Anti-Semitism at NYU is nothing new but it seems to be accelerating during this school year about to end. Through it all, NYU President Sexton has done little to stop the anti-Jewish hatred, raising the questions; why does he accept actions against Jews that he would never stand for if it were directed against another group? And is it safe for Jews to attend NYU?
The NY Daily News raised these question Sunday in an op-ed by Tammi Rossman-Benjamin and Leila Beckwith of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization dedicated to exposing anti-Semitism on America’s campuses.
The authors brought up the many cases of anti-Semitism that occurred on the NYU Campus this spring, all of which has been covered by Truth Revolt. Perhaps the most infamous was the fake eviction notices put under Jewish Students’ doors by the NYU Students for Justice in Palestine.
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However, for many Jewish students who woke up to find flyers vilifying and demonizing the Jewish state illicitly shoved into their dorm rooms and who reported feeling “personally attacked, “threatened,” and “unsafe,” these eviction notices served rather to draw attention to the reality that Jewish students at NYU confront on a regular basis, namely, the anti-Jewish harassment, intimidation and bullying that are the hallmark of SJP.
In fact, last month, SJP hosted an anti-Semitic “die-in” rally with chants promoting violence such as “resistance is justified when a people are occupied” and “Zionist state, tear it down.”
SJP members at NYU routinely organize events and campaigns that target Israel and its supporters for opprobrium and harm. This semester alone, the organization has sponsored several events with speakers who have challenged Israel’s right to exist and promoted BDS as a means of weakening and ultimately eliminating the Jewish state, including talks by well-known anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic activists Max Blumenthal and Ali Abunimah.
Some of these events were organized by Professor Lisa Duggan, president of the American Studies Association, the organization that voted for an anti-Israel academic boycott earlier this year.
It’s no surprise that NYU-SJP’s events and campaigns have resulted in Jewish students feeling personally attacked, threatened, and unsafe. The organization’s very mission, with its call for “the full decolonization of all illegally held Palestinian lands (sic)” and “the right of return and repatriation for all Palestinian refugees to their original homes and properties,” is rhetoric considered anti-Semitic by the US Department of State.
(…) SJP is the only university-funded student organization at NYU whose mission targets an ethnic minority for hatred and vilification and whose activities routinely harass, intimidate and threaten members of that ethnic minority on campus. Which raises the question: Why is an organization like SJP allowed to operate with impunity at NYU?
A university spokesperson says the school is “investigating.” Where’s the public condemnation from NYU President John Sexton, where’s the SPJ suspension, where’s NYU’s demand for a public apology, where’s the assurance to Jewish students and parents that nothing like this will happen again?
After SJP at Northeastern University slipped mock eviction notices under hundreds of dorm rooms earlier this spring, the group was immediately suspended.
When SJP at UCLA, earlier this month, demanded that candidates for student government sign a statement pledging they will not go on any trip to Israel sponsored by three Jewish organizations, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and UC President Janet Napolitano issued statements of condemnation and committed UCLA’s VP of Student Affairs to intervene.
Sexton has been President of NYU since 2002. Anti-Semitism has been rampant at NYU well before 2014.
In 2004 NYU Professor Bertell Ollman wrote that he was resigning from the Jewish people:
An all out struggle against Zionism by Jews, therefore, is also the most effective way to fight against real anti-Semitism. Furthermore, if Zionism is indeed a particularly virulent form of nationalism and, increasingly, of racism and if Israel is acting toward its captive minority in ways that resemble more and more how the Nazis treated their Jews, then we must also say so.
In September 2013 the NYU Law School held an evening to promote BDS. To ensure the event would not be attended by any Jews who could raise a stink, they held the event on the first night of the Jewish holiday of Succot, ensuring that many opponents of BDS just wouldn’t show up.
In 2003, the late Tony Judt, who at the time was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor in European Studies at New York University and Director of NYU’s Erich Maria Remarque Institute excused Muslim anti-Semitism as the natural result of the support of Israel by Diaspora Jews:
Today, non-Israeli Jews feel themselves once again exposed to criticism and vulnerable to attack for things they didn’t do. But this time it is a Jewish state, not a Christian one, which is holding them hostage for its own actions. Diaspora Jews cannot influence Israeli policies, but they are implicitly identified with them, not least by Israel’s own insistent claims upon their allegiance. The behavior of a self-described Jewish state affects the way everyone else looks at Jews. The increased incidence of attacks on Jews in Europe and elsewhere is primarily attributable to misdirected efforts, often by young Muslims, to get back at Israel. The depressing truth is that Israel’s current behavior is not just bad for America, though it surely is. It is not even just bad for Israel itself, as many Israelis silently acknowledge. The depressing truth is that Israel today is bad for the Jews.
The US State Department’s working definition of anti-Semitism states “Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”
The US State Department continues with examples of contemporary anti-Semitism with regard to Israel: “Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.”
It seems that since he took office in 2002, NYU President John Sexton has done little to discourage the school he runs from being a hostile environment for its Jewish students.