Tag: Antisemitism on Campus

DePaul University Adjunct Professor Glorifies Terrorism And Promotes Anti-Semitism

By Bradley Martin


Last month, the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (G-ETS) appointed Taurean J. Webb as its Director of the Center for the Church and the Black Experience. The prominent Methodist seminary also announced that Webb would be joining its faculty as an assistant professor of religion and race upon completion of his dissertation.

“We are delighted that Mr. Webb has accepted our invitation to join the Garrett-Evangelical faculty,” said G-ETS President Lallene J. Rector. “His work in black theology, commitment to interfaith dialogue and activism, and expertise in critical race theory are gifts that will enhance and strengthen the seminary’s commitment to preparing spiritual leaders for today’s church and world.”

If G-ETS considers what Webb has to offer as “gifts,” then hopefully they kept the receipts. Using his position as Adjunct Professor of Black History at DePaul University, Webb was a featured speaker at the 2018 convention of American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).

While AMP claims to stand “against all forms of bigotry and racism,” the annual event boasted a star-studded cast of anti-Jewish bigots and terrorist sympathizers. Sharing the platform with Webb were Imam Omar Suleiman, who has called homosexuality a “repugnant shameless sin” and justified sex slavery, and Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), who is on record as lending support to genocidal terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Continue on The Daily Wire


(Bradley Martin is a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research)




For Culture Warrior David Horowitz, Deplatforming is No Deterrent: Barbara Kay, National Post, Nov. 13, 2018 — An opinion columnist nowadays could take campus disruptions or deplatformings of conservative speakers as his or her sole weekly topic and never run out of material.

Recommendation Letter Flap Illustrates Increasingly Hostile Campus Climate for Israel Supporters: Ariel Behar, IPT News, Nov. 5, 2018— After he criticized Hamas in a 2014 Facebook post, Connecticut College Professor Andrew Pessin was forced into a sabbatical due to threats and faculty ostracism.

‘Our Struggle Is My Struggle’: The Dangers of Grievance Studies: Ben Cohen, JNS, Oct. 14, 2018— The world of academia has been riveted by the full account of an elaborate hoax that resulted in several high-profile academic journals publishing articles based on ludicrous notions and fake field research, but couched in the language of social justice and identity politics.

Sympathizing with Minorities: Philip Carl Salzman, Frontier Centre, Nov. 9, 2018— When one of my friends and colleagues accused me of being unsympathetic to minorities, I was indignant.

On Topic Links

Sarah Lawrence Prof Pens Op-Ed About Lack of Intellectual Diversity, Social Justice Warriors Want Him Driven Off Campus: Mike LaChance, Legal Insurrection, Nov. 3, 2018

The University of Michigan Has a Big Problem: Kenneth H. Ryesky, Algemeiner, Oct. 16, 2018

Ivory Tower Bigots: David Mikics, Tablet, Oct. 16, 2018

Did 1968 Win the Culture War?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Nov. 22, 2018



DEPLATFORMING IS NO DETERRENT                                                                                      

Barbara Kay                                                                                                                               

National Post, Nov. 13, 2018

An opinion columnist nowadays could take campus disruptions or deplatformings of conservative speakers as his or her sole weekly topic and never run out of material. The latest example comes to us out of New Hampshire’s elite Dartmouth College (tuition US$75,000 a year), where formidable conservative polemicist David Horowitz — soon to celebrate his 80th birthday — was recently invited to speak for Dartmouth’s College Republicans and Students Supporting Israel association.

Things went exactly as any informed person might expect — badly. Leaflets circulating prior to the event accused Horowitz of being a “racist, sexist and ignorant bigot.” During his presentation, the Dartmouth Socialists reportedly played loud porn videos, displaying banners with slogans like “ICE is the Gestapo” and talking over Horowitz. What Horowitz had to say was lost to all but the most distraction-resistant students. Beforehand, a gender studies professor had tweeted, “Islamophobe and anti-intellectual David Horowitz is speaking today … He is a hater of the first order.”

“Anti-intellectual?” That struck me as especially mindless, as she clearly has never read a word Horowitz has written. Horowitz’s publication bibliography runs to 50 pages, much of it a deeply informed, scholarly unpacking of the radical left’s American odyssey. As for his 1997 opus, Radical Son, George Gilder called it “the first great autobiography of his generation.” Other critics rank it at the same level for style and substance as Whittaker Chambers’ Witness and Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon. The rest of what the professor tweeted is also a lie. Horowitz has a 50-year history of civil-rights activism. Horowitz only hates Marxism, including the cultural Marxism of identity politics, so he never assigns collective guilt to individuals. (Ironically, he has both a black and a transgender grandchild.)

Needless to say, Dartmouth did not subsidize this visit. According to an open letter he published on Nov. 9 to Dartmouth president Philip Hanlon, Horowitz had to underwrite all the costs for his appearance, even though a previous Dartmouth talk “by notorious anti-Semite and terrorist supporter Linda Sarsour” had been subsidized, including a reported $10,000 honorarium, by Dartmouth’s “Office of Pluralism and Leadership” (a title Horowitz describes as “Orwellian”).

The chances that Dartmouth’s administration will feel remorse or change its policies in response to Horowitz’s eloquent indictment of its double standards are approximately nil. He surely knows that. This is not Horowitz’s first experience of campus disruption — or his 10th — or the first time he has publicly denounced a university administration. It is remarkable, given his lack of success in changing the campus culture (indeed, it has gotten much worse since he started campaigning for intellectual diversity on campus decades ago) that Horowitz’s righteous indignation remains as robust as ever.

Horowitz is particularly loathed by the left because, as a former radical of influence — Ramparts, the voice of antiwar protest that he edited at Berkeley in the late 1960s and early ’70s had a circulation of 250,000 — who later defected rightwards, he is well schooled in leftist hypocrisy and, in the parlance, “knows where the bodies are buried” (in the case of the Black Panthers, this is almost literally the case).

On the other hand, the consistently high-octane rhetoric he brings to bear on the Marxist delusion tends to make even those conservatives who agree with his principles leery of close association with him. In a 2002 interview, former Commentary magazine editor Norman Podhoretz — no slouch himself in combating toxic leftism — said of Horowitz, “Some conservatives think he goes too far, and my guess is that some also believe his relentless campaign against the left focuses too much on the ‘pure’ form of it that has become less influential than its adulterated versions travelling under the name of liberalism.”

I have followed Horowitz’s writings for many years and reviewed most of the books in his nine-volume series, The Black Book of the American Left, including the latest and last volume. (My review of it will soon appear in the Dorchester Review.) In it I write, “Horowitz is not what the estimable Heterodox Academy would consider a clubbable colleague. But in the light of what is happening on campuses today — indeed, in the light of what is being passed into Canadian law today — will history judge him an ‘extremist?’ ”

My own pessimism regarding freedom of speech in the academy, which I see diminishing every day with no end in sight, combined with the overwhelming evidence Horowitz brings to bear, on a case-by-case basis, against the left’s betrayal of democratic ideals, inclines me to believe that Horowitz will be vindicated.

One day, The Black Book of the American Left (if extant copies haven’t been burned, and all digital traces expunged) will be required reading for those who seek to understand how the decline and fall of individual rights and America’s precious First Amendment came to pass.




Ariel Behar

IPT News, Nov. 5, 2018

After he criticized Hamas in a 2014 Facebook post, Connecticut College Professor Andrew Pessin was forced into a sabbatical due to threats and faculty ostracism. On the same campus, however, rabidly anti-Israel speakers were invited, including one who pushed the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that Israel harvested Palestinians’ organs and engaged in medical experimentation. One of Pessin’s colleagues later said he couldn’t recommend Connecticut College to Jewish students because of “the harassment of Jews on campus in the name of fighting for social justice.”

It was part of a rising tide of anti-Semitic episodes on American university campuses. The University of Michigan drew unwanted attention last month when a professor reneged on a previous commitment to write a letter of recommendation for a student hoping to study abroad. What changed? The Jewish student wanted to study in Israel and the professor, John Cheney-Lippold, supports an academic boycott of the Jewish state as part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Meanwhile, pro-Israel speakers routinely are shouted down and Jewish students report feeling intimidated. The following examples all took place last month: University of Minnesota protesters shouted “f***ing Zionists,” “no more death, no more lies, Israel out of Palestine,” and “you’re a bunch of war criminals,” outside a pro-Israel event with IDF soldiers. The founder of Students Supporting Israel (SSI) filmed the protesters as attendees filed in; When the University of Houston Hillel sponsored an event featuring Israeli Druze and Christian reservists, fliers were defaced with messages like “Blood is on your hands, Israel kills children, pregnant woman, medical volunteers,” and “Complicit in genocide of Palestinians.”; Pro-Israel leaflets at a University of Missouri bus stop were torn down and defaced with the slogan “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” a call for Israel’s elimination.

Anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses increased 59 percent last year, an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study found. “There is a heightened sense of fear for students to label themselves as ‘pro-Israel,'” University of Michigan student, Talia Katz, a senior studying public policy, told the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Israel has become an increasingly polarizing issue and in effect, she said, “the fear of being outwardly pro-Israel stems from a fear of being accused of supporting Trump, racism, Islamophobia, and other social views vehemently disavowed by the student body and faculty.”

Cheney-Lippold’s actions are “counter to our values and expectations as an institution,” a University of Michigan statement said. The university “has consistently opposed” boycotting Israel, a spokesman told the Chronicle of Higher Education. He won’t get a raise this year and the university froze his sabbatical eligibility. “I think it’s wildly inappropriate for a professor to let his political views get in the way of his relationships and responsibilities to students,” Katz told the IPT.

Cheney-Lippold said he “firmly stand[s] by my decision, as I stand against all injustice and inequality. I hope others stand with me in protesting a government that has created a legal system that favors Jewish citizens’ right to self-determination over Palestinians.'” Not long after, a Michigan graduate student instructor invoked BDS in refusing a student’s letter of recommendation request.

“My action attests to my ongoing engagement with the theory and practice of social justice pedagogy as well as my concern for the injustices suffered by Palestinians,” Lucy Peterson wrote in an op-ed in the campus newspaper. “In my classroom, I try to make as much space as possible for intellectual and political disagreement and for the voices of marginalized students.”

The university once again took heat when a speaker at a required lecture compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Adolph Hitler. It is important to note that comparing Israel or Israeli policy to Hitler and Nazi Germany meets the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.

Katz detailed the many anti-Semitic tropes that have been seen on campus, such as a cartoon depicting Jews as pigs with bags of money. “However, when other speakers come to campus who are perceived to be racist, sexist, or offensive to other minority identities, the University blasts out e-mails to the student body, offering emotional support, providing mental health resources, and detailing their disagreements with the controversial speakers,” calling it a double standard.

