Those of us who have not been hanging around US college campuses lately have no idea of the degree to which anti-Israel activities and discourse permeate the political atmosphere, especially where there are active chapters of groups like the Muslim Student Association, Students for Justice in Palestine, etc.
Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, a Lecturer in Hebrew at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus in Pediatrics at UCLA, have attacked it head on, arguing that the over-the-top hatred of Israel constitutes antisemitism, which directly harms Jewish students. From their AMCHA Initiative website:
In June 2009, Tammi filed a Title VI complaint under the 1964 U.S. Civil Rights Law that alleges that anti-Israel and anti-Jewish discourse and behavior in classrooms and at university-sponsored events had resulted in the intellectual and emotional harassment and intimidation of Jewish students at UC Santa Cruz and violated federal anti-discrimination laws. Her complaint, the first of its kind, is now being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education.
They are now engaged in a dispute with the administration of CSU Northridge about a “boycott Israel resource page” maintained by Mathematics Professor David Klein on the University’s server and linked to Klein’s faculty page.
For example, here is a snippet from Klein’s page, under the heading “Israel is the most racist state in the world at this time:”
Zionism calls for a Jewish state. Israel defines Jewishness, in part, in genetic terms. A person is legally Jewish if his or her mother is Jewish, regardless of place of birth or religious belief. Israel is an apartheid state that systematically discriminates against the indigenous population, enforcing, for example, Jewish-only buses and Jewish-only roads. The result of Israeli state policies has been a 63 year program of ethnic cleansing, including expulsion of the Palestinian population, military occupation, and mass murder.
Almost every proposition in the above is false.
1. Israel is a Jewish state like France is a French state and ‘Palestine’ would be a ‘Palestinian’ one. For comparison, the proposed constitution for ‘Palestine’ adds that Islam is its official religion and Islamic shari’a the main source of legislation. Israel does not have an ‘official’ or state religion and its legal system is not based on Judaism.
2. There is no apartheid in Israel and the Palestinian Arabs are no more indigenous than Zionist Jews.
3. There are no Jewish-only buses or roads. There are limitations on access to Israeli buses and roads placed on Arab residents of the territories for security reasons, but they are not race-based. Israeli Arabs are free to use them.
4. Most of the Arabs that fled Israel in 1948 were not expelled. On the other hand, all of the Jewish population of eastern Jerusalem were kicked out at gunpoint, and many of the residents of Gush Etzion in Judea were massacred by the Jordanian army.
5. There has been no mass murder of Arabs by Jews, and today more than 95% of the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are governed by the Palestinian Authority, not Israel (all of Gaza is controlled by the genocidally antisemitic Hamas).
6. The Palestinian Arab population in Judea, Samaria and Gaza has more than doubled since 1990. This is evidence of mass murder and ethnic cleansing?
Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith argue that Klein’s pages are antisemitic, and that his placing this kind of material on a CSUN server is misuse of University facilities.
I am not going to rehearse the argument, which I have made here, that extreme Israel-hatred is antisemitism by another name.
It’s true, but it doesn’t matter.
Advocating the destruction of a nation on the basis of lies and distortions — for example, the wholly inappropriate application of the concept of ‘apartheid’ — is no less vile than doing the same to individuals.
Accusing a nation of mass murder and ethnic cleansing that did not happen is no less vile than doing the same to individuals.
Calling for a boycott of a nation unless it agrees to commit suicide by admitting 5 million hostiles who claim to be descendants of refugees is vile, period.
Klein and others like him often concentrate on Israel to the exclusion of other issues. One would think that someone who worries about mass murder in the Middle East would note such actual mass murderers like Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez, or Saddam Hussein. He does not. Only Israel and (to a lesser extent) the US merit discussion.
The irrational, obsessive, unbalanced, excessive, fanatical hatred of a nation that characterizes a person like Klein is a form of mental illness that attacks and destroys the moral sense found in a normal individual. En masse, it is a mass psychosis. In academia, it is an endemic mass psychosis.
The distinction between antisemitism and radical anti-Zionism is a red herring. Vicious, murderous, irrational hatred is evil and must be unacceptable in civilized society, regardless of whether it is directed at individuals or nations.
David Klein is supported by the interim president of CSUN, Harry Hellenbrand, who has written a remarkably incoherent response to Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith, in which he suggests that they support Israel because of “God’s covenant” and the Holocaust, and accuses them of trying to impose ‘censorship’.
All of the above is nonsense. Censorship is not an issue; Klein can say whatever he wants in public, only not paid for by California taxpayers and on a website bearing the name of the state university. And speaking of God, only He knows where Klein found appeals to the Bible or the Holocaust in Rossman-Benjamin and Beckwith’s letters.
Hellenbrand isn’t a disinterested administrator. In December he joined Klein as a signatory (along with Fresno’s own anti-Israel power couple Vida Samiian and Sasan Fayazmanesh) on a petition against restarting the CSU system’s study program in Israel, which had been halted during the Second Intifada.
It wasn’t a bad idea to stop the program in 2002, when a number of American citizens were killed by Arab terrorists for being in the wrong pizza parlor or bus at the wrong time.
The petition suggested that going to Israel today was dangerous for American citizens, and cited the cases of Rachel Corrie and Furkan Dogan, the Turkish-American who was among the IHH thugs killed on the Mavi Marmara.
In other words, Klein and friends see no essential difference between the victims of anti-civilian terrorism and those hurt accidentally while taking part in activities intended to interfere with IDF operations.
Such are those that we trust to teach our children!