San Diego State University Passes Resolution to Condemn Antisemitism

The student association at San Diego State University passed a resolution on April 12th to condemn antisemitism. The main concern of the university council was to amended the current language of the resolution to include what they referred to as “the three Ds”. The three Ds include delegitimization, demonization, and double standards regarding Israel as forms of antisemitism. The resolution passed with an overwhelming 18-4. The council first wanted to make clear that the resolution was not design to restrict any form of free speech, academic freedom or further form of social activism, but rather “its purpose is to define the line between civil, academic debate and hate speech”(Bermudez). I feel as though this is a very proactive way to combat antisemitism on college campus and further bring the conversation to light. Something else extremely interesting about this resolution is that it included a list of incidents of antisemitism that have happened on SDSU’s campus and at universities across the country. The President of the Students for Justice in Palestine, Mustafa Alemi, was ask to comment on the resolution and he stated that his main issue “is whether or not calling out Israel for human rights violations, criticizing Israel or supporting BDS should be classified as a form of antisemitism”(Bermudez).  This seems to be the big debate that we keep returning to; when does being critical become hatful? While I feel more confident that this resolution will provide a much clearer boundary between the line of hate speech and free speech based on it’s three Ds, it’s still unclear how effective it will be. The resolution encourages student associations on...

Hitler ‘Birthday Party’ Thrown at the University of Oregon

According to a local CBS station for Eugene, Oregon, a pair of self-proclaimed white nationalist men caused a campus uproar at the University of Oregon on the morning of April 20th as they attempted to celebrate the birthday of Adolf Hitler. Two men, Jimmy Marr and ‘Chad’, reportedly parked a swastika-emblazoned truck in the heart of campus while promoting a Holocaust denial film. On the tailgate of the truck was a message that read: “No more terror. No more war. America, stop being Israel’s whore” (News Staff). According to the Eugene Weekly, Jimmy Marr—owner of the truck—is well known as a racist and antisemite and his truck has repeatedly been seen around Oregon displaying messages such as “Jews Lies Matter” and “Trump: Do the White Thing” (Nguyen). When Marr and his friend appeared on campus to supposedly throw Hitler a ‘birthday party,’ officers did not engage the men, but members of the campus community were photographed shouting at the men and attempting to debate their presence. Rabbi Jack Melul—director of the Jewish educational and social group Akiva on campus—even sang “The Jewish people are still alive” in Hebrew while Marr and Chad were engaged in an argument with students. After about 45 minutes on campus, the pair voluntarily drove away and their leave was met with applause. According to campus police, the pair acted within the legal boundaries of free speech and their truck was parked legally. Despite the fact that there were no other physical ‘birthday parties’ thrown in Adolf Hitler’s honor, Forward reports that many neo-nazis took to the internet in celebration of the dictator’s birthday on...

Antisemitic fliers on Auburn’s campus

ABC affiliate TV news station WRBL in Columbus, Georgia reported on April 12 that a new hate group at Auburn University, calling itself the White Student Union, had put up fliers around the Auburn campus. The fliers bore messages such as “Will you disobey the anti-Christian, top secret, Noahide Laws?” Another poster had images claiming to be from a secretive anti-Christian, Jewish handbook. WRBL also claimed to have found the White Student Union’s website, which read “we expect to be able to find common ground with secular Arabs who oppose Zionism and Islamism, black people who are horrified by ghetto culture, and Asian Americans who have been victimized by diversity shakedowns.” These posters are intriguing because they seem to blend Christian identity based antisemitism with their discussion of the Noahide Laws. These laws do not mention Christianity but perhaps the implication of the flier is that there is something more to them than is commonly known? The posters also blend this older form of antisemitic rhetoric with newer types of rhetoric such as the idea of a Jewish conspiracy, as we have studied in class when learned about the protocols of the Elders of Zion. As is typical of many of the incidents documented on our blog, the people who posted the fliers are seeking anonymity. While many of the incidents we document are web based, and the perpetrators rely on that medium to remain unknown these perpetrators are using a physical medium to spread hate. Seeking anonymity when spreading hate is not new, but is perhaps more common with the advent of the web. Alleged hate group spreads...

