Latest chilling of speech on campus: UCLA’s Asian American Studies department goes blatantly political on the Palestine/Israel issue

July 5, 2022 • 10:30 am

What we have below is a prime example of what a University should not be doing: issuing official statements on strong political, ideological, or moral issues.  In this absurd statement, the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA issued a strong attack on Israel and a defense of Palestine—as an official department statement on the department’s website. The only signer is “The Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles,” so I guess it gives the view of every faculty member in Asian American Studies.

There are so many things wrong with it that I barely want to bother. Here are a few:

a.) It’s a statement from a public university that is bound to honor the First Amendment. Issuing statements like this may not violate that Amendment, but (see “b”). . .

b.) “Official” statements that come down hard on one side of a debatable issue—and this one is surely debatable—are liable to chill the speech of other people who adhere to the other side, or don’t agree completely with the statement. After you read it (it’s not long; click on the screenshot), imagine being a graduate student or untenured professor in that department who is Jewish, or who just doesn’t see Israel as the oppressor of Palestinians the way this department does. Would you talk about your opposition, or even write a critique of it on your own social media site? I don’t think so: you’d lose respect, collegiality, and maybe even promotion or tenure.

This is why the University of Chicago has the Kalven Report, a principle that  I’ve discussed in detail. It prohibits departments, administrators, or units of the University from making official statements about politics, ideology, or morality—unless those statements directly involve the mission of the University: freely teaching and learning. Do read the short report; it’s one of the two pillars of academic freedom at the University of Chicago. (The other and better-known of our two free-speech principle are the famous Chicago Principles of Free Expression, now been adopted by over 80 American colleges, both public and private.)

c.) The statement is misleading, tendentious, and biased, neglecting the “settler colonialism” that’s happened all over the world (uniquely singling out Israel in this respect is a sign of anti-Semitism), and completely ignoring the hatred and terrorism that comes from Palestine—an apartheid state that treats gays, apostates, non-Muslims, and women as second-class citizens. It ignores the firing of rockets and killing of innocent Israeli civilians by Palestinian terrorists. It ignores the Palestinians’ repeated refusal to accept or discuss Israel’s offer of a two-state solution.

It is in fact a statement with no purpose other than to demonstrate that the Asian American Studies Department is virtuous in its support of Palestine and hatred of Israel. It is an act of Performative Wokeness.  And believe me, I’d be just as opposed to UCLA if they issued a statement demonizing Palestine instead of Israel. It’s the principle I oppose, though I freely admit that I think this statement is grossly biased against Israel and verges on official anti-Semitism.

I’ll give just two paragraphs of the statement, and urge you to read it for yourself (my bolding). The second paragraph below is particularly ironic, while the first shows multiple but different academic units of UCLA also violating our Kalven Principles.  There is no mention of Palestinian perfidy; one would think that that territory has a spotless record of human rights.

The Department of Asian American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people as they continue to fight for the right to land, life, dignity, and freedom.  We mourn the staggering loss of life, in which over 200 Palestinians have been killed in one week alone, including 64 children and 38 women at the time of this statement.  The latest upsurge in violence has taken the form of deadly airstrikes, unauthorized evictions, beatings and imprisonments intended to terrorize and displace Palestinians.  Media distortion and censorship has further suppressed Palestinian narratives, and threatened freedom of speech and academic freedom.  With our colleagues from the Palestinian Feminist CollectivePalestine and Praxis: Scholars for Palestinian FreedomNational Women’s Studies AssociationAssociation of Asian American StudiesMiddle East Studies Association,  Gender Studies Departments in Solidarity with Palestinian Feminist CollectiveUCSC Feminist StudiesUCSC Critical Race and Ethnic StudiesUIC Global Asian StudiesUCSD AAPI Studies ProgramUC Berkeley Ethnic StudiesUC DavisUIUC Asian American Studies DepartmentPrinceton University, and Yale Ethnicity, Rights, and Migration, we understand that such violence and intimidation are but the latest manifestation of seventy-three years of settler colonialism, racial apartheid, and occupation.

As an academic department situated on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples, we oppose settler-colonialism in all its forms, from Tovaangar to Palestine.  We condemn the exploitation, theft, and colonization of land and labor and we strive for freedom and justice for all peoples. Asian American Studies, which traces our history to the Third World Liberation Front Strike of 1968, has long advanced a critique of imperialism, militarism, and settler colonialism in the United States, Asia, Oceania, and elsewhere.  We condemn the exchange of military tactics and financial support between the United States and Israel, noting how U.S. counterinsurgency techniques and military equipment used during the Vietnam War were then extrapolated to the Occupied Territories; how the Israeli military’s policing of the apartheid wall dividing Jerusalem and isolating the West Bank has influenced the U.S.’s own brutal border security policies along the U.S.-Mexico border; and how Israel has too often upheld its support of Asian and Asian American individuals as proof of multicultural democracy, over and against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine via a process of “yellow-washing.”

. . .In solidarity,

The Department of Asian American Studies, University of California, Los Angeles

Well, if you’re situated on stolen land and oppose that, why doesn’t UCLA or the Department give the land back or pay reparations? At least there’s a building housing this department that could be given to the Gabrielini/Tongva people, or reimburse them for the cost of both the L.A. land and the building on it. Of course they won’t, for this is a performative act not meant to accomplish anything beyond saying: “Hey, look! We’re ideologically correct.”

Two of my colleagues had the following reaction to the land-claim bit of the statement that went:

As an academic department situated on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Gabrielino/Tongva peoples, we oppose settler-colonialism in all its forms, from Tovaangar to Palestine.

First response, noting that it’s an Asian-American Studies Department:

I’d like their position on Han colonization of the Yangtze and Pearl valleys and the concomitant colonialist suppression of Yue, Min, Hmong, and other indigenous peoples (to say nothing of Uygers and Tibetans).

Second response:

If more historical knowledge were available, it would surely reveal that the “Gabrielino/Tongva peoples” had colonized the LA region from whoever lived there before too. The natives weren’t sitting around singing Kumbaya before the white man arrived!

Again, although the department says it opposes settler-colonialism in all its forms, the statement is about the “settler-colonialism” of Israel alone. And yet China is one of the biggest settler-colonialist nations going.  What, do you suppose, explains the unique demonization of Israel?

