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Vassar College's Jewish Union voted to become an "Open Hillel."

“The real culprits are the anti-Israel intellectuals who are driving those students mad. They tell the students that Zionism is racism, while its creation, Israel, has ‘ethnically cleansed’ the Arabs, built an ‘apartheid state’ and is now carrying out a slow ‘genocide’ in Gaza. Stuff a young idealist’s head with that kind of rubbish and do not be surprised if the result is hatred and thuggery. […] The Nazi slogan was ‘the Jews are our misfortune.’ Today, too often, anti-Israel intellectuals are educating students to think that ‘Israel is our misfortune.’”



It is thus hardly surprising that SJP Vassar recently posted a tweet linking to a quote from an Al Jazeera article that influential commentator Jeffrey Goldberg described as “one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory” when it was published in May 2013.

To be sure, the article – entitled “The Last of the Semites” – was authored by Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad, but like some of his previous columns on Israel, it once again contained material that also appealed to the members of the neo-Nazi Internet forum Stormfront.

It was also no coincidence that after Al Jazeera reacted to the outcry caused by Massad’s piece by removing it from its website, anyone who wanted to read “The Last of the Semites” could either find it on Stormfront or on Ali Abunimah’s blog at the Electronic Intifada. (Al Jazeera eventually re-published the piece together with a note from the editor stating that the media network had neither succumbed to any pressures when it pulled the piece nor when it decided to re-publish it.)

But as worrisome as the promotion of anti-Semitic tropes by anti-Israel activists is, it is hardly less worrisome that the BDS “war” on campus is ultimately also a war on rational discourse. The Massad quote posted on the SJP Vassar tumblr page illustrates this perfectly: according to the cited passage, American efforts to memorialize the Holocaust are a reflection of an artificial and hypocritical empathy created by “Hollywood films about the holocaust … depict[ing] Jewish victims of Nazism as white Christian-looking, middle class, educated and talented people not unlike contemporary European and American Christians.”

When this is an “argument” that strikes students at a top liberal arts college as impressive and enlightening, it is little wonder that BDS advocates feel sure that they will win their “war” on campus.

This article appeared originally at the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law.

The website “Legal Insurrection” has another informative posting about what is happening at Vassar with respect to this issue.


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