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Saturday, March 28, 2015

#UCLA student is latest victim of campus #AntiSemitism @CNN

54% of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing ant-Semitism on campus during the six months of September 2013-March 2014. Our survey covered 1,157 Jewish students on 55 campuses.

UCLA student is latest victim of anti-Semitism on campus

Rachel Beyda, a UCLA student, was initially turned down for a student government post after questions were raised about whether her Jewish faith would affect her impartiality.
Rachel Beyda, a UCLA student, was initially turned down for a student government post after questions were raised about whether her Jewish faith would affect her impartiality.
(CNN)The story of the Jews in the United States is a testament to "American exceptionalism" and stands in contrast to a long history of discrimination and pariah status in Europe and Muslim lands. In fact, the economic prosperity and social standing of America's Jews shows that generally they have fared better than many other minorities. 
This positive record is a fulfillment of the assurance given to the Newport, Rhode Island, Hebrew Congregation in 1790 by President George Washington: "It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States ... gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance." Since then, American Jews have been appointed and elected to public offices as governors, senators, mayors, Cabinet officers and in the military, and today, most American adults are unaware of and don't seem to care who's Jewish.

Barry Kosmin
Thus it comes as a shock when at the University of California Los Angeles, a Jewish woman student applicant for the Student Council's Judicial Board is initially rejected after being asked: "Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view?" According to The New York Times, the discussion that followed had "seemed to echo the kind of questions, prejudices and tropes -- particularly about divided loyalties -- that have plagued Jews across the globe for centuries."

The minutes and video of the event suggest some student leaders seemed to be auditioning for the Salem witch trials and others for jobs as political commissars in Communist North Korea. And in February, at another University of California campus in Davis, Jewish students opposed to a Student Council resolution advocating a boycott of Israel were heckled by cries of "Allahu Akbar" and a Jewish fraternity house was daubed with a swastika.

Chancellor Gene Block of UCLA called the dust up on his campus a "teachable moment." Yes, agreed. It seems UCLA's diverse body of students requires remedial classes in civics. Would UCLA students consider it appropriate to ask U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan similarly hostile and demeaning questions?

Apparently it's necessary for the university to teach its student leadership that the U.S. Constitution bans religious tests for public office. While they are at it, they also can inform them that the Bill of Rights assures freedom of religion, speech and assembly to all citizens.  California's university administrators might need to be reminded that Title 6 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to all Americans, and they have an obligation to ensure equal educational opportunity for all students. This includes, among other things, promptly and effectively addressing certain hostile environments.

As for the UC Davis students, they need to learn that support for Israel is a legitimate American tradition. A century ago, Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis asserted: "Zionism is the Pilgrim inspiration and impulse all over again ... to be good Americans, we must be better Jews, and to be better Jews, we must become Zionists." Students are of course free to disagree with Brandeis but not to harass or intimidate Jews who support his argument.

The events in California might be regarded as isolated incidents and youthful excesses of the type that has always marked campus life. Except of course that is not true. This type of hatred, stereotyping and bias is a worrying new development that suggests a generational problem.

In our recent study, my Trinity College colleague, Ariela Keysar, and I found that 54% of Jewish students reported experiencing or witnessing ant-Semitism on campus during the six months of September 2013-March 2014. Our survey covered 1,157 Jewish students on 55 campuses. The patterns and high rates of anti-Semitism that were reported were surprising. Another finding was that female students were more likely than males (58% versus 51%) to report anti-Semitism. Jewish women seem more vulnerable on campus today.

America's universities need to foster American exceptionalism and values. They should take special care to avoid following current "European fashion trends." The situation in France today demonstrates the price of failing to nip youthful extremism in the bud.

Twenty years ago, complaints by Jewish students in Paris that they were subject to anti-Semitism from a strange coalition of Marxist, fascist and Islamist groups were ignored by complacent university and government officials.

The dangerous streets of Paris are witness to what results when a country ignores problems and panders to extremist opinions. The army is currently deployed across France to protect synagogues and Jewish community buildings. But history has taught us what begins with the Jews doesn't end with the Jews. The French army also has to defend the nation's shopping malls, government buildings and of course, its cartoonists.

