
Jewish students are finding themselves unwelcome as they return to New York University, where more than 50 student groups have signed a pledge to boycott Zionist clubs and all goods produced by Israelis.
Don’t be fooled by their language. By “Zionists,” they mean Jews.
“Our point is to make being Zionists uncomfortable on the NYU campus,” explained the president of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). Since Zionism — the belief that Jews have a right to nationhood in their historic homeland — is central to most Jewish organizations, it’s obvious whom the organizers are targeting.
Gone is the free exchange of ideas on the college campus. In 2014, Jewish students at DePaul University, some who felt they were unable to leave their dorm rooms or walk through the student center without fearing for their safety, have been targeted for intimidation and harassment by progressive student groups.
At a University of Illinois rally against white supremacy last year, organizers equated Jewish students and supporters of Israel with neo-Nazis, chanting “No Zionists, no KKK, resisting fascism all the way!”
University of California San Diego Professor Yen Le Espiritu’s office is decorated with posters glorifying Hamas, whose stated goal is not just the destruction of Israel, but the murder of all Jews.
Another constant targeting Jews is the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. Founded in 2005, BDS has been marketed as a non-violent But BDS actually has nothing to do with bettering Palestinian lives. Its only goal is to delegitimize Israel.
In May 2016, at the University of California at Irvine, when sophomore Eliana Kopley arrived at the screening of a documentary about the IDF, she was met by an angry crowd pounding on the doors and windows, chanting vitriol against Israel.
“I was terrified. There is no other word to describe how I felt,” Kopley told the Haym Salomon Center. She ran away, but a group of students followed her. In hiding, she called 911 and remained on the line until the police found her.
Unfortunately, these incidents are not isolated.
Studies conducted in 2016 and 2017 by the antisemitism watchdog group the AMCHA Initiative found that campuses with active anti-Israel groups are overwhelmingly more likely to experience antisemitic incidents than schools that don’t harbor such groups. AMCHA has tracked more than 2,100 antisemitic incidents since 2015.
Despite school policies forbidding discrimination based on religion and ethnicity, Jewish students targeted by anti-Israel groups are rarely protected by administrators, who are either incapable of distinguishing between political and hate speech, or whose personal views may be affecting their objectivity.
David Brog, executive director of the antisemitism education group Maccabee Task Force, echoed AMCHA’s findings in a recent interview with the Haym Salomon Center:
The haters are erasing the line between legitimate criticism of Israel and blatant antisemitism. As they grow ever more extreme in their rhetoric and actions, they rarely pay the price that other types of bigots must pay. And the more that antisemitism is excused, the bolder the antisemites grow. They’re increasingly skipping BDS and jumping straight to hate and harassment, making antisemitic social media posts, disrupting pro-Israel events, and trying to intimidate students from going to the Middle East to learn the facts for themselves.
To prepare students for what they may encounter, the Israel education group StandWithUs recently created “Campus Crash Course.” As a father, the idea that my children should attend a boot camp to prepare them for hatred in college is beyond disturbing.
College life is supposed to be about the freedom to learn, experience, and discover. But what Jewish and pro-Israel students learn about are double standards, and that some people hate you for who you are and what you believe.
This is what passes for social justice on campus.
Paul Miller is president and executive director of the news and public policy group Haym Salomon Center. Follow him on twitter @pauliespoint.
A version of this article was originally published by The Daily Wire.