No, Netflix did not make Leonard Bernstein look like a stereotypical and exaggerated Jew

June 1, 2022 • 12:00 pm

I think I have some credibility here, since some people have accused me of being too quick to call out people as anti-Semites. And yes, as a secular Jew I’m sensitive to anti-Semitism, which I think is both growing and unduly neglected.  So if anyone is to accuse a movie of making an actor look “stereotypically Jewish,” it would be me. And that’s what this Daily Beast piece is about (click to read). But I don’t agree with them—not at all! After all, I’m not one of those who demand that every character be played by someone of the identical gender, ethnicity, appearance, and so on.

First, it’s really a cheap shot to make a news story out of some people’s opinion when the people aren’t specified. It’s probably about five people on Twitter (the article notes exactly two critical tweets), but this gives the Beast a chance to publish something. (HuffPost does the same thing). Social media is the greatest thing to ever happen to hack journalists. But all I care about is the author’s opinion and argument, and here she’s just wrong.

First, I have no objection to a non-Jew playing Bernstein in a Netflix biopic, although there may be some woke Jews (they’re proportionately rare) who would raise a ruckus. What this ruckus is about, though, is the supposed heavy application of makeup to Bradley Cooper to the extent that the Netflix version makes Lennie looks like a caricature of Jew—like something from Der Stürmer.

From the Beast:

. . . But in the case of Bradley Cooper and the just-released first look photos of his Leonard Bernstein biopic Maestro, the word “unrecognizable” is actually warranted. And, in many cases, it’s making people angry, arguing that it’s inappropriate to rely on such heavy prosthetics to make a non-Jewish actor appear more Jewish.

Photos released on Monday show the Hangover actor disguised by pounds of prosthetics to resemble the composer behind the music of West Side Story and On the Town. As an elderly Bernstein, Cooper wears an obviously fake nose and thinning white wig. His forehead wrinkles are deeper than the Grand Canyon and his synthetically weathered hands are knotted with prominent veins.

. . .But the polarizing photos have also been met with backlash, sparking a conversation about whether Cooper, a non-Jewish actor (donning a sizable fake nose, to boot), is an appropriate choice to portray a legendary Jewish cultural figure such as Bernstein.

I’ll show a few angry tweets below, but when I saw the two pictures accompanying the article, I thought, “Hey, that’s not a bad likeness of Bernstein”. (By the way, since when did thinning hair, wrinkles, and vein-y hands become stereotypical Jewish features?)

No, it’s the schnoz that’s important, and there’s no denying two things. First, many Jews do have big noses; it’s a result of genetic differentiation between populations. I have a relatively big one, and my father had a huge one. (He used to tell me, “Jerry, if I had a nose full of nickels, I’d be a millionaire.”)

And Bernstein had a larger than average proboscis, too, but looking at the pictures of Bradley, I don’t see that his protuberance is a caricature of a Jewish nose.

Here, from the Daily Beast, is a photo of Cooper made up as Lenny:

So of course I tried to find videos and photos of Bernstein at the same age, and here are some real ones. I did not pick out photos that emphasized his schnoz!

Another video of Bernstein conducting.

It also defies belief, even for a sensitive Jew-lover like me, to think that the Netflix makeup people thought, “Hey, let’s give him a really big nose to show that he’s Jewish!” I think they were trying to replicate the real Lenny in a man who doesn’t look much like Lenny, and I think they did a good job.

But of course there are the Pecksniffs who provide fodder for woke journalists. The Beast cites only two, which is apparently enough to create a “controversy”:

Give me a break!

The nose isn’t featured: Bernstein is not a Pinocchio here! These two are oversensitive people looking for a reason to get mad. I suggest they chill out and read a good book. Or, if they want to kvetch, they could do a scientific study: measure the length of the schnoz in Cooper’s Bernstein relative to some other body part (say, height of the actor’s head), and compare it to the ratio for the real Bernstein. If they find a giant disparity, then we’ll talk!

Harvard faculty repudiate the student newspaper’s endorsement of BDS

May 11, 2022 • 9:00 am

As I reported the other day, the Harvard Crimson, the school’s well known student newspaper, published an editorial supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, a movement that’s anti-Semitic in that it explicitly favors the elimination of Israel as a state. To me this highlighted the growing problem of anti-Semitism not just at universities (especially “elite” ones), but in the Progressive Left.

Now, however, over 100 Harvard faculty members (and counting) are signing a statement repudiating the Crimson‘s stand. You can find the statement by clicking on the screenshot:

Here are the first four paragraphs, with which I heartily agree.

As members of the faculty of Harvard University, we are dismayed by The Crimson Editorial Board’s enthusiastic endorsement of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. While we may not agree with every point in this statement, and there are many diverse perspectives among us on issues of Israeli policy, the boundaries of academic freedom, and the role of universities as political actors, we are united in our opposition to BDS and The Crimson stance.

We are deeply concerned about the long-term impact of this recent staff editorial on the morale and well-being of Jewish and Zionist students at Harvard, some of whom have already reported that they have become alienated from the newspaper on account of the inhospitable culture that prevails there.

We extend our full support to these students who may now be feeling marginalized and demoralized. We also express our steadfast commitment to Harvard’s ties with Israel, a country that is home to some of the world’s best universities. Our research and teaching missions benefit from these educational exchanges, and we encourage Harvard to grow them further.

While acknowledging the right of those within our campus community to endorse and advocate for BDS, we stand firmly opposed to this movement. In addition to calling for a wholesale boycott of Israeli academia, BDS compromises educational goals by turning the complex and intractable Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a caricature that singles out only one side for blame with a false binary of oppressor versus oppressed.

And that last paragraph is the most trenchant. In fact, Palestine is much more to blame than Israel for the fact that it doesn’t have its own country. They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The demonization of Israel and the valorization of Palestine, a true apartheid state, is one of the biggest missteps the American Left has made, for it contravenes its own values of democracy and equality in favor of a false “oppressor/oppressed” narrative.

One more quote (you can read the full statement at the link above):

We are saddened and disheartened that both the Crimson and the Harvard College Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC), to which the Editorial Board gave full-throated support in its editorial, are creating spaces on campus where Jewish and Zionist students are targeted and made to feel unwelcome. In its “Wall of Resistance” art installation at Harvard Yard, callously displayed over the Passover holiday, the PSC equated Zionism with “racism” and “white supremacy.” Such language is shameful and has no place at Harvard. We call out this rhetoric for what it is: anti-Jewish hate speech that is antithetical to the values of any academic institution.

