Emory University issued a formal apology to Jewish dental students who attended the school between 1948 and 1961 and faced anti-Semitism.
University President James Wagner delivered the apology at a special event Wednesday night that included 32 former students, now in their 70s and 80s, of the Atlanta school. The students had received failing grades, were thrown out of school or were forced to repeat classes only because they were Jewish.
“I hereby express in the deepest, strongest terms, Emory’s regret for the anti-Semitic practices of the dental school during those years,” Wagner said. “We at Emory also regret that it has taken this long for those events to be properly acknowledged. I am sorry; we are sorry.”
Among the 450 people present was Perry Brickman, a retired oral surgeon from Atlanta who was kicked out of Emory in 1952 along with his three Jewish classmates and whose subsequent research about anti-Semitism at Emory was an impetus for the apology. Brickman spent many years interviewing fellow Emory students who faced discrimination, and his work was featured in the documentary film “From Silence to Recognition: Confronting Discrimination in Emory’s Dental School History.”
The documentary was shown last year to Emory’s board of trustees, who decided there needed to be a public apology, Emory University Vice President Gary Hauk told JTA.
“When we saw Brickman’s documentary, it was evident he had a story about discrimination — one that needed to be confronted and needed an apology,” Hauk said. “It’s a regrettable part of the institution’s history, and it’s shameful that it did happen. But there’s a renewed agreement to make sure discrimination like this doesn’t happen at our school again.”
The documentary film also was shown at Wednesday’s event.
“I was a good student, I did my work and got good grades, but I still got a letter that I was kicked out,” Brickman told JTA in an interview. “The whole thing was so embarrassing. But there was nothing we could do about it, so we just moved on and didn’t speak to each other. Nobody in the community wanted to do anything. We were dealing with immigration issues and hate speech from the KKK, so we didn’t want to make waves.”
The anti-Semitic policies at the dental school have been attributed to its then-dean, John Buhler. In 1962, the Anti-Defamation League presented the university with data showing that 65 percent of Emory’s Jewish students faced trouble – a sign, the organization said, of obvious discrimination. The university at the time denied being anti-Semitic, but shortly after Buhler resigned as the school dean.
“We are grateful to President Wagner for his forthright leadership in acknowledging and apologizing for a policy that has haunted many of the Jewish students throughout their long lives,” Bill Nigut of the ADL said in a statement this week. “We are now hearing powerful, painful stories of how they came to doubt their own abilities, were viewed as failures by parents and friends, and had to rethink careers — all because the dental school dean at the time was an anti-Semite, and other administrators and faculty either ignored or abetted his prejudice.”
Each year at many California universities, pro-Israel students dread the inevitable arrival of “The Wall,”—the centerpiece of Israel Apartheid Week. These programs, sometimes known as Justice in Palestine Week or Palestinian Awareness Week, usually take place sometime between late-winter and spring and focus on charges that Israel is an Apartheid state that illegally occupies Palestinian territories.
But what if the wall wasn’t allowed to go up?
Speculation on the future of anti-Israel demonstrations on University of California (UC) campuses has increased in recent weeks after a mid-July report compiled by the UC President’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate recommended that UC consider banning all hate speech from its nine campuses.
Between October 2011 and May 2012, a group of professionals handpicked by UC President Mark Yudof travelled to six UC campuses (Santa Cruz, Davis, Irvine, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and San Diego) to assess the social conditions of Jewish students as well as Arab and Muslim students.
Jewish student leaders on the campuses were interviewed by the council, which evaluated the students’ biggest concerns as Jews on campus.
A separate report, providing background and recommendations on behalf of Arab and Muslim students was also released in mid-July.
Ultimately, the council recommended that hate speech, particularly anti-Israel demonstrations, be banned because of the unsafe and uncomfortable environment that can ensue on campus.
“UC does not have a hate-free policy that allows the campus to prevent well-known bigoted and hate organizations from speaking on campus such as the KKK,” the council wrote in the report. “UC should push its current harassment and nondiscrimination provisions further, clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus.”