To add insult to injury, Michigan’s Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies (CMENAS) hosted a teach-in about what motivates artists and musicians to join the BDS movement last Monday. The BDS movement is seen as anti-Semitic because it sets a double-standard and holds the only Jewish state accountable for perceived injustices. Many of its supporters also advocate the end of Israel’s existence. Furthermore, the BDS movement has contributed to the plight of Palestinians, the very cause it seeks to support…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





THE DANGERS OF GRIEVANCE STUDIES                                                          

Ben Cohen                                               

JNS, Oct. 14, 2018

The world of academia has been riveted by the full account of an elaborate hoax that resulted in several high-profile academic journals publishing articles based on ludicrous notions and fake field research, but couched in the language of social justice and identity politics.

The hoax was the brainchild of three academics — editor and writer Helen Pluckrose, mathematician James Lindsay, and philosopher Peter Boghossian — none of whom are likely to receive “A” list university posts now that they have performed this valuable service. Over a period of about a year, the three of them concocted 20 hoax papers relating to themes like identity, sexuality, body shape, and the significance of “intersectional” struggles. By the time they called a halt to the project, seven of these hoaxes had been published in various academic journals, essentially confirming their initial suspicion that, as long as it is in the proper political packaging, there are plenty of journal editors out there receptive to any old garbage.

One paper about “rape culture” in dog parks in Portland, Oregon received a special citation from the journal that published it. Another paper, on how “masculinist and Western bias” in the science of astronomy “can best be corrected by including feminist, queer, and indigenous astrology,” was enthusiastically received by academic reviewers with a request for only minor revisions. Most spectacularly, the feminist social-work journal Affilia published a hoax paper titled “Our Struggle Is My Struggle: Solidarity Feminism as an Intersectional Reply to Neoliberal and Choice Feminism” that was composed of passages lifted from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf with, in the words of the three hoaxers, “fashionable buzzwords switched in.”

Many academics have protested that the hoax project was unethical because its methodology hinged upon dishonest dealings with the editors and peer reviewers of the journals where these papers were published. There is some merit to that argument, but more importantly, we can learn a great deal about human behavior from these types of underhand experiments. When the controversial American social psychologists Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo carried out their respective studies of obedience more than 50 years ago — in Milgram’s case by setting up unknowing subjects to believe that they were inflicting electric shocks on others at the behest of an “authority figure,” in Zimbardo’s by placing student volunteers in “guard” and “inmate” roles in a laboratory “prison” — these were similarly denounced as unethical. But they also demonstrated that willfully engaging in state-sanctioned brutality is something that all human beings are vulnerable to, even when doing so violates the values and standards taught to them all their lives.

The focus of this present hoax was not, of course, as dramatic as the exploration of human cruelty. Its framework of inquiry was restricted to academic journals only. And its purpose was to establish whether what the authors call “grievance studies” — the collection of disciplines spanning gender, race, and culture that are served by the journals in question — is “corrupting academic research.” Their short answer is “yes.”

At stake here is more than the irresponsible use of facts by academics or the ideological assumptions behind much research in social science. Ultimately, we are dealing with what the hoaxers rightly identify as a crisis in epistemology — the venerable branch of philosophy concerned with what we know and how we know it, ranging from simple observations (“it’s raining”) to more complex judgments (“you did the right thing”). The scientific standards and rationalist principles that underlie the exploration of what constitutes truth are being assailed by what the hoaxers call “the identitarian madness coming out of the academic and activist left.” Madness it may be, but at the same time, it has become a useful tool for scholars who “bully students, administrators, and other departments into adhering to their worldview.”

Increasingly, students are taught that the veracity of a particular claim cannot be separated from the identity of the person making it — and that suggesting otherwise is a surrender to patriarchy and racism. Central to this approach as well — as my colleague Jonathan S. Tobin recently pointed out in a different context focusing on environmental activists — is the abandonment of the skepticism that is so essential to the scientific method. Ideological conviction and an in-built bias towards some human identities over others, rather than testing and observation, has become the standard by which we ascertain what is true, and therefore what is false as well.

While the three hoaxers don’t claim that the entire university system has been consumed by identity politics and its dubious methods of attaining the truth, the problem is evidently significant enough for us laypeople to worry about it. From a Jewish philosophical perspective, there is no serious quarrel with the scientific method; Maimonides wrote that “knowledge of the Divine cannot be attained except through knowledge of the natural sciences.”

But far more practically, we shouldn’t shy away from saying that the academic study of the Nazi Holocaust — particularly as carried out in Israel by Yad Vashem and other institutions — provides us with a model to examine human suffering that is far more rigorous than anything purveyed by the identitarians. Because if this darkly amusing hoax has taught us anything, it’s that the study of grievances is too important to be left to the practitioners of grievance studies.




Philip Carl Salzman                                  

Frontier Centre, Nov. 9, 2018

When one of my friends and colleagues accused me of being unsympathetic to minorities, I was indignant. How dare he? After all, I am myself a member of a much maligned and prejudicially treated minority ethnic group, with which I identify strongly. Not only that, both of my children are “visible minorities,” as we like to say here in Canada: my son was adopted from Thailand; my daughter was adopted from China. In our current cultural moment, to be unsympathetic to minorities implies the worst sins we can imagine: oppression of the vulnerable, racism, male supremacism, heteronormality, and Islamophobia. Who but the most egocentric, ethnocentric cynic, or the most self-serving, callous exploiter, or the most fearful, insecure weakling, could be unsympathetic to minorities?

Yet, the more I thought about it, the more I agree that I am unsympathetic to minorities. The reason is that I object to dealing with people in terms of their allocation to gross, demographic census categories. Are we to think of individuals only or primarily in terms of whether they a member of one or another racial, gender, ethnic, sexual, or religious category? This is a form of reductionism that “disappears” the individual human being into a few general features, implies if not asserts that this is the most important things about them, advises treating them according to their categories, and succeeds in dividing our society into opposing and conflicting regiments.

Many people, these days, take the view that some categories of people are more important than others, just like the animals in Animal Farm, where all are equal, but some are more equal than others. For example, if you say “black lives matter,” you are on the side of the angels; but if you say “all lives matter,” you are an evil emissary of white supremacy and its leader, Satan. If you say “the future is female,” you are lauded and being foresightful and simpatico; but if you say we should be concerned about men’s rights, you are a sexist chauvinist “mansplaining,” and should be silent or be silenced. If you say, “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is the Greatest), you are just expressing the “religion of peace”; if you oppose the importation of sharia law and insist on the separation of church and state, you are an Islamophobe and racist fascist.

The key to sorting out who are the good guys and who are the bad guys is identifying victim categories: members of victim categories, or, better, multiple victim categories, are to be favoured, while anyone who is not a member of a victim category, is a member of an oppressor category who should be disfavoured. Through the magic of “intersectionality” we can discover who are the worthy victims; the more victimhood categories someone can claim, the more worthy they are: non-white, female, minority race (except Asians), minority religion (except Jews), gay, bisexual, transsexual, transvestite, etc. etc., handicapped, poor, homeless, mentally ill, etc. The complementary side of the equation is the oppressors and exploiters: whites, males, Western European ethnicity, heterosexuals, Christians and Jews.

You may wonder where all of this oppressor-victim categorization comes from. It is drawn in the first instance from Marxism, which posits class conflict between the exploited proletariat and oppressing bourgeoisie as the dynamic that will destroy capitalism and establish socialism. That was not popular in North America, where most people see themselves as middle class. But sociologists who came to define their field as “the study of inequality” extended class conflict to other, non-economic classes: genders, races, ethnicities, sexual subgroups, religions, etc. The sociologists added that the oppression and victimization was “structural,” with individuals’ intentions unimportant…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic Links

Sarah Lawrence Prof Pens Op-Ed About Lack of Intellectual Diversity, Social Justice Warriors Want Him Driven Off Campus: Mike LaChance, Legal Insurrection, Nov. 3, 2018—Professor Samuel Abrams is a conservative-leaning tenured professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College. He is active in Heterodox Academy, a group of almost 2000 academics devoted to intellectual diversity on campus.

The University of Michigan Has a Big Problem: Kenneth H. Ryesky, Algemeiner, Oct. 16, 2018 —News from Michigan tends to reach me here in Israel given my personal and professional ties to the state. Having taught at Queens College CUNY and at Yeshiva University, and as a lawyer whose undergraduate major and MBA concentration were in Organizations & Management, I now critique the situation at the University of Michigan from a legal and managerial perspective.

Ivory Tower Bigots: David Mikics, Tablet, Oct. 16, 2018 —Anti-Zionism is a form of racism like any other: The erasing of a nation’s experience, the denial of their right to speak.

Did 1968 Win the Culture War?: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Nov. 22, 2018—Fifty years ago this year, the ’60s revolution sought to overturn American customs, traditions, ideology, and politics. The ’60s radicals eventually grew older, cut their hair, and joined the establishment. Most thought their revolution had fizzled out in the early 1970s without much effect, as Americans returned to “normal.”


We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.


Campus Debates on Israel Drive a Wedge Between Jews and Minorities: Jennifer Medina & Tamar Lewin, New York Times, May 9, 2015 — The debates can stretch from dusk to dawn, punctuated by tearful speeches and forceful shouting matches, with accusations of racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism.

This Pro-Israel Student Leader Lets Alan Dershowitz ‘Sleep at Night’: Maayan Jaffe, Algemeiner, Apr. 26, 2015— Jewish organizations and leaders have been racking their brains trying to address the issue of skyrocketing antisemitism on college campuses.

The Modern University Risks Becoming a Cocoon of Self-Indulgence and Anti-Intellectualism: Rex Murphy, National Post, Mar. 27, 2015 — Lighthouses of reason, or beacons of  folly?

Jerusalem Day: City of Peace: Shlomo Riskin, Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2015— What is so special about Jerusalem?


On Topic Links


Jerusalem Then and Now: A Journey in Photos: Noam Chen, Times of Israel, May 14, 2015

Re-Liberating Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, May 15, 2015

Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, May 6, 2015

Anti-Semitism Goes to School: Ruth Wisse, Mosaic, May 4, 2015




A WEDGE BETWEEN JEWS AND MINORITIES                                     

Jennifer Medina & Tamar Lewin

New York Times, May 9, 2015


The debates can stretch from dusk to dawn, punctuated by tearful speeches and forceful shouting matches, with accusations of racism, colonialism and anti-Semitism. At dozens of college campuses across the country, student government councils are embracing resolutions calling on their administrations to divest from companies that enable what they see as Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians.


