Cecilie Surasky posted this article on Muzzlewatch a few days ago. Muzzlewatch is the anti-propaganda site initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace to counteract false information spread by right wing Zionists in the US. Celilie Sarasky is its Director of Communications.
US Commission on Civil Rights: anti-Semitism on campuses now top priority
In her article, Cecilie Sarasky stated,
The US Commission on Civil Rights has launched a campaign against anti-Semitism on campuses that appears to dwarf in importance its other traditional activities like reporting on housing and voter discrimination.
According to Commission head Kenneth Marcus, “Usually, we’ll write a report, but in this case, we needed to get the word out,” because students aren’t sufficiently aware of their rights.
The result? An unprecedented campaign developed and or implemented with partners including the American Jewish Congress, the Zionist Organization of America, campus Hillels, the Anti-Defamation League, Israel on Campus Coalition, and others, involving the internet, print posters and postcards sent to college campuses across the country.
Back in April, 2006, Ron Kampeas of the JTA wrote:
The effort by an alliance of Jewish groups to hold government-funded Middle East studies departments accountable took two strides forward in recent weeks: one legislative and one moral.
Congress came a step closer to a mechanism that would monitor how Middle East Studies departments spend federal money, and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, an advisory body, found that anti-Israeli activism could engender a hostile atmosphere for Jews on campus.
A number of right-wing Israel advocacy groups have long targeted federal funding for Middle East Studies, charging that federal funds are being used to support what they call anti-American and anti-Israeli professors. Some of the more well known groups are Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch, which encourages students to submit reports about teachers, and Boston-based The David Project.
The David Project is best known for its documentary, “Columbia Unbecoming”, a film that painted Columbia University as a center of anti-Israeli scholarship and student intimidation, but which was debunked by Liev Leibovitz a writer for New York Jewish Week, the largest Jewish newspaper in America. Among other things, Leibovitz uncovered the fact that a number of students featured in the film “had not even studied under the professors who were being accused.”
JTA’s Ron Kampeas wrote:
Another battlefront for Jewish groups seeking reforms on campus has been the Civil Rights Commission.
The commission is stacked with members sympathetic to the views of the administration in power. It has no enforcement power, but its recommendations are taken seriously by the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.
The Commission convened a special panel on anti-Semitism on campus that, according to the Forward, found that anti-Zionism on college campuses is tantamount to antisemitism.
The expert 3-person panel that advised the Commission included: Gary Tobin of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research; Sarah Stern of the American Jewish Congress and Susan Tuchman of the Zionist Organization of America, which, according to The Forward, is “the most visible right-wing Jewish group in America,” and a group with a major credibility problem. The panel determined that:
Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism.
Muzzlewatch article reprinted by permission
The conflation of criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism is an old theme that has been played on for years in the attempt to stave public criticism of Israel and whatever truths pass the censors about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A look at the Commission report makes clear that criticism of Israel is what was targeted, at least by the sources of authority the Commission used to assess the problem of anti-Semitism on college campuses.
The Commission report was entitled, ENDING CAMPUS ANTI-SEMITISM PUBLIC EDUCATION WEB SITE TO BE LAUNCHED BY U.S. COMMISSION ON CIVIL RIGHTS and issued on APRIL 10, 2007.
WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, April 13, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will launch a Web site that contributes to ending campus anti-Semitism by educating college students and others about anti-Semitism, urging victims and witnesses of anti-Semitism to report such incidents, and listing sources of assistance for students. This Web site is part of a campaign that the Commission undertook following the occurrence of anti-Semitic incidents on many of the nation’s university and college campuses and receiving testimony from a panel of experts that too many college students are unaware of their rights and protections against anti-Semitic behavior. Campaign materials include the Commission’s recent report Campus Anti-Semitism
Fair enough, if anti-Semitism is that rampant or even existent at all on college campuses, it should be stamped out. But the difficulty with this conclusion of the Civil Rights Commission is the sources of its information. Here is the Executive Summary of the Commission’s report (reprinted under freedom of information privileges):
On Friday, November 18, 2005, a panel of experts briefed members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights regarding anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses.
American college campuses are generally considered welcoming places for Jewish students. Life on campus is often enhanced through a number of opportunities for Jewish students. Despite this positive environment, many experts agree that anti-Semitism persists on college campuses and is often cloaked as criticism of Israel.
