Somali-born free speech and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali gave the keynote address at a sold-out event in Boston Wednesday that centered on rising anti-Semitism on college campuses in North America.
Hirsi Ali’s address, and a panel featuring a rabbi and three student activists, followed the premiere of a new Jerusalem U film titled Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus, which can be viewed in its entirety online. The film demonstrates how anti-Israel activities on college and university campuses are being organized to alienate and intimidate those who support Israel, and how reasonable criticism of Israel “crosses the line” into anti-Semitism.
As a press release about the Boston event notes, Hirsi Ali said the film demonstrates how students are being “misled.” Denouncing “virulent anti-Semitism” on college campuses, she asserted, “The least we can do is boycott, divest, and sanction campuses that compromise academic freedom.”
Excerpts of Hirsi Ali’s address are as follows:
It is appalling that only seventy years from the Holocaust, crowds in Europe chant, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” It is even more appalling that 10,000 soldiers in Paris are needed to protect Jewish sites. That is the continent that promised never again. The men and women who were in the concentration camps, who are tattooed, some are still here. And it is happening again.
Watching Crossing the Line 2: the New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus was like having a bucket of ice water being poured over my head. I saw the film last week. And I watched it again last night. And I couldn’t sleep. The more we pretend that this is happening somewhere far away, the more hopeless and helpless we feel. But this is not happening far away. This is happening on American campuses, British campuses, Canadian campuses. The filmmakers who made this film made it because it is important that we listen to this message while it is at a smaller stage.
I have a different acronym for BDS. They call themselves Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. I call them Bully, Deceive, and Sabotage. Bully, Deceive, and Sabotage the only society that is free in the Middle East. BDS. On campus, if you care about issues like justice and injustice, we really need to show it. You need to do it. Where is the BDS movement against the Islamic State? Where on campuses is the BDS movement against Saudi Arabia? The Iranian regime, who for decades have promised to wipe Israel off the map, who are developing a bomb. And there’s no BDS movement against them on campus. Why? Last year in Nigeria, 200 girls were kidnapped. They were sold into slavery. There was no BDS movement against Boko Haram.
“Anti-Israel activities on campus cause students today to feel embarrassed to be pro-Israel, or could even lead them to hold negative opinions about Israel” said Amy Holtz, president of Jerusalem U, in a statement in the press release. “Raising awareness of this growing problem is crucial. We made this film in order to give students the knowledge to differentiate between education and intimidation, debate and hate. They must be able to identify when it is ‘Crossing the Line.’”