Ron Radosh: Growing Anti-Semitism On The Campus





[Ronald Radosh, Adjunct Fellow at the Hudson Institute and Prof. Emeritus of History at CUNY, writes regularly for Pajamas Media.com.]

But even more disturbing is the growing evidence that Jewish students are having a most confused response to this development. One has to look only at the announcement by J-Street- the self-described left of center antidote to AIPAC- that it would not call its campus chapters "pro-Israel" because that would limit their ability to gain members among Jewish students, as proof for how support of Israel is seen by many campus Jews as a position they do not wish to be identified with. The question that arises is what has happened to produce such sentiment?

Jewish students, like their non-Jewish counterparts, have grown up in a largely left-wing culture, in which the education they have received in high schools throughout the country, especially in the area of history or what used to be called civics, has been taught to them by teachers whose degrees are from left-leaning education schools. Or, perhaps, their teachers have been influenced by the view that the United States is the most evil nation in the world, which they in turn learned from people like Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky. It is therefore not surprising to find the names of familiar left-wing Jewish figures on the nation's campuses playing a prominent part especially in the disinvestment campaign. As Dennis MacShane, A Labour member of Parliament, put it in a 2007 Washington Post op-ed, "American universities have provided a base for Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said, among others, to launch campaigns of criticism against Israel, and the bulk of the West's university intelligentsia remains hostile to the Jewish state."...

Compounding the problem is confusion over the meaning of the First Amendment. Even if some Jewish students are shocked and horrified by the growing anti-Semitism, their belief in free speech as guaranteed in The Bill of Rights leads many to say that opposing events such as Israel Apartheid Week, the disinvestment campaign, or even ads arguing on behalf of Holocaust denial, puts them in a position of standing against a basic American Constitutional right.

In fact, as is the case with the many ads taken in college papers by Holocaust deniers over the past few years, or the ads in favor of disinvestment in Israel, free speech was never in jeopardy. A newspaper has a right to reject any ad submitted to it as inappropriate; the First Amendment does not guarantee the right to have one's views printed wherever they seek to place it. Supporters of a controversial view have a perfect right to print their own leaflet, distribute it and submit it where they wish, no matter how reprehensible their argument. They have a right to publish and disseminate their own views in their own organ of opinion. Yet some editors readily published ads submitted by Holocaust deniers, out of fear that to reject it would violate First Amendment rights....

Given the well known attempt a few weeks ago to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren's address at UC-Irvine in California, it is clear that campus authorities have to do more than they are to curb real attempts to suppress free speech by Israel's opponents, and to protect the rights of those Jewish students who seek through peaceful means to bring a pro-Israel viewpoint to the campus. The tough response by UC-Irvine's president, who made it clear that his campus will not tolerate such interruptions and blatant anti-Semitism, is a good sign that perhaps others will follow his example. It is certainly about time.


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Charlie Tsai - 3/4/2010

You might not be aware, but Israeli Apartheid Week is in part hosted by Jewish students. It is not Judaism or Jewish people they are protesting against, but the policies of Israel that systematically abuse the human rights of Palestinians (mentioned by a number of UN resolutions against Israel), and their refusal to abide to UN resolutions regarding their illegal activities (as condemned by the US). It may come as a surprise to you, but being someone who does not live in the USA, it is VERY obvious to me that everyone in the world except Israel and the USA are against what Israel is doing and what the USA is enabling. There is nothing anti-semitic about opposing a system that abuses human rights and institutes policies that could NOT be regarded as anything but apartheid. In fact, I would even argue that only someone not truly Jewish would be be able to accept the atrocities that Israel is committing.

It is no different than saying that condemning the Crusades is anti-Christian. Religious people, and even countries, do not always act in strict accordance with their beliefs, and in any case, it is not the religion that is being protested, but the policies of the Israeli government.