The Volokh Conspiracy/Washington Post..
26 January '16..
Consider the following incidents described below that have reached my inbox or social media accounts over the past two weeks or so:
1. In the wake of a controversy over whether French Jews should wear kippot (male religious headcoverings) in public after the stabbing of an observant, kippah-wearing Jew in Marseille, Rony Brauman, a “human rights activist” and former president of Doctors Without Borders, stated that wearing a kippah signifies support not just for Israel but also for Israel’s policies. This is not only wildly inaccurate, but Brauman also implied that because the kippah signifies such support, kippah-wearers are an understandable target.
2. Anti-Israel sentiment at that most progressive of colleges, Oberlin, is bleeding into anti-Semitism (or maybe anti-Israel sentiment is simply providing a cover for latent anti-Semitism). Professor William Jacobson has the details here, but even if you don’t read the whole post, read the end of it, where he quotes a lengthy Facebook post from a recent alumna about anti-Semitic incidents she experienced or witnessed as a left-wing, but pro-Israel Jewish student there. I won’t endorse the claim that every one of these incidents was anti-Semitic, as such, but, assuming they are all true, they paint a very disturbing picture. I was particularly struck by her claim that multiple times she heard Oberlin students dismiss the Holocaust as “white on white violence.” How narrowminded, historically unaware and just plain oblivious to any experiences outside the modern American context can one be to dismissively describe the Holocaust that way? Multicultural education apparently doesn’t include understanding historical events in context, nor even having empathy for the experiences of victims of racism who don’t fit politically correct American paradigms of such victims. Or maybe it’s just about the Jews, who can’t be seen as victims so long as Israel exists. Or both. [Update: I just noticed that the Post covered the controversy at Oberlin today. If you are interested in what’s going on at Oberlin, you really must read the Facebook post noted above; it strongly suggests that problems at Oberlin complained of by Jewish students go well beyond mere controversy over Israeli policy.]
3. An Israeli leftist activist, Ezra Nawi of the anti-occupation group Ta’ayush, aided by an activist with the “human rights” group B’tselem, was caught trying to entrap someone into selling land on the West Bank to a Jewish buyer. Nawi was quoted as follows: ” ‘Straight away I give their [land-sellers’] pictures and phone numbers to the Preventive Security Force,’ Nawi is heard saying in reference to the Palestinian Authority’s counterintelligence arm. ‘The Palestinian Authority catches them and kills them. But before it kills them, they get beat up a lot.’ ” B’tselem responded primarily with agitprop, by attacking the messenger and making excuses for the miscreants (link is in Hebrew).
4. In a true theater of the absurd, a large group of activists at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference shut down a Shabbat dinner and discussion hosted by left-wing American Jewish and Israeli organizations, because of the latter’s participation. Many participants describe the demonstration as both anti-Semitic and physically threatening (and the hotel felt obliged to call the police), but we can limit ourselves to the sheer craziness of radical LGBT activists shouting “free Palestine” and anti-Israel slogans to shut down an event involving an Israeli LGBT organization when Israel is a gay rights haven and the Palestinian territories, to say the least, are not.
5. Remember Lamiya Khandaker, the Connecticut College student who provoked a campus-wide two-minutes hate against Jewish, pro-Israel professor Andrew Pessin based on the false allegation that he had called Palestinians “rabid pit bulls” when he was referring to Hamas? According to her LinkedIn profile, last May, well after her allegations were discredited, the dean of the college awarded her a “Scholar Activist Award.” (The college through its office of communications declined to comment, and the dean of the college as of last May did not respond to emails requesting confirmation.)
6. Many Black Lives Matters groups, through a combination of infiltration by pro-Palestinian activists and acceptance of the mumbo-jumbo idiocies of “intersectionality,” have been persuaded to make hostility to Israel a part of their platform. The fact that Israel is the only nation, ever, to airlift tens of thousands of poor black Africans into its country from a war zone and give them immediate, full citizenship doesn’t give these groups pause. Black lives may matter, but hostility to Israel matters more, apparently.
David Bernstein is the George Mason University Foundation Professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, VA. His latest book, Lawless: The Obama Administration's Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law, was published in November.
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