Tuesday, August 9th | 12 Av 5782

August 20, 2020 5:50 am

Tolerating Jew Hatred

avatar by Jack Saltzberg


The University of Southern California campus. Photo: Padsquad19 via Wikimedia Commons.

Another Jew. Another resignation letter. Even the high numbers of assaults and murders perpetrated against Jews haven’t slowed the growing onslaught of the only seemingly acceptable form of public discrimination: Jew-hatred.

The first resignation came from Bari Weiss at The New York Times. Weiss was brought to the Times from the more conservative Wall Street Journal specifically to bring more diverse voices and opinions from “first-time writers, centrists, conservatives and others who would not naturally think of the Times as their home.” However, even at the venerable and liberal Times, it is apparently acceptable for her colleagues who “disagree” with her views to openly call her a “Nazi and a racist,” and to make comments about her “writing about the Jews again.”

If a Times staffer had chastised a colleague of any other minority for “writing about the blacks/gays/Mexicans/Muslims again,” I guarantee that person’s desk would be emptied by day’s end, and a media firestorm would follow with a Times mea culpa.

Weiss questioned how the Times could allow this kind of behavior to exist “in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public.” Isn’t that how more violent forms of antisemitism get started, with silence and compliance, especially in the media?

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The second resignation letter — which the president of the University of Southern California (USC) described as “heartbreaking” — was from Rose Ritch, a student who was Vice President of the Undergraduate Student Government. Ritch resigned because, as she wrote: “I have been harassed and pressured for weeks by my fellow students because they opposed one of my identities. It is not because I am a woman, nor because I identify as queer, femme, or cisgender. All of these identities qualified me as electable when the student body voted last February. But because I also openly identify as a Zionist, a supporter of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” Ritch was called a “racist” (sound familiar?) and a movement was started to “impeach [her] Zionist a**.”

Like Weiss at the Times, Ritch said of USC’s leadership: “[I] am disappointed that the university has not recognized the need to publicly protect Jewish students from the type of antisemitic harassment I endured.”

See a pattern?

Oberlin College students can erect a memorial honoring dead Palestinian terrorists from Islamic Jihad, and Northwestern University can host Rasmea Odeh, a convicted terrorist who killed two Israelis, but a student with pro-Israel sentiments is cause for a movement to try to remove her from USC’s student government.

Another resignation came from Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, an Orthodox-trained rabbi who became the first non-Christian president to lead Berkeley’s Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Lehmann’s seemingly forced resignation — without any public fanfare — was allegedly prompted by the fact that he is a Zionist who publicly opposes the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement leveled at Israel. Obviously, no person can lead a progressive interfaith college when they’ve publicly supported a right of return to our Jewish homeland and the Jewish people’s right to self-determination.

Evidently, there’s one set of standards for Jewish students and faculty and another for everyone else. And don’t even mention the antisemitism and hatred that has been allowed to thrive on social media, sometimes from famous and prominent celebrities and cultural figures.

We see all this further exemplified in the proliferation of hate crimes against Jews. According to the FBI, in 2018, the highest reported rate of religious hate crimes in the US was those perpetrated against Jews, at an astonishing 57.8%. The second highest was anti-Islamic at 14.5%, followed by anti-Sikh at 4.1%. We see the physical manifestation of Jew hatred growing bolder: from the random beating attacks against observant Jews in Brooklyn, to the shooting deaths of five people in a Jewish New Jersey market, to the 11 people murdered at the Tree of Life congregation in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, Jew-hatred is not addressed like other forms of discrimination against minorities. Following Ritch’s resignation, USC President Carol Folt’s public letter delivered a disappointing acceptance of Jew hatred through her lack of meaningful action.

The only serious response should be what would have happened had the harassment been aimed at a student who is Black, Asian, gay, Muslim, Mexican, or any other minority aside from Jew. Anything less is perpetuating the public, systemic, and growing acceptance of Jew-hatred.

Jack Saltzberg is the founder and president of The Israel Group.

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