Our leaders failed to defend Jewish students on American campuses. Why should young Jews support a community that failed to support them?
For over 20 years Jewish college students have been under ideological assault on campuses across the country. Recently, this assault has at times turned physical. These students have been mostly abandoned by the Jewish establishment. The latest Pew poll reveals that 65% of Jewish students on campus hesitate to reveal they are Jewish for fear of hostility.
Jewish students have told Jewish leaders for decades now about the intimidation and harassment but were mostly ignored. The first significant documentary about the Jew-hatred on campus was “Columbia Unbecoming”, produced in 2003 by Avi Goldwasser and Charles Jacobs after meeting with Columbia University students who were being intimidated and harassed in class by Muslim and Arab anti-Israel professors.
The students who had complained to Columbia university officials but were ignored. The Hillel office and the Jewish professors on campus also ignored or deflected the students’ pleas for support. Appeals to NYC Jewish leaders failed to elicit any support. Somewhat in desperation, one of the students reached out to a friend, Rachel Fish who alerted Jacobs and Goldwasser in Boston. In New York City, the biggest Jewish city in the world, the beleaguered students could find no support.
The students hoped to use the film to alert Columbia University alumni to pressure the school administration to act and to stop the harassment and hostility toward Jewish students who supported the Jewish state. However, after almost six months of meetings with alumnae, trustees and university officials no actions were taken by the university. Meetings with national Jewish leadership were equally unproductive as these leaders tended to dismiss the problem as marginal and insignificant. At this point the students agreed to hold a news conference and share their experiences. The media attention was instrumental in educating the Jewish community about the hostility toward Jewish students on campus.
Jacobs and Goldwasser screened the film to Jewish leaders in New York and other cities. They thought the film would act as an alarm bell to awaken the Jewish community to a situation that was quickly spreading to other campuses. However, the response to the film by Jewish leaders was disastrously depressing. Many questioned how bad the phenomena really was. You can watch the film and judge for yourself. Some leaders who agreed that the students were suffering sought to “work behind the scenes” to address the problem privately. Many were angry at Goldwasser and Jacobs for “making such a fuss” in public and not working within the institutions. Hillel officials were concerned that “outsiders” would come onto “their turf” and create problems. Failing to address the campus problem in 2003 when it was relatively nascent was a major failure of mainstream Jewish leadership. The problem spread to campuses across the country. Jewish leaders failed to understand the consequences of the anti-Israel political indoctrination for a whole generation of young American leaders who would promote hateful ideas in their careers in academia, in their communities, in the media and in politics. Moreover, the lies about Israel on campus and related campaigns caused many young Jews to distance themselves from Israel and Zionism, and some to question their Judaism.
It was this failure of the Jewish establishment to defend against the defamation of Israel and its Jewish supporters that prompted the rise of grass roots Jewish groups who sought to compensate for this failure. These included CAMERA, The David Project (founded by Jacobs and Goldwasser), StandWithUs, Hasbara Fellows, and others. Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) had always been there. The Jewish community leadership’s failure to understand that the campus problem constituted a serious assault on the entire community, enabled Jew-haters and anti-Zionists to create the ugly situation we face on campus today.
As professor Richard L. Cravatts, President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME) and a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech, writes in "The Hostile Climate on University Campuses That Targets Jews",
"As yet more evidence that Jewish students have continued to be targets of bias on university campuses, a Spring 2021 poll by the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, together with the Cohen Research Group, revealed that 65% of students in the leading Jewish fraternity and sorority have 'felt unsafe' on campus, while 50% of students surveyed have felt 'the need to hide their identity.'"
"Jewish students on these campuses, whether or not they actively support Israel or are animated by Zionism could be, and are, maligned by this aggressive activism against the Jewish state, and are made to pay the price for the alleged predations of Israel simply by virtue of being Jewish. That anti-Israel radicals have hijacked the narrative about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and have cast Israel—and its supporters—as malignant and irredeemable racists and the Palestinian Arabs as innocent victims is a continuing tragedy in which Jewish students continue to be targets of the world’s oldest hatred.
Additional Reference Materials
"Fear and Scapegoating at CUNY Following Union’s Anti-Israel Resolution" by Oleg Ivanov, Jewish Journal, Oct. 21, 2021
Many in the Jewish community still don’t recognize, or cannot bring themselves to name, the toxic ideology at the root of this wave of antisemitism surging from the Left.
