Vassar College saw an ugly event take place in early March in which two professors were the subject of protest and ridicule because they taught a class that involved travel to Israel and the West Bank.  One of the professors was forced, along with her students, to walk through a line of protesters holding posters and handing out leaflets calling on students to drop the class.

The details are set forth in my prior post, Anti-Israel academic boycott turns ugly at Vassar.

The two professors involved have confirmed the accuracy of my report:

An “open forum” was organized by the Vassar administration focused on the “ethics” of the class trip, and opened with a call by a Professor of English for the crowd to disregard “cardboard” notions of civility.

The crowd obliged, mocking and deriding the professors, Israel and Jewish students who stood up in defense.

Schneiderman wrote a blog entry describing the anti-Israel atmosphere:

… I was knocked off-center by a belligerent academic community dedicated to vilifying anyone who dares set foot in Israel.

Philip Weiss of Mondoweiss website, who is anti-Israel, also was stunned:

As Schneiderman said in her blogpost, rage against Israel was the theme….

…. the spirit of that young progressive space was that Israel is a blot on civilization, and boycott is right and necessary. If a student had gotten up and said, I love Israel, he or she would have been mocked and scorned into silence. Or bedevilled by finger-snapping—the percussive weapon of choice among some students, a sound that rises like crickets as students indicate their quiet approval of a statement.

I left the room as soon as the meeting ended. The clash felt too raw, and there was a racial element to the division (privileged Jews versus students of color). Vassar is not my community, and I didn’t want to say anything to make things worse.

Zachary Braiterman, Associate Professor of Religion at Syracuse University, draws an analogy to the Chinese Cultural Revolution practice of publicly shaming ideologically incorrect professors and students, Careful What You Sow — BDS At Vassar Gets Ugly (emphasis added):

I would have been skeptical about the little bit of reporting I’ve seen about this episode in more rightwing news media, except that it was confirmed by Mondoweiss, who was there. Jill Schneiderman, a professor of Earth Sciences at Vassar College was recently called to give public account about a planned trip to Israel and the West Bank to study water issues. After her classroom was picketed and her students intimidated, and she was basically called before “open forum” on the ethics of political activism, where Jewish students who spoke out were heckled by the large crowd of some 200 students (and faculty). Is this what BDS is going to look like? A kind of public shaming reminiscent of the Cultural Revolution? No “cardboard civility” at Vassar. And where’s Open Hillel? Even the intrepid anti-Israel, anti-Zionist Mondoweiss found the incident “unsettling.” He maintains that the ”belligerence might be necessary to a solution.” My bet is that this kind of hostility is going to rip out the guts of a university to no good effect. Kudos to Professor Schneiderman.

I think that’s right, and it’s happening on many campuses, often encouraged and with the support of faculty.

Where are the faculty and administrators at Vassar standing up and speaking out against what happened at the Cultural Revolutionary Open Forum?

Imagine if the raw crowd vitriol that night had been directed at a different group.

There would have been campus-wide teach-ins and a self-examination of what Vassar had become.

But since it was directed at Israel and its supporters, particularly Jewish students, all we hear are crickets.


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