A scary statistic was recently released by the Institute for Jewish & Community Research. A recent study shows that more than 40 percent of Jewish students experience anti-Semitism on college campuses. In other words, out of every five Jews, two report having experienced anti-Semitism on campus.
Anti-Semitism, especially on college campuses, is not a new phenomenon. But while “classic” anti-Semitism focused on stereotyping and discriminating against Jews, modern-day anti-Semitism on campus focuses mainly on vilifying Israel, distorting the facts, and using Israel as a vehicle for persecuting the Jewish people.
In a recent op-ed, lawyer and pro-Israel advocate Alan M. Dershowitz writes about a telling incident that occurred several years ago at the University of California at Irvine, which is a hotbed of anti-Israel hate speech:
“About a year before that incident, I spoke to a full audience of students that included some of the same radicals that tried to shut Oren down. About 100 of them sat to my right. Another 100 or so students, wearing pro-Israel shirts and kipot, sat to my left. Several hundred additional students were in the middle – both literally and ideologically. I know that because I asked for a show of hands before I began my remarks.
I first asked for students to raise their hands if they generally support Israel. All the students to my left and several in the middle raised their hands. I then asked how many students supported the Palestinian side. All the students to my right and several in the middle raised their hands. I then posed the following question to the pro-Israel group: “How many of you would support a Palestinian state living in peace and without terrorism next to Israel?” Every single pro-Israel hand immediately went up. I then asked how many on the pro-Palestine side would accept a Jewish state within the 1967 borders, with no settlements on territory claimed by the Palestinians. There was some mumbling and brief conversation among the people to my right, but not a single hand was raised.
The debate was essentially over, as everyone in the middle now recognized that this was not a conflict between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine groups, but rather, a conflict between those who would accept a two-state solution and those who would reject any Jewish state anywhere in the Middle East. The pro-Israel view had prevailed because I was able to use the extremism of the anti-Israel group to demonstrate the ugly truth about Israel’s enemies to the large group of students in the middle with open minds.”
This incident highlights the real conflict between the pro-Israel and radical anti-Israel groups. It is not about the disputed territories, border conflicts, or Israel’s security fence. It is about Israel’s right to exist at all. In which case, there is no amount of evidence or Israeli policy change that will ever meet the approval of Israel’s harshest critics.