[Marxism] Brown student responds to NYT op-ed about anti-Semitism

Louis Proyect 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 
different experience.)

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
  On Campus
Benjamin Gladstone

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 
fight oppression.

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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