Political correctness on American college campuses is manifest anti-Semitism, but can it be fought?I was floored.
What I'm about to describe was probably inevitable. The fight for 'safe spaces,' BDS and political correctness on American college campuses has morphed into blatant anti-Semitism. The role that prominent Leftist Jews has played in making this happen will not shield them from the monster they created. See Germany (which will be insulted if you say so, but remains anti-Semitic more than 70 years after Hitler's death) and Stalinist Russia. Different campuses are at different stages, but most American college campuses appear to be heading inexorably toward anti-Semitic group think.
This report that I saw on Facebook comes from a current student at my alma mater, Bir Zeit on the Hudson.
Rochman is describing a university course calling for the 'elimination' of Israel taught by what we would call an 'as a Jew' (someone who uses the accident of his birth to permit him to blatantly incite to anti-Semitism) using terms not much different from the terms that Hitler used to describe the elimination of Jews 70 years ago. As I have mentioned several times in the past couple of months, the role of Germany in financing the continued prominence of the 'Palestinians' in world affairs reflects the continued anti-Semitism in Germany (I am now reading an earlier book by Tuvia Tenenboim about anti-Semitism in Germany today - that book's publication was nearly blocked!).
Let's start with what should be obvious: Being 'anti-Israel' or subjecting Israel to double standards in 2016 is no different than being anti-Semitic in the 1940's. Saying you're 'only against Israel' but 'not against Jews' is putting a politically correct cover on an ancient hatred.
At Berkeley, the cradle of the false distinction between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, things have only gotten worse. This article discusses a 'for credit' course on the Berkeley college campus.
According to Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative — which combats, monitors and documents antisemitism at institutions of higher education in America — the course in question, titled “Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis,” is a “classic example of antisemitic anti-Zionism.”
“Based upon the syllabus, the class treats Israel as a settler colonial state and Zionism and Israel as illegitimate,” Rossman-Benjamin told The Algemeiner, adding that “a goal of the class appears to be talking about ways to decolonize Palestine, which essentially means to eliminate the Jewish state.”
“This is clear eliminationist anti-Zionism, which is not just criticism of Israel, but opposition to the existence of the Jewish state with efforts to eliminate that state,” she said.
Lily Greenberg Call, a Jewish UC Berkeley student who serves as a CAMERA Fellow and is the co-vice president of the campus group Bears for Israel, told The Algemeiner that she became “very upset” after seeing posters advertising the class.
“It’s one thing to have a political group like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) on campus, but teaching material that is so biased and factually inaccurate in a classroom setting violates academic integrity,” she said.
“Palestine: A Settler Colonial Analysis” is being offered as a “DeCal” course, which is part of a program of student-run classes that falls under the jurisdiction of UC Berkeley’s Academic Senate. According to a description of the course — which acknowledges “contentious” material will be taught — the class will:
…[E]xamine key historical developments that have taken place in Palestine, from the 1880s to the present, through the lens of settler colonialism…we will explore the connection between Zionism and settler colonialism, and the ways in which it has manifested, and continues to manifest, in Palestine. Lastly, drawing upon literature on decolonization, we will explore the possibilities of a decolonized Palestine, one in which justice is realized for all its peoples and equality is not only espoused, but practiced.Students are also required to attend at least one event, on or off campus, “relating to Palestine.”
The faculty sponsor of the course, Dr. Hatem Bazian, is the co-founder of SJP and a major supporter of the US Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI). Bazian is a former fundraising speaker for the anti-Israel organization KindHearts, which was shut down by the US government in 2006 for its alleged ties to Hamas.You might think there's nothing wrong with that because college campuses are supposed to facilitate 'the free exchange of ideas.' But that's not what's going on here.
According to Rossman-Benjamin, “You just need to take a look at the instructor, facilitator, authors of the reading materials and listed guest speakers to see that the course is biased and presents an egregious framework against Israel.” Furthermore, she noted, “Not one reading or guest lecturer isn’t a virulent anti-Zionist, absolutely opposed to the existence of the state of Israel and supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.”
Reading material includes selections from works by anti-Zionist Israeli historian Ilan Pappe; the late Edward Said, a fierce Israel critic; and Saree Makdisi, an advocate of the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Also, there are testimonies from the controversial and widely debunked Israeli group Breaking the Silence.
