Anti-Zionism on campus, and why double standards do more harm than good
November 2, 2018
Over the years, it has become apparent in the college community that Zionism is not only disapproved of, but discriminated against, with such outstanding remarks against Israel’s very existence. The already confirmed annual Students for Justice in Palestine Conference at University of California, Los Angeles in November expresses blatant discrimination against Zionists and Jewish students alike. As an organization, SJP goes out of their way to vehemently express their disgust and hatred toward Jewish students and pro-Israel organizations.
These egregious attacks on not only Jewish students, but pro-Israel members, are inexcusable as this is entirely contradictory to the goal for college campuses to welcome all viewpoints without discrimination. If a college campus fails to take any action against discrimination, this will show the establishment’s true colors more than any swastika or Neo-Nazi flyer. What is most infuriating is that the majority of these hate crimes go unnoticed or ignored, while the victims of these acts of hatred are continuously demonized and blamed for the deeds of such insufferable beings. The apathy college faculty members contain toward such anti-Semitism and anti-Zionists doesn’t fix anything. These actions do nothing more than contradict the messages of unity and diversity promoted by universities all over the nation.
Students who express viewpoints that insinuate physical violence or discrimination—such as the Stanford University resident assistant who threatened to “physically fight Zionists,” who even then took longer than needed to resign after such horrific comments—should have consequences for their actions. College campuses such as UCLA have two choices: Uphold their mission statement “...for creating and fostering a respectful, cooperative, equitable and civil campus environment for our diverse campus communities” or continue the apathy toward the welfare of Jewish and pro-Israel students. The allowance of an organization with a soiled history of violating Jewish and Zionist values to take place in a university that claims to promote civility and respect is the pinnacle of hypocrisy.
Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, and other anti-Israel groups that will be attending this conference this month have even supported the recent murder of an innocent Israeli-American, Ari Fuld. One of the chapters for SJP voiced support for Fuld’s murder, stating “...colonial comes with consequences...”
Frustratingly enough, there has been little to no consequence to the dialogue to the sympathization of murderers. An organization that claims to advocate for peace and against violence siding with pure terrorists is unbelievably backwards and idiotic at best. For a prestigious university such as UCLA to allow such a hateful organization to organize a conference on their campus is heartbreaking to see, considering their mission statement to promote a safe place for all ideas. The SJP conference at UCLA shows that universities and colleges appear to favor one side, while pushing the other off the deep end. If such breeding grounds for hatred and disrespect for Israel continues, the prospects for peace between campus activists is bleak at best, and cooperation will never ensue.
As the vice president of Knights for Israel, the only pro-Israel student club at the University of Central Florida (a relatively apathetic campus toward both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian coin), it’s downright shocking, yet humbling to see the warfare other colleges trudge through. Friends, acquaintances, and strangers have shared their collections of horror stories of anti-Semitism from all over the country, but what all of these instances share in common, is that they all occur within the university setting. However, not all Florida universities have an Israel climate similar to our campus. Notably, Florida State University and University of South Florida have experienced an increase in anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activity on their campuses. The FSU chapter of SJP organized a “Great Return March” this past April, who labeled the IDF as “oppressors” toward the violent protests orchestrated by Hamas members on the Gaza Strip, claiming it was “Palestinians rights to return to their homelands.” At USF, the only Jewish senator resigned from their Student Government due to “death threats and alienation” from his peers. This increase in anti-Semitism on campus is alarming to observe in my home state, especially from a school where this hardly ever occurs. While our organization is thankful that we do not face opposition with disrespect, screaming matches, or physical altercations, that doesn’t mean pro-Israel advocacy isn’t necessary. An apathetic campus is far from a job well done in the sense that in any semester, the biannual incoming of students with any and all perspectives can easily sway the Israel climate of the campus in a positive or negative light. Therefore, we and all campuses, pro-Israel, SJP-majority, and apathetic campuses must be equipped to preach accuracy toward dissenting opinions, not to eradicate the opinions but the lies when it is needed.
Emily Aspinwall is a sophmore at UCF where she is a political science major with a minor in intelligence and national security with an interest in Iranian and Israeli politics, and is an honors in the major research specializing in Israeli and Iranian relations. She is vice president of Knights for Israel at the University of Central Florida, as well as the campus CAMERA fellow for the 2018-2019 school year.