Antisemitism on campus: UC Irvine
Imagine walking on a campus past buildings where you have taken numerous classes with many peers, past the Student Center where you have eaten lunch many times, past all the familiar places where you have felt safe and accepted. Now imagine walking by those same places and seeing blood-stained flags of a nation that is part of your identity. Posters with “anti-hate = anti-Israel” and “Stop Israeli Genocide” parade in front of you. Displays surround you with images of cruel IDF soldiers, dead Gazans, Anne Frank — a symbol of Jewish tragedy — wearing a kaffiyeh, and of Israel’s barrier to protect Jews from terrorism, labeled an “apartheid wall.” It is as if everything Israel and Jews ever stood for is racism, bloodshed and war. You are a Jew; a proud Jew, a proud supporter of Israel. Now you are seen as nothing but a racist murderer on your own campus.
When I first walked onto campus and saw the Israeli flag blowing in the wind, ripped and blood-stained, I was filled with anger, sadness, and helplessness. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “These are lies. This is disgusting!” I didn’t scream, but I trembled with rage at the Muslim Student Union (MSU), and even more, at the UCI administration for standing by as their students are humiliated, chewed up and spit out, and depicted almost as animals.
Anyone who knows Israel’s history knows of its challenges, triumphs and mistakes. I refuse to accept vicious propaganda that demonizes Israel. I refuse to accept desecration of cherished symbols of Jewish identity. I recognize that freedom of speech entails freedom to preach hate, lies and prejudice, but I am repulsed. The MSU depicts the suffering caused by Israel’s recent war with Hamas, but it never acknowledges the reasons for Israel’s actions, the suffering of Israelis, Hamas’ goal to destroy Israel, or the tactics Hamas used, such as human shields, that raised the civilian toll. I, along with Israelis and the Jewish world, grieve for the innocent civilians who died. Why doesn’t the MSU show equal concern for Jewish fears and suffering? Could they share Hamas’ view that whenever an Israeli man, woman, or child is killed, it should be cause for celebration and passing out candy?
I have been told to censor myself so that potential students are not afraid to come to UCI, but I have had enough censorship. With truth comes power, not fear. The MSU’s hate is dangerous. I have been in Jewish private schools since second grade and I have always been taught that hatred is wrong. I know that Israelis are taught not to hate Arabs, and that Jewish national identity demands equal protection for Muslim religious identity. I know that UCI’s Jewish students never even thought of retaliating with a weeklong campaign of “The World Without Mecca” or “Palestinian Nationalism=Islamic Terrorism and Racism.” Then I came to UCI, and found that my fear of hatred was more than justified. At UCI, hate is a yearly event that lasts for a week. It isn’t just any hatred. It is hatred directed at me, my friends, my community and my history.
Georges-Elia Sarfati is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Clermont Ferrand in France. In his recent interview entitled Language as a Tool against Jews and Israel, he talks about Europe, but this universally applies to antisemites anywhere (the emphasis is mine):
“Europe created Nazism, totalitarianism, racism and colonialism. Linguistically, we see what we might call a ‘displacement,’ or in psychological terms, ‘projection.’ All these traumatizing elements in Europe’s history are redirected toward Israel.
“Theologically speaking, this recalls the mechanism of the scapegoat. The latter is loaded with everybody’s sins, and then expunged. This biblical gesture is taken over by anti-Zionism. With all its verbal violence it constructs a despicable image of the state of Israel.”
How to React?
When asked how Jews and their allies should relate to the discourse, Sarfati quotes from his book: “This Judeophobia…should be judged as a pornographic vision: the speakers, listeners and those who watch it, all enjoy it.” He points out that one should not fall into the trap by starting to respond to one’s enemies’ arguments.
“If the anti-Zionist says the Zionist state is a fascist or a Nazi state, it would be mistaken to answer ‘How could you say such a thing? Israel has been the victim of fascism.’ That will only lead to the anti-Zionist’s next slogan: ‘The victims have become perpetrators.’ Entering into such debates is useless.
“One can reply that by using the equation ‘Zionism is fascism’ the anti-Zionist has become a successor of Hitler’s tradition. His slogan says Zionism and Israel are the movers of the absolute evil. It recycles what the Nazis said about the Jews. Racism dehumanizes a certain segment of humanity in order to justify its expulsion before its destruction. The latter is then covered up as a goal of public health.” Sarfati explains: “In this way, language serves the perfect crime. That is why the anti-Zionist discourse hardly speaks about Zionism, but is very telling about anti-Zionists.”
Collective Psychological Processes in Anti-Semitism by Avner Falk
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