The university has traditionally served as an enclave for intellectual expression, insulated from the distractions of the world outside. It has also served as a trendsetter for that outside society, a laboratory where social change first begins to ferment and find an outlet. To a large extent, the excitement and passion on American campuses stem from the combination of scholarly debate and student activism in a sheltered environment.
In recent decades, Jews have generally found the American campus to be a positive environment. Gone are the days of quotas limiting the number of Jewish students at our nation's top colleges and universities. It is now common to find flourishing Jewish life on many campuses, anchored by vibrant Hillel programs and increasingly popular Jewish Studies Departments. Jewish faculty have thrived at many of the nation's top institutions, both as teachers and administrators.
Institutionalized discrimination against Jews is a thing of the past. Jewish students and faculty are found in great numbers at elite universities which once resisted their presence. A majority of Ivy League universities and many others now have or have had Jewish presidents. There are few if any positions in American higher education that are not open to Jewish talent. Therefore, it is paradoxical that the American college and university campus recently emerged as one of the major sites for the expression and dissemination of anti-Semitism.
At hundreds of institutions of higher learning, the concepts of academic freedom and student activism (which have been part of the Jewish success story on campus) have been invoked to shield hatred. No longer the ivory towers they were once considered, colleges and universities are proving all too porous to the prejudices emerging in our society. In recent years, campuses have become a new proving ground for the tactics of all manner of extremists, forcing some colleges and universities onto the frontline in the fight against extremism and anti-Semitism.
Why Campus Anti-Semitism?
The Nation of Islam, or far-right extremists denying the existence of the Holocaust, for example, may not have had their geneses at universities, but their speakers and advertisements have found fertile ground there. As students form their sense of self at college and seek a niche in the world, some are especially vulnerable to hatemongers who either stir their developing political passions or couch bigotry in academic terms designed to appeal to their intellectual curiosity. Controversial speech is often welcomed at universities more than in other venues; students see their campuses as havens of free expression, with the right to speak near sacred.
Racists and demagogues have ably exploited schools' commitment to free speech, cloaking their propaganda in the guise of academic freedom. They have two objectives: hooking the country's future leaders on the ideas they preach, and generating mainstream media coverage through the controversy that inevitably erupts over particularly incendiary events.
Among America's students are many who grew up with little or no contact with Jews and who have a limited personal background to fall back upon when professional anti-Semites come to campus. For instance, young adults with little knowledge of the Holocaust might cast an uncritical look at a campus newspaper advertisement or scholarly-looking text claiming to prove that the murder of 6 million Jews is an historical hoax.
All too eager to prove their commitment to a free exchange of ideas, many students -- and sadly, school administrators as well -- in their idealism and naiveté, fail to distinguish adequately between debate that enriches and elevates the mind and speech that lowers the level of discourse to name-calling and lies. Many tend to treat all opinions and statements of fact as meriting equal consideration. This mind-set is often encouraged by the current academic vogue of deconstruction and post-modernism, which emphasize relativism and the social construction of "truth." The resulting intellectual atmosphere has provided fertile ground for the airing of conspiracy theories, newly invented mythologies and, in some instances, anti-Semitic propositions.
Another factor that has allowed anti-Semitic arguments to proliferate on campuses is the notion that the First Amendment requires their airing. But the Constitution does not oblige universities to host everyone who wants to speak or write there, nor does it require campus newspaper editors to publish every item submitted to them. Campus leaders and journalists have the job of responsibly drawing a line between valid, fact-based opinions and outright bigotry. Moreover, free speech is a two-way street. Students and school administrators have the right and responsibility to condemn and counter hatred. Their failure to do so not only contributes to the spread of hate-filled rhetoric, but causes victimized students to feel defensive, angry and isolated.
Instead of remaining a place where ideas and backgrounds mix harmoniously, or at least contend civilly, many campuses are becoming polarized along ethnic lines and riven by suspicions. The symptoms range from acts of vandalism to hate-filled rallies to ethnic stereotypes that are tolerated in student publications.
