(Note: The writer is addressing the question, “Have U.S. universities become hotbeds of anti-Semitism by backing boycotts of Israel?”)
BALTIMORE — Have many of our universities have become hotbeds of anti-Semitism by backing academic boycotts of Israel and siding with the Palestinians?
Abundant evidence shows they have.
In a development directly related to boycotts, anti-Semitic incidents on U.S. college campuses continued to grow in 2018, with at least 384 recorded incidents in the first half of this year, according to a new report that also shows the number of genocidal expressions towards Jews hit new highs on campuses.
The campaign for an academic boycott of Israel was launched in 2004 by a group of Palestinian academics that formed the Palestinian campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) as part of the larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.
The campaign calls for international pressure on Israel, in this case against Israeli academic institutions, all of which are said by PACBI to be implicated in the perpetuation of Israeli occupation, to achieve BDS goals.
Since then, proposals for academic boycotts of particular Israeli universities and academics have been made by academics and organizations in Palestine, the United States, the United Kingdom and other countries.
The goal of the proposed academic boycotts is to isolate Israel to force a change in that nation’s policies toward the Palestinians, which proponents contend are discriminatory and oppressive, including oppressing the academic freedom of Palestinians.
Meanwhile, a report from an organization named the AMCHA Initiative, which tracks hate groups that paint Nazi swastikas on campus buildings and call for the destruction of the Jewish people, found that genocidal expression rose a dramatic 75 percent over the past year.
Such genocidal expression rose a dramatic 75 percent over the past year, according to the AMCHA report, which noted such incidents make universities hostile to Jewish students.
“Suppressing speech and ostracizing and excluding Jewish and pro-Israel students from campus life were the most common features of Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents,” AMCHA found.
In other words, academic freedom for haters of Jews, but for not for Jews themselves.
At least 44 percent of the Israel-related conflicts on campus “involved behavior intended to silence expression, including disrupting classes, defacing lecture halls and attempts to block Israel-related events and trips to the Middle East,” the AMCHA report noted.
Seventy-six percent of recorded incidents against Jewish and pro-Israel students “involved behavior that directly and personally targeted students or groups for denigration or discrimination in order to ostracize and exclude them from campus life,” the report said.
Efforts to silent and exclude Jewish students on campus continued this year, following growing trends of past years, it added.
“Attempts to silence pro-Israel expression stayed relatively constant,” according to the report, while “incidents involving attempts to ostracize or exclude pro-Israel students and staff from campus life more than doubled.”
“Attempts to ostracize and exclude pro-Israel students and staff became much more flagrant” this year, according to the report.
“Recognizing that anti-Semitic incidents given equal weight in an audit may not have an equal impact on Jewish students, either individually or collectively, this study sought to go deeper than previous studies and look beyond the tallies to better understand how anti-Semitism affects American campuses today,” AMCHA noted.
“Our examination revealed that Israel-related anti-Semitic incidents were considerably more likely to contribute to a hostile environment for Jewish students than incidents involving classic anti-Semitism, and that anti-Israel campus activities are no longer intent on harming Israel, but increasingly, and alarmingly” intent on harming pro-Israel members of the campus community,” the organization noted.
Whitt Flora, an independent journalist, covered the White House for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch and was chief congressional correspondent for Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine. Readers may write him at 319 Shagbark Rd., Middle River, Md. 21220.