Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Cross-Post-Who Lost the Campus?

This is one of the most eloquent articles I have had the honor to post. Charles Jacobs and Avi Goldwasser have hit the nail on the head when they talk about the disgraceful anti-Semitic situation that exists on our university campuses.

A failure of leadership: Who lost the Campus?

Charles Jacobs

Avi Goldwasser

It was disappointing to read that the David Project – which we co-founded in 2002 in response to the Jewish establishment’s failure to address anti-Israelism on America’s campuses – has decided to join the mainstream (“David Project steers toward the center,” Feb. 4). We are proud of the outstanding accomplishment of the David Project in providing training in Jewish high schools and colleges, but we lament the organization’s retreat from precisely the sort of activism required to change a most serious situation for Jews on campus.

We created the David Project in the face of an upswing in anti-Israel obsession among opinion elites – in the media, in liberal church leadership, but especially among the professoriate and radical student groups. It was becoming clearer each day that the future leaders of America were being indoctrinated on campus to like Israel less and the Palestinian cause more. Jewish students, who were unprepared for the tsunami of anti-Israelism on campus, felt abandoned by the established Jewish organizations – even when they begged for help. The Jewish community did not understand the nature and severity of the problem. Or what to do about it.

The problem, as we saw it, was that Israel’s adversaries were portraying perpetual attacks on Israel as honest criticism – but were in fact carrying out wellplanned campaigns of vilification. These campaigns included shutting down pro-Israel speakers and intimidating Jewish students who dared – even in classroom discussions – to challenge the Palestinian narrative. The campus campaigns were generated, organized and funded by an international left/Muslim coalition loudly proclaiming “principles” of justice and human rights that were selectively applied – against us. This activity is abetted by many in university administrations who marginalize Jewish concerns and exclude Jews from the “sensitivity” and “hate speech” protections offered all other minorities.

In fact, campaigns to delegitimize the Jewish state are impervious to facts, logic and reason; they actually thrive upon the Jewish community’s instinctive response, which is to defend and “explain” Israel’s conduct. This response, best exemplified by Mitchell Bard’s ubiquitous handbook “Myths and Facts,” seeks to disprove each false claim – as though it were simply a matter of ignorance or misunderstanding, a “myth” and not a lie – and to set things straight. This cannot work when your adversaries have no interest in honest discussion. Indeed, each time you prove a claim to be wrong or an overreach, another claim is manufactured. This would have been obvious to Mark Twain, who remarked that “lies can travel around the world before truth puts its pants on.” Yet the Jewish community, despite 30 years of ineffectual attempts, continues to try to put on its pants. For most groups, the most natural and effective response to a campaign of vilification is to announce to the world that you are being vilified, and to turn the finger of accusation back on the defamers. Who are these people who tell lies and photoshop the truth under the banner of journalism and academic freedom and human rights? To win, one has to break the silence about them, the defamers.

Our controversial film “Columbia Unbecoming” broke that silence, dramatically depicting the nature and extent of anti-Israelism on campus. It shocked New York as it exposed how radical professors abuse academic freedom, intimidate Jewish students and suppress honest discourse, while Jewish professors remained silent and the administration indifferent. The Jewish establishment was not happy with our film. They urged quiet, controlled, behind-closed-doors meetings – that lead nowhere. Sadly, the film predicted a growing trend: Now more and more campuses are “unbecoming.” Just ask Jewish students about Israel on campus.

Rather than deal forthrightly with the deteriorating campus scene, Jewish organizations adopted the “Israel beyond the conflict” method. This approach consciously ignores the waves of viciousness aimed at Israel and smilingly tells the world about Israel’s incredible achievements (as though the Nazis hadn’t ever heard of Jewish physicists!). But bragging about scientific and social miracles, while not exposing and countering the liars, can at best leave Israel, in the prescient words of CAMERA’s Andrea Levin, as “the apartheid state with nanotechnology.”

Defense and avoidance are failed strategies, yet they’re the ones adhered to by our conflictaverse Jewish leaders. Conflict with leftists and Muslims can fray the Jewish big tent and liberal sensitivities. Moreover, exposing radical Muslims’ bad behavior can get you sued – or labeled a bigot. We know. We also know what silence brings.