According to various allegations, Jewish students on a number of campuses, Columbia, San Francisco State University, and the University of California at Irvine, have recently experienced an increase in hostility and intimidation both inside and outside the classroom. In some cases, posters, rallies and speakers on campus have promoted hatred of Jews and Israel. There is evidence that some of these anti-Semitic incidents are fueled by ideologically biased campus programs that receive operating funds from the federal government under Title VI of the Higher Education Act. Some of these anti-Semitic incidents have interfered with students’ ability to participate in campus activities.
The panel convened to shed light on the nature and extent of the problem and discussed what can be done to resolve these allegations. Members of the panel were:
*A. Tobin, President, Institute for Jewish and Community Research
*Susan B. Tuchman, Director, Center for Law and Justice, The Zionist Organization of America
*Sarah Stern, then Director of Governmental and Public Affairs, American Jewish Congress
If anyone knows anything about these witnesses for the Commission, they are representatives of the most right wing Zionist organizations in the United States. Although representatives from colleges who were charged with being the setting of anti-Semitic incidents were invited, no other experts were included in the witness list. The colleges declined to send representatives.
Here is a summary of the witness testimony:
Dr. Tobin argued that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are systemic ideologies found in varying degrees in colleges and universities throughout the United States. According to Dr. Tobin, death threats, threats of violence against Jewish students or students who are supporters of Israel and banners and posters containing anti-Semitic rhetoric and images are among the manifestations of these ideologies which create an environment of intimidation and harassment in contrast to the norms and values of the university.
Manifestations are also found in biased scholarship demonizing Israel, which are shielded by a wrongly defined concept of academic freedom. Dr.Tobin argued that the use of federal money to support anti-Semitic scholarship and classroom propaganda constitutes an abuse of the public trust. He concluded by recommending greater internal review of Middle Eastern studies departments, vigilant enforcement of rules of civil discourse, increased Congressional oversight of federal monies funding academic programs where anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism is found. Finally, Dr. Tobin called upon all university stakeholders to condemn such rhetoric.
Ms. Tuchman argued that, although criticism of the state of Israel and its policies is a legitimate part of civil discourse, criticism that demonizes Israel, for example by incorporating traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes or by comparing Israel’s leaders to Nazis, crosses the line into anti-Semitism. Moreover, Ms. Tuchman argued that vandalism, intimidation, and harassment cannot be defended as part of a spirited debate on Middle East policy. She cited the destruction of a Holocaust memorial constructed by Jewish students on the campus of University of California at Irvine as one well-publicized example of anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation. Ms. Tuchman concluded by recommending that the Commission: (a) issue a report on campus anti-Semitism; (b) solicit input from experts on developing ways to prevent and combat anti-Semitism on campus; and (c) urge OCR to conduct a thorough investigation of the Irvine incident.
Ms. Stern expressed the fear that college campuses had become “islands of anti-Semitism”, and cited several instances of harassment and intimidation of Jewish students. Among these was a pro-Palestinian student rally at San Francisco State University, in which Jewish students were surrounded by demonstrators and subjected to anti-Semitic statements. She added that, while anti-Semitism often takes the classic ideological form, it has also taken the form of political criticism of Israel that demonizes the state and holds it up to disproportionate scrutiny. One notable expression of this form of anti-Semitism was documented in the David Project’s film Columbia Unbecoming. This documentary interviewed students who had taken classes in Columbia University’s Middle East and Asian Languages Department. She concluded her testimony with concerns that this and other federally funded programs at colleges and universities have become hotbeds of both anti-Israel and anti-American radicalism.
Although incidents against Jewish students demonstrating support of Israel is deplorable, not one of these experts failed to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Had the experts stopped with those incidents, then a legitimate compliant about anti-Semitism may have struck home.
But that was clearly not the purpose of their testimony.
Based on the record, the Commission adopted findings and recommendations on April 3, 2006, some of which clearly go beyond anti-Semitism and conflate it with anti-Israel criticism.
*Anti-Israeli or anti-Zionist propaganda has been disseminated on many campuses that include traditional anti-Semitic elements, including age-old anti-Jewish stereotypes and defamation.
*Anti-Semitic bigotry is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israelism or anti-Zionism
*Substantial evidence suggests that many university departments of Middle East studies provide one-sided, highly polemical academic presentations and some may repress legitimate debate concerning Israel.
A more in depth reading of testimony from the main witnesses go further in showing that stifling anti-Israel criticism was their point.
