[Marxism] Brown student responds to NYT op-ed about anti-Semitism
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Oct 2 11:11:25 MDT 2016
@Benjamin Gladstone, I take the same Brown University courses as you. I
currently sit across from you in a Middle East Studies seminar. So I'm
confused by today's New York Times op-ed, where you write of
experiencing anti-Semitism after listening to our professor "glorify"
Egyptian leader Nasser and Hezbollah. (When/where did that happen?!)
Brown is also 1/4th Jewish and anecdotally, in my 4 years, I've never
seen a 'swastika carved into the bathroom stalls" or heard another
student "accuse me of killing Jesus." (But in your op-ed, you've had a
Ben, your exaggerations and allegations of anti-Semitism at Brown harm
our professors' ability to teach. Your rhetoric invites outside
political groups to pressure, fire and censor non-tenured academics
critical of your Israel politics (a la the Canary Mission). Your op-ed
portends a threat to academic freedom at Brown.
NY Times Op-Ed, Oct. 2 2016
Anti-Semitism at My University, Hidden in Plain Sight
Providence, R.I. — Last semester, a group came to Providence to speak
against admitting Syrian refugees to this country. As the president of
the Brown Coalition for Syria, I jumped into action with my peers to
stage a counterdemonstration. But I quickly found myself cut out of the
planning for this event: Other student groups were not willing to work
with me because of my leadership roles in campus Jewish organizations.
That was neither the first nor the last time that I would be ostracized
this way. Also last semester, anti-Zionists at Brown circulated a
petition against a lecture by the transgender rights advocate Janet Mock
because one of the sponsors was the Jewish campus group Hillel, even
though the event was entirely unrelated to Israel or Zionism. Ms. Mock,
who planned to talk about racism and transphobia, ultimately canceled.
Anti-Zionist students would rather have no one speak on these issues
than allow a Jewish group to participate in that conversation.
Of course, I still believe in the importance of accepting refugees,
combating discrimination, abolishing racist law enforcement practices
and other causes. Nevertheless, it’s painful that Jewish issues are shut
out of these movements. Jewish rights belong in any broad movement to
My fellow activists tend to dismiss the anti-Semitism that students like
me experience regularly on campus. They don’t acknowledge the swastikas
that I see carved into bathroom stalls, scrawled across walls or left on
chalkboards. They don’t hear students accusing me of killing Jesus. They
don’t notice professors glorifying anti-Semitic figures such as Gamal
Abdel Nasser of Egypt or the leadership of Hezbollah, as mine have.
Nor do they speak against the anti-Semitism in American culture. Even as
they rightfully protest hate crimes against Muslim Americans and
discrimination against black people, they wrongfully dismiss attacks on
Jews (who are the most frequent targets of religiously motivated hate
crimes in the United States) and increasing anti-Semitism in the
American political arena, as can be seen in Donald Trump’s flirtations
with the “alt-right.” They don’t take issue with calls for the
destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.
Many of my fellow activists also perpetuate anti-Semitism by dismissing
Jews of color, especially the Mizrahi and Sephardi majority of Israel’s
Jewish population, descendants of refugees from Southwest Asia and North
Africa. Ignoring the expulsion of 850,000 Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from
Arab and Muslim countries from 1948 to the early 1970s allows students
to portray all Israelis as white and European and get away with making a
“progressive” case for dismantling the Jewish state.
Even hummus has become politicized: Anti-Zionists at my school who
demanded that cafeterias stop serving hummus produced by a company with
Israeli ownership, also claimed that the product showed cultural
appropriation even though Mizrahim and Sephardim have been eating
Southwest Asian cuisine since long before the rise of organized Zionism.
In my experience, anti-Semites refuse to acknowledge Mizrahi and
Sephardi Jews to minimize the history of oppression against Jews, and in
doing so dismiss contemporary Jewish concerns. For example, non-Jewish
students at Brown tell me that I cannot appreciate a history of
marginalization because, as they see it, Jews have historically been a
powerful group, the Holocaust being the only few years of exception.
They play down the temporal and geographic scope of that history so that
the oppression appears circumstantial rather than global and systemic.
These are serious issues, and social justice movements should be
addressing them. I recognize my white, male and other privileges, and,
accordingly, I listen to people of color, women and members of other
marginalized groups and support them as allies. Likewise, I expect
non-Jews at Brown and elsewhere to recognize our oppression to include
us in efforts for change.
Benjamin Gladstone is a junior at Brown University.
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