By Tom Elias
There’s been a three-month hiatus in the growing phenomenon of anti-Semitism on California’s college and university campuses, but students and former students were nevertheless involved in some of the most blatant and violent of the spring and summer’s hate crimes again Jews.
Example A was John T. Earnest, the shooter who apparently killed one and injured three others in the Chabad of Poway rampage late last April. While on campus, Earnest, a sometime student at Cal State San Marcos, picked up some ideas he later used in a rambling manifesto attempting to justify his offenses. Like anti-Semites on other campuses, those at San Marcos in north San Diego County like to say they don’t hate Jews, but are merely anti-Zionist, meaning they want Jews to be just about the only people on earth not entitled to their own country.
That’s the same tune spouted by the partially terrorist-funded movement called Boycott, Divest and Sanction, which seeks an end to the state of Israel, its adherents often spouting a popular Palestinian nationalist slogan, “From the river to the sea.” That one refers to Palestinians not wanting to control just the lands now known as the West Bank and Gaza, but all of Israel, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
The BDS movement has been strong on some of California’s most prominent campuses, including UCLA, Stanford University, UC Davis, UC Berkeley and San Francisco State. It spurred faux roadblocks where the campus group Students for Justice in Palestine (partially funded by the Hamas terror organization that controls the unoccupied city of Gaza) stopped Jewish students walking on the Berkeley campus with cardboard fake submachine guns. It caused sympathizers at UCLA to try to deny a student government seat to a properly elected Jewish woman, claiming no Jew can be fair – an anti-Semitic statement on its face. It inspired smearing Nazi-style swastikas on buildings and walls at Davis and moved a Stanford dormitory resident assistant to threat violence against Israelis and other Jewish students. And it often leads a San Francisco State professor to post BDS material on her school’s official website.
BDS caused an attempt by Pomona College faculty to cancel the school’s exchange program with the University of Haifa, the most diverse college in Israel, with an enrollment almost half Arab, pretty much matching the populace of that picturesque, usually peaceful seaside city. When the campus president vetoed this, the faculty voted to censure him.
It all makes some California campuses among the most hostile to Jewish students, who for the most part are still not intimidated from attending.
Prospects are that this year will see new incidents and further dissemination of obvious falsehoods, like the BDS canard that Israel is an apartheid state, despite the fact it has taken in thousands of black Ethiopian Jews and despite studies by Arab scholars finding Israeli Arabs enjoy more political and economic freedom than their ethnic brethren anywhere else in the Middle East.
A midsummer U.S. Department of Justice conference on anti-Semitism reached five conclusions supporting that prospect. It said campus anti-Semitism is increasing “at an alarming rate.” It found the most common forms of campus anti-Semitism are Israel-related, denying many Jewish students the “ability to…fully participate in campus life.” It found that faculty are “major contributors to campus anti-Semitism.” And it said most university presidents and deans “have not afforded Jewish students equal protection to their peers from (threatening) behavior.”
Much of the inaction stems from a lack of understanding of the link between Jews and the homeland that has been part of Jewish rituals and liturgy for more than 2,500 years.
Wrote Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Kingdom, “Uniquely, Jewish religion and nationhood coincide… Jewishness is not a mere ethnicity, a form of culture. In Israel, Jews are a walking lexicon of almost every ethnicity under the sun, so it’s not ethnicity. Jewish nationhood is a matter of religious vocation…”
Which means that those who say anti-Zionism is not necessarily anti-Semitism don’t get it. But lack of understanding has never deterred anti-Semites. Rather, it often inspires them to greater viciousness and violence.
And there are few signs things will improve on campuses in California or elsewhere in the new academic year.
Email Thomas Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough, The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net