Recently I learned that my Jewish congregation is providing training for college age congregants on how to deal with anti-Semitism on campus. That’s how bad things have gotten.
I wonder whether the sad irony of the situation has registered with the congregation, the vast majority of whose members are leftists. Anti-Semitism is so rampant at America’s colleges and universities that teenage Jews need special training before entering this bastion of leftism.
During the High Holidays, I heard congregants moan at the mention of Donald Trump. That’s understandable; I had to suppress a moan myself (though not because Trump is at all anti-Semitic). But many of these same liberals found Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan chilling (though some will no longer admit it). As for George W. Bush, he was evil incarnate for many a Jewish liberal of my acquaintance.
Yet, it is the playground of the leftist social justice warriors — with whom many of my fellow congregants strongly associate — that produces the anti-Semitism my synagogue feels it must counter. The conservative ethos does not prevail on campus; nor is it anti-Semitic.
Brandeis University has produced a booklet called “Hotspots of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel Sentiment on US Campuses.” It is based on a recent survey of Jewish undergraduates at 50 colleges and universities.
The survey found that there is significant variation in the extent of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment from campus to campus. Moreover, on some campuses, the hostility is perceived as primarily anti-Israel, while at others it is viewed as anti-Semitic.
Frankly, I suspect that it’s just a matter of time until (1) anti-Israel sentiment becomes a significant force at campuses where the level of hostility is now low and (2) open anti-Semitism replaces anti-Israel sentiment. That’s the direction in which things are moving.
Which campuses of those surveyed are the worst right now? The study identified Brooklyn College (CUNY-Brooklyn), Northwestern, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Illinois, and schools in the University of California system.
I was particularly dismayed by Brooklyn College’s appearance on this list of dishonor. Both of my parents graduated from this institution. In those days it provided a superb and basically free college education to high achieving students like my parents who couldn’t afford a more prestigious school or couldn’t get admitted because they were Jewish (or members of some other disfavored minority).
When my parents attended Brooklyn College, there was a small Fascist presence — this was the 1930s after all. But the school was a haven for the children of Jewish immigrants like my parents.
Clearly, the CUNY Brooklyn of today is not my father’s Brooklyn College. Nor, unless you are under 35 years old (say), is the institution you attended likely to be your college. And I’m no longer talking just about anti-Semitism.