Zionism— the right of the Jewish people to a homeland and self-determination—is a millennia-old tradition, with deep roots in Jewish history and religious practice. It is also a more recent political response to the utter failure to produce freedom and safety for Jews living in most places in the world. To treat Zionism as an illegitimate and oppressive movement, as BDS does, is to ignore history and to deny empathy, respect, and dignity to Jews.

I was pleased to see a friend’s name among the four people whom I take to be those who started the petition.

Initial signatories serve on the Advisory Board of the Academic Engagement Network:  

Gabriella Blum, Rita E. Hauser Professor of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Harvard Law School
Jesse Fried, Dane Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor, Department of Psychology
Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus

Doubtless someone will point out that there are many Jewish names among the signers. Well what did you expect? Don’t you think that a petition calling for moving all African-Americans back to Africa would have a disproportionate number of black signers?

If you want a good overview of this pushback, don’t go looking for it in the New York Times or Washington Post.  The Times of Israel has a bit more information:

The statement was organized by the Academic Engagement Network, a pro-Israel non-profit group. The petition will remain open through the end of the week, and will be presented to The Crimson, Harvard’s president, and other university officials.

One current editor of The Crimson and several prominent alumni of the paper also blasted the BDS endorsement.

Natalie L. Kahn, a Crimson editor and the head of Harvard’s Hillel, in a response published by the Crimson on Wednesday, said the endorsement was one-sided and anti-Jewish.

“This editorial is part of a larger trend of singling out Jews, conveniently neglecting our half of the story — and by extension our right to self-determination — while claiming to ‘oppose antisemitism,’” she wrote.

“This editorial does not even affirm support for Jewish self-determination. Does the Editorial Board believe Israel even has a right to exist? Because, if so, that line is coincidentally missing,” she said.

“Dialogue is not the goal of BDS or student anti-Israel groups, who have refused conversation and rely instead on substanceless platitudes,” she said. “Their goal is demonizing Israel and delegitimizing its right to exist.”

If you doubt the last sentence, do a bit of digging about BDS and its history, though it’s mantra (“From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”) says it all.


h/t: Norm

Harvard Crimson supports the BDS initiative

May 8, 2022 • 10:15 am

The Harvard Crimson—the University’s student newspaper—came out on April 29 with an editorial supporting the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel and for a “free Palestine.” The screenshot of their article is below, and it’s the usual gemisch of historical ignorance and wokeist victimism.  More important, it completely ignores the perfidy practiced by Palestine, the fact that Palestine and not Israel is an apartheid state, the increasingly violent attacks by Palestinians against Israeli citizens (those are war crimes, by the way), the hatred of Jews and Israel taught to Palestinian citizens and children, and the Palestinians’ odious “pay for slay” program that rewards terrorists and their families for killing Jews.

It also skirts the palpable fact that BDS is anti-Semitic. Why? Because the BDS movement explicitly favors the elimination of Israel. Their mantra is “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” You have to be blind not to see that that is a call for the elimination of Israel and its Jews. If you want a longer list of reasons why BDS is anti-Semitic, go here. (Some of the reasons involve the singling out of the Middle East’s only democratic—and Jewish—state as the only target of BDS.)

Every time I claim that the Left is getting more anti-Semitic in America—and I don’t deny that the Right is, too—I get tons of email pushback from those who can’t stomach the thought that the Left is increasingly permeated with hatred of Israel and Jews. (In fact, I got a veiled threat about that this week, daring me to repeat that the Left is growing anti-Semitic.)

But, as in Britain, this happens to be the truth. Increasingly, the American Left is being taken over by the Progressive Left—or at least the Progressive Left that is the vocal face of Leftism; and the Progressive Left adheres to the Victim and Oppression narrative. In this case, Jews are seen as oppressors, and even if not white they are “white adjacent.” As the Crimson editorial states, “It is our categorical imperative to side with and empower the vulnerable and oppressed.”  (But only involving Israel and Palestine.)

The problem is that the Palestinians had many chances NOT to be vulnerable and oppressed (see below) and have rejected them all. Nothing will satisfy them except the total elimination of Israel. And that is anti-Semitic, though its proponents often make it into a euphemism by saying “anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism.”

Palestinians, on the other hand, are seen as people of color, and despite their repeated refusals to accept a “two state” solution first offered by Britain and then several times by Israel (there have been at least seven such offers, all refused by the Palestinians because they want not a state of their own, but the total destruction of Israel). As Abba Eban said after the failed peace talks of 1973, the Palestinians “”never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.

The first thing you’ll notice about the editorial is how poorly written it is. Can’t editors of the Crimson, who are Harvard students, write better than this?. But let’s have a look at a few of its assertions. (Be aware that I’m quite ill so my writing may be a bit wonky).  I’ve given some quotes (indented) below the screenshot.

We first and foremost wish to extend our sincere support to those who have been and continue to be subject to violence in occupied Palestine, as well as to any and all civilians affected by the region’s bellicosity. We are not sure how these words will reach you, or whether they’ll do so at all. But our stance isn’t rooted in proximity or convenience, but rather in foundational principles we must uphold — even if (or perhaps especially when) it proves difficult.

. . . This editorial board is broadly and proudly supportive of PSC’s mission and activism, including its recent art display. The admittedly controversial panels dare the viewer to contend with well-established, if rarely stated, facts. They direct our eyes towards the property and land confiscations, citizenship denials, movement restrictions, and unlawful killings that victimize Palestinians day in and day out. Art is a potent form of resistance, and we are humbled by our peers’ passion and skill.

No killings are more unlawful that the wanton slaughter of Israelis civilians by Palestinian terrorists. For some reason the Crimson’s editors have forgotten this! And don’t forget the rockets that Palestine fires willy-nilly into Israel, not targeting military objectives but to terrorize civilians. Of course, the slaughter of Israelis citizens has been rationalized as “justifiable response to occupation.”

In the wake of accusations suggesting otherwise, we feel the need to assert that support for Palestinian liberation is not antisemitic. We unambiguously oppose and condemn antisemitism in every and all forms, including those times when it shows up on the fringes of otherwise worthwhile movements. Jewish people — like every people, including Palestinians — deserve nothing but life, peace, and security.

Except in Israel!

It goes on and on, a one-sided editorial whose message, in the end, is “we favor getting rid of the state of Israel.” If the Crimson wanted a two-state solution, they might have mentioned the number of times that the Palestinians turned one down.