And while no university boards or administrators are heeding the students’ demands, the effort to pressure Israel appears to be gaining traction at campuses across the country and driving a wedge between many Jewish and minority students. The movement is part of the broader Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, or B.D.S., which has spread in recent years both in Europe and the United States. The issue has received intense attention on campus particularly since the conflict in Gaza last summer, which killed hundreds of Palestinians. The movement’s goal is to isolate and punish Israel for its policies toward Palestinians and its occupation of the West Bank.


There are now Israel-related divestment groups at hundreds of major colleges, including the University of Michigan, Princeton, Cornell and most of the University of California campuses. Their proposals are having mixed success: So far this year, students have passed them on seven campuses and rejected them on eight.


College activists favoring divestment have cast the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a powerful force’s oppression of a displaced group, and have formed alliances with black, Latino, Asian, Native American, feminist and gay rights organizations on campus. The coalitions — which explicitly link the Palestinian cause to issues like police brutality, immigration and gay rights — have caught many longtime Jewish leaders off guard, particularly because they belonged to such progressive coalitions less than a generation ago.


At Northwestern University this year, for example, the student government debated a divestment resolution for more than five hours, as students with clashing views sat on opposite sides of the room. Some of the talk was openly hostile, with charges of racism and colonialism. “Discomfort is felt by every person of color on this campus,” said an Egyptian-American senior, Hagar Gomaa. “To those who say this divestment bill makes you uncomfortable, I say: Check your privilege.”


A speaker who identified herself only as a Chicana student said she was there to support Palestinians on campus. “We have seen the racism of people who get mad that so many empowered minorities are recognizing how their struggles are tied to the Palestinian struggle,” she said. “Students have accused us of conflating many cases of oppression. To these students, I have a couple of words for you: What you call conflation, we call solidarity.” A student who said she had family in Israel was among those who shot back for the other side. Voting for divestiture, she said, is “pointing fingers, it’s aggressive, it’s misinformed, it’s unjust, and — most important for this campus — it’s totally one-sided.”


When the vote was finally taken by secret ballot, the tally was close, with 24 in favor of asking Northwestern’s administration to divest — which it did not do — and 22 against. As the debates spill from undergraduate council to dorm room, students and college officials are grappling with where to draw the line between opposition to Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza — a position shared by many Jews — and hostility toward Jews. Opponents of divestment sometimes allude to the Holocaust. “What bothers me is the shocking amnesia of people who look at the situation of American Jews right now and say, ‘You’re privileged, you don’t have a right to complain about discrimination,’ ” said Rachel Roberts, a freshman at Stanford who is on the board of the Jewish Student Association there. “To turn a blind eye to the sensitivities of someone’s cultural identity is to pretend that history didn’t happen.”


Everywhere, the discussions are long and tense: At Michigan, where the student government narrowly defeated a divestment resolution this year for the second time, university staff members were on hand to talk to students and help if they needed a break from the debate. At several schools where divestment proposals have been considered, swastikas have been painted on the doors of Jewish fraternities. “There’s more poison in the rhetoric than we’ve ever felt before,” said Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller, the executive director of Hillel at the University of California, Los Angeles, who has worked on college campuses for more than four decades. “There are so many students who now see Israel as part of the establishment they’re against. What’s alarming is this gets deeply embedded and there’s no longer room for real discussion.”


But where many Jews say they worry about anti-Semitism, divestment activists say they are concerned about retaliation and the stifling of their views. Sometimes, the specific aims of campus divestment campaigns can get lost in broader debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Barnard College, which is one-third Jewish, a group called Students for Justice in Palestine put up a banner last year saying, “Stand for Justice, Stand for Palestine,” showing a map of the area with no internal border demarcating Israel. The banner was taken down the next morning after Jewish students complained that it made them feel threatened. Jannine Salman, the member of Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine who made the banner, said that anti-Zionism, not anti-Semitism, was the motive — and that the recent formation of a campus chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, which favors divestment, should drive home the point.


“There is a bifurcation: Zionism is a political identity, Judaism is a religious identity, and it does a disservice to both to blur the line,” Ms. Salman said. “When there was the anti-apartheid boycott in South Africa, was that anti-white? Absolutely not. This is like that.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]   





ALAN DERSHOWITZ ‘SLEEP AT NIGHT’                                                                               

Maayan Jaffe                                                                                             

Algemeiner, Apr. 26, 2015


Jewish organizations and leaders have been racking their brains trying to address the issue of skyrocketing antisemitism on college campuses. But at least one prominent pro-Israel activist is reassured by the presence of a student more than five decades his junior. “Justin Hayet lets me sleep at night,” says Alan Dershowitz, the 76-year-old former Harvard Law School professor.


The laundry list of recent antisemitic incidents on college campuses isn’t pretty. Swastikas were painted on the building of a Jewish fraternity house at University of California, Davis. Jewish candidates for student government at University of California, Los Angeles and Stanford University have been grilled about their religion. A Jewish professor at Connecticut College has been persecuted over false accusations that he called for the annihilation of the Palestinians. “Right now is a time of fear,” says Gilad Skolnick, director of campus programming for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA). “We continue to see an uptick in antisemitism on campus and it scares students from doing what they are supposed to do at university—engage in educational and open discourse.”


Enter Justin Hayet, a 21-year-old student at Binghamton University – State University of New York, who says that while many of his peers “run away and try to ignore” anti-Semitism, he is “running toward it.” “I want to fix it,” Hayet tells JNS.org. On May 3, Hayet will receive CAMERA’s David Bar-Illan Award for Outstanding Campus Activism award at the media watchdog organization’s annual gala dinner. Chloe Valdary, a pro-Israel student at the University of New Orleans, will receive a similar award. The David Bar-Illan Award is given in memory of the renowned Israeli editor, musician, and policy leader to students who are making Israel’s case on campuses that are often ideological battlegrounds.


“Who is going to replace us?” Dershowitz tells JNS.org, speculating on a day when well-known Jewish leaders like himself, Irwin Cotler, and Elie Wiesel are no longer part of the picture. “Justin Hayet—this is a guy who can really become a major leader in the pro-Israel community.”


Hayet has deep black hair, an inquisitive brow, and a personality that CAMERA’s Skolnick describes as “passionate” and “optimistic.” Originally from Pikesville, Md., Hayet served as a CAMERA Fellow for the 2013-14 academic year. He hosted a pro-Israel event that drew more than 135 students from diverse backgrounds to hear Israel Defense Forces Lt. Colonel Anat Berko discuss the motivations of suicide bombers who are women and children. He penned multiple pro-Israel letters to the editor in his college newspaper, was published in The Jerusalem Post, and was interviewed by Israel’s Channel 1 network about the pro-Israel movement on college campuses. He is featured in the Jerusalem U film Crossing the Line 2, which provides an in-depth look at the rise of antisemitism on college campuses, the vitriol of organizations such as SJP, and the steadfast determination of Jewish students in the face of such attacks.


All this, and Hayet was not even raised in a particularly Zionist family, says his mother, Cheryl Hayet. But Cheryl says she “always encouraged my son to follow his dreams.” In 2008, Hayet decided he wanted to visit Israel. He enrolled in a leadership development opportunity through the local Jewish Community Center. In 2009, he traveled to Israel with that group. “When he got back, the next words were, ‘How do I get back?’” Cheryl Hayet recalls…


Hayet looked for an organization that would give him a vehicle for his passion for Israel advocacy. CAMERA was that match, offering him the creative platform to be as expressive as possible on his campus. He later signed on as a recruiter for The Jewish Agency for Israel’s MASA (Israel Journey) program. Amid the abundance of negative messaging about Israel on campuses, getting students interested in studying abroad in the Jewish state is no easy task, says Samantha Robins, recruitment manager for MASA. But Hayet has been among the program’s most successful recruiters. When the students don’t come to him, “he goes and finds them,” Robins tells JNS.org.


To be an Israel advocate, Dershowitz says, “You have to know everything.” He explains that pro-Israel activists are constantly bombarded with false information. A true voice for Israel needs to be on top of every news story, have the resources to respond to false allegations, and be a flexible thinker, according to Dershowitz. Moreover, there is an imperative to present the facts in a compelling way and with unbounded energy. “For pro-Israel advocates, there is no vacation,” says Dershowitz, who met Hayet through Israel advocacy work. Israel advocates also need a thick skin, he says. “There will be people who attack you, hate you, demean you, try to destroy you at every point,” Dershowitz says…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]   




THE MODERN UNIVERSITY RISKS BECOMING A COCOON OF SELF-                                    

INDULGENCE AND ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM                                                                               

Rex Murphy                                                                                                         

National Post, Mar. 27, 2015


Lighthouses of reason, or beacons of  folly? Which more readily applies to some modern universities? If you have been happy enough to read a New Statesman piece recently, there would be little hesitation in opting for the latter. The column discussed that only-in-a-university puffball of a controversy over The Vagina Monologues. The VM, for those fortunate enough not to have heard of it, is an Eve Ensler opus/art project that offers soliloquizing genitals as an avenue to feminist empowerment, a concept kitten-cute in all its daring and originality. Not surprisingly, it’s been a huge hit on all sorts of enlightened campuses, its combination of vulgarity and Spice Girls feminism being a sure winner with those wishing to storm the barricades of privilege from a front-row seat.


The New Statesman piece contained this jewel of progressive reporting: “A U.S. women’s college recently announced it would be discontinuing its annual performance of The Vagina Monologues: it’s exclusionary to talk about vaginas when some women do not have one.” The “women” in question were, by all the ancient indications we have so sturdily relied upon until the blaze of reason started to flicker and dim, men. But the men — on whose behalf students at the all-women university in question, Mount Holyoke, were protesting — were identifying (this is the term of art) as women, but had not yet “transitioned.” They were still, as it were, biologically on the other side of the fence. As was explained by the theatre board that cancelled Ms. Ensler’s vaginal ventriloquism:


“At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman … Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions, and many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”


And there you have it. Biological and anatomical distinctions are described by the highly progressive as offering “extremely” narrow perspectives on what it means to be a man or a woman. And they make some people “uncomfortable.” If you were fortunate enough right now to be standing over George Orwell’s grave in the sweet garden of the churchyard at Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire, you would hear, piercing the roar of his revolving corpse, a plaintive, despairing voice crying out: “Bury me deeper. Now. Please.”


Literally, you could multiply the instances of silly thinking and foolish actions by the hundredfold that now burden universities across the West, as the institutions that have carried the light of intellect from the earliest days of Athens, through the Renaissance, right to our present day, have surrendered to every passing fad and fancy of ever-more trivial and mentally bankrupt causes. Such as the Occupy the Syllabus farce at the University of California at Berkeley, which lamented the presence of such feeble intellects as Socrates, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke and Hegel in a course, they being that terrible triune of white, dead and male.