Gary A. Tobin
Dr. Tobin presented findings from his new book The Uncivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education. Dr. Tobin posited that anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism are systemic ideologies of higher education that can be found on campuses throughout the U.S. Although they are national campus phenomena, they are not equally distributed. Also, incidents may vary on a particular campus over time. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism produces an environment of intimidation and harassment for Jewish students. Sadly, much of anti-Semitic rhetoric and behavior goes undetected since it falls under the debate about the Middle East. This form of anti-Semitism is different from past discrimination that plagued college campuses; it goes against the norms and values of campuses that allegedly promote racial and ethnic and religious diversity and understanding. Some of these activities fall under the protection of freedom of speech, which is being abused in the name of open discussion, according to Dr. Tobin.
With academic freedom comes the academic responsibility to establish a peer review, pursue honest scholarship, and teach in a way that does not intimidate students. He recommends: (1) conducting more research to document systemic anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism in higher education; (2) conducting more internal review of Middle East Studies departments and institutes; (3) encouraging colleges to establish and enforce appropriate rules about civil discourse; (4) establishing congressional oversight committees for the monies that are coming from the Congress in support of various academic programs; (5) encouraging more accountability for the monies received (lawmakers should consider withholding funds for violation of the civil rights of a student); and finally, (6) promoting that all university stakeholders assert their moral leadership and condemn anti-Israelism and anti-Semitism on college campuses.
Susan B. Tuchman
Ms. Tuchman said that anti-Semitism, a hatred toward Jews, has been increasing in frequency and severity, according to the Department of State’s “Report on Global Anti-Semitism” issued in January 2005. Anti-Semitism can be in the form of intimidation and attacks against Jews (e.g., the use of degrading and demeaning slurs, threats and physical assaults) and attacks on Jewish property (e.g., vandalism of synagogues, the desecration of Jewish cemeteries, and anti-Semitic graffiti on walls and buildings).
As The State Department report recognized, certain forms of anti-Israel sentiment are also an expression of anti-Semitism. It is wrong to say that all criticism of Israel and the Israeli government is anti-Semitic. Israel’s policies and practices should be open to legitimate criticism. But, when Israel is demonized, when its leaders are vilified by comparing them to Nazi leaders, such as by using Nazi symbols to caricature them ─ this crosses the line. According to Ms. Tuchman, when Israel is singled out and condemned, when the criticism uses anti-Jewish images and caricature to attack Israel, and when the criticism is factually inaccurate or lacks any semblance of balance, then this is another form of anti-Semitism. There is no question that all these forms of expressing hatred towards Jews cause pain, discomfort, and fear.
Ms. Stern started by quoting Natan Sharansky, former Minister of Diaspora Affairs for the Israeli government, who has referred to the American college campuses as “islands of Anti-Semitism” and expressed the fear that “the next generation of Americans are becoming the new Jews of silence” because of the atmosphere of fear, hatred and intimidation on the American college campus.
Although some anti-Semitism takes the classic ideological form, on most campuses anti-Semitism has taken a new form. It is the tendency to exaggerate Israel’s weaknesses and mistakes. A healthy debate about Israeli policy is acceptable. However, when Israel is demonized and made into all that is evil, when the actions that Israel takes to protect its citizens are held up to a double standard, and when Jewish students are intimidated and denied the right of political expression, then the line has been crossed from legitimate policy into anti-Semitism. According to Sharansky, the new anti-Semitism hides behind the cloak of “political criticism of Israel”
Although Gary A. Tobin, Susan B. Tuchman, and Sarah Stern gave some definite examples of anti-Semtic acts on campus before the commission, they each conflated anti-Israel criticism with anti-Semitism? And being that they are among the most right wing Zionists on American soil, as indicated by Cecilie Sarasky, it raises skepticism as to the purpose of their testimony. Also, since the Commission did not invite experts who might provide alternative information, the ultimate purpose of hearings must also be questioned.
1) Gary A. Tobin is President of the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.
As noted, Tobin wrote The UnCivil University: Politics and Propaganda in American Education, which is summarized as follows:
The American university is suffering from a moral crisis unseen since the great social upheavals of the 1960s. In the name of academic freedom, the core values of higher education–honest scholarship, unbiased research, and diversity of thought and person–have been corrupted by an academy more interested in preserving its privileges than in protecting its own integrity. Aided and enabled, sometimes unwittingly, by faculty, administrators, trustees, philanthropists, and even the government of the United States, the American university has lost its civility.
Nowhere is this loss more apparent than in the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israelism on college campuses. The UnCivil University, the first volume in the series, Politics & Propaganda in American Education, documents the alarming rise in bigotry and bullying in the academy. Using a range of evidence, from first-hand accounts of intimidation of students by anti-Israel professors to anti-Semitic articles in student newspapers and marginalization of pro-Israel scholars, The UnCivil University exposes the unspoken world of double standards, bureaucratic paralysis, and abdication of leadership that not only allows but often supports a vocal minority of extremists on campus.