Now nobody denies that the Crimson is a voice of the Left, nor that its editors often go on to obtain powerful positions in journalism. We are doomed to a future in which the Leftist media favor the elimination of the state of Israel. It’s only the center-leftists or centrists who keep our side from going completely down the drain by supporting a patriarchal, homophobic, oppressive, genocidal, and pro-apartheid Arab state.  I am not opposed to criticism of Israel, but I am opposed to BDS, to those who claim BDS is not anti-Semitic, to those who valorize Palestinians as the “victims” of Israeli oppression, to the relentless hatred of Jews perpetuated by Palestinian mainstream and social media, and especially to those on the Left, like these ignorant Crimson editors, who have bought into the Palestinian narrative. (In a week in which three Israeli civilians were axed to death by Palestinian terrorists—before this editorial—do have a look at the Palestinian approbation for the slaughter here.)


UPDATE: I deliberately avoided reading Dara Horn’s piece on the Crimson editorial (it’s at Bari Weiss’s site) until I wrote my own take above. Horn’s deals largely with the propaganda posters erected in Harvard Yard by Harvard’s Palestine Solidarity Committee—posters that, she says, are “[propaganda murals] that would have been at home in any Middle Eastern authoritarian state, where it would have been painted by government lackeys to illustrate classic regime talking points that openly genocidal groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and their state sponsors in Iran have been pushing to local and Western audiences for years.”

Click screenshot to read:

And a couple of Horn’s quotes on BDS and campus Jew hatred:

The BDS movement, as it’s known, is old news on college campuses and elsewhere; it’s been around long enough that it no longer bothers to hide its goal of eliminating the world’s only Jewish state. But I had to hand it to The Crimson for timing, given that the editorial followed several weeks of terror attacks in Israel during which 15 people were stabbed, shot and car-rammed to death while engaging in such provocative behaviors as drinking at a bar or walking down the street. One victim was an Arab Israeli police officer rushing to the crime scene. Even Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, not known for his Zionism, condemned these attacks. Two of the attackers were apparently connected with Islamic State, a medieval-cosplay sex-slavery outfit whose genocidal goals are entirely unrelated to Palestinian national aspirations. Why after these events, one might ask, would these Harvard students change their position now?

It was apparently the propaganda exhibit in Harvard Yard. Horn gives several photos of the exhibit; here’s one:

And a few more campus episodes:

Last month on Yom Hashoah, the Jewish community’s Holocaust Remembrance Day, the brothers of the Jewish fraternity AEPi were engaged in their annual tradition of reading the names of Holocaust victims when their reading was interrupted by the thumps of eggs hitting their house. Throwing eggs at the fraternity during this commemoration is also now an annual tradition, since it also happened on Yom Hashoah last year. Credit to the egg-throwers: When it comes to Holocaust Remembrance Day, they never forget.

Spitting at Jews is a newer Rutgers tradition, inaugurated just last week, when people leaving a rally at Rutgers advertised as “Defend Al-Aksa, Defend Palestine” made a detour in their car to stop by AEPi in order to shout and spit at the brothers, calling them “baby killers.” This phrase, also known as the blood libel, is “admittedly controversial,” to borrow the Crimson’s wording about the mural. But what bold idea isn’t?

There are more, but I’ll stop here. Those who deny that American elite campuses are pervaded by anti-Semitism are either blind and deaf, or ignorant.

Michelle Goldberg manages to blame the Right for anti-Semitism

May 1, 2022 • 1:17 pm

The New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, an excellent writer who describes herself as a secular Jew, is in a bind. She clearly has sympathy for the victims of anti-Semitism, but she’s also a Leftist, or at least a liberal. Since anti-Semitism in America is clearly more associated with the mainstream Left than the mainstream Right (I’m leaving out nutcases and white supremacists here), this makes it impossible for her to indict  (or even mention) her own part of the political spectrum when discussing anti-Semitism. Get a load of Goldberg’s tap-dancing in her latest column:

Here’s where she pins the blame on people.  Nothing is mentioned about the Left, but plenty about the Right. Bolding is mine:

The Anti-Defamation League this week released a report showing that in 2021, there were more antisemitic incidents in America than in any other year since the group started keeping track over 40 years ago. “We’ve never seen data like this before, ever,” Jonathan Greenblatt, national director of the A.D.L., told me.

. . . Conservatives might be tempted to blame strident anti-Zionism, and that’s part of the story. Both the A.D.L. and researchers in Tel Aviv use a definition of antisemitism that can conflate it with anti-Zionism, concepts I think should be kept separate. It’s clearly antisemitic, however, when Israel’s enemies blame all Jews for the country’s treatment of the Palestinians. According to the A.D.L. report, of 2,717 antisemitic incidents in the United States last year, 345 involved references to Israel and Zionism. The examples detailed in the report aren’t ambiguous; they include Palestinian supporters pushing a man in a yarmulke into a glass window and yelling, “Die, Zionist!”

It’s a mistake to associate all of these 345 incidents with the left; 68 were “propaganda efforts by white supremacist groups to foment anti-Israel and antisemitic beliefs.” More broadly, right-wing extremism was behind 484 of all antisemitic incidents in the U.S. last year, 18 percent of the total.

Well, Ms. Goldberg, how many anti-semitic incidents were associated with the Left? She leaves us with no answer. Or rather, her answer is simply to ignore increasing anti-Semitism associated with the “progressive” Left, and natter on instead about Republicans, Trump, QAnon, and, in the end, on the fact that we’re a “sick society” (the election of Trump proves that) and that, combined with the pandemic, made people turn to social media. From there things went haywire, and—voilà—hatred of Jews escalated:

The radicalization of the Republican Party has helped white nationalism flourish. Antisemitism started increasing in 2015, when Donald Trump came on the political scene and electrified the far right, then spiked during his administration. Trump is now gone, but the Republican Party has grown more hospitable than ever to cranks and zealots. Two Republican members of Congress, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Paul Gosar, spoke at a white nationalist conference this year.

The antisemitism of the QAnon conspiracy theory — always latent in its fantasies of elite blood-drinking cabals — has also become much more open. As the A.D.L. has reported, one of the most popular QAnon influencers, GhostEzra, “is an open Nazi who praises Hitler, admires the Third Reich and decries the supposedly treacherous nature of Jews.”

But for a huge number of antisemitic episodes, the political motive, if there is one, is illegible. According to Greenblatt, more than 80 percent of the incidents documented in the A.D.L. report “cannot be attributed to any specific extremist group or movement.” Much of the threat to Jews in America seems to come less from a distinct, particular ideology than from the broader cultural breakdown that’s leading to an increase in all manner of antisocial behavior, including shootings, airplane altercations, reckless driving and fights in school.