What is more dismal than the modern campus, with its litany of “safe spaces,” its protection from offence, its bleats about micro-aggressions, the chatter of white privilege and the spate of hysteria over the “rape culture?” The new model of the university risks becoming a cocoon of self-indulgence and actual anti-intellectualism. Administrators, in particular, take a craven posture before any challenge that might land them in the minefields of identity or gender politics.


The universities, under the banner of hollow diversity and the even more hollow and self-contradictory banner of tolerance, are mutating into thought-suppressing machines. Any flag raised in the name of identity or marginalization has them prostrate in anxiety and fear. The idea of undergraduate life as a rooting out of intellectual predispositions, of history as anything but a huge case file of oppression, of testing minds as opposed to flattering feelings, is lost.


The universities are running a risky race. The more they quiver before the onslaught of the cause-mongers, refuse to take clear and bold stands against protest intimidation tactics, the more they lose their centuries-old prestige. It is a situation that should concern everybody. The ability to think clearly, and the absorption of the best that has been thought and said, have given the world all the moral and scientific progress — real progress — it has ever known. As universities become more and more the willing hostages of the anti-thought brigades, the more they will diminish in both esteem and worth.                                                                                                                              




Shlomo Riskin                                 

Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2015


What is so special about Jerusalem? The fact is that Jerusalem – unique among the cities of Israel – is completely identified with our Jewish national mission, expressing by its very name “City of Peace” our prophetic vision for the world. When the Almighty initially elected Abraham, he gave him a mandate: “Through you shall be blessed all of the nations of the earth” (Genesis 12:3). It was for this universal purpose that Abram’s name was changed from Av Ram (exalted father of one nation, Israel) to Avraham; father and teacher of a multitude of nations.


Abraham’s descendants will eventually erect a Temple to which all the nations will flock in order to learn and accept the Torah of peace: “To beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, so that nation will not lift up sword against nation and humanity will not learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4). Jeru means “city” in ancient Semitic languages and Shalem means “peace” (wholeness). Abraham was chosen because he was uniquely committed to ethical conduct, the only true path to peace: “For I have elected, loved and appointed him, because he commands his children and his household after him that they keep the way of the Lord, to do compassionate righteousness and moral justice” (Gen. 19:19).


Hence, the very first mention of Jerusalem in the Bible is in the context of a meeting between Abraham – immediately after he had defeated the four terrorist kings who captured the innocent Lot – and Melchizedek (literally, the King of Righteousness), the ruler of Shalem. Our Sages identify Shalem with Jerusalem and Melchizedek with Shem, son of Noah – a righteous gentile who served as priest to the Universal Lord of peace, morality and righteousness. Melchizedek brought out bread and wine – reminiscent of the showbread and wine libations of the laterto- be-built desert sanctuary and Jerusalem Temples as well as of our present-day hallot and kiddush wine. He then blessed Abraham to the Lord Most High, Maker of Heaven and Earth, who had delivered Abraham’s foes unto his hands.


Abraham reciprocated by giving this gentile priest tithes of everything he owned (Gen. 14:18–20). Nahmanides derives from this episode that Jerusalem is the one place in the world which had always maintained faith in ethical monotheism – in the God who created Adam and Eve in His image. So it is no accident that Abraham met his gentile counterpart in Jerusalem, to declare their joint acceptance of the God of righteousness and peace. Our Holy Temples were (and will be) built on Mount Moriah, Jerusalem, and from there a message of peace will be communicated throughout the world. This is the very place to which God sends Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. Abraham acquiesces, but God stays his hand – and this entire incident may well have come to teach that although it will sometimes be necessary to make the ultimate sacrifice for our faith, God does not want innocent human beings to be killed in His Name. The God of ethical monotheism is not Moloch.


Abraham calls the place of the binding “God shall be seen,” that is to say that from Mount Moriah the God of ethical monotheism shall be seen and accepted by all the nations of the world. Jeru, or Yeru, is a cognate of the verb to see, Yera’eh, will be seen; the Bible will later teach that on the three pilgrim festivals, every Jew must go up to the Temple Mount “to be seen” by God (Deuteronomy 16:16). And the story of the binding of Isaac concludes with a repetition of the Divine mandate to Abraham, “And through your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”


Let us fast-forward 4,000 years. In 1978, at the end of the Camp David peace talks between US president Jimmy Carter, Egyptian head of state Anwar Sadat and prime minister Menachem Begin, Carter pressed Begin to sign a letter in which he would “merely” agree to place the final status of Jerusalem on the negotiating table. Begin refused. With great emotion he explained that in the Middle Ages there lived a beloved, wise rabbi: Rav Amnon of Mayence, who was pressed by the bishop at least to consider converting to Christianity.


After a lengthy argument, the rabbi agreed to ponder the issue for three days. As soon as he returned home, the rabbi was smitten by deep despair; at the end of the three days, he returned to the bishop. “Punish me, O bishop,” he cried. “I should never have agreed to think about such an egregious act against my faith. The tongue which said I would ponder, the hand that shook yours in acquiescence, the leg that came to do your bidding – remove them from my body.” The bishop gladly did as the rabbi requested. The next day was Rosh Hashana, and racked with pain, Rav Amnon was brought to the synagogue, where he cried out before the congregation the U’Netaneh Tokef prayer he had composed the day before.


Begin told the American president, “I understand that we may sacrifice a limb to save an entire body. But Jerusalem is Israel’s heart, the focus of our mission. Our Psalmist declared, ‘If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be removed from my body, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not’ (Psalms 137:5-6). Please don’t ask me to sign your letter; I would rather forfeit my right hand and my tongue. I cannot repeat Rav Amnon’s transgression….”


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

No Daily Briefing Will Be Published Monday






On Topic


Jerusalem Then and Now: A Journey in Photos: Noam Chen, Times of Israel, May 14, 2015—Israel is about to mark what I believe is one of the country’s most important national days: Jerusalem Day.

Re-Liberating Jerusalem: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, May 15, 2015—It's been almost 50 years since Israel unified Jerusalem and turned it from a dusty and depressed backwater into a truly radiant international capital city sparkling with energy and creativity.

Draft International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Anti-Semitism: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, May 6, 2015—Clearly, and sadly, the issue of anti-Semitism has always been and remains a major recurring aspect in the international arena and narrative.

Anti-Semitism Goes to School: Ruth Wisse, Mosaic, May 4, 2015 —I never dreamed that it could come to this!”



We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org






Academic Freedom Against Itself: Boycotting Israeli Universities: Stanley Fish, New York Times. Oct. 28, 2013—  For those of you who haven’t heard about this movement, let me briefly rehearse its history.

George Orwell: Call Your Office: Jonathan Marks, Commentary, Oct. 14, 2013— Not long ago, The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) underscored its longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas by chiding the Association for Asian American Studies, which voted last year to support an academic boycott against Israel.

The Hate and Hypocrisy of the BDS Movement: Joseph Puder, Front Page Magazine, Nov. 11, 2013— As the academic year at University of California Santa Cruz was about to end in June, 2013, pro-Palestinian students initiated a resolution that called on the university to divest from companies profiting from the “Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.”

U.C. Jewish Prof.: Civil Rights Office Rolling Back Protection for Jews: Lori Lowenthal Markus, Jewish Press, Oct. 31, 2013— Tammi Rossman-Benjamin lives and teaches in the belly of the beast, and although she is on faculty, her position as lecturer of Hebrew Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz means she has practically no political pull.


On Topic Links

Boycotting Israeli Universities, Part Two: New York Times, Stanley Fish, Nov. 11, 2013

Brooklyn College to Play Host to Another Anti-Israel Event: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, Nov. 11, 2013

Hostility Toward Israel is the Ruling Class’ New Antisemitism: Einat Wilf, Ha’aretz, Nov. 12, 2013

Norman Geras: 1943-2013: Ben Cohen, Tablet, Oct. 18, 2013





Stanley Fish

New York Times, Oct. 28, 2013


I hate it when I have a book in press and people keep writing about the subject anyway. You would think that they would have the courtesy to hold their fire until I have had my say. I raise the issue because my book on academic freedom (“Versions of Academic Freedom: From Professionalism to Revolution”) will be out in about a year and the online Journal of Academic Freedom (published by the American Association of University Professors) has just posted its fourth volume consisting of essays on a topic that figures prominently in my analysis — the boycott of Israeli universities by academic institutions and scholars housed in other countries.


For those of you who haven’t heard about this movement, let me briefly rehearse its history. Since the early 2000’s a number of academics have been arguing that because Israel is a rogue state engaged in acts of oppression and apartheid, and because Israeli universities are by and large supported and administered by the state, it must be assumed that those universities further the ends of a repressive regime, either by actively supporting its policies or by remaining silent in the face of atrocities committed against the Palestinians. Accordingly, it is appropriate, and indeed a matter of urgency, for right-thinking (meaning left-thinking) academics to refuse to engage in intellectual discourse with the Israeli academy. If you have an exchange program with an Israeli university, suspend it; if you are the editor of a scholarly journal and an Israeli researcher is a member of your board, remove him.


In response to the objection that such actions violate the academic freedom of Israeli academics by singling them out for exclusion from the scholarly conversation for which they were trained (thereby making them into second-class academic citizens), boycott supporters make two points that are somewhat in tension. They say, first, that the academic freedom of Palestinian professors and students is violated daily when they are denied access, funding, materials and mobility by the state of Israel; no academic freedom for you if you don’t accord it to them. This argument, you will note, assumes that academic freedom is a primary value. The second argument doesn’t. It says that while academic freedom is usually a good thing, when basic questions of justice are in play, it must give way. Here is the Palestinian researcher Omar Barghouti making that point in the current issue of the Journal of Academic Freedom: “[W]hen a prevailing and consistent denial of basic human rights is recognized, the ethical responsibility of every free person and every association of free persons, academic institutions included, to resist injustice supersedes other considerations about whether such acts of resistance [like a boycott] may directly or indirectly injure academic freedom.”


Or, in other words, adhering strictly to academic freedom standards is O.K. in the conduct of academic business as usual, but when something truly horrible is happening in the world, the niceties of academic freedom become a luxury we can’t (and shouldn’t) afford: “[I]n contexts of dire oppression, the obligation to save human lives and to protect the inalienable rights of the oppressed to live as free, equal humans acquires an overriding urgency and an immediate priority.”


The repetition of the word “free” in Barghouti’s statements alerts us to something peculiar in this line of reasoning: academic freedom, traditionally understood as the freedom to engage in teaching and research free from the influences or pressures of politics, is being declared an obstacle to — even the enemy of — genuine freedom, which is defined politically. You can be true to academic freedom, at least in this logic, only if you are willing to jettison its precepts when, in your view, political considerations outweigh them. David Lloyd and Malini Johar Scheuller (writing in the same volume) say as much when they describe a boycott as “a specific tactic, deployed in relation to a wider campaign against injustice.” Wider than what? The answer is, wider than an academic freedom conceived as a professional — not moral or political — concept. That professional conception of academic freedom, characterized by boycotters as impoverished, desiccated, and an alibi for neoliberal hegemony, must be left behind so that actions in violation of academic freedom narrowly defined may be taken in the name of an academic freedom suitably enlarged.