Tobin clearly conflates anti-Israel criticism with anti-Semitism in way that only Daniel Pipes, who runs the McCarthy like site, Campus Watch, does. Pipes attacks any professor who would criticize Israel, blacklists them, and then requests that they submit future course curriculum for his approval. There is clearly an attempt to stave the growing awareness among college students and faculty of the true nature of Israel’s attempt to complete the Zionist project, to continue its confiscation of Palestinian lands as it sees fit, to kill any Palestinian who gets in its way, and to overlook atrocities that occur in its wake.
Here is an excerpt from article about a study Tobin conducted, reported by Shmuel Rosner, “The Second Most Dangerous Country: The United States,” Haaretz, October 26, 2006.
The Second Most Dangerous Country: the United States
41% of faculty members in U.S. universities see the United States and Israel combined as the greatest threats to the world. For humanities faculty, 56% list the U.S. and Israel, compared to just 41% who list China, Russia, and Iran combined.
Susan B. Tuchman is Director of the Center for Law and Justice, Zionist Organization of America or ZOA.
With that credential, not much more need be said.
ZOA is the most right wing Zionist organization in America, strongly associated with AIPAC and the Likud party in Israel. It regards the Palestinians as terrorists, claims that a Palestinian state would be a launching pad for Al Qaeda Terrorism, and, in keeping with the Likud agenda, takes the position the Palestinians should never have an independent state of their own. Tuchman is obviously a right wing Zionist of the worst kind in America.
Sarah Stern was Director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the American Jewish Congress at the time of the hearings. She has since gone on to greater heights of propaganda.
AJC reports tend to Israel support, but its position on the military occupation is now where to be found. Still, the organization is against Boycotts of Israel and tends to repeats right wing propaganda concerning the Palestinians, e.g., Hamas terrorist infrastructure, takes common ground with Evangelicals, and approves of House legislation condemning Hezbollah’s alleged use of “human shields” in the Lebanon conflict, but not the Israeli army’s use of human shields in the West Bank.
Sarah Stern left AJC in April 2006 to open her own think tank/policy center, EMET, (The Endowment for Middle East Truth) which, according to AJC, will be “proudly and unabashedly pro-Israel and proudly and unabashedly Jewish.” A look at this organization reveals its agenda most clearly:
The Advisory Board is clearly tilted toward right wing Zionism. If Daniel Pipes presence were not enough, in addition to Sarah Stern, who is President, there is Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, James Woolsey, Ambassador Yossie Ben Aharon, Daniel Pipes (already mentioned), Frank Gaffney, Walid Shoebat, Caroline Glick, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser, Dr. Emmanuel Navon, Ariel Cohen, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Gal Luft, Kenneth Timmerman, Lenny Ben-David, Arlene Kushner, Seth and Sherri Mandel, Ilka Schroeder, Bennett Zimmerman, Emilio Dabul, Jim Hutchens, David Dalin, Don Gatswirth. Many are the usual suspects who support Israel’s Zionist quest at the expense of a Palestinian state.
Its mission shows the clear and direct compatibility of EMET propaganda with the latest Israeli hasbara (propaganda) line, which is intended to conflate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the War on Terrorism in the minds of Americans.
The mission of EMET is to provide policymakers in Washington and the American public, at large with realistic and accurate assessments concerning the nature of those with whom we are at war. We, at EMET, believe that Israel has always been on the front lines in a constant struggle against terrorism, and as our one democratic ally in the region, it is of tremendous strategic value to the United States. We believe that good foreign policy has got to be predicated upon sober realism and the truth, as opposed to projection of our own values upon those with whom we are at war, appeasement and wishful thinking.
Those with whom we are at war undoubtedly include not only Al Qaeda, but Palestinians.
Thus we have another federal government agency, the US Commission for Civil Rights, operating under the legitimate guise of counteracting incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses, being appropriated by right wing Zionist propagandists intent on conflating criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism.
It is a pretty slick maneuver. Dare speak out against Israel’s atrocities toward the Palestinians or its military occupation/colonialism of the Palestinian territories, or contradict recent propaganda themes such as Israel’s fight against terrorism in the West Bank and Gaza, and you are clearly anti-Semitic. You are silenced.
Peace activist groups like Jewish Voice for Peace (Muzzlewatch), however, are watching. Keep them in mind when evaluating your knowledge about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.