. . .So for Durkheim, wrote Goldberg, “antisemitism serves as a useful index of the health of society.”

Our society, clearly, is not healthy. It was unwell before the pandemic — a country that could elect Donald Trump is sick by definition — and is in much worse shape now. The pandemic and the accompanying changes in the way people live, work and go to school were wrenching and destabilizing. Isolated people turned to social media, which, as the Tel Aviv University report pointed out, abounded with conspiracy theories blaming Jews for spreading the coronavirus so they could profit from vaccines.

These conspiracy theories helped erode people’s faith in their leaders, which was already weakened by governments’ inevitable difficulties balancing shifting public health guidance with people’s need for autonomy and pleasure. Hate spread even as the unspoken restraints governing people’s conduct fell away. Besides being a crisis, escalating antisemitism is a warning: Things are falling apart.

Where, Ms. Goldberg, is the palpable fact that the progressive and vocal moiety of the Left has decided to see Palestinians as “people of color” and Jews as “white adjacent” colonist and oppressors? Yes, things are falling apart, and Jews are having a rougher time of it now than any time I remember, but it doesn’t help when Goldberg spends her whole time tiptoeing around the elephant in the room: her own side.

Of course conservatives and nativists play a role; and of course Jews are traditional scapegoats. But Ms. Goldberg seems to have forgotten the beam in her own eye—or her own party. This column is biased, superficial, and woefully incomplete.

A repost of a post by Matthew: Belgian resistance fighters try to free a trainload of Jews headed to Auschwitz

April 19, 2022 • 11:30 am

Exactly two years ago today, Matthew, who’s studied European resistance to the Nazis and written books about it, wrote on this site about a daring and largely successful attempt of three members of the Belgian Resistance to free a trainload of Jews being taken to Auschwitz. It’s a great story about a horror that has so few upsides, and I’m going to link to it again today. Simply click on the title below to go to Matthew’s 2020 post.

Bravery in the midst of horror: the attack on Convoy 20 to Auschwitz

Matthew Cobb

77 years ago, on the evening of 19-20th April 1943, an audacious operation to save Jews being deported to Nazi Germany took place in Belgium. This was the only known organized attempt in the whole of Occupied Europe to stop the deportation of Jews. What follows is an extract from my book The Resistance: The French Fight Against the Nazis (2010). These passages are based on Marion Schreiber’s excellent 2000 work, translated in 2004 as The Twentieth Train: The True Story of the Ambush of the Death Train to Auschwitz.

Strange reporting of a terrorist attack that killed three Israelis

April 10, 2022 • 10:00 am

Both the New York Times and ABC News report a terrorist attack that killed three Israelis in Tel Aviv on Thursday night.

Three other victims were in serious condition. As ABC News Reports:

Israeli security forces tracked down and killed the alleged assailant in a shootout early Friday near a mosque in Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv, according to statements from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Israel’s internal security service, Shin Bet. The suspect was identified by Shin Bet as a 29-year-old Palestinian man from Jenin, in the occupied West Bank.

This is the latest in a series of Palestinian terrorist attacks on civilians, with 14 killed in the last 18 days. Malgorzata sent me a list, as we often don’t hear about these in the U.S.:

22 March, Beersheba, 4 killed, 2 wounded
27 March 2022, Hadera, 2 killed, 12 injured
29 March, Bnei Brak, 5 killed,
31 March, Gush Etzion, one seriously wounded (attacker shot dead)
7 April, Tel Aviv, 3 killed, 12 injured

In this case, both sources lead with the fact that it was a terrorist attack and was committed by a Palestinian.  Other sources haven’t been so clear! (See below.)

The dead included two friends since childhood, 27 and 28 years old, one engaged, killed while enjoying a post-work libation. The other victim was an Olympic kayaker. They were all civilians.

Here’s the former kayaker, a father of three:

The curiosity is how the attack was reported, with many media and nonmedia people being clearly averse to using the words “terrorism” or “terrorist” (this was a clear case of both) and especially to identifying the killer as “Palestinian”. It’s almost as if the word was taboo.

Further, the way the scenario was presented, which was appropriate in the NYT and ABC, was clearly hedged to make the act seem less heinous. Here are some tweets (reported by Elder of Ziyon) showing the media coverage. You can say this is Jewish propaganda dealing with normal reporting, but there’s no denying the commonality of many headlines, leading with the Israeli killing:

Notice that in both cases the killer is identified as Palestinian, but who perpetrated the “attack” or “shooting” is unclear.

In contrast, both the NYT and ABC are clear, though ABC (second headline) is  bit ambiguous. The NYT headline is especially  succinct and accurate.



But other media used euphemisms, inverted headlines, or omission of “terrorism” or “Palestinian”:

And another. “Inverting the story”—i.e., putting the killing of terrorists by of Israeli soldiers/police as the first bit of the story—has become almost customary in the media. This leaves the impression that Israel “started it”:

But Reuters, which has a long history of distorting the news in favor of Palestine, was the worst, inverting the headline and omitting “terrorism”:


And here’s a thread of people who deliberately avoid using the “P word”. I wonder why?

Now this is an interesting tweet.

Yes, the NYT did originally give a positive take on Refaat Alareer, a professor at Islamic University in Gaza City.  But the information depicting Aalareer’s classroom was based on a single visit by a reporter, and Alareer knew the reporter was there. He clearly toned down his critique of Israel at that visit, as an earlier video without reporters present gave a much less flattering picture. In fact, a few months ago the Times‘s editors added this update to the article:

Editors’ Note, Dec. 13, 2021:

After publication of this article, Times editors reviewed additional information that is at odds with the article’s portrayal of Refaat Alareer, a literature professor at Islamic University in Gaza, who was described as presenting Israeli poems in a positive light to his Palestinian students.

In the class witnessed by a Times reporter, Mr. Alareer taught a poem by the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, which he called “beautiful,” saying it underscored the “shared humanity” of Israelis and Palestinians. He said he admired how it showed that Jerusalem is a place “where we all come together, regardless of religion and faith.”

However, in a video of a class from 2019, he called the same poem “horrible” and “dangerous,” saying that although it was aesthetically beautiful, it “brainwashes” readers by presenting the Israelis “as innocent.” He also discussed a second Israeli poem, by Tuvya Ruebner, which he called “dangerous,” adding “this kind of poetry is in part to blame for the ethnic cleansing and destruction of Palestine.”