The formula and the rationale for this vision of academic freedom undoing itself in the service of academic freedom are concisely given in a Howard Zinn quotation Lloyd and Scheuller ask us to remember: “To me, academic freedom has always meant the right to insist that academic freedom be more than academic.” This declaration has the virtue of illustrating just how the transformation of academic freedom from a doctrine insulating the academy from politics into a doctrine that demands of academics blatantly political actions is managed. What you do is diminish (finally to nothing) the limiting force of the adjective “academic” and at the same time put all the emphasis on freedom (which should be re-written FREEDOM) until the academy loses its distinctive status and becomes just one more location of a universal moral/political struggle. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, cited by Rima Najjar Kapitan in her essay, says it forthrightly: “[A]cademic freedom is not only an end…. It is also the means for realizing other important ends, including individual freedoms , that go beyond expressive freedoms to encompass all freedoms such as nondiscrimination.” When the means, strictly adhered to, seem to block the realization of the end, sacrifice them. (Oh, Kant, thou shouldst be living at this hour!)


As you can tell from my citations, nearly all of the essays in the new issue of J.A.F. support the boycott although the A.A.U.P. itself is against it, at least so far. Only one commissioned essay (out of nine, plus a polemical and biased introduction) and two published responses to the volume take the opposite position. Ernst Benjamin, an old A.A.U.P. hand, makes the key point when he observes that “The A.A.U.P. is not itself a human rights organization.” Cary Nelson, until recently the president of the A.A.U.P., elaborates, explaining that “The focus of the A.A.U.P.’s mission is higher education.” It follows, he continues, that academic freedom is to be understood within the context of that focus: “[A]cademic freedom is a specialized right that is not legally implicated in the full spectrum of human rights that nations should honor.” (That’s perfect.)


This does not mean, of course, that academics are bent on violating human rights or that they display an unconcern with them. It means, rather, that watching out for human rights violations and taking steps to stop them is not the charge either of the A.A.U.P. or the academy or the doctrine of academic freedom. Watching out for academic freedom violations — instances in which a scholar’s right to pursue his or her research freely has been compromised by an overweening administration — is the charge, and it includes taking steps to stop him or her by exerting pressure or threatening legal action. As Nelson’s vocabulary reminds us, this is a specialized monitoring of behavior in circumscribed educational contexts, not a monitoring of bad behavior wherever on earth it might be found. We should not, says Benjamin “compromise this principle [of academic freedom] in the name of others which, though they may be larger and even more important, are not the principles specific to our association.” If we do so, and extend academic freedom only to those “found worthy” by a political measure, we shall have lost our grip on academic freedom altogether, for “[p]olitically qualified academic freedom is not really academic freedom at all.” (Amen!)


Distinctions like the ones invoked by Benjamin and Nelson are likely to be waved away by those they argue against, because, as Marjorie Heins, the third dissenter, observes, in the eyes of academics “incensed at Israeli policies …delicate questions about the unjust targeting of innocent professors, or of imposing political tests, are minor concerns compared to the moral exigency of the issue.” “The issue” is of course the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, and while it is easy to understand how academics, among others, might find that treatment objectionable and reprehensible (and I take no position on the question here), it is not so easy to understand how moral outrage at a political action can be so quickly translated into an obligation to deny professional courtesies to people whose responsibility for that action is at best attenuated and in many instances non-existent. And it absolutely defies understanding — except by the convoluted and loose arguments rehearsed above — that the concept of academic freedom could be used to defend a policy, the policy of boycott, that so cavalierly throws academic freedom under the bus.


A final question. What animates the boycotters? They would, I am sure, answer, we are animated by a commitment to the securing of social/political justice, a commitment that overrides lesser commitments we might have as professionals. I’ll grant that as a part of their motivation, but another, perhaps larger, part is the opportunity to shed the label “ivory-tower intellectual” — a label that announces their real-world ineffectuality — and march under a more flattering banner, the banner of “freedom fighter.” But the idea that an academic becomes some kind of hero by the cost-free act of denying other academics the right to play in the communal sandbox (yes, this is third-grade stuff) is as pathetic as it is laughable. Heroism doesn’t come that cheaply. Better, I think, to wear the “ivory-tower intellectual” label proudly. At least, it’s honest.



Jonathan Marks

Commentary, Oct. 14, 2013

Not long ago, The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) underscored its longstanding commitment to the free exchange of ideas by chiding the Association for Asian American Studies, which voted last year to support an academic boycott against Israel. Apparently, this rebuke did not sit well with Ashley Dawson, the editor of the Journal of Academic Freedom, which AAUP publishes. Dawson has devoted almost the whole of the current issue to the Boycott Israel movement.


The story Dawson tells about how the issue came about is revealing. The journal issued a call for papers on these questions: “How … is the expansion of US higher education around the world and the increasing international integration of academia affecting academic freedom? In what ways conversely, is the globalization of higher education transforming academia within the United States, shifting and impinging upon traditional notions of academic freedom.” The call for papers identified five topics that “might be germane” to the discussion, including the AAUP’s rejection of the Boycott Israel campaign: “Can a case be made for endorsing the campaign without infringing academic freedom?”


It turns out the answer is yes. No one should be surprised. Dawson, as he unbelievably fails to disclose in the introduction to the issue, has endorsed the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USCABI) and edited a 2012 volume entitled Why Boycott Israel?: A Dossier on Palestine Today. Similarly, no one will be surprised that seven of the nine articles in this issue on globalization and academic freedom are devoted to the Boycott Israel movement. Evidently Israel is responsible not only for the problems of the entire Middle East but also for at least 7/9 of the problems posed for academics by globalization.


Or perhaps, I should say 6/9, since Dawson admirably includes one mild defense of the AAUP’s position among the 7 essays. The remainder were penned by, and I am not kidding: a founding committee member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel; a founding committee member of USCABI, an advisory board member of USCABI; an endorser of that same campaign who also signed the Association for Asian American Studies boycott resolution; a signatory of a 2009 letter to then President-Elect Obama, gently urging him to view Israel as the perpetrator of “one of the most massive, ethnocidal atrocities of modern times”; a former contributor to the Electronic Intifada, and another Electronic Intifada contributor who wrote “Answering Critics of the Boycott Movement.”

Of course, the authors repeat the same old canards. The pro-BDS position is suppressed, they freely say in the journal of an organization that opposes their position. Israel itself does not honor academic freedom, they say, though Freedom House, an organization not at all shy about criticizing Israel, calls Israel’s universities “centers of dissent.”


But it is not my intention to rejoin the debate between Israel and its radical critics. Instead, I want to draw attention to the remarkable self-caricature over which Ashley Dawson has presided, an issue purportedly devoted to “sparking a broad conversation” about “academic freedom and faculty rights beyond U.S. borders” that focuses almost entirely on Israel and consists mainly of essays written by declared supporters of and leading activists within the BDS movement. I do not think it would be fruitful for AAUP’s editorial board to condemn the mockery that has here been made of AAUP’s devotion to “the free search for truth” by an editor with no qualms about turning its flagship publication into a vehicle for his personal anti-Israel activism. Dawson at least makes it clear that the publication of this issue “does not necessarily indicate any change in AAUP policy or even an intention to directly consider such change.” But one does wish that individual members of the board would rouse themselves, not to make the case for Israel, but to make the case against devoting a journal purportedly devoted to “scholarship” to a barely disguised hit job.


Joseph Puder

Front Page Magazine, Nov. 11, 2013


As the academic year at University of California Santa Cruz was about to end in June, 2013, pro-Palestinian students initiated a resolution that called on the university to divest from companies profiting from the “Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.” The resolution was defeated, yet the non-binding resolution that would have no effect on university policy is not as disconcerting as the atmosphere on campus that the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish students and professional provocateurs behind them seek to foster. They are bent on creating a climate that legitimizes and engenders anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish hostility.


The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel) movement has assembled a rather strange sort of bedfellows.  It is led by Arab-Muslim professional propagandists who seek Israel’s destruction, along with leftist students and faculty members seeking a ‘cause,’ and non-better than one “to stick it to the Jews.” Among them, one could find naïve students with little understanding of the history of the Middle East or the Arab-Israeli conflict. It matters not that their cause is unjust, and transparently anti-Semitic, or that the Arab world unlike Israel’s open democracy is homophobic, enslaves women, is utterly intolerant of Christians and Jews, or that its schools breed hatred and misanthropy.


Those BDS champions on campuses throughout America and Europe do not want to be confused by facts about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Their minds are made up. They hate Israel because it is a success story and tolerant, and because it provides religious freedom, and human rights to its citizens in spite of Palestinian terrorism. They despise Israel because Arab-Muslim students on Israeli campuses can display their hatred of the Jewish state with impunity.  Deep in their mashed heads they should know that similar demonstrations on Palestinian or Arab campuses against an Arab regime, or any pro-Israel and pro-Jewish display, would be met with violence and death.  The terrorist alerts Israeli school children and college students face is something that the privileged students of the UC Santa Cruz’s of this world would never have to endure. They hate Israel mostly because it is willing to defend its citizens from Palestinian terrorists, and if it means checkpoints, and a barrier fence that inconveniences Palestinians, so be it.


On May 11, YNet News reported that the Irish BDS movement placed yellow stickers on Israeli products reading ‘for justice in Palestine – Boycott Israel’.  Israeli Foreign Ministry said that “the phenomenon is severe and it is not by chance that the BDS organization chose to express its protest with a yellow sticker – which is reminiscent of dark days of racism and incitement,”  a reference to the Nazi Holocaust in Europe.


Derek Hopper, a native of Ireland, where he studied history at the National University of Ireland, had this to say in a Times of Israel article, October 9, 2013: “Israelis may or may not be aware that Ireland is one of the most outspoken critics of Israel. I have written about why this is so before, and the reasons are too complex to address…but for whatever reason most Irish see Palestine as the plucky underdog in the Middle East and not Israel, a country that produces genius after genius while being surrounded by millions of people who despise its very existence.” Hopper continued, “Given our own experiences with Britain, we tend to see in any weaker power a kindred spirit. It doesn’t matter that we share many values with Israel and far fewer with Arabs, who, if they’ve heard of us, see us as drink-sodden libertines. Never mind that we should want to draw parallels with Israel, the true underdog in the region who against all the odds created a prosperous democracy in a desert. In this battle many Irish have sided with the Palestinians and that’s just how it is.”


