Confront Anti-Semitism in Campuses

In a recent op-ed in the Jewish Journal, acclaimed author Dr.Harold Brackman says it’s time to confront anti-semitism in campuses – and mentions the unfortunate incident where Santa Cruz students attempted to disrupt an A Wider Bridge program.

The Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) was founded at UC Berkeley and is perversely active at UCLA where it has spearheaded an attempt to purge, Joe McCarthy fashion, Jews with whom it disagrees about Israel from campus political life.

SJP has been investigated and sanctioned across the country for cursing Jewish students who dare to wear a yarmulke, targeting Jewish dorm residents with “eviction notices,” and setting up campus “check points” to hassle Jews who walk to and from class.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement uses anti-Israel invective, not only to make a point, but to instill fear in order to silence Jewish students who disagree. In fact, anti-Israel activists repeatedly harass and single out Jewish students regardless of their positions or involvement with Israel-related issues. At UC Santo Cruz last semester, anti-Israel activists protested a Hillel event hosted for the LGBT community. This is anti-Semitism. To say that we shouldn’t stand in solidarity Jewish students by correctly identifying anti-Semitism as it manifests on campuses today is flat out wrong. Our sons and daughters shouldn’t be forced to defend themselves, their identities and/or their religion under the guise of “political protest.” They should be able to go to college and get an education, unhampered by this type of targeted harassment and intimidation. There will be no escaping the consequences of inaction. Are our young people on campus mature enough on campus to contend with political protests about Israel like any other country in the world? Absolutely. But their identity and rights need to be protected against attempts to use anti-Israel advocacy as a thin disguise to harass, intimidate, and silence Jewish students in ways that would not be tolerate against LGBT or African American students, for example. At the very least, campus anti-Semites should be called out for what they say and do. Jewish students should not face being attacked, targeted, demonized and harassed during campus political brawls without any administrative condemnation of anti-Semitism when it occurs.

We do not pre-judge where criticism of Israel crosses the line into anti-Semitic invective against Jews and the Jewish state, a UN member state. We merely insist that there is such a line that needs to be drawn, and that Mr. Stern is wrong to try to finesse it out of existence. And here we offer some common sense rules.

If there is a LGBT rally on campus, and a protest against legalizing LGBT marriage includes signs saying, “From Sea to Shining Sea, No Gays in America Will I See”—that crosses a line. If there is an anti-Israel rally with signs saying, “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free Of Jews”—that crosses a line. To ignore when clear lines are crossed in any society is not only foolish, it is the most dangerous course to take. Our society and especially our schools have an obligation to call out bigotry, hatred, and any form of racism as it occurs. Condemnation is our weapon against bigotry. It does not mean the student with the bigoted sign gets punished for carrying the sign. Free speech is essential to this society and we are very strong free speech advocates. What condemnation means is that the racist student gets called out on his/her bigotry by those in a position to do so. It means administrators no longer stay silent when Jewish students are openly and unabashedly targeted for discrimination. It means our sons and daughters can walk away with a well-rounded educational experience and not an endorsed anti-Semitic experience when they look back on their college years.

Read the full story on The Jewish Journal