In under a week, the U.S. has been subjected to three major anti-Jewish events that flow from three different poisonous wells.
Last Thursday, the New York Times’ international edition published a cartoon that could easily have been published by the Nazi propaganda machine Der Sturmer in 1936. It depicted a blind, Orthodox Jewish President Donald Trump being led by a seeing eye dog with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Netanyahu dog was wearing a collar with a Star of David.
Last Saturday, after publishing a Nazi-like screed that could have appeared under the New York Times cartoon in Der Sturmer, white nationalist John Earnest opened fire on Jews at the Chabad House in Poway, San Diego County. He killed Lorri Gilbert Kaye, and wounded Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein; nine-year-old Noya Dahan; and her uncle, Almog Peretz.
Then on Wednesday, DePaul University faculty in Chicago voted overwhelmingly to censure Philosophy Professor Jason Hill for publishing an opinion article at the Federalist defending Israel and Jewish rights, and calling for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria.
Hill’s censure is notable for what it tells us about the nature of antisemitism on college campuses in America today.
The first thing it tells us is that campus tolerance for vicious expressions of hatred of Jews and Israel is not a free speech issue. For years, student groups and professors have insisted that they have a free speech right to express their rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
Administrations across America have rewarded them richly for their efforts. Professors whose academic records consist largely of invented blood libels against Jews wrapped in post-modernist gobbledygook received tenured professorships at some of America’s most illustrious universities.
Student groups that compel universities to accept antisemitism in campus life are showered with awards. For instance, last month the Hamas-linked Students for Justice in Palestine, which leads the anti-Jewish hate campaigns on campuses throughout the U.S. received an award from New York University.
NYU’s SJP chapter received the university’s President’s Service Award on April 17. According to NYU’s website, “the award is given to students or student organizations that have had an extraordinary and positive impact on the University community, including achievements within schools and departments, the University at large, local neighborhoods, and NYU’s presence in the world.”
Last April, SJP at NYU led a campaign, joined by 51 student groups committing to boycott two Jewish student groups and six national US organizations. The student Jewish groups in question, Realize Israel and TorchPac were blindsided by the resolution. Adela Cojab, the president of Realize Israel referred to the campus climate towards Jews as “one of animosity.”
Following its success in April, last December NYU’s SJP got a resolution passed through the student government endorsing the boycott, sanction, and divestment (BSD) of NYU from Israel.
In response to NYU’s announcement that it was rewarding SJP with a prize for its anti-Jewish campaigns, a group of pro-Israel students filed a complaint against New York University with the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
As reported by the Jewish Journal, the complaint documents “two years of extreme anti-Semitism on the NYU campus.”
While pro-Israel Jewish students are ostracized and then forced to watch as their tormentors are decorated by university administrations that are supposed to protect them, the Hill case makes clear that you don’t have to be a Jew to be the target of antisemitic attacks on campus today.
The DePaul faculty’s censure of Hill followed a week of SJP-led protests against him. Students accused him of supporting “genocide” and called for him to be censured, required to publicly apologize for writing his article, and subject himself to sensitivity training.
Another notable aspect of campus antisemitism revealed by the Hill incident is that as far as the campus crybullies are concerned, antisemitism trumps identity politics. Non-whites on campus enjoy protected status. Allegations against them are castigated as evidence of racism on the part of their accusers, so long non-white involved holds the proper political views.
For instance, Cornell West, a black academic with a long and increasingly vituperative record of antisemitic activism is immune from allegations of bigotry. But Hill, who is a Caribbean-American immigrant from Jamaica does not enjoy the protection of his skin color. As far as the campus commissars are concerned, his blackness is insignificant because his politics are wrong. He likes Jews, and therefore he can be reviled and ostracized.
Notably, in nearly all anti-Jewish incidents that reach the public sphere, university presidents separate themselves away from the hatred. At NYU, University President Andrew Hamilton told reporters that he didn’t support giving the “President’s Service Award” to SJP.
DePaul University President Gabriel Esteban refused to censure Hill despite student demands.
The problem is that university presidents like Esteban and Hamilton refuse to get their hands dirty. Like their boards of trustees, college presidents pretend that if they don’t directly engage in antisemitic discrimination as their professors and students to, then their campuses cannot be described as antisemitic. But this is untrue and through their inaction, they are exacerbating the problem.
In March, President Donald Trump signed an executive order conditioning federal funding to universities on their protection of free speech on campus. Hill’s censure by students and faculty, for daring to defend Jews and Israel should be met with a federal investigation of DePaul in light of the climate of bigotry and censorship on the campus. So too, the Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office should speedily and thoroughly investigate NYU and its failure to take action against antisemitic groups or protect Jewish students from abuse.