The term “crusade” has so many different meanings to so many different people. Some relate it to Campus Crusade for Christ—a good thing. Others think of the Crusades of the Middle Ages and the heroism or carnage that accompanied it depending on how the history teacher may have explained or framed it.
In any case, I use the term here to get your attention.
College campuses are having some ongoing crusades of sorts. The attempt is to win or defeat minds and hearts of varying opposing ideas. Campuses are turning into cauldrons of hate based on false narratives, outright lies, and millennia-old stereotypes, biases, and liable all in the name of being politically correct and espousing tolerance and human rights causes. The specific target of this falls primarily on a few groups: Conservative folks, Christians folks, and Jewish folks…not to mention Zionists—who may be part of any one or more of these groups. And, as always, the Jews take the biggest brunt.
What is going on that is so bad?
The leadership among students, faculty and even sometimes the administration is allowing antisemitism to reign untethered and with no consequence—except for Jews; they feel the consequences.
Cases in point:
- UK’s Bristol University Professor David Miller, in an open zoom forum last weekend, has called for the “end” of Zionism as a “functioning ideology of the world” after launching an astonishing attack on Jewish student groups. He directed attacks on Bristol University’s JSoc and the Union of Jewish Students. His comments also included his reiteration of repeated accusations of conspiracy theories against Israel as its continuing push to “impose their will all over the world.”
Those who have lodged formal complaints about his conduct at this particular event last weekend noted 18 months of complaints by Jewish organizations with Bristol University taking no action and offering no comment. The only aid to students on the campus has been from Jewish organizations. One student complainant noted the following:
The only support we’ve ever got is from specifically Jewish charities and organizations. It’s been made the responsibility of Jewish charities to look after Jewish students. If charities weren’t funding this, then it will be no emotional support for those students experiencing antisemitism. The university doesn’t know what Jewish students need; they don’t try to know. We’ve been left in the dark.
And, if you are keeping score, IHRA definition of antisemitism is something we have been talking about for months—and how we are encouraging governments, schools, curriculum developers, any institution or organization to adopt it and use it as the measuring stick regarding antisemitism: to define it, illustrate it, and judge it. Of the UK’s 178 universities accredited by the government to convey degrees, 78 (less than half by far) have adopted that definition formally. Bristol is on that list of those that did. Therefore, the manifestation of declaring or voting to adopting it and practicing or exercising it has yet to be seen.
- The California State University in Irvine’s student body voted last week to participate in BDS actions.
The University of California Irvine student government passed a vote of 19 -3 for pro-BDS resolutions that referred to Israel as an “apartheid state” and calls for divestment from a plethora of companies it charged were involved in alleged Israeli malfeasance. It also noted that it claims the vote is no way “related to Judaism.” But how can that be? Israel is a Jewish state with a Jewish identity. To condemn it is to condemn Judaism.
Marshall Roe, a former student senator who opposed the bill, says that the denial of antisemitism that was included in the statement “was just trying to gussy this up, putting lipstick on a pig … They were willing to just cast off any sort of opinion that had previously come from the Jewish community.”
The School’s chancellor, Howard Gilman, has opposed boycotts of Israel; he has created initiatives to fight antisemitism and he sponsored programs on the relationship between antisemitism and anti-Zionism. The school leadership is adamant this vote does not reflect the institution’s position.
- The university of Illinois in Chicago has a petition circulating this week calling for the university’s School of Public Health (SPH) to cut all ties with Israeli academic institutions.
A petition drafted and circulated online by UIC’s Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) has gathered over 200 signatures in under 48 hours. It protests an upcoming virtual lecture by Gabi Bin Nun, an Israeli healthcare professional. Bin Nun is also an associate professor at Ben-Gurion University in Israel and a UIC School of Public Health Studies Scholar. His topic? Israel’s healthcare system and COVID-19 response!
A quote from the petition:
With the SPH being dedicated to social justice, we don’t see how they can welcome Israeli speakers with open arms, while simultaneously ignoring the occupation and ethnic cleansing the Palestinian people suffer from under Israel.
The petition calls for all ties, programs, exchanges, study programs, etc., with any Israeli school or institution to be ceased.
Any good news?
To end with a bit of sunshine, Florida State University students defeated three separate measures proposed to engage and support BDS activities and actions on campus. So, Floridians are doing something right among their college student population.
Shavua Tov. Have a great week.