We can no longer ignore rising anti-Semitism on college campuses
“I’m gonna physically fight Zionists on campus next year if someone comes to me with their ‘Israel is a democracy’ bullshit,” Hamzeh Daoud wrote on his Facebook in July 2018. He was an incoming resident director for Stanford University’s dorms. Though I am not a student at Stanford University, this incident set off alarm bells for pro-Israel students on campus like myself. Daoud who claims to be a third generation Palestinian refugee resigned from his position at Stanford and apologized. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and Jewish Voices for Peace openly supported Daoud when he expressed his hate, reflecting the normality of anti-Semitic hate speech on campus.
Pro-Israel students, especially on the City University of New York’s (CUNY) campuses where I am a student, are seeing hateful organizations engaging in open harassment. Anti-Israel campus activities are no longer intent on solely harming the state of Israel, but increasingly and alarmingly they are intent on harming pro-Israel members of our campus community. There was an assault at NYU’s Yom Ha’Atzmaut Rave in 2018, during which a member of NYU SJP attacked a pro-Israel student and went on to say that “it was his job to make Zionists feel uncomfortable on campus.”
Research has shown that while there is a large number of students who participate in various ethnic and political clubs, it is largely members of the Jewish and Zionist clubs who are threatened. Students who support Israel are intimidated, excluded from other campus clubs, and have their own events violently disrupted. These anti-Semitic incidents have doubled in frequency from 2015-2017.
SJP at the New School’s response to the murder of Ari Fuld, an innocent American-Israeli father murdered by a Palestinian terrorist, was despicable. They wrote that “he is neither a victim nor a hero” and that “colonialism comes with consequences.” Since Fuld was a Jew living in Judea and Samaria, SJP felt he deserved to die.
At Brooklyn College, Students for Justice in Palestine, who are attempting to revive their group after a couple years of relative silence, claim that one of their greatest threats is when Zionist groups like Canary Mission charge them with accusations of spreading “anti-Semitism” on campus. Two years ago, in 2016, my campus community experienced a surge of anti-Semitic incidents. On February 18, 2016, at the faculty council meeting, students allegedly demanded that “Zionists” leave the campus, calling a professor at the meeting a “Zionist pig.” The former president of Brooklyn College and the Vice President for Academic Affairs strongly condemned the incident and said that it went against the ideals and diversity that define Brooklyn College.
Sam Kestenbaum wrote that the two seniors, Aly and DeAngelis, who called a professor “Zionist pig” and disrupted the meeting were members of Students for Justice in Palestine. They were threatened with expulsion after their vile words were condemned by the university administration. On May 20th, Aly and DeAngelis were found “not culpable” of most charges. They simply received a slap on the wrist from Brooklyn College.
Natalie Segev, a student and former CAMERA Fellow at John Jay College, writes that she is excluded from events on campus because she is active with the Hillel at John Jay. SJP has seemingly adapted the “3 No’s of Khartoum” where they adamantly refuse discussion and dialogue when it comes to Israel to avoid “normalizing” interactions with Zionists. These hostile anti-Israel activists do not realize that students like Segev and myself could bring them closer to the “justice” and rights that they claim to seek for Palestinians. Simply because Segev and I support Israel, anti-Zionist students refuse to see us as fellow organizers or hold dialogue with us on campus.
The City College of New York’s standard on freedom of speech has been perverted to the point where Students for Justice in Palestine felt comfortable chanting “intifada,” effectively a call for violence, at their Nakba commemoration. Oshra Bitton, a former CAMERA Fellow at City College, expressed that “the administration at CUNY claims that anti-Israel students are just expressing their first amendment rights ignoring the fact that it is terrifying for us Jewish students to hear a group calling for our deaths.” While SJP claims to promote justice human rights and liberation for the Palestinian people, their calls for an intifada neglect any self-respecting social justice goal. This hate speech and fear mongering is the same incitement that preceded the Holocaust.
We need to work towards a climate on campus in which freedom of speech is not twisted to incite violence. Harassment and threats tragically go against this ideal and have followed the Jewish people for millennia. Students should be able to get their degree and enjoy their full rights and privileges as all students do without being harassed. We, as Jewish students, are not lesser than any other group and should be treated as equals in all forums.
Contributed by Brooklyn College CAMERA Fellow Aliyah Jacobson. Originally published in campus outlet Night Call News.