I gave the following remarks at Claremont Students for Israel’s final event of the 2014-2015 year. It was part of David Horowitz’s “Jew-Hatred on Campus” campaign.
It’s an honor to speak on behalf of CAMERA, Claremont Students for Israel, and the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Dr. Cravatts and I shared the floor on a similar panel nearly two months ago, which was an extraordinary experience and I could not be more thankful for the opportunity.
Part of the reason why I was included on this panel is because I have seen this fight take place on campus and in the real world. I was physically assaulted at an anti-Israel rally in front of the Israeli Consulate in New York City last summer, while simultaneously called a baby killer and a kike. That same rally was co-sponsored by Students for Justice in Palestine groups based in New York City.
Furthermore, my tenure as President of Claremont Students for Israel oversaw the highest levels of Jew-hatred on these campuses in the four years I’ve been a student here. It has been horrifying and disturbing, and I took it upon myself to raise awareness of these issues because I expect them to get worse after I graduate in less than three weeks.
I say this for the following reasons: We suspect that Students for Justice in Palestine will try bringing a BDS resolution to Pitzer next year. Many members of SJP have now been elected to next year’s senate. Furthermore, this year’s senate refused to audit the group following allegations that it violated college policy by erecting an anti-Semitic apartheid wall despite the Senate’s and the administration’s demands not to do so. It also waged lawfare against the administration as a means of keeping the administration at bay while this monstrosity was built in front of McConnell.
Students for Justice in Palestine is not only more emboldened and more recognizable on these campuses, but it assumes that it can get away with low forms of bigotry. This includes calling Jewish students baby-killers and projecting this Jew-hating narrative of the apartheid Jewish state when nothing is farther from the truth. I can only expect the anti-Semitic bigotry to crescendo, because history has a funny way of dictating such patterns.
Much of the problems that I have noticed about the rise of anti-Semitism actually don’t come from the anti-Semites themselves, but rather the Jewish community itself. There is an absence of perspective and an absence of pride of being Jewish as a result of the supposedly liberal college environment that preaches postmodernism, multiculturalism, and a rejection of what they call the oppressors. These same ideologues have a penchant for categorizing the Jewish community under the category of white people, which explains how groups like J Street and SJP thrive in these environments because they perpetuate the narrative of the white European Jew “oppressing” the indigenous Palestinian. A preposterous allegation if ever there was one.
As a consequence of such a lack of cultural and ethnic pride, the Jewish people remain divided between their identity and their politics, choosing the latter for simplicity’s sake and keeping their Jewish heritage on the backburner. Since we don’t have a concerted effort to make a loud and proud presence on campuses due to our increasingly wider divisions, we cannot band together and combat both the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic nature of individuals and groups on campus.
Furthermore, we have a difficult time combatting the flagrant charges levied against the Jewish state in a manner that caters to the freedom-loving, justice-seeking Jewish student. Pro-Israel groups have a futile tendency to keep talking about Israel’s quest for peace and objectively democratic character, but they will not passionately object the blacklisting of the Zionist movement. Ze’ev Jabotinsky once said, “We hold that Zionism is moral and just. And since it is moral and just, justice must be done.” Zionism has always been about fighting for freedom and for redemption. The necessity of the Jewish state came out of a desire to protect Jews from the inherent anti-Semitism of the Europeans and eventually from the Arab world. In addition, the story of Zionism would arguably be a liberal goldmine. An indigenous people returning to their homeland after 2,000 years of exile, fighting back against colonial occupiers in order to reestablish the first sovereign state since 37 BCE? It’s a story of triumph, freedom, and liberty.
However, it’s the self-proclaimed liberal zealots who revise Zionism’s history in order to fit a ridiculous narrative that perpetuates Jew-hatred. Even Jews have taken part in this anti-Zionist blacklist, using their Jewish identity as a justification for acquiring a moral high ground. I guess feeding the crocodile in order to save yourself is more rational than defending your own.
In my mind, there are two ways to combat Jew-hatred on campus.
One is creating a stronger, united front amongst the Jewish community. Other minority groups on campus have a united front from where they launch joint efforts to raise awareness to issues of racism on college campuses. If the Jewish community did something similar and stopped these petty arguments to unite against anti-Semitism, then we would have a better chance of getting things done.
Second, we need to wage lawfare on the college administrations. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, Jewish students have protections on college campuses, so if any administration discriminates or allows discrimination of Jews to continue without opposition, they are liable under federal law to prosecution that could strip them of federal funds. We should exercise these rights.
The fight has been long and tiresome, and I’ve spent the last two years making sense of these trends. My hope is that in the future, I can make more of a difference in altering the course of anti-Semitic bigotry on campus. I look forward to working under Dr. Jacobs in late May and assisting Americans for Peace and Tolerance in its quest to uphold the values of tolerance and coexistence that our nation was founded upon.
I hope that the Claremont Jewish community will come closer together next year in hopes of combatting SJP more so. You all have the power to turn the tide of the campus climate, and you have so far done an amazing job in making a difference. But there is much more to be done, and I am confident that you exercise the right judgment and use the right channels to turn the tide and project the Zionist narrative of freedom higher than ever before. I hope the clip we’ll screen will galvanize you to uphold our messages of freedom and justice. We are no longer Jews with trembling knees; we are fighters with a mission to ensure our place in the greater community. It has been an honor to walk amongst you in the last four years, and I wish you all the best in making the Jewish community here stronger.