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UCLA student is latest victim of campus anti-Semitism - CNN.com

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

Jeffrey Goldberg’s excellent piece in The Atlantic on Jews and their future in Europe.  It’s not 1933, but it’s definitely not pretty.

For half a century, memories of the Holocaust limited anti-Semitism on the Continent. That period has ended—the recent fatal attacks in Paris and Copenhagen are merely the latest examples of rising violence against Jews. Renewed vitriol among right-wing fascists and new threats from radicalised Islamists have created a crisis, confronting Jews with an agonizing choice.

Is It Time for the Jews to Leave Europe?

“All comes from the Jew; all returns to the Jew.”
— Édouard Drumont (1844–1917), founder of the Anti-Semitic League of France
I. The Scourge of Our Time
The French philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, the son of Holocaust survivors, is an accomplished, even gifted, pessimist. To his disciples, he is a Jewish Zola, accusing France’s bien-pensant intellectual class of complicity in its own suicide. To his foes, he is a reactionary whose nostalgia for a fairy-tale French past is induced by an irrational fear of Muslims. Finkielkraut’s cast of mind is generally dark, but when we met in Paris in early January, two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, he was positively grim.
“My French identity is reinforced by the very large number of people who openly declare, often now with violence, their hostility to French values and culture,” he said. “I live in a strange place. There is so much guilt and so much worry.” We were seated at a table in his apartment, near the Luxembourg Gardens. I had come to discuss with him the precarious future of French Jewry, but, as the hunt for theCharlie Hebdo killers seemed to be reaching its conclusion, we had become fixated on the television.
Finkielkraut sees himself as an alienated man of the left. He says he loathes both radical Islamism and its most ferocious French critic, Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s extreme right-wing—and once openly anti-Semitic—National Front party. But he has lately come to find radical Islamism to be a more immediate, even existential, threat to France than the National Front. “I don’t trust Le Pen. I think there is real violence in her,” he told me. “But she is so successful because there actually is a problem of Islam in France, and until now she has been the only one to dare say it.”
Suddenly, there was news: a kosher supermarket in Porte de Vincennes, in eastern Paris, had come under attack. “Of course,” Finkielkraut said. “The Jews.” Even before anti-Semitic riots broke out in France last summer, Finkielkraut had become preoccupied with the well-being of France’s Jews.
We knew nothing about this new attack—except that we already knew everything. “People don’t defend the Jews as we expected to be defended,” he said. “It would be easier for the left to defend the Jews if the attackers were white and rightists.”
I asked him a very old Jewish question: Do you have a bag packed?
“We should not leave,” he said, “but maybe for our children or grandchildren there will be no choice.”
Reports suggested that a number of people were dead at the market. I said goodbye, and took the Métro to Porte de Vincennes. Stations near the market were closed, so I walked through neighborhoods crowded with police. Sirens echoed through the streets. Teenagers gathered by the barricades, taking selfies. No one had much information. One young man, however, said of the victims, “It’s just the Feuj.” Feuj, an inversion of Juif—“Jew”—is often used as a slur.
I located an acquaintance, a man who volunteers with the Jewish Community Security Service, a national organization founded after a synagogue bombing in 1980, to protect Jewish institutions from anti-Semitic attack. “Supermarkets now,” he said bleakly. We made our way closer to the forward police line, and heard volleys of gunfire. The police had raided the market; the suspect, Amedy Coulibaly, we soon heard, was dead. So were four Jews he had murdered. They had been shopping for the Sabbath when he entered the market and started shooting.
France’s 475,000 Jews represent less than 1 percent of the country’s population. Yet last year, according to the French Interior Ministry, 51 percent of all racist attacks targeted Jews. The statistics in other countries, including Great Britain, are similarly dismal. In 2014, Jews in Europe were murdered, raped, beaten, stalked, chased, harassed, spat on, and insulted for being Jewish. Sale Juif—“dirty Jew”—rang in the streets, as did “Death to the Jews,” and “Jews to the gas.”
The epithet dirty Jew, Zola wrote in “J’Accuse …!,” was the “scourge of our time.” “J’Accuse …!” was published in 1898.


The Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket in the Porte de Vincennes neighborhood of Paris in the aftermath of the January 9 attack that killed four Jews

The resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe is not—or should not be—a surprise.

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