The council recognized that such a ban, if put in place, almost certainly would lead to legal action challenging it. Already, a petition asking Yudof to table the recommendations has gathered over 2,300 signatures.
Opponents of the recommendation claim that the report, released July 9, does not consider all viewpoints of Jewish students on campuses—particularly those of Jews who are critical of Israel.
In response, StandWithUs started a counter-petition urging the UC Office of the President (UCOP) to accept and implement the recommendations outlined in the report. While the first petition targets the hate speech ban proposal, the StandWithUs petition focuses on implementation of the entire report’s recommendations which include ensuring that kosher food options be available on UC campuses and that anti-Semitism be clearly defined and banned.
The advisory council also recommended that UC staff members receive cultural competency training and that accurate data be kept on Jewish students to better evaluate their needs.
There has been mixed reaction to the report in the pro-Israel community. Sharona Asraf, a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow and board member of Tritons for Israel at UC San Diego, created a Facebook event promoting the petition and said she supports the Council’s recommendation to ban hate speech.
“This will verbalize protocol and will elaborate what the consequences are for hate speech,” Asraf said.
However, Daniel Narvy, President of Movement for Peace in the Middle East at UC Irvine, said that while he thinks hate speech should not exist, banning it on UC campuses could actually make life more difficult for pro-Israel students.
“I can promise that SJP will claim the university is Islamaphobic and complain until they get their way,” Narvy said. “Do I think the hate speech, which it clearly is, should be there? No, but the university cannot use prior restraint and just censor a club just because [some members of the club] are obnoxious .” Richard Barton, who is the national education chair for the Anti-Defamation League, co-wrote the report with Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP. Barton defended the report in an Aug. 23 op-ed in the San Francisco Gate.
“By including an examination of the climate for Jewish students, the Campus Climate Council has truly advanced the notion of honest and critical examination that lie at the heart of the UC’s core values,” Barton wrote.
Though UCOP is not expected to finish evaluating both the Jewish and the Arab and Muslim reports until late October, Yudof noted that ensuring a right to free speech would remain a priority.
“The Council will continue to address issues for a broad range of campus community members,” Yudof said in an August 8 open letter to the UC system. “None of this is designed to stifle free speech, but rather to ensure that our campuses are welcoming to a broad diversity of students, faculty and staff.”
With government approval of its status change, the university in Ariel passed another stage on its way to becoming a fully-accredited university. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the upgrade is an academic necessity, not a political one. “The population growth has created the need for another academic university institution.” At the same time, in private meetings, Ehud Barak has said that “it is not clear why Ariel – yes and Tel Hai – no.”
The battle over Ariel university is over. The government approved the status upgrade of the university center to a full-fledged university. During the debate over the issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that it is important for there to be another university in Israel. “I don’t think that seven universities are enough in the State of Israel, that after 40 years, there shouldn’t be another university,” he said.
According to the Prime Minister, “Ariel is an inseparable part of the State of Israel and it will remain an inseparable part of the country in any possible future arrangement, just like all other population blocs. The approval of the Ariel university is part of a series of steps being taken to advance higher education in Israel. This decision is an expression of our confidence in the academic level of the Ariel university.”
At the same time that the Prime Minister was asking cabinet members to approve the status change of the university, Defense Minister Ehud Barak was privately saying that, “it’s not clear why Ariel – yes and Tel Hai – no,” referring to Tel- Hai College, on Israel’s northern border.
At the beginning of the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stated that the approval of Ariel fills an academic necessity, rather than a political one. “I don’t think that seven universities are sufficient for the State of Israel. There is a need for another one.” Netanyahu said, “After decades during which our population has doubled and tripled, our young people want to acquire university education and I am opposed to the protectiveness of the academic guild.”
Education Minister Gideon Saar has been attempting, for quite some time, to gain the necessary majority in the cabinet to upgrade Ariel to a fully accredited university. “The university met all the necessary criteria and academic standards. I truly believe that the establishment of an eighth university in Israel will strengthen the system of higher education, and I hope the cabinet will make this decision,” he said.