When The Times asked Mr. Alareer about the discrepancy, he denied that there was a “substantial change” in his teaching and said that showing parallels between Palestinians and Jews was his “ultimate goal.” But he said that Israel used literature as “a tool of colonialism and oppression” and that this raised “legitimate questions” about Mr. Amichai’s poem.

In light of this additional information, editors have concluded that the article did not accurately reflect Mr. Alareer’s views on Israeli poetry or how he teaches it. Had The Times done more extensive reporting on Mr. Alareer, the article would have presented a more complete picture.

Good for them!

Now you can say that the other forms of reporting are simply coincidental, but I beg to differ. There is a history of Anglophone media downplaying terrorism and the Palestinian responsibility for it; this is just one of many, many examples. I’m surprised, in fact, that the New York Times is the best of the lot! But kudos for an accurate headline.

The other side, of course, is the obligatory celebration of Palestinians at seeing more Israelis slain by “martyrs”. Their joy is unspeakably horrid, and one wonders, when you see it break out after civilians are killed, what kind of Americans are valorizing Palestinian terrorists and those who call for the elimination of Israel.

What these terrorists are doing resembles what Russia is doing to the Ukraine: killing civilians with the ultimate aim of absorbing another country. Imagine how much stronger our revulsion at Russia would be if we knew that man Russians jumped for joy and handed out sweets every time a Ukrainian civilian was killed!

The obligatory celebration:

The killer’s father celebrates his son’s death.

You get the idea. Just one more sight of the celebrations in Gaza. There’s much more documentation at this site:

There’s no doubt that anti-Semitism is on the rise in America, particularly among “progressive” liberals, who increasingly sympathize with Palestinians because they are seen as “people of color”.  U.S. legislators like Congresswomen Rashida Taleeb, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar regularly laud Palestine and demonize Israel—also supporting the anti-Semitic BDS movement. And much of the U.S. media, increasingly populated by young journalists with “progressive” sentiments, echo this hatred. Is this the way liberals should behave: lauding those who kill civilians and then celebrating it?

Chicago Maroon op-ed editors abase themselves, apologize for posting a letter criticizing anti-Semitism

April 8, 2022 • 12:00 pm

In this week’s Chicago Maroon (our student newspaper), there’s the longest op-ed I’ve ever seen there: a full-two page spread by two op-ed editors. Their goal was to apologize for having published a short op-ed letter by two students that criticized a pro-Palestinian campus group.

But let’s back up.  A while ago, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a notoriously anti-Semitic organization that calls for the elimination of Israel, demonstrated on campus against classes taught by Israeli Jews. On their Instagram page, SJP called for a boycott of classes about Israel or taught by “Israeli fellows,” as people who take those classes show “complicity in the continuation of Israel’s occupation of Palestine” (they consider Palestine to be “from the river to the sea”, i.e. all of Israel, not just the West bank). Their post is below, and of course SJP has the right to post such a thing as well as to demonstrate on campus in favor of it. Yes, they’re misguided, yes, they’re hateful, and yes, I see them as anti-Semitic.  And of course this kind of behavior divides people, but so it goes.

Here’s the SJP post with their addendum

In response, two students wrote a protest (click on screenshot below) whose contents I’ve put below the fold at the bottom of this post. The authors, Melody Dias and Benjamin ZeBrack, characterize SJP’s Instagram post as anti-Semitic, divisive, deliberately ill-timed (they argued that it overlapped with Holocaust Remembrance Day) and, by coercing students not to take classes about Israel or those taught by Israelis, a violation the University’s free speech policy. Although I would have written a different letter (the “timing” issue isn’t that relevant, and we don’t know if SJP did that deliberately), I see the Instagram post as pretty odious and anti-Semitic (or “anti-Zionist” as SJP would say).

You can also see student’s letter objecting to the call for boycott by clicking on the screensho below. It takes you to the letter on the Maroon‘s website. That’s very odd, for the pro-SJP op-ed editors who published it said that they removed the letter on the grounds of factual inaccuracy.  (See below.) They apparently didn’t! (This is why I reprint that letter below the fold.)

After this letter appeared, SJP was furious (see Cravatt’s article below) and demanded that the Maroon take down Dias’s and ZeBrack’s letter be taken down–and other things as well. This is described in Cravatt’s description of the affair from the Jewish News Syndicate (click on screenshot below)

Cravatts reports this:

SJP then demanded of the Maroon’s editors, “in response to these offenses,” the “immediate deletion of the article,” a “public apology issued by the Maroon to SJP UChicago and to Palestinian students for the dissemination of misinformation and the disregard of journalistic integrity and factual reporting,” and, most ominously, “a public recommitment to ensuring that all columns and articles abide by expected standards of accuracy and truth, particularly those written by Zionist authors or on behalf of Zionist organizations.”

Astoundingly, in response to SJP’s absurd demands, two feckless editors—Kelly Hui and Elizabeth Winkler—not only deleted the offending op-ed but published a craven, apologetic editorial of their own. In it, they dissected the op-ed for its perceived factual inaccuracies and justified their decision by claiming that it was the op-ed written by the pro-Israel supporters that could be the source of campus enmity, not the original action of SJP in calling for a boycott of courses about Israel.

Cravatts is not exaggerating here. The craven, apologetic editorial from the op-ed editors is at the screenshot below (click on it). The two editors say they actually removed the letter by Dias and ZeBrack, but it’s still online, so I’m puzzled. But they did cave to all of SJP’s demands:

Let me give a few quotes from this ridiculous “apology”, a disgusting piece of self-abasement (and denigration of Israel) fully worthy of China’s Cultural Revolution:

As Viewpoints editors and members of the UChicago community, we stand against hate and strive to create a productive platform for opinions. On February 17, 2022, we failed in this mission. We made the choice to publish an op-ed that contained factual inaccuracies. These factual inaccuracies, contrary to Viewpoints’s goals, flattened dialogue and perpetuated hate toward UChicago’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP UChicago), Palestinian students, and those on campus who support the Palestinian liberation struggle. We failed as Viewpoints editors and as members of the UChicago community when we published this article, which was not fact-checked as thoroughly as it should have been. We deeply regret this oversight and the harm that our decision inflicted. We apologize to every member in SJP UChicago and all others who were affected by this decision, and we vow to take concrete steps, which we enumerate in this letter, to prevent this from happening again.

