Brownshirt Anti-Semitism On the March

I don’t mean in the Muslim world, where there are essentially zero Jews (and precious few Christians) left; or in Europe, where an increasingly menacing Islamic population cows both law enforcement and political leaders. No, I’m talking about the U.S.A., one of the last bastions (along with Israel) of Jewish security.

At the American Thinker, Stella Paul documents how the crudest sort of anti-Semitism has spread through America’s academic world. She begins by recalling a pivotal day, May 7, 2002, at San Francisco State University. A “Peace In the Middle East” rally organized by Hillel was surrounded by a large, angry crowd of Palestinians and others. The mob, with charming shouts like “Hitler didn’t finish the job” and “Go back to Russia”–not to mention “Get out or we will kill you!”–drove the Jewish peace group back to Hillel House, under armed guard. The precedent was set.

Let’s flash forward to San Francisco State University today. Mohammad Hammad, president of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), has recently enjoyed organizing campus art projects that read “My heroes have always killed colonizers,” posing on social media sites with a knife that he claims “makes me want to stab an Israeli soldier,” and vowing to use his GUPS presidency “to radicalize half of our population and bring them back with me as fighters.”

Upon being informed of these threats by a Jewish group called AMCHA Initiative, SFSU President Leslie Wong took decisive action by yawning, shrugging and sticking his fingers in his ears. …

At UC Berkeley, a Jewish girl holding an “Israel Wants Peace” sign was ramrodded with a shopping cart by the head of Students for Justice in Palestine. At UC Irvine, eleven Muslim students disrupted the speech of the Israeli Ambassador with such ferocity they were convicted of disturbing the peace.

What starts in California, of course, often spreads elsewhere:

As Caroline Glick explains, anti-Israel student activists at the University of Michigan recently hurled death threats at Jewish student council members and called them “dirty Jew” and “kike.” Michigan university administrators aggressively intervened — on behalf of the anti-Semites.

Pause on that for a moment: did you ever expect to hear, in the 21st century, the words “dirty Jew” and “kike” shouted by a crowd at a leading American university?

Last February, Brooklyn College campus police forcibly removed four Jewish students who were peacefully monitoring an anti-Israel event. Brooklyn College administrators then lied about the Jewish students, claiming they were disruptive. Karen Gould, the college president, was forced to apologize to the students after a video exonerated them.

And at Northeastern University in Boston, a pressure campaign finally goaded administrators into suspending Students for Justice in Palestine’s campus affiliation for a year, after a series of vicious provocations. Students defaced a menorah on campus, disrupted Jewish events, and frightened Jews by placing mock eviction notices on their dormitory rooms.

The most recent campus outbreak of anti-Semitism took place at the formerly genteel Vassar. It was prompted by two professor, of earth science and ancient history, who proposed to take a group of students on a trip to Israel. Such things are normally commonplace, but where the destination is Israel, different rules apply:

Now Vassar is all about multiculturalism, with one notable exception: It’s edgy, it’s cool, it’s hip to hate Israel. Thirty-nine Vassar faculty members (including, tragically, Joshua Schreier, Director of Jewish Studies) signed a libelous letter supporting an academic boycott of Israel, in which they accused the Jewish state of cartoonish evils. As on the other campuses, the road to physically intimidating Jews was paved with academic corruption.

A planned trip to Israel with Earth Sciences Professor Jill Schneiderman and Greek and Roman Studies Professor Rachel Friedman has set off a firestorm of anti-Semitic fury. In late February, Students for Justice in Palestine activists physically intimidated students going into Professor Friedman’s class to discuss the upcoming trip. According to William Jacobson’s invaluable reporting at the Legal Insurrection blog, Professor Friedman was “shocked” and “in 17 years at Vassar never experienced anything like this.”

One of the striking features of nearly all of these disgusting outbreaks is the university administration’s weak, or worse, response. Some say this weakness is due to fear of Islamic students and outsiders. Jews are generally so much more law-abiding. Vassar’s response was typical:

Vassar’s administration then convened a campus-wide forum to discuss “the ethics of the travel trip.” On March 3rd, 200 people gathered for an “open conversation” which quickly degenerated into what Schneiderman described as a “very toxic atmosphere” in which “rage against Israel was the theme.” “I was knocked off-center by a belligerent academic community dedicated to vilifying anyone who dares set foot in Israel,” wrote Schneiderman on her blog. Friedman said that Jewish students who spoke in defense of Israel were heckled, drowned out with finger-snapping noises and loudly laughed at.

So far, Vassar president Catharine Bond Hill has refused to comment.

Much anti-Semitic activity relates to the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement. The BDS movement is remarkable, in that it is unique: there is no similar popular movement directed against Russia, for example, or China; or Syria or Libya. How about Venezuela and Cuba? Don’t be silly. Congo? No: the only country in the world that is the target of a global, well-organized campaign to destroy its economy is Israel.

Ferocious enemies of Israel and the Jews have traditionally hidden behind the fig leaf that one can be anti-Israel without being an anti-Semite. That is theoretically true, and the ordinary person who is critical of Israel in a normal way–“They are too accepting of gay rights”–or dislikes Israel for one reason or another–“It’s too hot there, I’m never going back!”–betrays no sign of anti-Semitism.

But that is not what we are talking about. The critic who singles out Israel in an obsessive or irrational way; who endlessly yammers about the Palestinians while not caring in the least about 150,000 murdered Syrians; who tries to destroy Israel while being indifferent to Russia; who sheds tears over Arabs ostensibly discriminated against in Israel while never mentioning the Christians who are murdered in Egypt; who plainly perceives Israel to be the principal center of evil in a world that includes North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, Congo and other states where appalling conduct is the norm; that critic, by his rank double standard, tells us what it is that he doesn’t like about Israel: the Jews live there.

And then there is the spittle factor. Those who yell “dirty Jew” and “kike,” who physically assault campus Jews, who place eviction notices on the doors of Jewish students, who chant “Hitler didn’t finish the job,” are not expressing sane, measured criticisms of Israel (or any criticisms of Israel). They are engaging in brownshirt anti-Semitism, a sickening form of malevolence with the World has become all too familiar over the course of centuries. And today, it’s not just in Berlin and Munich, or Pinsk and Lviv. It is in San Francisco, Berkeley, Irvine, Ann Arbor, Brooklyn, Boston and Poughkeepsie, among many other places.

It is time to name the anti-Semites, the brownshirts, for what they are, and to resist them aggressively. It is also time to push back against cowardly or, in some cases, anti-Semitic university administrators and other public officials. Freedom not defended slips away. Let’s not let it happen here.

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