Hopper explained that, “Irish and global opposition to Israel in recent times has manifested itself in several ways.  The most well-known of these is the BDS movement, which seeks to isolate Israel, ‘in order to force change in Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians which opponents claim is discriminatory or oppressive.’ The Irony that the movement is one spearheaded by many Palestinians attending Israeli universities is apparently lost on its supporters.  Comparisons with the odious apartheid regime in South Africa continue unabated despite a million Israeli Arab citizens enjoying more rights in Israel than anywhere in the Arab world.”






Lori Lowenthal Markus

Jewish Press, Nov. 2, 2013


Tammi Rossman-Benjamin lives and teaches in the belly of the beast, and although she is on faculty, her position as lecturer of Hebrew Language at the University of California, Santa Cruz means she has practically no political pull. But Rossman-Benjamin is not easily deterred. For years the Jewish instructor has been trying, in her own, respectful, non-confrontational way, to right a serious wrong she sees and hears from students about, on the California campuses: rank anti-Semitism. First she filed a Complaint in 2009, and then, just two weeks ago, filed an Appeal from the Office of Civil Rights refusal to act on her Complaint.


And in fact, there was good news on the legal front in the past few years: a much heralded announcement regarding the Civil Rights laws, by which the U.S. Department of Education extended legal protection from discrimination to Jews. But a decision in August by the Office of Civil Rights to close the file on Rossman-Benjamin’s Complaint, coincidentally on the same day and for the same reasons it rejected two other Complaints filed alleging anti-Jewish discrimination against California colleges, may well mean that the legal protection extended to protect Jews from discrimination in education has been rolled back up. The Office of Civil Rights has thus once again shut its door to Jews discriminated against – whether through overt action or by the creation of a hostile environment – on U.S. college campuses. Rossman-Benjamin carefully documents dozens of examples of discriminatory behavior creating a hostile environment for Jewish students qua Jews in the Appeal she filed less than two weeks ago. But here’s the real issue: Rossman-Benjamin is not focused on the nastiness of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic students, her concern – indeed the sole focus of a complaint she filed with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights – is the official sponsorship of such actions, activities and antagonisms by the universities themselves. Inexplicably, the OCR chose to ignore the essence of Rossman-Benjamin’s claim. Instead, it pretended that the professor was complaining about student behavior, and then rejected the complaint as unworthy of its review because, according to the OCR, Rossman-Benjamin was complaining about First Amendment protected speech. The fact that other “First Amendment protected speech” was deemed worthy of review and indeed, nearly immediate corrective action and investigations both by the universities and the OCR, when the speech was directed at groups other than Jews, is very much a significant aspect of Rossman-Benjamin’s appeal.

[To read the full article, click the following link– ed.]





Boycotting Israeli Universities, Part Two: Stanley Fish, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2013— The responses to my column on the call by some academics to boycott Israeli universities in the name of academic freedom were impassioned and polarized.

Brooklyn College to Play Host to Another Anti-Israel Event: Zach Pontz, Algemeiner, Nov. 11, 2013— The City University of New York’s (CUNY) Brooklyn College is again provoking passions, playing host this week to an anti-Israel activist who many, citing his published writings, believe to be anti-Semitic.  

Hostility Toward Israel is the Ruling Class’ New Antisemitism: Einat Wilf, Ha’aretz, Nov. 12, 2013 — When former U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was confronted with the possibility that his comments against Israel, made in a discussion in the Global Diplomatic Forum in the House of Commons, drew on ancient anti-Semitic prejudices, he rejected the charge outright.

Norman Geras: 1943-2013: Ben Cohen, Tablet, Oct. 18, 2013— There is one memory of Norman Geras–the distinguished academic, prolific author and blogger, and doughty fighter against anti-Semitism and racism, who passed away in England earlier today–that has stayed with me for the last twenty-five years.



On Topic Links


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Letter Regarding Jewish Student Campus Climate Report

Hostile Environment For Jewish Students At U.C. Berkeley

The Real Jewish Fight On Campus

On Topic Links




Tammi Rossman-Benjamin & Leila Beckwith

University of California, August 20, 2012


Dear UC Advisory Committee on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion:


We are faculty at the University of California who, for the last several years, have been involved with efforts to document and address campus anti-Semitism in institutions of higher education in the United States.  We are also co-founders of the AMCHA Initiative, an organization dedicated to informing the California Jewish community about manifestations of harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on California campuses.


We are writing to you today to concur with a crucial finding of your committee's report, "Jewish Student Campus Climate Fact-Finding Team Report & Recommendations," written by Richard Barton and Alice Huffman:


As the report states:


“Jewish students are confronting significant and difficult climate issues as a result of activities on campus which focus specifically on Israel, its right to exist and its treatment of Palestinians. The anti-Zionism and Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movements and other manifestations of anti-Israel sentiment and activity create significant issues through themes and language which portray Israel and, many times, Jews in ways which project hostility, engender a feeling of isolation, and undermine Jewish students’ sense of belonging and engagement with outside communities.”


Our own extensive experience confronting anti-Jewish bigotry at the University of California confirms this important finding.  We have found that bigotry against Jewish students has occurred over many years and on many University of California campuses.  For more than a decade, Jewish students have been subjected to: swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti; acts of physical and verbal aggression; speakers, films and exhibits that use anti-Semitic imagery and discourse; speakers that praise and encourage support for terrorist organizations that openly advocate murder against Israel and the Jewish people; the organized disruption of events sponsored by Jewish student groups; and the promotion of student senate resolutions for divestment that seek to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State.…


In June 2010, more than 700 Jewish UC students signed an on-line petition expressing outrage at anti-Jewish rhetoric and imagery on campus. They asserted that these events "are as offensive and hurtful to Jewish students as a “Compton cookout” or a noose are to African-American students."…   


In September 2011, more than 5,000 members and supporters of the California Jewish community signed an AMCHA Initiative petition to President Yudof expressing  their deep concern about the longstanding and pervasive harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on UC campuses and urging him to address the problem promptly and forcefully.


Earlier this month, the AMCHA Initiative sent to the UC Regents and President Yudof a letter signed by more than 1,000 members and supporters of the California Jewish community, that asked the Regents and President to carry out their legal and moral obligations to ensure that UC classrooms are not being used to promote anti-Semitism.


We are aware that there are individuals and organizations that dispute the Fact-Finding Team’s report and have asked President Yudof to table it.  However, we question their motives and believe a review of their actions, as described below, indicates that the welfare of Jewish students is not their goal.  Rather, their aim is to involve the University of California in enacting a political agenda that seeks to harm Israel and those who support it.  Indeed, their extensive participation in events on UC campuses that demonize and delegitimize Israel is itself a significant part of the problem confronting Jewish students.


Prominent among those who are working to suppress the report’s findings is The Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), an anti-Zionist Jewish organization that is on the Anti-Defamation League's list of Top Ten anti-Israel groups in America.  The JVP supports anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns and according to the Anti-Defamation League, "uses its Jewish identity to shield the anti-Israel movement from allegations of antisemitism and provide it with a greater degree of legitimacy and credibility."…. 


We believe that the Jewish Voice for Peace, and other such organizations and individuals seeking to tarnish the findings of the report and to have it tabled, do so disingenuously, in order to continue to use the University of California to achieve their political agenda.  That goal is unworthy of a great University and cynically ignores the welfare of many Jewish students. 


We urge you to  carefully consider this report and to address the serious campus climate issues facing Jewish students at the University of California. 


Thank you,


Tammi Rossman-Benjamin

Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz

Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative



Leila Beckwith

Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles

Co-founder the AMCHA Initiative



[This letter has been slightly abridged in the interests of space. For the complete letter, the committee’s report and the most recent AMCHA Initiative letter see links below – Ed.] (Top)



Jamie Glazov

FrontPage Mag, July 23rd, 2012


Frontpage Interview [with] Neal Sher, a New York City attorney [who] was the Director the Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which investigated and prosecuted Nazi criminals in the U.S….


FP: Neal Sher, as a bit of background for our readers, tell us about the federal court case that was brought by Berkeley students Jessica Felber and Brian Maissy. How was it resolved?


Sher: The original complaint in federal district court was a first of its kind federal civil rights case filed against the University of California at Berkeley, the Regents of the University of California and their ranking officials, by a Jewish student, Jessica Felber, who had been assaulted on campus last year by a leader of a Muslim student organization during a pro-Israel event. Later, Brian Maissy joined as a plaintiff.


On March 5, 2010, Ms.Felber, a twenty year old Jewish student at Berkeley, was attacked and injured on campus because of her Jewish ancestry and religious affiliation. At the time she was holding a sign stating “Israel wants Peace.” Her assailant, Husam Zakharia, also a UC Berkeley student, was the leader of Students for Justice in Palestine (“SJP”) at Berkeley.


University officials were fully aware that Zakharia, the SJP and similar student groups had been involved in other incidents on campus to incite violence against and intimidate Jewish and other students. Nevertheless, in clear dereliction of their legal responsibilities, Defendants took no reasonable steps to protect Ms. Felber and others.


The Complaint further laid out how the SJP conspires and coordinates with the Muslim Student Association (“MSA”), which has a publicly documented history of affiliation with and support of organizations deemed “terror organizations” by the United States Department of State.…


The Complaint charges that the assault was the result of the university having:  (1) fostered  and encouraged campus terrorist incitements by the SJP and the MSA); (2) turned a blind eye to the perpetrators of illegal activities; (3) failed to effectively discipline the MSA and SJP for their pro-terrorist programs, goals and conduct; despite having ample notice that such violence was foreseeable;  and (4) failed to provide adequate security to prevent the violence, harassment and intimidation which occurred on March 5, 2010.


Ignoring complaints from students about the poisonous climate on campus, defendants condoned, allowed and enabled groups such as the MSA and the SJP to threaten, harass and intimidate Jewish students and to endanger their health and safety. Their tolerance of the growing cancer of a dangerous anti-Semitic climate on its campuses, and their failure to take adequate measures to quell it, violated the rights of Ms. Felber’s and other students to enjoy a peaceful campus environment free from threats and intimidation.…


Since Maissy and Felber have graduated, we no longer had standing to obtain the full redress to deal with the overall hostile environment on campus. In resolving the case, Berkeley has agreed to promulgate regulations dealing with the improper use on campus of fake but realistic weapons and to ensure that students are able to pass into and out of campus during demonstrations. These were issues central to the case.


Now, with Felber and Maissy no longer at Berkeley, we have called upon the Justice and Education Departments to investigate the hostile environment facing Jews at Berkeley. They have full authority to do so and we have provided voluminous evidence establishing that a hostile environment does indeed exist. Justice has investigated a racist atmosphere on the campus of U.C. San Diego and reached a resolution imposing upon the school strong monitoring and reporting requirements. As similar result is certainly warranted at Berkeley.