After further reflection on what we believe the role of opinion journalism should be, we have taken this op-ed down. We do not take this action to hide our mistakes but rather to take responsibility for the damage the op-ed has done and to prevent further harm. Below this apology, we include corrections to the factual inaccuracies in the op-ed and the text of the op-ed itself as context for those corrections and as documentation of our errors and our commitment to redress them.

The “factual inaccuracies” are risible (including the “timing issue”, which is irrelevant), and at any rate factual inaccuracies have never before stopped the Maroon from publishing letters before. What Hui and Winkler are doing are truckling to the SJP, denigrating Israel, promoting Palestine as a victim of Israeli aggression, and getting rid of contrary opinions by (suposedly) deleting the offending letter. Of course the factual inaccuracies promulgated by the SJP (e.g., the “apartheid state” myth) are ignored.

What’s really funny is that Hui and Winkler actually say they’re supporting the U of C’s free-speech policy by taking down the letter:

Viewpoints is a space that intends to facilitate free speech on campus and in the surrounding communities, and a large part of that facilitation is diligent fact-checking. It is our editorial responsibility to ensure that our writers’ words are grounded in facts, and by choosing to publish this op-ed, we did not fulfill this responsibility. As a result of this failure, the factual inaccuracies in this op-ed were used to delegitimize and undermine SJP UChicago’s campaign and the larger movement on campus and beyond for Palestinian liberation and self-determination.

That’s about as disingenuoous as you can get.

But bit of rhetoric really baffles me as they purport to support free speech (my bolding):

As Viewpoints editors, we seek to break the pattern of anti-Palestinian rhetoric in The Maroon.  As student journalists, we are learning from our mistakes and committed to growing into more thoughtful and ethical writers and editors. In working toward this goal, we acknowledge the same damaging pattern within many journalistic institutions, particularly in mainstream news outlets, and we seek to combat this within our own newspaper. We must include conversations about power and safety in our decisions about how we should platform the voices in our community, and we must reexamine the idea of journalistic objectivity. As Viewpoints editors, we believe that our commitments to journalistic integrity and The Maroon’s mission require us to take political and cultural contexts into account in our coverage. We are committed to free speech and to considering opinions submitted from all sides of a story—free speech cannot be opposed to critical thought and nuance. We must acknowledge the potential for our coverage to perpetuate imbalances of power and to threaten the safety of members of our community. We want Viewpoints to be a space in which students and community members can express their opinions freely, without creating an environment in which other students are no longer safe to share their opinions and realities.

Yet they’ve just violated their pledge, presumably because the innocuous objections of Dias and ZeBrack, who stand AGAINST hate, are considered as promoting hate.  This next paragraph is bizarre:

In working to achieve this goal of inclusion and productive discourse in Viewpoints, we must acknowledge that our decision to remove the op-ed may affect Jewish students on campus. The factual inaccuracies in the op-ed were used to support Zionist and racist sentiments that relied on oversimplified narratives, setting Jewish people and Palestinian people at odds and presenting both communities as generalized monoliths without any acknowledgement of the multifaceted identities we know to exist in these communities. Given this narrative, we understand that removing the op-ed from the website could be seen as stifling Jewish voices, but that would go against our values of inclusion and free speech and contribute to the antisemitism that is already all too present in the lives of our Jewish peers. We want to emphasize that we are committed to providing a welcoming platform for dialogue that is founded on facts. We have removed the op-ed in accordance with the values we described above and because of the factual inaccuracies we detail below.

Short take: “we favor free speech unless we find any inaccuracies in it. And we deplore hate (see below), except when that hate is directed by SJP against Israel and classes about Israel. If there are violations, we simply censor the offending speech and grovel for harming the feelings of SJP members.”

Yes, free speech is fine so long as it doesn’t cause harm, as Hui and Winkler note below:

Additionally, we recognize that The Maroon as an institution has a history of publishing and contributing to anti-Palestinian sentiments on campus and beyond, and SJP UChicago has compiled and protested articles they see as fitting this pattern. Within this history, Viewpoints has particularly failed in seeking out and representing the voices of Palestinian students. Although we cannot undo these harms, especially the role of Viewpoints in contributing to said dangerous rhetoric, we are committed to doing better through a larger and ongoing reevaluation of our editing processes for opinion pieces.

. . . We stand against hate in all forms. We condemn the pitting of Jewish and Palestinian students against one another, and we deeply regret the extent to which the op-ed’s factual inaccuracies—which we should not have published—perpetuated such a harmful dynamic. We support both Palestinian and Jewish communities and condemn anti-Palestinian and antisemitic rhetoric on campus and beyond.

Did it even cross their minds that the SJP’s post was really the vehicle of hatred, harm, and rhetoric, implicitly anti-Semitic and explicitly divisive? Nope, they forgot about that in their desire to bend their knees to SJP. And they don’t stand against “hate in all forms”; that is an arrant lie. For they don’t say a word about the hatred and inaccuracies promulgated by Students for Justice in Palestine.

I don’t know what world Hui and Winkler live in, but it’s a world in which only beleaguered Jews can create “hate” by objecting to anti-Semitism. The hatred of pro-Palestinians for Israel is ignored, and the anti-Semitism itself, characteristic of SJP, is perfectly fine. It’s clear that these op-ed editors are deeply biased—so biased that it’s wrecked their usefulness as editors. Indeed, the main editor of the newspaper has sanctioned them, adding this to the beginning of their apology:

Note from Gage Gramlick (editor-in-chief) and Yiwen Lu (managing editor): Viewpoints maintains partial editorial independence from The Maroon. This means that the following apology does not constitute an institutional perspective and represents only the views of the current Viewpoints Head Editors. TheMaroon is committed to serving our community in its entirety: We condemn hate of all kinds, and we are committed as individuals and as an institution to engaging meaningfully and completely with the subjects of our coverage and all community voices. We hope that this apology generates further conversation, and we strongly encourage readers to respond. Additionally, as per Viewpoints policy, the writers of this apology will be barred from editing any submissions pertaining to the removal of the op-ed, the apology itself, or Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Chicago.

Of course Gramlick had to give the obligatory “we condemn hate” statement, but the operant result is that Hui and Winkler can no longer deal with articles about the SJP or with any further letters about the group’s behavior.

The upshot: everybody had a right to say what they said; it’s free speech, Jake! But Hui and Winkler behaved unprofessionally in their duties as editors, and I think their punishment was both justified and fair. There are no new letters to the editor so far, but there are eight comments after the “we were bad editors” apology, and all eight are critical.