Why are so many Jews liberal or Leftist? Many say it’s because Judaism, has always been concerned with justice and making the world a better place. Historically the Left promised “Heaven on Earth” and for Jews an answer to their oppression. In the past, forces from the Right—monarchs, the Church and ethnic nationalism—were the main sources of antisemitism in Europe, culminating in the Holocaust.
The French revolution and the Napoleonic conquest promoted the emancipation of the Jews across Europe. Many Jews failed to understand that the “Napoleonic Bargain,” was little different from that of Martin Luther three hundred years earlier. While Luther would “accept” the Jews upon conversion to his reformed and “tolerant” Christianity, Napoleon demanded they abandon their communal identity as the price of inclusion. In effect both demanded assimilation, that they abandon Judaism: “Napoleon's outward tolerance and fairness toward Jews was actually based upon his grand plan to have them disappear entirely by means of total assimilation, intermarriage, and conversion."
Jews became attracted to movements and ideologies based on universalism as this offers the promise that they will be treated just like everyone else. Many Jews believe that secularism guarantees their safety as well as their ability to preserve their Jewish identity. Jewish religious fervor of prior generations has morphed into an intense belief in secular political ideologies. Today’s adherents to this hijacked version of Tikkun Olam seek to create a politically perfected secular society based on man’s law leavened with Marxist moral relativism. The Leftist notion, since Rousseau, is that man is a blank slate (tabula rasa) who is inherently good. Evil comes only from external factors (power inequality) inflicted by social systems. The idea that man is infinitely malleable and will become free of selfishness and brutality under the right societal circumstances is an alluring Utopian pipe dream.
Woke ideology applies the leftist notion of “post-colonialism” to the domestic scene in Western countries where it divides people neatly into victimizers and victims. Those concerned about the resurgence of antisemitism today have largely failed to understand how this ideology inevitably evokes classic anti-Jewish memes.
Dividing the world into oppressors and oppressed, post-colonialism portrays successful nations and individuals as morally culpable for the plight of struggling nations and less successful individuals, who are seen as innocents and morally pure.
Woke-ism’s primary domestic demand is for “equity.” It is based on the notion that any differences in the economic, academic, social or political success between groups are explainable only by seeing success as a result of exploitation.
If success is the result of oppression, given that Jews are among the most successful, Woke ideology inevitably and directly evokes classic resentments and ill-will toward Jews and Israel, both of whom have succeeded, despite significant bias, discrimination and obstructionism aimed at denying them success.
The Progressive Left, which sees success as a marker of unfair achievement and exploitation, uses today’s Jewish achievements—superior economic and social status—to exclude Jews from their roster of marginalized or victimized groups. Indeed, Progressives have decided that Jews are in reality “whites,” if not “white supremacists” par excellence.
Prominent anti-hate groups, like the ADL, along with the left-leaning Reform rabbinate, well-meaning though they are, promote this Woke-ism through their diversity programs and anti-bias training. They are, perhaps unknowingly, promoting an ideology which not only insists that the situation of the Palestiniansis the result of oppression, but also defines the relative success of American Jews as an unfair, exploitative “Jewish privilege.”
Today’s left-wing politics include the demonization of Jews and whites in America and also in Israel which has become the “Jew” among the nations. Through a distorted lens of neo-Marxist thought, the Jews—a persecuted people—have become colonialist oppressors, part of the white supremacist attempt to take over the world. A people who was threatened with destruction by the Nazis are now accused of employing Nazi tactics. Accusations of genocide of people of color and imperialistic expansion blend with the traditional antisemitic blood libels and world conspiracies. In the past, Jews “poisoned he wells.” Today, they commit “genocide” against darker-skinned, innocent, indigent Arabs.
A powerful progressive element has promoted an alliance between the Progressive wing of the Democratic party and Islamist organizations. They have also elevated the radical Marxist politicians—members of the “Squad”with their blatant Jew-hatred and promotion of anti-Israel policies—to leadership positions.
