Center field: Surprise, surprise: As campus Jew hatred grows – Jews defend Israel

By GIL STERN STERN TROY
July 28, 2015 21:38
berkley

Jewish groups at UC Berkeley campus rally against anti-Israeli events. (photo credit: FACEBOOK)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

‘Everyone” knows that young American Jews are abandoning Israel. Leftists particularly blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightwing, pro-Orthodox, anti-Palestinian government, claiming, as Peter Beinart did in 2010, that young American Jews are tired of checking “their liberalism at Zionism’s door.” By contrast, rather than blaming Netanyahu or Israel’s policies, rightists blame America’s cowardly, disloyal Jews. 

See the latest opinion pieces on our Opinion & Blogs Facebook page
 
What if crisis-addicted leftists and rightists are wrong? What if American Jewish support – like American support for Israel overall – persists? What if the crisis is on the American Jewish Left but – narcissism alert – leftists are not as representative and popular as they believe they are? A new report, “Anti-Semitism on the College Campus,” just released by the Cohen Center at Brandeis offers good news and bad news. The bad news first, so crisis-mongers, Left and Right, can rest easy with something to worry about: campus Jew hatred is surging. I use the cruder term “Jew hatred” to sidestep the idiotic debate whereby some Muslims who feed anti-Semitism say they are not anti-Semitic because they are Semites, and to emphasize just how ugly and widespread this enmity against Jews on campus is.

The report – whose first author is my Taglit-Birthright Israel colleague and friend Professor Leonard Saxe – discovered that one-third of Jewish college students surveyed reported “having been verbally harassed during the past year because they were Jewish.” Even more astonishing, “nearly three-quarters of respondents report having been exposed at least occasionally during the past year to at least one of six antisemitic statements, including the claims that Jews have too much power and that Israelis behave ‘like Nazis’ toward the Palestinians.”

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Most Jewish students today are sophisticated. Most distinguish between criticizing Israel and Jew hatred.

They see that the new Jew hatred begins with a harsh, disproportionate, obsessive overreaction against Israeli policies. It has now metastasized into open season on Jews and Jewish sensibilities for fanatic students and professors who call themselves “progressive” but are acting abominably, betraying liberalism with their intolerance, insensitivity and insane support for totalitarian terrorists against democratic Israel.

In response, most Jewish students are not abandoning Israel. The Jew haters – and BDS/boycott proponents – have become the most effective on-campus recruiters for Jewish involvement and the pro-Israel movement since detestable Yasser Arafat died. Saxe and his team surveyed 3,199 students who had applied to attend Taglit-Birthright this year, some of whom did not participate because (potential donors take note) there was not enough room for them. The pre-trip pool was large enough - and politically diverse enough - to provide a representative sample of young Jewish college students.

Both the Hamas war against Israeli civilians last summer and the campus war against the Jews this academic year increased Jews’ support for Israel: one-third “report feeling ‘very much’ connected to Israel and another third report feeling ‘somewhat’ connected.” These figures are higher in 2015 than in 2014. They reflect a decade-long trend, whereby twenty-somethings feel more connected to Israel than thirty-somethings, because of the Birthright Bounce.

Visiting Israel and seeing the real Israel intensifies Jews’ (and non-Jews’) connection to Israel.



Yes, there are disturbing signs that six years of a president who is increasingly hostile to Israel, er, excuse me, I meant to write “Israel’s Best Friend Ever,” is taking its toll. A new Los Angeles Jewish Journalpoll shows that while most Israelis fear President Barack Obama’s too-generous Iran deal, 49 percent of American Jews support the deal and 31% oppose it (among all Americans 28% support the deal while 24% oppose it). The pollster Frank Luntz recently reported that well-educated, wealthy, activist Democrats, whom he dubbed the “opinion elites,” increasingly consider Israel a racist country resisting peace with Palestinians and exerting too much influence on US foreign policy.

In short, the Obama Effect – I mean “Israel’s Best Friend Ever” effect – is intensified by the anti-Semitic propagandizing on college campuses, poisoning typical college graduates, who become America’s “opinion elites.”

This growing epidemic of campus Jew hatred requires a three-pronged strategy. First, every college president, every college administrator, every college tuition check-casher, must launch a “zero tolerance” campus policy toward true Jew hatred – not Israel criticism. Thirty-two percent of Jewish students feeling “harassed” is completely unacceptable.

These insults have become tolerated, politically correct macro-aggressions even though administrators do not tolerate the slightest micro-aggressions against other minorities. That disparity itself is bigoted.

Fight Jew hatred as a modern Jewish civil rights issue; as a consumer protection issue, because students are paying too much money to feel unsafe; and as an educational malpractice issue because hijacking college courses to perpetuate bigotry and hatred is not about academic freedom but is about classroom abuse, by professors or students.

Second, remember that fighting for Israel is fighting against terrorism; against nuclear proliferation in the Middle East; and for openness, democracy, human rights, individualism, equality and collective self-determination, the core values of Zionism opposed by real Palestinianism, as opposed to the romanticized Palestinianism imagined on campus.

Finally, advocating for Israel must be the outcome, not the goal or primary focus of a broader campaign to build Jewish pride, Jewish identity and a deep, enduring, pro-Zionist Israel connection. Judaism has survived by having a positive vision, not just a defensive position. Zionism built a state by planting trees, not fighting fires.

Our enemies are stumbling, unintentionally encouraging Jewish undergraduates to rally around Israel and Judaism. Let’s intensify that Jew-jitsu, to forge a modern, inspiring, Jewish community that is welcoming, nurturing and challenging, spiritually, ideologically, psychically.

It is more important to renew Jewish and Zionist identity than to score points against anti-Zionists. Let Jew haters stew in their poisons as we blossom amid all our old-new intellectual, ethical and emotionally satisfying nutrients.

The writer is the author of The Age of Clinton: America in the 1990s, which will be published this October by Thomas Dunne Books of St. Martin’s Press. He is the voluntary chairman of the Taglit-Birthright Israel international education committee.

The opinions expressed here are his own.

Related Content

August 15, 2018
Election 2018: A Jewish perspective

By DOUGLAS BLOOMFIELD