In the Campus Anti-Israel Campaign, Zionists Must Be Driven from All Student Activist Groups

Sept. 3 2019

In his recent book Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, & the Faculty Campaign against the Jewish State, Cary Nelson—himself a retired professor—details the reality of “Israel Denial” on campus and exposes the intellectual hollowness and sheer maliciousness behind it. Daniella Greenbaum Davis, in her review, sums up Nelson’s underlying claim thus: “when Israel acts in an entirely unremarkable fashion, Jew-hatred inspires critics to react as if the Jewish state has committed unspeakable horrors.” Among much else, Nelson traces the roots of anti-Israel activists’ especially insidious strategy of trying to drive “Zionists” out of every possible campus institution, a phenomenon Greenbaum Davis herself encountered as a student at Barnard:

No Red Tape [was a student group that] billed itself as a resource and advocate for students at Columbia and Barnard who had been sexually assaulted or raped. This advertising turned out to be false. The group was interested in aiding all victims of sexual abuse, it turned out, except Zionists.

At first, this point was made subtly. No Red Tape would ally itself with anti-Israel groups and sign on to anti-Israel statements. Eventually it was made explicit: being pro-Israel and anti-rape were, in its view, mutually exclusive. [At the time], I thought this turn of events, while gravely disappointing, was probably unique to our campus. Cary Nelson’s Israel Denial corrects my assumption. Far from being isolated events or one-off occurrences, most of the anti-Zionist activities on college campuses are part of a much broader top-down approach to activism. The grassroots façade of the anti-Israel activists is a myth, and one easily exposed by even a cursory analysis of the similarities among each campus’s pernicious incidents of anti-Semitism and Israel hatred.

Nelson details how and why things like the No Red Tape incident came to be. In 2014, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement (BDS) partnered with the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel, writes Nelson, “to distribute its Guidelines for Academic and Cultural Boycotts.” This document “included a prohibition against any relationship that would have the effect of ‘normalizing’ relationships with Israeli universities and other institutions.”

This notion was then extended to an effort to convince all campus activist groups, in the words of the disgraced anti-Israel former professor Steven Salaita, to “cast out Zionists before moving forward.”

Welcome to Mosaic

Register now to get two more stories free

Register Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in now

Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Anti-Zionism, BDS, Israel on campus, Steven Salaita


The Evidence of BDS Anti-Semitism Speaks for Itself

Oct. 18 2019

Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs recently released a lengthy report titled Behind the Mask, documenting the varieties of naked anti-Semitic rhetoric and imagery employed by the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the Jewish state (BDS). Drawn largely but not exclusively from Internet sources, its examples range from a tweet by a member of Students for Justice in Palestine (the “world would be soooo much better without jews man”), to an enormous inflated pig bearing a star of David and floating behind the stage as the rock musician Roger Waters performs, to accusations by an influential anti-Israel blogger that Israel is poisoning Palestinian wells. Cary Nelson sums up the report’s conclusions and their implications, all of which give the lie to the disingenuous claim that critics of BDS are trying to brand “legitimate criticism of Israel” as anti-Semitic.

Sign up to read more

You've read all your free articles for this month


Sign up now for unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Fathom

More about: Anti-Semitism, BDS, Roger Waters, Social media