Like many universities in the US, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is experiencing problems with campus anti-Semitism. As usual, the instigators are the pro-Palestinian supporters who use tactics of disruption and intimidation against Jewish students who support Israel. Naturally, the Students for Justice in Palestine, a creation of radical UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, a Palestinian himself, is involved in the issue, as always, creating discord on campus. To its credit, the campus chapter of Students Supporting Israel is standing its ground.
So at the University of Illinois, we have a swastika show up on campus (We don’t know who placed it.) We have an anti-Israel presentation (at a housing staff meeting no less) that Jewish students complain was anti-Semitic, and we have the hapless student government having to waste time and resources debating the great question: Does anti-Zionism equate to anti-Semitism? In the midst of this, Chancellor Robert Jones has sent out a campus-wide missive condemning anti-Semitism. While the Students Supporting Israel has thanked Chancellor Jones for his statement, it has put the campus SJP chapter on the warpath. This article from the Daily Illini describes the situation.
First of all, it is the height of chutzpah to tell Jews that they cannot even define anti-Semitism, that is must be defined by their enemies or by third parties. It is not for the student government at the University of Illinois or any other university to determine what anti-Semitism is. While I would concede that not all criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic, those who rail against Zionism are all too often driven by Jew hatred. Most of the opposition to Israel is simply based on the surrounding Muslim world being unwilling to accept a Jewish (or any non-Muslim) state in its midst. Groups like SJP can deny their anti-Semitism all they want. They can point to their handful of Jewish misfit members all they want. They can align themselves with the misfit, leftist Jewish Voice for Peace all they want. The fact is that Jew hatred lies at the very root of this.
Across the nation, from campus chapter to campus chapter, SJP prefers to use disruption and bullying rather than engage pro-Israel students in dialogue or debate. I have personally witnessed and videotaped their antics at UC Irvine, where I taught part-time (1998-2016) over the past several years. The time is overdue when university presidents should adopt a zero -tolerance policy to thuggish behavior that seeks to intimidate and shut down the free speech rights of others. SJP should be banned from every campus in the country until it can demonstrate that is willing to play according to the rules of civilized discourse. If any SJP members don’t like their school’s policies or the statements made by chancellors like Robert Jones, let them find another school.
This episode is still playing out, and it can only be hoped that SJP and their minions will not be allowed to rule the day at the University of Illinois.