NY Times Oddly Ambivalent About California Forbidding Anti-Semitism on Campus

The New York Times’ Ian Lovett reported Sunday on the University of California condemning anti-Semitism in its university system, especially in relation to the anti-Israeli BDS movement infesting college campuses, which calls for boycotts of Israeli companies for the country’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians. The text box: “A precedent, unlikely to quell debates over Israel on American campuses.”

The problem has been festering for years -- and so has the Times’ oddly ambivalent response to the outbreaks of anti-Semitism on left-wing college campuses by students and radical professors alike. While the paper is eager to forward propaganda by the Council on American-Islamic relations concerning any traces of “Islamophobia,” on or off campus, including beer cans tossed off balconies, the Times is quick to suggest radical anti-Jewish groups are being unfairly persecuted. It's a double standard that matches its slanted coverage of Israel and the Palestinians.

Lovett’s Sunday piece was peppered with overwrought accusations of trying to “quiet” the debate about Israel and Palestine.

When the University of California’s Board of Regents unanimously adopted a statement condemning anti-Semitism on its campuses, it became the first public university system to do so since the push for economic boycotts of Israel emerged on campuses across the nation.

Lovett claimed “objections were raised from across the political spectrum. Pro-Palestinian groups complained that it was designed to stifle opposition to Israeli policies..."

Still, Dima Khalidi, the director of Palestine Legal, an advocacy group based in Oakland, said that pro-Israeli groups had “succeeded in convincing the regents that Palestine advocacy is inherently anti-Semitic, and should be condemned.” She said the regents’ action was even more troubling, given the intense scrutiny that Muslims are facing in the current climate.

“It’s very clear that they have as a goal a restriction of political speech criticizing Israel and its policies,” she said.

But Norman J. Pattiz, a regent who helped write the measure, argued that a resolution specifically addressing anti-Semitism was necessary because of what he suggested was a double standard: While attacks on immigrants or Muslims are usually quickly condemned by the universities, he said, “it seems to be different for the Jewish community.”

....

Across the country, the growing calls to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel -- a movement known as “B.D.S.”-- has led to emotional battles on one campus after another. Following student votes on divestment on several campuses, swastikas have been painted on the doors of Jewish fraternities. But supporters of Palestinians say accusations of anti-Semitism are being used to silence any opposition to Israel.

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At the Berkeley campus, anti-Semitic graffiti -- “Zionists should be sent to the gas chamber” -- appeared on the wall of a bathroom in a university building. At the University of California, Los Angeles, one student was questioned about how she could be impartial on a judicial board, given that she was “very active in the Jewish community.”

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Mr. Pattiz added that the compromise statement clearly distinguished between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism.

But many did not agree, saying that the regents were effectively trying to quiet a debate about Israel and Palestine that had been going on for generations.

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Omar Zahzah, a graduate student of Palestinian descent at U.C.L.A., said any condemnation of anti-Zionism had personal implications for him: His relatives were displaced during the 1948 war that helped establish the modern Jewish state, and he wanted to continue to tell his family’s story.

“Campuses remain a hotbed of repression for this type of discussion, even as debates about Palestine are becoming a mainstream issue,” Mr. Zahzah said.

Speaking of repression of campus speech, the Times has also hardly delved into the rampant anti-Semitism among both students and faculty at liberal hot-bed Oberlin College, including Jewish students feeling threatened and the dismissal of the Holocaust as “white on white crime” (international columnist Roger Cohen wrote a strong column, but had to reference the Washington Post for the despicable “white on white” comments).

In February 2011, NYT reporter Jennifer Medina similarly rode to the defense of a campus Muslim Student Union that shouted down an Israeli ambassador’s speech at the University of California, Irvine, while misleadingly terming it a “free speech” issue:

Muslim students say that they have faced stricter scrutiny from the administration than other student groups and that they, too, face harsh language. Last spring, several students complained about a large poster on campus comparing the Muslim Student Union to Hamas and Hezbollah. A similar flier included a photograph of several students.

Because the group was suspended this fall, it was difficult to recruit new members. Now, some leaders said, some students are reluctant to get involved out of fear of repercussions.

Clay Waters
Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center.