Jewish Journal

Anti-Zionism rebounds on college campuses

by Brad A. Greenberg

March 11, 2009 | 3:09 pm

Last summer, treatment of Israel on college campuses, even UC Irvine, was improving. No more.

JTA recounts a few recent flare-ups at York, NYU and San Jose State and writes:

“Jewish students are not comfortable and they’re not feeling secure,” Daniel Ferman, president of the York Hillel, told JTA. “But I think most importantly though, they’re not happy with the situation. I think they’re disappointed that there hasn’t been more action. The university administration needs to take responsibility for its campus and ensure that it’s a safe environment for all students.”

Compared to the animus frequently directed toward Israelis in Europe, where calls for academic and cultural boycotts have become routine and even sports competitions involving Israelis attract scores of rock-throwing protesters—the situation at American campuses is relatively tame. But those involved in pro-Israel activism at U.S. colleges remain concerned that the situation is worsening, with rhetoric and tactics once thought rare in North America gaining increasing traction.

“The level of activity and nature of activity in three specific areas is measurably different in kind, not merely degree, from what we’ve seen before,” said Wayne Firestone, president of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life.

Firestone said the three areas are academic hostility toward Israel, physical intimidation, and activities similar or related to Israel Apartheid Week, the annual weeklong festival of anti-Israel events that just finished its fifth year.

“There are a couple of things that make this rise unique and worrisome in my eyes,” said David Harris, director of the Israel on Campus Coalition, a partnership featuring nearly three dozen Jewish organizations. “One is that we’re seeing anti-Israel activity on campuses like Cornell and Queens College that have not for years seen meaningful anti-Israel activity.”

Previously on The God Blog:

Files of Fact and Fiction: Academia vs. Israel
Why a Jewish student chose against UC Irvine
A baker’s dozen of anti-Semitism at UC Irvine
UC Irvine student: “Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth”
How Jewish hawks won the advocacy war
Finkelstein welcomed to LA by Jewish Defense League
“Hotbeds of Anti-Israel Rhetoric”

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