For the past 15 years Abdullah Faarruq was the Muslim chaplain at Northeastern University in Boston. This week, Faarruq was revealed to be an Islamic extremist who encouraged acts of violence and who has publicly supported multiple convicted terrorists. But all traces of Faarruq suddenly disappeared from the Northeastern University website just days after his ties were announced in an article, and just before a shocking and carefully sourced video was released.
Dr. Charles Jacobs, a Boston-area human rights activist and president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, created the video revealing Faarruq as a supporter of convicted Islamic terrorists, such as Aafia Siddiqui, a close associate of the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
In 2004, FBI Director Robert Mueller described Aafia Siddiqui as one of the seven most wanted Al Qaeda terrorists. Siddiqui, who used to attend Farruuq’s mosque, was also assisted by him in distributing jihadist literature.
In 2008, Siddiqui was arrested in Afghanistan and charged with attempting to use an assault rifle on FBI agents. In her possession were plans for a chemical attack on New York City and a large amount of cyanide. In 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to 86 years in jail.
In lectures around Boston, Faaruuq had called on Boston Muslims to defend Siddiqui because “after they’re finished with Aafia, they’re gonna come to your door.” He told worshippers to not be afraid to “grab onto the gun and the sword, go out into this world and do your job.”
Faarruq has publicly supported other known terrorists, such as Tarek Mehanna. Mehanna who was arrested and convicted in April 2012 on terror charges, including plans to murder American soldiers and politicians, and another plan to attack a mall in Massachusetts, patterned on the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India. Mehanna had taught evening classes on Islam at Northeastern.
Faarruq is shown with Northeastern students in APT’s video at a rally outside the courthouse where Mehanna was denied bail, in February, 2011. Mehanna was indicted with another man with Northeastern University connections, Ahmad Abusamra. The two considered themselves to be the “media wing” of al Qaeda in Iraq.
On April 3, 2011, the student members of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University, whose spiritual advisor was Faarruq, held a seminar and concert in support of Tarek Mehanna.
Jacobs told The Jewish Press that, although he was “pleased that Northeastern University removed Faarruq from a position of influence over university students,” much more needed to be done.
“It’s very hard to understand why Northeastern administration has for so long tolerated the troubling and extremist influence of Chaplain Faaruuk on Northeastern’s Muslim student organization,” Jacobs said. “Until we began exposing Faaruuq in 2010, the ISNU website openly promoted to Northeastern Muslim students radical books and extremist leaders who call for jihad, the genocide of Jews, and death for homosexuals.
“We are concerned,” Jacobs said, that extremist influence on Muslim students at Northeastern might be a factor in inciting terrorism. Recently another Northeastern graduate, Rezwan Ferdaus, pleaded guilty to plotting an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol buildings in Washington.”
But more importantly, Jacobs made the point that if a person with so many public connections to terrorism has been permitted to mentor students at a place like Northeastern University – “we’re not talking about Irvine, for goodness sake,” then it is clear that “the same kind of thing can happen anywhere.”
Jacobs believes that what happened with Faarruq provides an extremely instructive lesson for everyone who cares about the condition of our universities.
“For one thing,” Jacobs explained, Northeastern had to be aware of Faarruq’s activities, or they are not running a tight ship. “So if they knew, how come no one took any action to put a stop to it?”
It was only the public exposure created by Jacobs’ article and the announced release of a meticulously detailed video that caused action to be taken.
“Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun is a good person. We do not believe he is someone who supported what Faarruq was saying and doing,” explained Jacobs. “But he had to know that if he took action on his own, the blowback would have been enormous, given the heavy influence of political correctness on campuses, and the willingness of Muslims to stand up for their own.
“If people want university officials to take the right action, there has to be pressure,” he continued, “otherwise, unless an administrator is a saint, they will avoid the pain of taking a negative step like removing even someone who is doing things that are clearly wrong.”
Expanding on this theme, Jacobs instructed that “Jews like to believe that it is reason, rather than pressure, that guides action in the world.” However, “that’s just wrong, and, my goodness, we should have learned that long ago.”