FP: Ok, thank you, so tell us the details about the complaint you and your colleague Joel Siegal filed with the Justice and Education Departments alleging violations of Title VI by U.C. Berkeley?


Sher: We filed the complaint with the Justice and Education Departments because once Felber and Maissy graduated, we lost the ability to effect changes to correct the hostile environment. In resolving the lawsuit, the university agreed to issue regulations regarding the use of fake looking weapons and allowing ingress and egress on campus during demonstrations. These are important issues during the infamous “Apartheid Week”, where anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish activists resort to intimidation and harassment…In our complaint to Justice, it is alleged that Jewish students have been subjected to a pervasive hostile environment, which is impermissible under Title VI.


FB: What are the main allegations in your complaint to Justice?


Sher: Central to our complaint are the on-campus activities during “Apartheid Week,” which is nothing short of a modern day version of the “Passion Play,” the notorious anti-Semitic German theatrical performance which portrays Jews as bloodthirsty and treacherous villains. During Berkeley’s Passion Play, student activists from the Muslim Student Association and Students for Justice in Palestine – both officially registered student organizations which receive funding from  the university and operate with the blessing of school officials –  resort to depictions of  Jews which are clearly racist and anti-Semitic. Moreover, they have been authorized by the University to carry realistic looking assault weapons which they brandish as they interrogate innocent students on campus about their religious and ethnic backgrounds. All this in an effort to convey a portrayal that “all” Jews are blood-thirsty barbarians. Regrettably, the university has effectively put its imprimatur on this despicable behavior.


FP: Is there precedent for such action by the Justice Department?


Sher: There is. Recently the federal government undertook an in-depth inquiry into a hostile racist environment at U.C. San Diego. That investigation was precipitated by the offensive “Compton Cookout” of February 2010, during Black History Month. During that off-campus event, African Americans were portrayed in a racist and offensive stereotype. As a result of its intervention, earlier this year the Justice Department announced a Resolution Agreement with U.C. San Diego. The school is now subject to a series of strict reporting and educational requirements designed to eliminate the impermissible behavior. Schools which violate Title VI run the risk of forfeiting federal funds.


FP: Is the situation at San Diego comparable to that at Berkeley?


Sher: Like the “Compton Cookout” at San Diego, the Berkeley Apartheid Week/Passion Play is patently offensive and racist. Portraying Jews in such a fashion is as odious as the use of the “N” word and other similar racist and sexist stereotypes. Indeed, the Berkeley situation presents an even stronger case than that in San Diego, inasmuch as the offensive activities of Apartheid Week occurred on campus by registered student organizations with the permission and effective approval of University officials; the “Compton Cookout,” by comparison, was off campus with no official University involvement.  Jewish students at Berkeley should be entitled to the same protection and relief as were the African American students at San Diego.… (Top)



Matthew Ackerman

Contentions, June 6, 2012


Israel’s treatment on campus is a perpetual concern of a broad swath of American Jews, and rightly so. The very idea of a Jewish state, to say nothing of the policies that state’s citizens elect to follow, regularly receives there unwarranted criticisms that might play in the European mainstream, but have little currency in the United States off the quad.


The anxiety consequently produced nevertheless often manages to miss the true nature of the challenge on campus, as well as the reality of Jewish life there. A couple of articles published in the past few days offer refreshing windows into what things look like at ground level.


Kenneth L. Marcus, the president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, wrote in eJewishPhilanthropy of the divide in the Jewish community between “quietists” and “alarmists,” the former being those who deny that there is any anti-Semitism on campus, and the latter being those who “see danger behind every corner.”


Neither camp, Marcus notes, is entirely correct. The alarmists too often ignore the extraordinary richness of opportunities for Jewish life on campus along with the demise of an institutional anti-Semitism that once barred Jews from entry or made their lives difficult while there. The quietists see those opportunities perhaps too well, ignoring troubling undertones in the discussion of Jews and the Jewish state.


Another article published in The Times of Israel by Seffi Kogen, a student at Columbia and the Jewish Theological Seminary, laments the “disappearance” of Jewish students from Israel-themed events, diagnosing pre-college Jewish educational experiences that teaches them that campuses are a hotbed of anti-Israel protests and speakers and arms them with debating points, only to find that students don’t show up to do anything much related to Israel except for those rare annual rites of dramatic anti-Israel protest. He thinks the solution is getting young Jews “to love to discuss Israel and think about Israel, and not only to fight for Israel.”


Kogen’s take represents the downside for Israel’s case when young people are fed too many alarming stories before they get to school while not being told enough about the less dramatic but more costly pervasive negativity in the attitude toward Israel taken by far too many young people who don’t know or care much about the Middle East. If you are taught only to fight, but not to persuade, and only to be concerned about a speech in the student union, and not a conversation in a dorm room, it’s not surprising that you find yourself shrugging most days and getting animated only when someone puts a mock wall up.


Of course, as a general matter, it’s easier to get concerned about dramatic displays than subtle remarks. Dealing effectively with the latter, which is probably of far greater consequence than the former, means getting better at teaching young people how to get beyond pro-Israel talking points and into the substance of the justice underlying the cause of Jewish independence.


It’s harder, but that’s what we’ll have to do if we really want to improve the way Israel is talked about on campus. (Top)


∙       AMCHA Initiative, August 20, 2012
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin & Leila Be

∙       University of California, July 9, 2012
Richard D. Barton &  Alice Huffman

∙       AMCHA Initiative, August 14, 2012
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin & Leila Beckwith

∙       University California, August 21, 2012
Marsha Kelman

∙       AMCHA Initiative, September 8, 2011
Tammi Benjamin & Leila Beckwith

∙       Times of Israel, June 11, 2012
Seffi Kogen

∙       eJewishPhilosophy, June 10, 2012
Kenneth L. Marcus

∙       History News Network, August 13, 2012
Alan Luxenberg









Alan M. Dershowitz
Jerusalem Magazine, June 15, 2011


At a time of increasing—and increasingly complex—anti-Semitism throughout the world, Yale University has decided to shut down the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Anti-Semitism, YIISA. Founded in 2006, YIISA is headed by a distinguished scholar, Charles Small, with an international reputation for serious interdisciplinary research. The precipitous decision to close YIISA, made without even a semblance of due process and transparency, could not have come at a worse time. Nor could it have sent a worse message.

I recently returned from a trip abroad—England, Norway, South Africa, among other countries—where I experienced the changing face and growing acceptability of anti-Semitism. Sometimes it hid behind the facade of anti-Zionism, but increasingly the hatred was directed against Jews, Judaism, Jewish culture, the Jewish people and the very concept of a Jewish State (by people who favor the existence of many Muslim States).

In England, a prominent and popular Jazz musician rails against the Jewish people, denies the Holocaust and apologizes to the Nazis for having once compared the Jewish state to Nazi Germany, since in his view Israel is far worse. In Norway, a prominent professor openly criticizes the Jewish people as a group and Jewish culture as a collective deviation. In Johannesburg, the university severs its ties with an Israeli university, while in Cape Town a newspaper headline welcomes me with the following words, “Dershowitz is not welcome here” and an excuse is found to cancel a scheduled lecture by me at the university.

Throughout my visits to European capitals, I hear concern from Jewish students who are terrified about speaking out, wearing yarmulkes, Stars of David or anything else that identifies them as Jews.

In the United States, and particularly at American universities, matters are not [yet] as bad. There are of course some exceptions, such as at several campuses at the University of California where Muslim students have tried to censor pro-Israel speakers and have been treated as heroes for doing so, while those who support pro-Israel speakers are treated as pariahs. The same is true at some Canadian universities as well.

One university that has been a model of tolerance, up until now, has been Yale, where Jewish and pro-Israel students feel empowered and comfortable, as do Muslim and anti-Israel students. Perhaps this is why the Yale Administration had no hesitancy in dropping YIISA. It can easily defend itself against charges of bias by saying, “Some of my best organizations are Jewish!” But this is no excuse.

Since Yale has thus far refused to release the so-called study on which it claims to have based its decision—or even to show it to those most directly affected—it is impossible to know the real reasons behind this controversial action. The two offered by Yale do not satisfy academic criteria. The first, that there was insufficient faculty interest in the initiative, is simply not true. Many faculty members, both inside and outside of Yale, have supported the initiative and have participated in its programs. I myself have delivered a lecture and serve on an advisory board. Several distinguished academics from around the world have also participated. But even if it were true, a lack of interest by the Yale faculty in the growing problem of anti-Semitism, would be a symptom of the problem and not an excuse for refusing to study it.

The second claimed reason was a lack of scholarly output from this relatively new institution. This too is doubtful since numerous articles, books, conferences and other scholarly output have been generated over the past several years—with the promise of more to come.

I have been in and around American academic institutions for more than half a century. Never before have I seen such a lack of process and fairness in the termination of a program. Generally, if there is any dissatisfaction with the program, university administrator sit down with those in charge and seek ways of improving it. Rarely if ever is the program simply shut down, as this one has been. Yale has some explaining to do.…

One of the most important human rights issues of the 21st Century is whether Israel’s actions in defense of its citizens, or indeed its very existence, will provide the newest excuse for the oldest of bigotries. There has rarely been a more important time for the interdisciplinary study of the spreading phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the world today. Yale has a chance to be at the forefront of this study. Instead it has taken a cowardly step away from the controversy.…


Alex Joffe

Jewish Ideas Daily, June 13, 2011


The modern university is no longer made up simply of departments and regular professors teaching students. Ancillary centers, programs, and initiatives proliferate, undertaking research on every conceivable topic and, in exchange for use of the university’s name, bringing in prestige, money, and the occasional celebrity. The fates of such entities rarely make the New York Post. But anti-Semitism is not a normal subject.

Just how abnormal a subject it is, and how volatile its study can be, has come to public attention with Yale University’s termination of the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism (YIISA) after five years of successful operation. Led by the sociologist Charles Small, YIISA was the largest research unit in North America devoted to examining an issue of great antiquity and urgent contemporary significance. Its mission was defined clearly: “to explore this subject matter in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary framework from an array of approaches and perspectives as well as regional contexts.”

Pursuant to that mission, YIISA annually assembled groups of scholars for seminars and conferences and published a series of studies. The scholars attached to the initiative included such figures as David Hirsh of Goldsmiths College in London, Irwin Cotler, the former Canadian attorney general, and Bassam Tibi, professor emeritus of international relations at the University of Goettingen. Dozens of other well-credentialed academics participated in YIISA seminars, with interns, graduate fellows, and Yale faculty members helping to realize the enterprise’s promise of becoming a “vibrant space” for scholarship, discussion, and debate.