While some establishment Jewish organizations now may speak about the growth of antisemitism on the left as the same classical Jew-hatred “cloaked in anti-Israel garb,” they completely miss the factthat this eruption of hate is fueled by a Woke-ism they themselves promote.
Progressive Jews are obsessed with being morally pure people and often feel compelled to distance themselves from Jews who do not live up to progressive moral standards. This results in a desperate need to criticize Israel and indirectly support policies that could lead to its destruction.
Consequently, they fight Jew-hatred on the surface, playing an endless game of whack-a-mole, while never acknowledging the root cause: a sanctimonious, diabolical, and dogmatic ideology that many in our own community continue to champion.
The Jewish Stake in Resisting the War on School Board Critics
"Yet rather than being among the leaders of the fight against these terrible ideas, much of the organized Jewish community has gone silent or actually supports critical race theory so as to retain their good standing as liberals and sympathizers with the Black Lives Matter movement. The Anti-Defamation League—the one group tasked specifically with the job of defending Jews against anti-Semitism—is not only not fighting critical race theory but has joined with those falsely labeling anti-CRT activists as “extremists.”
See: The Jewish stake in resisting the war on school-board critics by Jonathan S. Tobin
The Woke Threat to America — and to American Jews
Jewish students at American campuses (and increasingly in high school and even lower school) are indoctrinated with lessons about the range of victims who have suffered oppression, principally people of color, of a non-“cisgender” sexual orientation, and women. One might have imagined that there are Jews who fall into each of these categories. But one would be wrong to make such an assumption. Increasingly, Jews are defined as being on the wrong side: They are castigated as privileged, white, and part of the oppressor class, never the victims—even as the incidence of anti-Semitism has exploded in America, including on campuses and in class discussions. Tragically, many American Jews naively internalize this hostile critique and blind themselves to the scarcely veiled anti-Semitism motivating it.
See: The Woke Threat to America — and to American Jews by Samuel J. Abrams and Jack Wertheimer
Twenty Years After Durban, What We Still Get Wrong About Left-Wing Antisemitism
Postcolonialism came to be regarded by an activist community as a complete and inviolable explanation for why some countries flourish and others languish. The haves caused the conditions of the have-nots. Full stop. Any other explanation, particularly those focused on cultural differences of various countries and regions, came to be regarded as racist and beyond the pale.
See: Twenty Years After Durban, What We Still Get Wrong About Left-Wing Antisemitism by David Bernstein
Jews are taught to be civil and nice people, and though we are often argumentative, Jewish society aims to be guided by decent behavior. Our leaders have been projecting our own Jewish values regarding comportment on the rest of society. This clearly has not benefitted our community.
Jews, more than any other people, have championed and rallied to the causes of marginalized minorities, as we ourselves have long been persecuted and marginalized, often violently. We generously spent Jewish resources, risked Jewish lives and put ourselves and our reputations on the line for the cause of Black civil rights. We were among the first to join with women, gays, transgenders, Muslims, Latinos, and other marginalized minorities in championing their causes. We did this because it is right. And because it is right, we believed the very decent principle of reciprocity would work in our favor when we are targeted. Instead, the woke ideological concept of “intersectionality,” which defines all “victimized” peoples as having the same “white” oppressors, now more and more defines Jews as “whites.” Many of the very people we supported have failed to support us when Jews are attacked. Some have turned against us. Instead of demanding reciprocity, otherwise known as "solidarity," too many Jewish leaders have been and remain silent on this betrayal. They feel conflicted between their own left-leaning ideology, their loyalty to their leftist cohorts and their duty to the Jewish community. To continue to thrive, America’s Jewish community cannot afford to have such a deeply conflicted leadership.
Much of the world has moved from the antisemitism of hating individual Jews to attacking Israel, the legal and historical home of the Jewish people. Our leaders have failed to respond effectively to this latest mutation of antisemitism. The result of that failure is that life is becoming more difficult and dangerous for Jews in America.
It is long past time that Jewish leadership admit that the strategy it has employed for the last 50 years has now failed and acknowledge that no matter how difficult, it is time to change. Your help is needed to make this change happen.
“And what physicians say about consumptive illnesses is applicable here: that at the beginning, such an illness is easy to cure but difficult to diagnose; but as time passes, not having been recognized or treated at the outset, it becomes easy to diagnose but difficult to cure.”
― Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
“No, we are too nice. We doth protest too little. We seem to prefer appeasement; sadly it brings contempt.”
― Diane Bederman, "If you didn’t like the nice Jew you’re gonna hate the nasty Jew"
It is easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
― Mark Twain
ABANDONING JEWISH STUDENTS
FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THE LEFT'S BETRAYAL
ASSUMING THAT OUR GOODNESS WILL BE APPRECIATED
“In the critical social justice paradigm, Jews, who have never been seen as white by those for whom being white is a moral good, are now seen as white by those for whom whiteness is an unmitigated evil.This reflects the nature of antisemitism: No matter the grievance or the identity of the aggrieved, Jews are held responsible. Critical race theory does not merely make it easy to demonize Jews using the language of social justice; it makes it difficult not to.”
― Pamela Paresky, "Critical Race Theory and the ‘Hyper-White’ Jew"
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an educational tool used to inculcate in students a specific worldview based on postmodern and neo-Marxist ideology. CRT has its roots in the early 20th Century thought of neo-Marxist Antonio Gramsci. He believed that overthrow of the “bourgeoisie” (ruling middle- and upper-class) requires that societal norms and institutions, such as family, nation state, capitalism, and God, needed to be torn down…and replaced with new group-based morality which posits that what is moral is what serves the interests of the “oppressed” or “marginalized.”
In America CRT shifted its focus to oppressed racial, gender and ethnic groups. CRT argues that America’s legal, economic, and political systems are inextricably racist. It argues that racism advances only the interests of white elites. Critical race theory’s key assertion is that racism is not the result of individual, conscious racist actions or thoughts, but is systemic and structural, that such racism is embedded in America’s legal system, institutions, and it imposes “whiteness” as the societal norm. CRT asserts that American culture is a conspiracy to perpetuate white supremacy by imposing white concepts on people of other races. CRT, therefore, promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs that separate individuals by race. According to CRT, concepts such as being on time, hard work, and literacy are products of white values, and should be rejected by minorities.
CRT asserts that whites must acknowledge their white privilege and renounce it. CRT claims that criteria used to measure merit and success in school or workplace are not objective, but are designed to keep white individuals on top. Workplace values such as punctuality and logical thinking, need to be eliminated if non-whites are to succeed.
According to CRT, systemic racism has produced disparities between the races by rewarding the “wrong” criteria. Therefore, government must treat individual Americans unequally according to skin color to forcibly produce equal outcomes.
CRT teaches that the notion of Jews pulling themselves up by their bootstrapsis a myth. Jews having become whites benefited from federal programs and that Jews, having been initiated into whiteness, have gained unmerited success and power.
American Jews have generally looked upon Jewish success in the United States as evidence of the country’s fundamental commitment to the principles of tolerance, fair play, and recognition of individual merit. But, according to critical social justice ideology, that explanation is not just false but racist. Jewish success can be explained only by Jewish collusion with white supremacy.
Critical Theory and the 'Hyper-White' Jew
Now saying you’re “not racist” is not only a microaggression and evidence of white fragility, but is itself racist? It makes your head spin. In any case, you know how evil white supremacy is. Your great-grandparents were unambiguous victims of it. Your grandmother was born in a displaced-persons camp, and most of her extended family were murdered by the Nazis.
See Critical Race Theory and the ‘Hyper-White’ Jew by Pamela Paresky
Units of Indoctrination
Critical race theory flows from the more general philosophy of education called “critical pedagogy,” which, in brief, seeks to leverage every math class, English lesson, history unit, elective, and scientific concept as a means to inculcate a political goal: the overthrow of Enlightenment-based, classically liberal principles—including the scientific method, objective reasoning, evidence-based argument, and so on.
See Units of Indoctrination by Daniel Buck and James Furey
Critical Race Theory Fuels Growth of Antisemitism
Critical social justice (CSJ) ideology, which includes critical race theory, is “enabling new forms of antisemitism” in America, according to a new white paper Critical Social Justice Ideology and Antisemitism: Assessment and Strategy made public on Sept. 1 by the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV).
“While there are differing perspectives within CSJ, the more radical and anti-Jewish ideas are not being held in check and there is evidence that the more extreme versions are gaining ground and influencing public discourse...”