“the past two years have transformed a prestigious institution into a parody ripe for ridicule”
For the past two years we have been reporting on extreme anti-Israelism veering into anti-Semitism at Vassar College, in Poughkeepsie, NY.
We have relentlessly documented a series of shocking events. Among other things, in 2014 Jewish students who stood up at a campus-wide forumwere mocked and jeered by a raucous crowd of students and faculty, a class was picketed and a professor forced to cross a picket line of ululating students because the course involved a trip to Israel (and the West Bank), Students for Justice in Palestine posted a Nazi cartoon on social media, and pro-Israel displays were vandalized.
Just recently, a Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) resolution campaign kick-off by SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace, followed by a faculty-sponsored event at which Israel was accused of engaging in an experiment to “stunt” Palestinian bodies, led to anti-Semitic messages on campus Yik-Yak. Just recently, SJP sold t-shirts honoring Palestinian airplane hijacker Leila Khalid.
The reaction from the Vassar President to alumni complaints and concerns was to blame the messenger, accusing “online publications” and “social media” of mischaracterizing the campus atmosphere.
The Vassar administration is going to have some more explaining to do to alumni, parents and prospective students after an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal tonight, which includes a link to Legal Insurrection’s reporting about a recent speech by Rutgers Associate Professor Jasbir Puar.
The authors are two prestigious academics. Mark Yudof is former president of the University of California, and chairman of the Academic Engagement Network, where Kenneth Waltzer, professor of history emeritus at Michigan State University, is the executive director. AEN opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel and promotes freedom of speech on college campuses.
Here is an excerpt — read the whole thing.
Anti-Israel sentiment mixed with age-old anti-Semitism has reached a fever pitch at Vassar College. It is time that faculty and administrators take a stand against this toxic brew on behalf of academic values.
The campus of this private liberal-arts college in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has experienced more than its share of anti-Israel activity. In the spring of 2014, the boycott of a course in the International Studies Program—because it involved a trip to Israel—included heckling students and picketing the class. During the fall of 2015, attempts were made to boycott Sabra hummus because the maker of this popular food is partly owned by an Israeli food company.
The most recent incident was a talk on Feb. 3 by Jasbir Puar, a Rutgers associate professor of women’s and gender studies. The address, “Inhumanist Biopolitics: How Palestine Matters,” was sponsored by eight Vassar departments and programs, including Jewish Studies and American Studies.
Ms. Puar began by exhorting the students to support a boycott of Israel as part of “armed” resistance. As reported by several in attendance at the speech—the professor introducing her requested that it not be recorded—Ms. Puar passed on vicious lies that Israel had “mined for organs for scientific research” from dead Palestinians—updating the medieval blood libel against Jews—and accused Israelis of attempting to give Palestinians the “bare minimum for survival” as part of a medical “experiment.”
When asked, she agreed with a questioner that Israeli treatment of Palestinians amounted to genocide but objected to the term itself, which she said was too “tethered to the Holocaust.”
Ms. Puar’s speech was co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, yet faculty members of the program remained silent in the audience during the event. This is a testament to the spell that anti-Israel dogma, no matter its veracity, has spread over the campus.
Wild charges against Israel have often been aired on U.S. campuses over the past several years, and their moral perversity pointed out. But Ms. Puar’s calumnies reached a new low. She spoke of Jews deliberately starving Palestinians, “stunting” and “maiming” a population. The false accusation that a people, some of whose members were experimented on at Auschwitz, are today experimenting on others is a disgrace.
Yet characterizing Israel and Zionism in ways that anti-Semites formerly characterized Jews has become a stock in trade among anti-Israeli activists on college campuses. And it exposes the real motivation of those who profess to criticize only the Israeli government’s policies with regard to the West Bank, not Jews themselves.
Now there is a resolution before the Vassar student union, in part seeking a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s, on the grounds that the company—founded by two Jews—sells ice-cream “transported on Jewish-only roads to be sold in Jewish-only settlements.” This is part of a broader divest-from-Israel resolution to be voted on this spring, which also includes other U.S. companies.
These events are transforming a prestigious institution into a parody ripe for ridicule—a place embarrassing to prominent alumni and worrisome for prospective Jewish students.
[Featured Image: Cropped version of Nazi Poster posted on social media by Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine.]