When asked whether he thinks, as a general matter, Jews are reluctant to openly pressure decision makers to take action in support of their positions, Jacobs responded affirmatively, and went further: “Jewish communal leadership is weak, they are conflict-averse.” Adding, mostly seriously, he said, “Jews would rather schmooze than fight.”
In response to a request for an interview with Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun regarding the removal of Chaplain Faarruq, the school’s communications director sent the following statement to The Jewish Press:
Northeastern recently reorganized its office of spiritual life to better serve our students and more closely align with our educational mission. The newly created Center for Spirituality, Dialogue and Service is under the leadership of a new executive director, and we are currently expanding the number and diversity of our spiritual advisers. Some of our previous spiritual advisors, including Abdullah Faaruuq, are no longer affiliated with the university.
The university refused to respond to any other questions surrounding this matter.
Last night, Defense Minsiter Ehud Barak decided that Nitzan Allon, head of the IDF Central Command, will not sign his approval for Ariel University to be recognized as a fully accredited university. This decision brought about a very angry reaction from right wing government factions, Israel Today reported.
In a letter that he sent last night to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Barak indicated that after he had completed the last round of consultations with relevant elements, among them key university heads, the chairman of the board of higher education in Judea and Samaria, chairman of the board of planning and budgeting, Emanuel Trachtenberg and others, he decided to recommend that “the university center in Ariel will not become a full-fledged university prior to the Supreme Court ruling on the matter.”
People in Barak’s circle explained his decision saying that in any case the issue is hanging until it is decided by the Supreme Court, and that until the Supreme Court rules on the matter there is no reason to rush to make the Ariel University a full-fledged university, a step which is the subject of professional controversy.
Barak’s associates added that according to Barak and Netanyahu’s recommendation, if the Supreme Court approves the transformation of the Ariel center into a full-fledged university, the matter will be presented for a joint decision before all the cabinet ministers.
Yesterday, Minister of Education Gideon Saar said, “This is an obvious maneuver by Barak to try and delay the recognition of Ariel as a university. It’s possible that the Supreme Court will wait for the signature of the Head of the Central Command before conducting a judicial review. The head of the Central Command is supposed to be directed by the government in this matter and not by the Minister of Defense.“
According to the Peace Now Movement, “Barak’s decision is bringing back sane priorities to the government. The decision to transform the Ariel college into a proper university is not essential and doubtfully legal.”
Coalition chairman MK Zev Elkin said that “Barak is making illegal use of his authority. This coalition may consider itself no longer obligated to adhere to agreements which are important to Barak and his party.”
The Ariel University Center stated that “we expect the Prime Minister to exercise leadership and to complete the process which began with a government decision in 2005, and to put into effect the decision giving permanent recognition to the center as a full-fledged university.”
A Jewish student at Michigan State University said he was attacked at an off-campus party in what he is calling a hate crime.
But the East Lansing Police Department said Tuesday that a preliminary investigation has determined that the incident two days earlier likely was not a hate crime, The State News reported. The police reportedly spoke with two witnesses and have identified a potential suspect who does not live in the area.
Zach Tennen, 19, said that just before Sunday’s assault, his attackers asked him if he was Jewish and that he answered in the affirmative, according to reports. Tennen, a resident of suburban Detroit and a sophomore at the university, told WDIV-TV in Detroit that his attackers also “were making Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK.”
Tennen, whose jaw was broken in the attack near MSU’s East Lansing campus, was knocked unconscious. The assailants stapled his mouth shut through his gums.
Others at the party watched as Tennen called a taxi to take him to the hospital. His mouth was surgically wired shut.
His family has called the Anti-Defamation League regarding the assault. Tennen plans to return to classes in a week.
The university in an email statement referred all questions about the police investigation to East Lansing Police, as the incident occurred off campus.
“Michigan State University’s Student Affairs and Services office has reached out to the family of the student who said he was assaulted in East Lansing to provide the academic and other support the student needs,” the statement also said.