Mikos Fabersunne: Conflating campus activism with anti-Semitism
Thomas Elias, as he has done in past columns, conflates campus activism directed against Israel with anti-Semitism (Sept. 7).
He represents the movement of Zionism, which from the late 19th century has promoted founding a Jewish state in Palestine, and since the 1920s has recognized that doing so requires expelling the Arab inhabitants and taking their land [see Ze’ev Jabotinsky (1923) and David Ben Gurion (1938)]. There’s the rub.
Rather than acknowledging that fact, Israeli apologists like Elias paint the Palestinians, who resist these acts of ethnic cleansing, as anti-Jewish. It is the trump card played to freeze thought and debate in the U.S. about what is happening to the Palestinians.
The AMCHA Initiative, cited by Elias, is an NGO committed to counter any campus criticism of Israel. It has been discredited by its numerous failed attempts to shut down California college campus protests of Israel and even discussions of Israel’s history and its current behavior. AMCHA in unfounded lawsuits has claimed that Jewish students are exposed to a hostile environment and asserts that campus protests directed at Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians have been broadly aimed at those students because they are Jewish. (“The Palestine Exception to Free Speech — A Movement Under Attack in the U.S.” a report by Palestine Legal, https://palestinelegal.org).
While he cites AMCHA as evidence of campus anti-Semitism, Elias ignores the results of interviews with 66 Jewish students across five California campuses published in the 2017 Stanford University study, “Safe and on the Sidelines: Jewish Students and the Israel-Palestine Conflict on Campus,” by the Research Group of the Concentration in Education and Jewish Studies. The Research Group found that the impression given in various media accounts of Jewish students being under attack by campus activists is not the reality.
“Contrary to widely shared impressions, we found a picture of campus life that is neither threatening nor alarmist.” Jewish students reported feeling comfortable on their campuses and felt safe. “Students reject the conflation of Jewish with Israel … They chafe at assumption that they, as Jews, necessarily support Israeli policies … They express similar discomfort with the expectation that all Jews should be Zionists.”
The Union would be wise to fact-check claims made by Elias in his future submittals.
Mikos Fabersunne lives in Nevada City.
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