“As seen from the syllabus, the class doesn’t look at Israel and ask if it is a settler colonial state or if Zionism is a legitimate ideology,” Rossman-Benjamin said. “The starting point is that it is illegitimate. This is completely one-sided and has a clear anti-Zionist bent, to the extent that it opposes the existence of the Jewish state.”And if you still think this course is anything other than a 'safe space' for anti-Semitic rants....
She also told The Algemeiner that she finds it “concerning” that the course has “a strict no-technology policy — no phones, voice recordings or photographs — which makes me worried that some of the content will be inherently anti-Israel and as such, the facilitators don’t want to make it public in any way.”By the way, if you pay taxes to the State of California, you're supporting this.
Is there any way to fight back? Here's one promising story from Miriam Elman, an Associate Professor at Syracuse University.
A brief recap: [Israeli Filmmaker Shimon] Dotan [of New York University's Graduate School of Journalism] was invited by a University of Nebraska colleague to screen the film at SU. A tenured professor in SU’s Religion Department, M. Gail Hamner, then rescinded the invitation on account of warnings from colleagues that the “BDS faction on campus will make matters very unpleasant” for her and Dotan if he came. Bottom line: Hamner was reluctant to bring Dotan to the conference because she felt intimidated by a faculty caucus who wouldn’t be happy about the screening of a well-received Israeli film.
SU responded admirably by reasserting the university’s commitment to free speech and its opposition to “any boycott of Israeli academic institutions or faculty.” An invitation to Dotan to present his film at a later time this year was also extended. On her part, Hamner issued an apology and reaffirmed her own support for academic freedom. To my mind, this rings hollow. A true defender of campus free speech actively solicits diverse viewpoints, and doesn’t surrender to peer pressure to conform. Still, Hamner’s expression of regret seems sincere and heartfelt.
All’s well that ends well? Not quite. Lingering questions remain: did Hamner have to “vouch” in the same way for other films in the conference – or was it just the product of an Israeli national that required special scrutiny? Are a group of anti-Israel colleagues exercising subtle veto power when it comes to academic programming related to Israel?
To get answers to these questions, and assess the magnitude of the problem, I and other SU faculty are now urging the administration to undertake a comprehensive and transparent investigation. Supported by the Academic Engagement Network, a new national organization committed to opposing BDS on campuses and to preserving academic freedom and free speech, we believe that only a full exploration as to why Dotan’s invitation was withdrawn will both lay this incident to rest and ensure that something like it won’t happen again.
This inquiry shouldn’t be construed as a witch hunt, nor is it likely to reveal a campus awash in anti-Israel animus. SU is generally a welcoming place for Israeli scholars and students. An exploration of the matter may also show that Hamner panicked unnecessarily and that her fears of the “BDS faction” were overblown. But it’s possible too that the inquiry will uncover more evidence of stealth boycotting.
Three lessons about these silent boycotts and how to defeat them can be learned from my university’s “Dotan Affair.”
First, administrators need to recognize that just because their schools are on record opposing academic boycotts of Israel doesn’t mean that individual faculty members are adhering to that institutional policy in their personal instructional practices. Administrators must make school policy crystal clear, but they also have to institute mechanisms to ensure that faculty members comply with it.
Second, the case highlights that successfully confronting silent boycotting ultimately depends on whether individual faculty are willing to take a stand. Like all bullies, stealth boycotters get away with their bigotry and intimidation because most faculty aren’t as honest and forthright as Hamner was about the pressures they’re facing, and because the vast majority of professors prefer to do their research and teaching and hesitate getting involved in "campus politics." The now multiplying anti-BDS organizations operating on campus are going to have to figure out a way to incentivize more faculty to engage proactively – and get those feeling cowed by BDS harassment to go public.
Lastly, the “Dotan Affair” shows that BDS, which bills itself as a human rights movement aimed at ending the Israeli "occupation," is in fact pure racist hatred, from which even famous anti-occupation, progressives Israelis – like Shimon Dotan – aren’t immune. To put a stop to stealth boycotting on campus and prevent more Israeli scholars from being privately shut out of academia, Zionists from across the political spectrum – left, center, and right – will need to fight together to ensure that all their voices can be heard on campus.This battle is far from over. But I sure would not want my children or grandchildren on an American college campus today.