Asians, Jews, and Harvard

Oct. 11 2018

A group of Asian-American students are currently suing Harvard University for discrimination, claiming that the school has an unpublicized cap on the number of Asian Americans it will accept in any given year. Yet despite its commitment to political activism—including a boycott of Israel—the Association for Asian-American Studies (AAAS), has no intention of supporting the suit. Jonathan Marks comments:

Consider the AAAS’s 2018 conference theme: “Solidarity and Resistance: Toward Asian-American Commitment to Fierce Alliances.” As the organization’s president, Cathy J. Schlund-Vials explains, that theme flows out of the history of Asian-American Studies—a field brought to life by “student activists and faculty protestors” in the 1960s. But the left-wing politics that led the AAAS to endorse the boycott of Israel and to disregard anti-Semitism within the boycott movement also blinds its adherents to some forms of discrimination against Asian Americans.

Janelle Wong, a professor of American Studies and Asian-American Studies took to the Chronicle of Higher Education last week to complain about the situation at Harvard, which is being sued over its affirmative-action policies. . . . Professor Wong’s complaint is that, well, Asian-Americans are complaining. First, Wong argues, Asian-Americans are a much higher percentage of the student body at places like Harvard and Yale than they are of the U.S. population. . . .

In 1922, Harvard’s president, Abbott Lawrence Lowell, sought to institute a Jewish quota. He had discovered that a major cause of anti-Semitism is the presence of Jews. . . . At the time, though, Jews constituted over 20 percent of Harvard’s student body and only around 3.5 percent of the U.S. population. According to Wong’s logic, they had nothing to complain about. Lowell didn’t get the quota he wanted, but new standards did put downward pressure on the troublingly high Jewish population in universities. . . .

How often does one see a person of the left, usually eager to make the leap from disparity to discrimination, mount a vociferous attack on those who acknowledge what appears to be an obvious case of discrimination? Jews see that sort of thing often, and many have stuck with the left nonetheless. Let’s hope Asian-Americans prove less inclined to shrug and let it pass.

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More about: Affirmative action, BDS, Harvard, Israel on campus, Politics & Current Affairs, University, Yale

For Israelis, Anti-Zionism Kills

Dec. 14 2018

This week alone, anti-Zionists have killed multiple Israelis in a series of attacks; these follow the revelations that Hizballah succeeded in digging multiple attack tunnels from Lebanon into northern Israel. Simultaneously, some recent news stories in the U.S. have occasioned pious reminders that anti-Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism. Bret Stephens notes that it is anti-Zionists, not defenders of Israel, who do the most to blur that distinction:

Israelis experience anti-Zionism in a different way from, say, readers of the New York Review of Books: not as a bold sally in the world of ideas, but as a looming menace to their earthly existence, held at bay only through force of arms. . . . Anti-Zionism might have been a respectable point of view before 1948, when the question of Israel’s existence was in the future and up for debate. Today, anti-Zionism is a call for the elimination of a state—details to follow regarding the fate befalling those who currently live in it. . . .

Anti-Zionism is ideologically unique in insisting that one state, and one state only, doesn’t just have to change. It has to go. By a coincidence that its adherents insist is entirely innocent, this happens to be the Jewish state, making anti-Zionists either the most disingenuous of ideologues or the most obtuse. When then-CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill called last month for a “free Palestine from the river to the sea” and later claimed to be ignorant of what the slogan really meant, it was hard to tell in which category he fell.

Does this make someone with Hill’s views an anti-Semite? It’s like asking whether a person who believes in [the principle of] separate-but-equal must necessarily be a racist. In theory, no. In reality, another story. The typical aim of the anti-Semite is legal or social discrimination against some set of Jews. The explicit aim of the anti-Zionist is political or physical dispossession.

What’s worse: to be denied membership in a country club because you’re Jewish, or driven from your ancestral homeland and sovereign state for the same reason? If anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are meaningfully distinct (I think they are not), the human consequences of the latter are direr.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian terror