Anti-Semitism at BC, Yet Again
Anti-Zionist Statements Exemplify "Ethnic Tensions"
By Daniel Tauber
The Assemblyman, Javier Genao’s statement is just another example of ethnic division on our campus, which for the past two years seems to be a one-way street toward Jewish students. Many may not recognize the linkage between this statement regarding Zionism and anti-Jewish sentiment on campus. So a short Jewish history lesson is in order:
Modern Zionism, as a political movement, begins officially with Theodore Herzl’s essay “The Jewish State” and his convening of the first World Zionist Congress. Herzl, an assimilated and secular Jew, was awakened to his Jewish identity while covering, as a journalist, the Dreyfus affair, in which a clearly innocent Jewish man, Alfred Dreyfus, was tried and convicted for passing military secrets.
The incident was driven by anti-Semitism. In the east, in Russia, anti-Semitic mobs formed and massacred Jews in Ghettos. Zionism – the idea that the Jews should be returned to their ancestral homeland where they can have their own state, was the solution to the Jewish problem of anti-Semitism.
Thus is not surprising that on many campuses and universities anti-Zionist rallies often turn anti-Semitic. Nor does it come as a shock that Palestinian terrorists often aim to kill Jews anywhere in the world, and are taught to kill Jews, rather than to just resist what they call “the occupation.”
Second, a campus history lesson is in order. In the past few years Jews on this campus have been painted negatively – as racists, rich, exclusionary, and as only caring about other Jewish - whether in regards to Jewish students in PHD or Jewish students involved in Jewish clubs. Here are just a few examples:
• On May 3 2004, The Kingsman, a student newspaper, reported that USL members told a student that PHD was “just for Jews” during elections.
• On April 28, 2004, a member of USL, named Saba Gilani (USL) accused Daniel Tauber (PHD) of racial profiling when he campaigned, even though Tauber had campaigned to her, a Muslim wearing a head covering, the day, before not knowing she was a USL member.
• After learning that a voter had voted for PHD, Gilani, a USL member, asked the voter, “Why would you vote for a bunch of kikes?”
• On September 6, 2004, The Kingsman printed a story in which a pro-USL student accuses PHD of having a “Jewish Agenda.”
• In February 2004, Robert Ramos (USL) called Yehuda Katz’s political platform a “racist political agenda” in response to a letter by Katz addressing USL’s repeated allegations that PHD was “a bunch of rich, white, Jews.”
• In Spring 2003, The Kingsman editorialized that PHD was racial profiling in its campaigning.
• In April 2003, Yehuda Katz (PHD) and Delano Aaron (USL) were campaigning to a group of African Americans. Aaron told to the group that “the Jews are taking over the school” and stated that a vote for PHD meant a vote for Jews taking over the school.
• In April 2002, USL members renamed Chuck Chigewe, PHD’s Black candidate for Vice President, to Chick Chigewitz, to make his name more Jewish sounding.
• In November 1999, Omar Killingbeck, a USL member wrote that Birthright Israel was racist.
• The November 8, 2004 editorial in The Kingsman entitled “A Sensitive Topic” discussed racial division on campus read, “to take this a step further, you can clearly see a division of these clubs here on campus: the majority of clubs are in the Barn; while certainly ethnically exclusive clubs are housed right as you enter campus. Is that fair? We don’t think so.” The majority of clubs refers to clubs like the Black Student Union, the Islamic Society, the Carribean Student Union, who have are badly situated in “the barn,” while the “certain ethnically exclusive clubs housed right as you enter campus” refers to Hillel and other Jewish clubs who are housed by a campus entrance on Campus Road off of Nostrand Avenue.
• While at the computer lab, a student who frequents Hillel, noticed that waiting to be printed was a word document entitled “F--- the Yahood.”
From reading the November 8, 2004 Kingsman editorial, we can see that everyone seems to understand that there is some sort of ethnic division on campus. But while no one can deny that in any group there are racists, I have not seen an upsurge of racism among Jewish students, nor have we witnessed members of PHD stereotyping Muslims or Blacks in USL, in flyers and opinion articles in order to win student government elections.
However, a huge amount of negative feeling is being generated towards Jews, especially by USL members. The problem is not simply an ethnic division on our campus. It is specifically the negative stereotyping of Jews, many times for political gain, but many times in addressing a variety of issues as well. This is known as anti-Semitism.
If people are serious about mending the divisions on campus, they are going to have to look deep within themselves and ask whether they are being as sensitive to the issues of the Jewish minority as well as other minorities.
People must come to understand that for every Jew, in one way or another, the existence of the State of Israel, as a political issue is the equivalent of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or even the Fourteenth Amendment, because it means that they no longer have to fear anti-Semitism, because they will always have a refuge.
Even if one does not believe that they hate Jews, they must still strive for sensitivity regarding Jewish issues like Israel and anti-Semitic stereotypes. For it was not with a bloody hatred, but with negative stereotypes that students were told not to vote – and in the end did not vote for the bunch of rich Jews in PHD.