Toronto University Students Adopt a Definition of Antisemitism

On April 4th, Marcy Oster of The Forward reported that the student union at the University of Toronto decided to adopt a definition of antisemitism to include the following: denial of the Jewish right to self-determination the application of double standards to the State of Israel the comparison of contemporary Israeli policies to that of the Nazis the use of symbols or imagery associated with classic anti-Semitic tropes This definition was put in place in response to the “shameful incidents to occur on campus this year.” When comparing these actions in Canada to those recently in the US, it is clear that the current climate of antisemitism is not as clear-cut as conceptualized by many. After Tennessee lawmakers proposed a bill designed to reduce hate speech on campus, The University of Tennessee- Knoxville claimed that hate speech was not a problem at their university. Categorizing and perceiving antisemitism during this changing time is becoming just as important and polarized as the acts themselves. A skewed understanding of the impact and presence of antisemitism has the ability to influence the public’s views of a nation or institution’s stability, as well as the opportunities for policy to be implemented, as seen in Tennessee. Additionally, this action at the Canadian university speaks to the controversy regarding Israel’s role in American antisemitism.  Distinguishing between a critique of Israeli policies and a demonization of Israel is extremely important when assessing the severity of hate acts.  By including Israel in their definition, the University of Toronto is setting a clear precedent for the types of actions that they condone. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-puts-effort-define-anti-semitism-campus-after-students-say-its-not-problem...

Michigan State Antisemitism

This week I was able to expand outside of my major and my normal group of friends and meet new people at Michigan State through an event we were selected to plan. Our event was successful but after while we were cleaning up I noticed some comments that were being made that were making the rest of the group feel extremely uncomfortable. The topic of religion was brought up and one of the members brought up certain things another one of the members on the team did that “made him seem Jewish.” He began to say parts of his ideas that were offensive and inappropriate. Myself and two other members of the group immediately stopped him and told him to stop talking. The conversation ended after that but the atmosphere in the room was set. These kinds of comments, although to the person saying them might come off as “offhand” or “casual” has a big impact and can have serious effects. Not only is it singling a person out and using stereotypes to try to label the person, it is creating a competitive relationship that is trying to imply there are two different sides to be on. These kind of comments also allow people with more dangerous intentions to attempt to justify their thoughts and potential actions (an example being the man calling in the bomb threats). Words, whether someone is trying to be funny or get attention, does hold serious consequences to others and the big picture.  ...

Tennessee Lawmakers Will Not Define Antisemitism Amid Student Concerns

On Wednesday April 5th, University of Tennessee-Knoxville students testified that hate speech was “not a problem” at their school. This comes after Tennessee lawmakers were in the midst of proposing a new definition for antisemitism. Because of the testimonies from students, the lawmakers are now delaying until next year. The proposal is known as the “Antisemitism Awareness Act or House Bill 885” and was responding “to a social media debate that erupted last fall over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some UT-Knoxville students say they received anti-Semitic comments”. However senior and past president of the Jewish organization Hillel, Jordan Schipowitz, told lawmakers that it “didn’t match up with what she’d seen”. Schipowitz told lawmakers, “”I’ve never experienced anti-Semitism personally on my campus, so when I had heard that people were making comments as to there being an anti-Semitic climate on my campus, it was extremely shocking”. According to Ken Marcus, president of The Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, he said “a clear definition of antisemitism would head off future disputes”. This debate for me personally makes no sense and is very confusing. Although the president of Hillel does not experience antisemitism herself, it does not mean that her fellow students and peers do not. One person’s experience does not define a whole group of people. I think making a clear definition would help future acts of antisemtism so the school can clearly layout to a student that their behavior is antisemitic. In this current political climate, more education surrounding antisemitism is needed and this bill could have helped spread more awareness. http://nashvillepublicradio.org/post/tennessee-puts-effort-define-anti-semitism-campus-after-students-say-its-not-problem   Sisk, Chas. “Tennessee Puts...