While it may seem like a new phenomenon, the cultivation of anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel on North American campuses has been ongoing for decades.
Atara Beck, senior writer at United with Israel, recently wrote about using anti-Semitic activities on college campuses as an indicator of the kind of world being created for young people who will become the parents and political leaders in the future.
While the rising tide of overt anti-Semitism and hate crimes against Jews on college campuses feels new, I can attest to the fact that the Muslim world has been purposefully engaging with college students to cultivate hatred of Jews and, by extension, the sovereign Jewish state of Israel, for decades.
College was a long-held dream of mine, but I was 26 before I began my university studies in earnest. Excited and committed, I registered for classes and discovered that the first day of school was Yom Kippur. Raised as a completely assimilated Reform Jew in Catholic countries in Asia and Europe, even *I* knew that all Jews were supposed to be fasting and praying for God’s mercy and forgiveness in a synagogue on Yom Kippur, no matter how loosely affiliated with Jewish religious practices!
That day in 1982, I compromised, going to one class, and then finding the local synagogue to observe Yom Kippur for what remained of the most solemn day of the Jewish year. That’s where I met the Jewish university president. He explained to me that there once had been an active Jewish Student Union and a significant Jewish presence on campus, which would have ensured the Jewish holy days were observed, but as far as he knew, the organization either was no longer in existence or not active.
And that’s how I became the president of the Jewish Student Union at the University of Oregon in the 1980s. With no one to object, I appointed myself and established a lecture and film series, educational programs, Jewish holiday celebrations, and promoted “study abroad” programs in Israel.
After I reactivated the dormant Jewish Student Union, there came to be a Muslim Student Association.
The group’s leader, from Bahrain, didn’t seem like a student to me. He was too old – a grown man – and never seemed to attend classes. His “office” was “The Fishbowl,” as the student union building was called, so named after the rounded glass walls of the cafeteria. Along with his team, who also appeared too old and too under-engaged in studies to be students, these Muslim Arabs were always present, staffing a table in The Fishbowl with anti-Semitic literature, including The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Professionally printed posters claimed Israel was guilty of genocide in blood-dripping red letters. I met the MSA leader for coffee in his “office” at The Fishbowl and confronted him about the lies his group promoted. He just laughed at me and said, “Of course I know it’s not true. And you know it’s not true. But most of these American students don’t know it’s not true. And I’m here to reach them.”
This Muslim Arab posing as a student leader was a professional organizer sent to an American college campus to incite hatred against Jews, to spread lies about Jews and Israel, and to garner sympathy for their political ideology. Who paid them to register as students in Small Town (largely Christian) USA, openly inciting hatred of Jews and delegitimizing the sovereign Jewish state of Israel?
More than 30 years ago, Muslim Arabs were on American college campuses, playing on the liberal sympathies of American college students – the parents of today’s college students – Jews who voted for Obama, who are embarrassed to be Jewish or support Israel, who believe the lies they learned at school.
Now that we see blatant, “politically correct” anti-Semitism throughout society – in governments, international institutions and academia – we need to do all we can to help students fight for truthful and accurate curricula, intellectual honesty, free speech, academic integrity, ethical behavior, and pluralistic democratic values that include human rights for everyone, including Jews and Israelis, on our college campuses. We are, already, at least one generation behind recognizing the enemy among us.