I should add this: over the last 10 or 15 years, I’ve see anti-Semitism growing at the University of Chicago, just as it’s growing in many colleges and, indeed, widely in America. I don’t ask the University of Chicago to condemn it, for that is taking a political/ideological stand that may violate our Kalven principles. And I have to add that it may be that the anti-Semites and Israel haters have simply become more vocal. But what I do know is that I haven’t seen Jewish students attack Palestine or give demonstrations against it, while the reverse is not the case. The hatred goes largely one way, and Hui and Winkler have got the direction wrong.

Click “read more” to see Dias’s and ZeBrack’s letter:

Continue reading “Chicago Maroon op-ed editors abase themselves, apologize for posting a letter criticizing anti-Semitism”

Anti-Semitism fulminates at the University of Chicago

February 6, 2022 • 11:00 am

Actually, it’s already been here a while in the form of pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel sentiment, promulgated by anti-Semitic organizations like Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).  SJP is a pro-BDS organization that wants to get rid of the state of Israel (their ritual invocation is “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”, and you know what that means). But now, as the article below reports—and you can verify this by looking on SJP’s Instagram post—this form of hatred has ratcheted up at the University of Chicago.  This will undoubtedly affect the climate here for Jewish students, a climate that is already fraught. Why is this happening. Probably because anti-Semitism is an inevitable result of growing Wokeism, for the Woke see Jews and Israel as white colonialist oppressors.

I was appalled when Malgorzata sent me this article from Friday’s Jerusalem Post (click on screenshot to read):

An excerpt from the newspaper article:

The University of Chicago Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter told students in an Instagram post that they should avoid taking “S****y Zionist classes” last week.

The anti-Israel post also declared, “Support the Palestine movement for liberation by boycotting classes on Israel or those taught by Israeli fellows.”

The post states that students attending classes discussing Israel or who are taught by Israeli fellows are “participating in a propaganda campaign that creates complicity in the continuation of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Jewish human rights organization the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the “University of Chicago has for decades been a top tier institution of higher learning, a place where world-class faculty and students debated and contributed
the issues of the day impacting on all Americans. Reading these calls for boycotts on classes on Israel and fellow students from the Jewish State is something we experienced in Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia.”

Here’s the SJP’s Instagram Post referred to above:

Every anti-Semitic trope in existence is here: the fake “apartheid state” claim (which states are more apartheid than Palestine, Iran, Afghanistan, and the like, and why does nobody mention that?), the completely bogus “pinkwashing” claim that Israel has extensive LBGTQ+ rights only to distract from its colonial oppression. the fake narrative of the Nakba, arguing that Jews drove Palestinians out of Israel when the state was established (most left because the Arabs, intending to invade, asked them to get out of the way). And the “settler colonialist state” characterization is duplicitous; even if there is room to argue about some of the occupied territories, because SJP wants Israel completely gone, along with its Jews. 

Note the “edit for clarification” at the end the Instagram post which apparently, trying to be nice, says that some Jews are okay: those ones who don’t favor the existence of Israel as a harbor for Jews. “Zionism” refers to those who favor the existence of Israel as the country formulated under UN regulations, but “Zionist” has become an anti-Semitic term (you often hear it used disparagingly towards a person by calling them “a Zio”).

It’s immensely saddening to me that this hatred exists within a few blocks of my office. Does it bother me? Of course. Do I feel unsafe? Not at all. They can come get me if they want, but at the U of C that would be an unwise move, for violence and obstruction of speech is a big-time offense.

What was the University of Chicago’s response to this regurgitation of bile? It something close what it nearly always does, and gave what I see as something close to a proper response to this hate speech:

The University of Chicago spokesperson told Fox News Digital: “The University of Chicago is committed to support the wellbeing of all members of our community, to welcome people of all backgrounds, and to provide an environment for faculty and students to engage freely and openly on a wide range of issues. These values compel our steadfast opposition to discrimination, including rejection of antisemitism, anti-Palestinian bias, and other forms of bias that are incompatible with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

The only way I’d change this would be to exclude specific mention of antisemitism and anti-Palestinian biases and of “our values” and say this (Coyne’s response in bold):

“The University of Chicago is committed to supporting the wellbeing of all members of our community, but members of our community are also free to exercise their right of speech and discussion.”  

If they wanted to add “Bias  and discrimination may suppress such rights”, then that might be okay, for it’s reasonable to emphasize policies inimical to the University’s purpose: to foster, thorough learning, arguing, and discussion a freedom of speech that lubricates thinking and learning. But even saying that the university has values against bias goes a bit too far for me, as according to our Kalven Report the University is not suppose to broadcast official values, morals, or ideologies unless they are designed to foster the purposes of the University. My own statement would be in bold above. It reflects my belief that however hateful or offensive speech is, unless it falls within the narrow range of exceptions considered by U.S. courts to violate the First Amendment (and this SJP statement doesn’t), it should not be damned or criticized. There is no calling here for immediate attacks on Jews.

The emphasis on “our commitment to diversity and inclusion”, seems new to me, and may reflect the University partly buying into the DEI narrative.And they should not mention specific ethnic groups. If they want to condemn bigotry, just do it and not mention the groups in contention. After all, in this fracas the students were not making anti-Palestinian statements.

Now of course if Palestinian—or any other—students engage in violating others’ speech, like shouting down speakers, deplatforming them, or blocking entrance to talks, they have violated our policy on free speech and on behavior, and the University has every right to punish those students, as it has. But we don’t see this in this case.

What, then, can the University do to cut down on hate speech like that above? Nothing, as far as I can see, not given our policies on free expression. Individuals can, of course, reach out to support their attacked or harassed colleagues, and should do that.

But eventually, should this climate of anti-Semitism increase, Jewish parents will stop sending their children here to study, and Jewish donors will stop giving money to the University. And the University’s reputation will diminish.. Until then, there is no way, nor should there be, to stop students from expressing whatever views they want.

And so, much as I agree with Rabbi Cooper’s take on the situation here, I disagree that something must done about it immediately:

Cooper added that “in 2022, we need accountability when Jew-haters, racists, and bigots are emboldened to say and do almost anything without fear of consequences. The UC Chancellor’s statement is a deflection from responsibility, not leadership. Robust debate, yes. Providing a blank moral check to those who seek Israel’s destruction is an outrage that poses a further threat to Jews on and off campus.”

This is a “free speech, but” argument.  And I say this, and all of the above, as a secular Jew. (And so, by the way, is Chancellor Robert Zimmer.)