While accusations of Islamophobia are being bandied about, conflating dislike of Muslims with the real issue, dislike of the tenets of Islam (in particular, those tenets that are violent or oppressive), nobody’s much worried about a real phobia: “Judeophobia,” which I’ll coin as a neologism for what it really is: anti-Semitism. In terms of hate crimes in the U.S. and Europe, there are roughly five times more committed against Jews than against Muslims.
All of which is to say that while Islamophobia is used as a common epithet (especially in the atheist blogosphere), we don’t hear much about a genuine animus against individuals of another ethnic group: Jews. (This, of course, is not to justify discrimination against anyone.)
So here’s a real instance of hate speech from a college campus. The University of California at Santa Barbara’s student senate voted Friday on whether to join the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) movement against Israel, which aims to bring Israel to its knees—and, ultimately, to dissolve that state—with economic and social pressure. The divestment resolution barely lost (12-12, with 5 abstaining), but Margaux Gundzik, a Jewish student who attended the meeting to oppose the resolution, wrote a letter to The Bottom Line (the UCSB student newspaper) detailing her experiences. I’ll excerpt just one paragraph to show the slurs that were raised by advocates for BDS:
Furthermore, I am disgusted by the normalization of anti-Semitic language so casually thrown around at the meeting. In those eight hours, I was told that Jews control the government, that all Jews are rich, that Zionism is racism, that the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups, that Israel sterilizes its Ethiopian women (this is obviously not true), and that Palestinians in America who speak out against Israel are sought out by the IDF and denied entrance into Israel (also a ridiculous conspiracy theory). I heard a senator—someone who is supposed to be my representative—say that people were only voting against this resolution because they were afraid of losing “Jew support.” I heard my peers laugh at the mention of terrorists hurling stones at the heads of Israeli civilians intending to kill them. I saw students smile and cheer enthusiastically as a woman stood up and said the words, “I am ashamed to be a Jew.” The rhetoric I heard from students opposing Israel at this meeting could easily be equated to arguments that I have only seen in quotes at museums or mentioned in textbooks for their use in the justification of historical persecution of the Jewish race.
Well, Jews are not a race but a religious group, but that’s irrelevant here. They are a minority that, it seems, are reviled even more than Muslims. Many of the slurs above, like Jews being rich, in charge of the government, and so on are old staples of anti-Semitism, and the idea that “the marginalization of Jewish students is justified because it prevents the marginalization of other minority groups” is reprehensible—but typical of the distorted thinking of today’s college Social Justice Warriors.
Of course if such talk had been aimed at Muslims, blacks, gays, or anyone else, the campus would have recoiled in outrage. Gundzik notices this:
Ironically, it was the people who made these statements who also argued that this resolution was not anti-Semitic and that my personal feelings of it being anti-Semitic were invalid.
If any other minority had voiced these same concerns regarding any other resolution, no administration would dare question the validity of their feelings. The resolution would be dismissed without question. Yet, my community is forced to stand in front of hundreds of people year after year and explain to them why something is racially offensive to us.
By all means try to boycott Israel if you want—it’s your right to frame such resolutions—but be aware that the BDS movement’s explicit goals are to completely eliminate the state of Israel. And also be aware that the kind of statements made above (and I’ll take Gundzik at her word, because these accusations are so common) are not accusations against the state of Israel, are not accusations against the tenets of Judaism, but expressions of hate against Jewish people. I heard these more often when I was a kid, but thought that they had simply vanished from my country. Apparently they haven’t: they’ve just gone underground. And nowhere outside the Middle East are they more pervasive than on American college campuses.
UPDATE: Today’s New York Times has a story about anti-Semitism among European soccer fans, something completely new to me. An excerpt:
An ugly vein of soccer fan excess — the chanting of anti-Semitic slurs — recently disgraced a Dutch soccer game, prompting officials of the home team, Utrecht, to apologize for shocking outcries from the stands like “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” and “Jews burn the best!”
Anyone who has been to a European match knows how badly things can get out of hand when pushed by brutish fans in the stands. But the Utrecht outrage in a game against Ajax Amsterdam laid bare what soccer supporters say is an epidemic of anti-Semitic outbursts.
The problem is getting worse, according to Kick It Out, a British watchdog organization, which said in March that there were more than 30 instances of anti-Semitic slurs reported in the first half of the season, surpassing last year, with chants of “Yids” and “Kill the Jews” heard at games attended by Jewish fans.
Seriously, in the Netherlands? Dutch readers, please explain! “Jews to the gas?”