Why do college administrations fight racism even going to the extent of filing criminal charges, but ignore anti-Semitism? That’s the question asked by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin in an essay published in Accuracy in Academia on Tuesday.
“Over the last several years, Jewish students on campuses across the country have been physically, emotionally, and intellectually harassed, intimidated, threatened, and bullied, not only by their fellow students but also by some of their professors…The official response to these episodes has been silence.”
In her essay “Anti-Semitism on Campus 2014,” Ms Rossman-Benjamin sets up her argument with the stories of anti-black and anti-Latino incidents at colleges which were investigated by university, county, and state officials and/or even the FBI all at the universities’ urging. She then lists six anti-Semitic incidents at major universities that were greeted with silence from the school administrations.
She writes that there are two major sources of the hatred:
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The first major source for anti-Jewish sentiment on campus is members of the Muslim and pro-Palestinian student organizations. For more than a decade, these groups have sponsored speakers, films, exhibits, and guerrilla theater that engage in discourse or use imagery and language considered anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department. These student groups have also been responsible for aggressively confronting students at pro-Israel events and threatening, physically harassing, and assaulting Jewish students.
Over the past couple of years, the groups have also promoted campaigns to boycott Israel or companies that do business with Israel. Talks, rallies, and exhibits containing anti-Semitic imagery, rhetoric, and actions accompany these campaigns. Jewish students have reported fearing for their safety in the days leading up to and after the campaigns, saying they were “continuously intimidated” and “repeatedly threatened.”
The second source of anti-Israel sentiment on campus is faculty. In classrooms and at departmentally sponsored events, faculty members have advanced lies and distortions about Zionism, Israel, and Jews, and advocated the elimination of the Jewish State. Although their rhetoric is unscholarly, politically motivated, and even at times anti-Semitic, these professors have wrapped themselves in the mantle of academic freedom, making it very difficult to challenge.
This Jew-hatred disguised as Israel-bashing perpetrated by professors hiding behind the safety of tenure and academic freedom, is having severe negative effects on Jewish students. They report feeling emotionally and intellectually harassed and intimidated by their professors, to the point that they are reluctant or afraid to express a view that is not anti-Israel in their classes. Even worse they are too afraid to come forward and confront their professor or complain to the University, knowing that the professor will be protected and they will face retaliation.
Sadly, Jewish students who have spoken out have been vilified and attacked for even trying to call attention to the anti-Semitic behavior they are experiencing. For example, at a University of California, Davis anti-Israel “occupation” rally last November, a student who expressed concern about the anti-Semitic banners displayed at the protest was physically assaulted by a protestor who screamed in his face, “You are racist and you should die in hell.”
Who bears the most blame for the tsunami of campus anti-Semitism? University administrators. Distressingly, administrators routinely turn a blind eye to this long-standing and pervasive anti-Jewish bigotry and ignore Jewish students’ pleas for help. Language and behavior that would never be tolerated from students or faculty when directed against other campus minorities goes unchallenged by administrators when directed against Jewish students. The primary responsibility for addressing campus Antisemitism rests with university administrators.