Reluctance to acknowledge a problem is a common institutional reflex: Announcing that there’s a serious problem implies that someone has failed. It also means that now someone has to do something. Meanwhile, all actions are risky – and effective actions can be controversial and may fail. There are so many reasons for Jewish leaders to shield their constituents from what they know: that our community has a deeply serious problem on American campuses that is not going away.

The original mission of the David Project was to change a losing strategy. We had to expose the nature, extent and sources of the assault – and indirectly the failure of the Jewish leadership. We created a new strategy, had significant successes and challenged the establishment.

Despite their stated concerns about the daunting challenges we face, too many Jewish leaders continue to display an unwillingness to speak honestly about the problem, a reluctance – when the times call for courage – to be, in the wonderful words of Facing History and Ourselves, “upstanders” and not bystanders.

A few years ago, I was interviewed for a film by the David Project, a film that somehow never materialized. Many of the problems that Messers Jacobs and Goldwasser describe, I have seen first-hand in my experience at UC-Irvine; radical student groups, radical, hateful speakers, radical faculty, feckless administrators and yes, feckless Jewish leaders.

Make no mistake; the radical left and the pro-Palestinian crowd have found a marriage of convenience and have linked up to bring a highly organized narrative of slander against Israel in order to deligitimize the Jewish state. The focal point is on our university campuses. In the process, they have stoked a world-wide resurgence in anti-Semitism that is being manifested more and more each day. It is disgraceful, and it is compounded by the actions of many radical Jews who are willing to throw their fellow Jews under the bus in furtherance of their far-left ideology.

At the same time, other Jews prefer not to rock the boat. That is precisely the same attitude that helped allow the Holocaust to proceed. It is wrong, and it is disgraceful. There are also the Jews and Christians who are afraid to speak out against the radical Islamists and imams who are openly stoking Jew-hatred-lest they themselves be labeled bigots and Islamophobes.

Put it all together and what you have is a recipe for the next Holocaust. 


Siarlys Jenkins said...

I've got it! Start a student group called "Red Star over Israel." The symbol? A red Star of David of course!

That should throw everyone for a loop, and while the ex-SDS profs are trying to regain their balance, somebody could say something intelligent.

Green is out of fashion these days -- one of the newsbytes from Libya.

Miggie said...

You're absolutely right, Gary, it is a dreadful situation. There is a convergence of religious fanatics and left wing lunatics who peddle this blatantly untrue garbage and shout down any who dares to speak out.

Jacobs outlines pretty well how it all came together but he is sparse on advice on how to combat it. I haven't the answer either but I think there are things that can be done.

First of all, this is far from a hopeless situation. We are not without resources or IQ points and the truth is on this side of the table. Israel is not genocidal or imperialist. Its human rights record is better by far than any Arab or Muslim country.

I have great faith in the American people and that they will increasingly come to see the danger of militant Islam (as they have in Europe). They will see Israel is a democracy like ours and that we are natural allies.

We have to expose this vulgar lying and bullying to as many people as possible so that the campuses themselves began to feel the blowback from the outrage in the community. I send out items from this site to scores of people practically every day and it spreads from there.

We have to stiffen the backbone of our leaders and point out that the "work together" appeasement strategy has been a failure. Hopefully, their future responses will have more conviction and weight behind them in the future.

There are organizations like ZOA, ACT! for America, David Horowitz, Steve Emerson and StandWithUs (and fousequawk) that are doing good work and they should be supported more. We have to get AIPAC to do more about this problem.

These students must come to see how foreign and inappropriate their vulgar anti-Semitism is and how out of place it is on American campuses. Somebody else has to figure out what to do about the whacky traitorous college teachers.

It might be a good idea to solicit suggestions from your readers. This is a start.

Anonymous said...

What the David Project used to be doing was great and was the answer. The weak and pathetic stance they have taken now makes them nothing more than one more fundraising institution in the organized Jewish community. The David Project under Jacobs was on the right path. Under its current leader it is a waste of money and gives false hope to the Jewish community by pretending that it is actually doing something worthwhile.

Miggie said...

Thanks for the info on the David Project. I don't know much about them or their history. They used to have film crews go to some of the Malik Ali ravings and I would chat with them there. I thought they were going to do a movie, like Tolerating Intolerance the SWU video, that would show people what was going on at UCI. Nothing ever came of it. I understood there were some internal problems. It would be a shame if all that documentary footage they had went to waste.

Gary Fouse said...


I was interviewed for that film. It never materialized.