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.)

“Vile at Vassar,” exclaims an editorial in the New York Daily News. “Anti-Semitic Times at Vassar,” notes a Vassar graduate at the Daily Kos. “Anti-Israel Jews and the Vassar Blues,” pens an op-ed writer in the Wall Street Journal. Jonathan Marks in Commentary magazine asks, “What’s going on at Vassar?”
Jewish students at Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based Vassar College, responding to a 2015 questionnaire, said that at Vassar, it’s unwise to advertise that you are Jewish because it will threaten a student’s sense of safety. Jewish students self-censor pro-Israel opinions out of fear of retribution from intolerant peers and professors. At Vassar, voicing a pro-Israel view brands you a fascist, a racist, a colonialist, and morally compromised. The intolerant atmosphere suppresses freedom of expression, constructive debate is impossible, and conformity to an anti-Israel orthodoxy is demanded. 
Unfortunately, at Vassar, criticism of Israel often crosses the line into anti-Semitism. 
Although there is zero tolerance for racist, homophobic, or sexist hate speech or activity on campus, Vassar tolerates anti-Semitic hate speech. 
I’m not talking about legitimate criticism of Israel, its policies, and its government. According to the U.S. State Department, criticism becomes anti-Semitic when it satisfies one or more of the following: It demonizes Israel (calling it “apartheid,” “Nazi,” or “the worst human rights abuser in the world,” or exaggerating Israel’s actions out of all sensible proportion); it delegitimizes Israel (claiming that it has no right to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people); it holds Israel to a double standard of behavior, a standard higher than for any other nation (singling out Israel in the United Nations for human rights abuses while ignoring China, Iran, Cuba, and Syria or accusing Israel of mass killing of civilians in Gaza while ignoring Hamas’s use of human shields). Historically, anti-Semitism was directed at individual Jews. Today, it is directed toward the Jewish state. 
There are numerous examples of anti-Semitism at Vassar College, often promoted by Vassar’s academic departments. Here are just a few: ...

Read the rest here.