In recent years the world has witnessed an increase in efforts to delegitimize Israel and Israelis. Much has been and will yet be written on the manifestations of the global BDS movement, as the challenge is growing and complex. Much of the writing was or will be drafted by faculty members who became “experts” on the subject, oftentimes unintentionally, as they were standing against the tide. Over time they became aware that, unfortunately, they were not alone. They describe, in all too many examples, how Anti-Zionism and Anti-Israelism appear on campus, and how this phenomenon might be addressed. The phenomenon is developing in tandem with worldwide trends of populism, extremism (of both the Right and Left), Anti-Semitism and more, with American parallels. While anti-Israel sentiment is clearly also fed by events taking place in Israel, developments on the local level, on each college campus, are equally as significant.
Member Writings and Interviews
Calls on Congress to combat anti-Semitism and racism are well-taken. The massacre at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue where 12 congregantswere murdered at the hands of a Neo-Nazi white supremacist was a horrific act of evil.Though still on the fringe of society, members of white supremacist groups pose a significant danger to blacks and to Jews.
However, there is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which targets Israel as an illegitimate state. Many see this movement as being fundamentally anti-Semitic since Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. Of concern now is that two supporters of the BDS movement have been elected to Congress.
The advance copies of Deborah Lipstadt’s new book, “Antisemitism Here and Now,” display a cover photo of a white supremacist carrying a tiki torch.
But that iconic image of the August 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, could now be replaced by another one: Police tape cordoning off the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh. Or perhaps the row of cut-out stars displaying the names of that massacre’s 11 victims.
After the horrific murders in Squirrel Hill many of us continue to experience the pangs of loss, shock and disbelief, and incredible sadness. We struggle to make sense of the loss of innocent Jewish lives in modern-day America — an America, that for many of us, is believed to be an exception to the Jewish experience. Yet, even here, a place in which Jews have integrated fully at all levels of society we can no longer ignore, that despite our many triumphs, we, Jews, remain both the ger and the toshav, the stranger as well as the native.
Back in the day when world events still had the capacity to shock, Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass) — its 80th anniversary commemorated Friday and Saturday — was a clear foreshadowing of events that led to the Holocaust.
Hours before he murderously stormed into Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue, Robert Bowers posted a chilling message on the dark web, declaring that the “powerful Jews are my enemy.” He vowed to pull “the cover off of that Satanic Jew,” and threateningly added “I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”
The murderous attack on Jews at prayer in Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, on October 27, put a bloody exclamation point behind an already growing sense of unease in today’s America.
Over the past two years, the entry into the country’s mainstream of extreme right-wing views, including a militant strain of white nationalism, made clear that the social and political climate was changing, and not for the better.
The massacre at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue last Saturday announced with chilling clarity that a lethal strain of anti-Semitism, long presumed to be peripheral in post-World War II America, had returned with a vengeance. Harbingers had been appearing for months: the online harassment of Jewish journalists during the 2016 presidential race; the anti-Jewish themes deployed by Donald Trump and his campaign; the painted swastikas, toppled gravestones, neo-Nazi handbills, threats to Jewish community centers, and other incidents of hate that made local and national headlines since the election; and the siege of a Charlottesville synagogue during the right-wing rampage there in 2017. Yet even those warning signs somehow seemed aberrant, and the public outcry in each case told us that our nation’s underlying commitment to ethno-religious pluralism remained sturdy.
In the wake of the shooting in Pittsburgh, a volley of voices called for more of this or that—armed guards or gun control, barring the doors of synagogues, policing of fringe web platforms or resources for mental health. While President Trump denounced the shooting as “an evil anti-Semitic attack” and visited the grieving community, a sector of the media blamed the president for the incident, as it does for everything else. It was politics as usual.