But “initiatives” are fragile things, and this one, evidently, initiated more than its host had bargained for. At a 2010 conference titled “Global Antisemitism: A Crisis of Modernity,” experts from around the world gathered to deliberate the most dangerous global form of contemporary anti-Semitism, namely, the Muslim variety. Dangerous in more ways than one: the event’s discussions provoked the ire of some Yale faculty and students, as well as representatives of the official Muslim world; the ire evidently caused institutional discomfiture; and YIISA’s fate was sealed.

No doubt other considerations went into Yale’s decision to shut down this enterprise; it is difficult to know for sure. But the finality of the move, and the evasive rationales advanced for it, suggest a desire to dodge the issue. After all, universities rarely admit mistakes and even more rarely correct them. More typical are bureaucratic fixes: downgrading “programs” to “projects,” moving units to smaller office spaces (the academic equivalent of Siberia), or, in truly bad situations, replacing leaders and putting units in receivership. Why pull the plug so completely?

In the event, Yale’s stated reasons for terminating YIISA omit any mention of the 2010 conference or its subject matter. The university’s director of strategic communications, according to Abby Wisse Schachter who broke the story in the New York Post, asserted that the decision was made on the basis of YIISA’s failure to “serve the research and teaching interests of some significant Yale faculty and…[to] be sustained by the creative energy of a critical mass of Yale faculty.” Unspecified were the interests that were not being served or sustained, let alone the nature of the alleged failure.

To counter criticism of its action, Yale dribbled out a few additional statements. To Donald Green, the director of the institute where YIISA was housed, the problem lay both in YIISA’s professional standards and in its non-popularity: “Little scholarly work appeared in top-tier journals in behavioral science, comparative politics, or history. Courses created in this area did not attract large numbers of students.”

It may indeed be that course enrollments were low, but so are enrollments in any number of areas that universities deem worthy of study. In any case, such numbers are of little relevance to an entity like YIISA, which was by definition a research and not a teaching unit, and which held numerous events attracting public attention and open to the entire Yale community.

As far as publications are concerned, YIISA, just like similar centers and programs at Yale, published its own highly regarded monograph series that made its scholars’ work freely available for download. Since when is the wide dissemination of scholarly products no longer an important academic goal? Nor is Yale known for applying the “top-tier” criterion across the board. The Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, for example, is a center-Left policy group currently directed by the former Mexican president Ernesto Zedillo. It attracts wealthy and powerful speakers, some of whom are or may become Yale donors, and releases its reports and findings not in so-called “top-tier journals” but in various house-branded forms. It is hardly unique in this.

But the pious invocation of “top-tier” academic journals with their hoary review processes is itself specious. Offering a comparison with YIISA’s record in this respect, Green touted the “extraordinary number” of articles in such journals produced by yet another Yale research “initiative.” This is the Field Experiments Initiative, dedicated to “randomized studies of voter mobilization, peer counseling of homeless people, campaign activities in Africa, and the persuasiveness of televised campaign advertisements.” The fact that the jargon-laden study of campaign advertisements yields more placements in academic journals than do analyses of anti-Semitism speaks dreary volumes about the gatekeepers of so much of contemporary scholarship, about the subjects they consider respectable, and about the standards of judgment they apply.

And here we return to the unspoken nub of the matter. At its 2010 conference, YIISA dared to tackle, openly, the single deadliest form of contemporary anti-Semitism, bringing together for this purpose a bevy of “top-tier” scholars from around the world. It was, clearly, the very holding of such an event that raised hackles from within and without. One response came from Maen Rashid Areikat, the Washington representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization: “It’s shocking that a respected institution like Yale would give a platform to these right-wing extremists and their odious views.… I urge you to publicly dissociate yourself and Yale University from the anti-Arab extremism and hate-mongering that were on display during this conference.”

This, from an operative of a group whose very name is soaked with the blood of murdered Jews and whose doctrines have poisoned the minds and disfigured the passions of whole generations, including in centers of elite Western opinion. Asked about the possible influence of responses like Areikat’s in its decision to terminate YIISA, a Yale spokesman huffed that the university “doesn’t make decisions about individual programs…based on outside criticism.” Maybe so. But it would be naïve to suppose that Yale is anything less than super-sensitive to its institutional self-interest in a part of the world whose favor it may wish to court—and the all too palpable consequences of whose wrath it seeks to avoid.

It is well known, for instance, that Yale has long been seeking support from wealthy Arab donors. In particular, it has wooed Saudi Prince Alwaleed ibn Talal, who in 2005 gave $20 million apiece to Harvard and Georgetown for Islamic-studies programs. (Yale, which competed vigorously for the prize, made it to the final round.) True to their donors’ intent, such academic programs are faithful disseminators of the “narrative” of Muslim victimization. In the same connection, it should likewise be borne in mind that in 2009, alerted to the imminent publication by its own press of a scholarly book on the Danish-cartoons controversy, the Yale administration summarily intervened to yank images of the cartoons from the final product—on the grounds that their appearance might elicit “violence.”

That craven decision was made, allegedly, on the advice of experts gathered for the task, a number of them on the Yale faculty. The same or similar experts, one imagines, now constitute the unnamed “critical mass” whose “research and teaching interests” YIISA is condemned for having failed to serve. Among them, no doubt, are Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, formerly of the State Department and National Security Council and now senior fellows of Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. The Leveretts, strong defenders of the Iranian (and Syrian) regimes, famously charged the George W. Bush administration with ignoring crucial opportunities to negotiate with the mullahs of Tehran, and have criticized the Obama administration on the same grounds. In 2009, Hillary Mann Leverett took her graduate students to New York to meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations; reportedly, he enlightened them on the absence of proof for the Holocaust.

There is no need to impute a conspiracy here; it suffices to recognize a confluence of factors—and a mindset. Exactly 60 years ago, the young William F. Buckley, Jr., in God and Man at Yale, published a withering critique of, in the words of a recent appraisal, “the intolerance of the academy toward unfashionable concepts…the stultifying effects of elitist groupthink on thought, and…the failure of the university to engage a wide range of ideas fairly and in simple good faith.” At the time, the particular issue salient in Buckley’s mind was the academy’s refusal to engage the subject of God and man. Today, it is the refusal to engage the global campaign to defame, de-legitimate, and demonize the Jewish people. As the fact of anti-Semitism grows, including on some North American campuses, one large, serious academic effort to study anti-Semitism has been shut down.

(Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.)


Eye on a Crazy Planet, June 13, 2011


Picture the following: A discussion in a post-graduate university class on the topic of Jews turns ugly. The professor is uncritical when one student says he doesn’t want to be around Jews. Another student complains about “rich Jews,” implying their excessive power. In a subsequent class, the same professor, as if to validate those points, says half her department faculty are Jews and with her approbation, students conduct a ‘Jew count’.

While this sounds like an episode in Germany leading up to the anti-Jewish Nuremberg Laws, it occurred more recently and much closer to home, at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work. Now, more details are emerging under the exceptional circumstance of two U of T professors publicly criticizing a colleague for facilitating classroom anti-Semitism and the university administration’s inadequate response.

The controversy began when some visible minority students in a Social Work Master’s program at the University of Toronto [U of T] expressed discomfort about being around “rich Jews,” in Professor Rupaleem Bhuyan’s class, regarding a proposed outing in 2009 to the Baycrest Centre, an internationally renowned Jewish geriatric and research facility. They were undoubtedly confident of a sympathetic ear from her. The previous year, Bhuyan denounced Israel as a satellite of the United States, unworthy of distinction as a separate country.

The few Jewish students in Bhuyan’s Master’s Program class were intimidated into silence for much of the discussion by a classroom culture slanted against them. Finally, one young woman spoke up, protesting her grandparents had come to Canada with virtually nothing and she was proud her family could now afford the fees for them to reside at Baycrest.

That must have rung an alarm bell for Professor Bhuyan, because startlingly, she then admonished her students not to divulge what transpired in class to outsiders.

But her classroom was not Las Vegas and what happened there did not stay there. Some outraged Jewish students approached Professor Paula David, who in turn consulted senior professors Ernie Lightman and Adrienne Chambon.

“Students are in a vulnerable position and dread officially attaching their name to complaints against a professor in a program like Social Work” said Lightman. “Aside from determining grades, they fear one bad word from a professor to a social agency can eliminate their employment prospects.”

In the face of such circumstances, Lightman assumed the voice of the Jewish students who endured the vitriol in Bhuyan’s class. He, with Chambon spoke to Faye Mishna, the Dean of Social Work about the incidents. A letter Lightman wrote to U of T President David Naylor about the matter also became public.

By way of response, Mishna, without specific reference to the incident or Bhuyan, sent out a pair of letters to the Social Work department generically condemning anti-Semitism.

Lightman believes the university’s response was absurd. “The department’s approach seemed to imply a widespread problem with anti-Semitism—which there wasn’t—and that everyone is potentially a racist when one professor promoted anti-Semitism and was never held publicly accountable.…”

Chambon, a Jewish professor who is Director of PhD programs in the Social Work department, was particularly pained by these events. Originally from France, she relates that “I am from Europe and of a generation with bad memories of the sinister results of Jew counts.” After hearing about the incident, Chambon arranged to meet with Bhuyan.

“I was flabbergasted” Chambon disclosed. “She told me ‘racialized’ students come from underprivileged backgrounds and were justified in not wanting to be around old Jews because they are rich and would make them uneasy. I couldn’t believe my ears. I took some paper and wrote down what she said in front of her. Bhuyan then said the donor plaques at the university were all from rich Jews, which she felt proved her point. Aside from being factually wrong, it reflects an attitude that polarizes groups and reinforces stereotypes that do not belong in the teaching of Social Work.”

Professor Bhuyan did not reply to a request to comment for this article and the University refused to add to Social Work Department Dean Mishna’s response that, “the Faculty took all steps to address the matter appropriately at the time of the incident and thereafter.”

Nothing could be more false in the opinion of Lightman, Chambon and others. While patiently waiting for the wheels of justice to grind slowly, they instead saw them go off the rails.

Bhuyan, an untenured Assistant Professor, who never offered a public apology for her behaviour, was rewarded by the University with a contract renewal. That development has frustrated a number of professors in a dysfunctional Social Work Department that remains divided in opposing camps. Lightman insists this matter must be exposed and wrote a recent article about it for The Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.

Lightman asserts, “It’s ironic that a department purporting to teach anti-racism is incapable of dealing with racism in its own house. We have a responsibility to students to ensure faculty do not abuse the power inherent in their positions, and to the community-at-large to ensure all the Social Workers it graduates reflect and promote the values of the field. That hasn’t happened here.” [Ed.: Please see ‘On Topics’ for Mr. Lightman’s full article, entitled “Antisemitism at the University of Toronto”.]