Monday, November 23, 2015

"Conversation on Israel/Palestine" - a "Dialogue Across Differences" Panel at Vassar

Prof. Landau
Imam Antepli
Prof. Yehezkel Landau, Associate Professor of Interfaith Relations and Director of the Building Abrahamic Partnerships program at Hartford Seminary (CT), and Imam Abdullah Antepli, adjunct professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, gave a joint presentation on November 12 described as a "Conversation about Israel/Palestine."  This event was sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of Religious & Spiritual Life (RSL), the RSL Forum for Inter-Religious Dialogue, Africana Studies, Jewish Studies and the Department of Religion.  It was developed as part of the “Dialogue and Engagement Across Differences,” initiative created by President Hill to encourage civil and open discussion of contentious issues on campus.

Ziva Dahl, FTI Core Council member, attended the presentation and wrote a detailed report, which can be found here.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Perilous Position of Being Jewish and Pro-Israel at Vassar College

Last week, FTI's Ziva Dahl published an op-ed on the challenges that Jewish and pro-Israel students face at Vassar.  Her article has been picked up by a number of news outlets, including this one.  (You may notice that Alan Dershowitz, in his NY Post op-ed today, clearly used Ziva's piece as a source for his reference to Vassar.)

Safe spaces for hypocrisy: The dangerous sensitivity double-standards at play on America's college campuses

Alan Dershowitz has an op-ed in today's New York Daily News, discussing the glaring double standards employed by activists on college campuses today when it comes to "safe spaces" and free speech for Jewish students.  He cites Vassar as a prime example.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Jill Schneiderman's Op-Ed at The Washington Post

Jill S Schneiderman  On July 3, 2015, this op-ed by Vassar Professor of Geology and Earth Science Jill Schneiderman was published in The Washington Post.
[ . . . ] 
I am a tenured geology professor at Vassar , an elite liberal-arts school . I research, teach and write about the complex and intimate connections between land and water resources and social justice. For the study trip I led to Israel and the Palestinian territories, I created a syllabus designed to explore difficult issues and engage diverse perspectives that was vetted by Vassar’s faculty and administration. I have successfully led numerous similar trips to locations such as the Appalachian Mountains and the Mojave Desert. My modest goals for such trips are to impart knowledge and share experiences with my students that can be realized only by traveling to the regions we are examining. In studying arid regions without seeing the situation with their own eyes, it is difficult for students from places where water is relatively abundant to think about solutions to the problems that occur when local residents must share a meager supply.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New Webpage Documents Student Testimonies of Antisemitism on Campus

From The Algemeiner:
A new webpage was launched on Monday featuring over one hundred personal testimonies from Jewish students who have experienced antisemitism on campuses across the U.S. over the past year-and-a-half. 
Behind the project is the non-profit campus watchdog AMCHA Initiative which gathered the extensive testimony from public reports, and students at 47 colleges and universities in 20 states. 
In their reports on the site, some students said they felt intimidated and frightened. Others said they wanted to hide their Jewish identities for fear of being targeted by classmates. One student from University of Washington said that after seeing his Star of David, some people “brand me as someone toxic, someone worthy of their disdain and vitriol.” 
[ . . . ] 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Incoming VSA Prez Labels Campus Lecture "Islamophobic"

On April 24, the Vassar Conservative Libertarian Union (VCLU) hosted a lecture by American Enterprise Institute scholar and Vassar alumnus (class of '89) Marc Thiessen, who spoke on "America's Failed Response to Radical Islam."

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pro-Israel Professor targeted at Connecticut College

David Bernstein has been covering this story at The Volokh Conspiracy (Washington Post).  First here:
The hypocrisy and dishonesty of attacks on Connecticut College professor Andrew Pessin 
Andrew Pessin is a distinguished philosophy professor at Connecticut College. He is also, as I understand it, the only Jewish professor at the college who regularly speaks up on behalf of Israel in an intellectual climate that is often dominated by left-wing and foreign students hostile to Israel.
This made him the target of one Lamiya Khandaker, a student who took his intro to philosophy class without incident last Fall. . . .

The background and links provided in this article go a long way toward clarifying what at first appears to be a murkier picture.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Berkeley’s Swastika Problem: Are America’s Liberal Colleges Breeding Anti-Semitism?

From neo-Nazi graffiti at Berkeley to the grilling of a Jewish student at UCLA, anti-Semitism is on the rise at liberal schools thought to be bastions of political correctness.

Disturbing  03.19.15   Emily Shire
The grilling of student Rachel Beyda over whether she was unqualified to join the UCLA’s student judicial board, merely because she is Jewish, shocked people with its blatant display of anti-Semitism at one of the nation’s most liberal schools.
“Given that you're very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?” Fabienne Roth, a member of UCLA’s Undergraduate Student Association Council, asked her. After Beyda left the room, another member of the council opined, “I don't know. For some reason I am not comfortable. I just don't know why. I can definitely see she's qualified. I am just worried about her affiliations.” 
The remarks made during her questioning are disturbing, as is the fact that these undergrads appear to be oblivious to how anti-Semitic they sound. (The council passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism last week in response to the uproar over Beyda’s confirmation, after the writing was already on the wall, as it were.)

What’s even more frightening is that Beyda’s case was nothing new, a run-of-the-mill example of the suspicions and hostility directed toward the Jewish community at some of the most socially progressive campuses across the country.

Read the full story here

Monday, March 23, 2015

American Campuses: Cause For Alarm?

Pro-Israel Jews across the spectrum agree that concern is warranted, but differ on what constitutes anti-Semitism.

03/03/15     Doug Chandler      Jewish Week Correspondent
A student at the University of Ohio recalls the heated moments when she and three of her classmates were arrested last September while protesting the fiercely anti-Israel rhetoric of a fellow student, the president of the Student Senate.
A young woman at the University of New Mexico worries about grade reprisals from professors who routinely denounce the Jewish state and don’t like her pro-Israel views.
Other students recall the appearance of swastikas on a Jewish fraternity house (at Emory University last fall), fake eviction notices slipped under the dorm-room doors of Jewish peers (at New York University last spring), and the refusal of some Palestinian students to engage in any sort of dialogue with pro-Israel classmates.
Those and other scenes make up the meat of a new documentary, “Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus,” screened at a special showing last week at the 92nd Street Y. Presented by Jerusalem U, a pro-Israel group that seeks to promote Jewish education and identity through film, the documentary was followed by a panel discussion that included Eric Fingerhut, president and CEO of Hillel International, and three of the students who appear in the work.
Read the full story here

Vassar to host April 7 talk on Middle East conflicts

POUGHKEEPSIE >> An expert on Arab and Turkish politics, as well as U.S.-Middle East policy, will give a talk called “The Middle East and Us: How Did it Get So Bad?” on April 7.
The talk, by Steven A. Cook, will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Villard Room of the Main Building at Vassar College. The event is free and open to the public.
Cook is the Hasib J. Sabbagh Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He also is the author of “The Struggle for Egypt: From Nasser to Tahrir Square,” which won the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s gold medal in 2012.
Cook also currently writes the blog “From the Potomac to the Euphrates.”

Cook is a Vassar alumnus, class of 1990.  Read more here