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Anti-Israel Campaigns Spread Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

Anti-Israel Campaigns Spread Anti-Semitism on College Campuses

Established in 1636, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The University, which is based in Cambridge and Boston, Massachusetts, has an enrollment of over 20,000 degree candidates, including undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Harvard has more than 360,000 alumni around the world. | (Photo: Courtesy of Harvard University)

Anti-Semitic incidents seem to spring up each week on college campuses throughout the United States.

According to a study, "The strongest predictor of anti-Jewish hostility on campus" is the presence of a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The greater the BDS activity, especially involving faculty members, the more likely anti-Semitic episodes become, said the study issued last month by the AMCHA Initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to investigating, documenting, and combating anti-Semitism on U.S. campuses.

One recent example occurred on April 15, when the City University of New York Doctoral Students' Council passed a resolution calling for an academic boycott of Israel, 42-19. Weeks earlier, a CUNY professor and BDS advocate claimed that the killing of Palestinians in Gaza "reflects Jewish values." On CUNY campuses, the New York Observer reports, Jewish students were harassed, with "Jews out of CUNY" uttered in at least one instance, and a professor who wears a yarmulke was called a "Zionist pig."

On April 21, two-thirds of a union representing about 2,000 graduate students at New York University voted to approve a motion to support a BDS resolution against Israel. The motion also urges the union and its affiliate, the United Auto Workers, to divest from Israeli companies. The resolution asks NYU to close its program at Tel Aviv University, claiming the program violates NYU's non-discrimination policy.

About a month earlier, NYU's Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), one of the main organizing forces behind the nationwide BDS campaign, hosted Israeli academic Ilan Pappé, described by Benny Morris as "one of the world's sloppiest historians."

As reported by AMCHA:

"Pappé blamed Jews, perceived historically as evil, for antisemitism stating, 'The [Jewish] Israelis ... are responsible for bringing antisemitism back.' He denied Jews self-determination and demonized Israel stating, 'evil Zionism will come to an end – all immoral regimes do' as well as suggested rich Jews should leave Israel as a process of 'decolonization.' He further demonized Israel throughout accusing Israel of carrying out 'ethnic cleansing' multiple times. Pappé delegitimized Israel consistently referring to Israel as a 'settler colonialist project,' ... [and] promoted BDS."

The Jewish Law Students Association at Harvard University and Harvard Hillel co-sponsored an event April 14 on "The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict & the U.S." During the question and answer session, Husam el-Qoulaq, an HLS student and head of SJP at the school, insulted Israeli Knesset Member Tzipi Livni by asking, "How is it that you are so smelly? ... A question about the odor of Ms. Tzipi Livni, she's very smelly, and I was just wondering."

The student's question resurrected the anti-Semitic stereotype of a "smelly/dirty Jew." Incredibly, some "progressive" HLS Jewish students later defended el-Qoulaq.

As BDS campaigns spread on campuses, anti-Semitic expression increasingly follows — from swastika-filled vandalism at UC Davis and Purdue University to student "debates" at Stanford University that implicitly dignify classical anti-Semitic tropes about Jews controlling the media and economy.

Among other recent incidents:

  • April 20: At Michigan's Grand Valley State University, there have been six anti-Semitic incidents reported on campus since last December. These involved swastikas on walls or doors of residence halls, messages including "I am a Nazi" and "Hitler did nothing wrong," a faculty member making anti-Semitic gestures in a classroom, and a Star of David with an "X" scratched into it on the window of a bus.
  • April 19: At the University of Maryland, about two dozen protesters arrived at a Hillel and Jewish Student Union event called, "Israel Fest" and, for about an hour, chanted, "Fight the power; turn the tide; end Israeli apartheid" and held signs saying "Zionism kills."
  • April 15: At the University of Notre Dame, a letter published by three students in the school newspaper accused Israel of apartheid and directed readers to the Anti-Semitic site "IfAmericansKnew" and the site for a major BDS group, Jewish Voice for Peace.

According to AMCHA, 2016 already has seen 171 anti-Semitic/BDS incidents as of April 21. At this rate, 2016 will see a 36 percent increase in incidents over last year.

Faculty members have become increasingly active in BDS efforts and smears. During a talk at Vassar College in February, Rutgers professor Jasbir Puar accused Israel of harvesting Palestinian organs and conducting scientific experiments in "stunting" the growth of Palestinian bodies. Last month, 40 Columbia University professors signed a BDS petition. More recently, one pro-BDS professor even tried to link campus rape to Israel. As Rochester Institute of Technology lecturer A.J. Caschetta notes, "at a time when much of academe is jumping on the BDS bandwagon, there is little risk to academics who join the movement, whereas opposition to majority leftist positions often leads to a perilous path."

Noah Beck is the author of "The Last Israelis," a submarine thriller about the Iranian nuclear threat and the doomsday scenario that it could produce.

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