While a growing number of university presidents have responded strongly to the importation of bigotry to their campus, many others, regrettably, have not used their platforms to forcefully counter the hatemonger. Some college presidents have issued anemic and generic responses to naked anti-Semitism, using the shield of free expression as an excuse not to condemn extremism at their schools. Responses are often delayed, and then come only as a reaction to pressure from students, alumni, faculty and the surrounding community. Some college heads seem to believe that a response from the president will only fan the flames and keep an unwelcome incident in the public eye.
But just as student groups may exercise their right of free speech by sponsoring a controversial speaker or printing an incendiary opinion, university administrators may exercise their right of free speech by publicly criticizing both the message and the messenger. Criticism is not censorship. The fact that prejudice sometimes comes from a disadvantaged minority group does not give university heads carte blanche to ignore it. Most presidents would presumably want to uphold and elevate the level of debate on their campuses, not protect the racists who would turn the schools into battlefields of name-calling. Leaders must not abdicate their obligation to lead.
Administrators also do a disservice to their students when they hesitate to criticize students' spoken or printed words that eschew the standards of accountability and accuracy applied in most American workplaces. Instead of preparing them for the professional world, where one's work is usually subject to scrutiny and corrective review, these school officials allow students to think that their actions will never have consequences or ramifications beyond the walls of academia.
The hesitancy on the part of certain school heads in responding to anti-Semitism only seems that much more glaring when compared to the positive, timely statements made by some of their peers. University presidents who unequivocally and immediately condemn expressions of bigotry on their campuses send a clear message to students about the line that separates academic freedom from racism.
This report will discuss and analyze the most significant recent anti-Semitic developments on American campuses, and will outline ADL approaches to addressing this troubling problem.
Overview of Anti-Semitic Incidents
The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has tracked anti-Semitic acts on college campuses since 1984. In this time, reported incidents have increased from the 1984 low of 4 to a high of 143 in 1994. Such incidents include, for example, vandalism of Jewish student offices and other property, personal harassment, anti-Semitic speeches delivered on campus and Holocaust-denial ads printed in college newspapers.
Following years of increases, 1995 provided a welcome downturn in the number of such episodes; the 1995 total of 118 was a decrease of 25 incidents from the 1994 high of 143 -- a 17 percent decrease in campus incidents, down approximately to the level recorded in 1992. It should be noted that many incidents are never reported.
Anti-Semitism on the college campus in some ways mirrors the rest of society in terms of types of incidents and trends of increase or decrease. Incidents of personal harassment, including threats and assault, outnumber incidents of property destruction and vandalism on campus, as they do in the country generally. Additionally, some incidents in 1995 had the potential to become violent tragedies, such as one at the University of Pennsylvania (see below).
Anti-Semitic speakers continue to be invited to address campus audiences in disturbing numbers. Individuals such as the Nation of Islam's Khalid Abdul Muhammad, CUNY Professor Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Wellesley Professor Tony Martin and Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) regularly include anti-Semitic statements and historical distortions in their campus speeches.
Paid advertisements denying the Holocaust were again submitted to and printed by several college newspapers in 1995. Ads were printed in student newspapers at SUNY-Binghamton (NY), Northeastern University (MA), Oberlin College (OH), Radford University (VA), Sacred Heart University (CT), and Wittenberg University (OH). Additionally, the newspaper at Ithaca College (NY) ran the ad as an unpaid Op-Ed piece. Holocaust-denial ads were rejected at Washburn University (KS), the University of Massachusetts, North Essex Community College (MA), SUNY-Albany (NY), SUNY-Stony Brook (NY), and Williams College (MA).
Specific Examples of Serious Campus Anti-Semitic Incidents
The following is a selection of serious recent campus anti-Semitic incidents; for more detailed discussion of other anti-Semitic incidents, see subsequent sections of this report.
- On March 24, 1995, two Jewish students at the University of Pennsylvania were walking in an area immediately off campus. Derogatory anti-Jewish epithets were shouted at them by two other students sitting on the porch of a private home. When the Jewish students confronted them, one of the two went into the house and returned brandishing a shotgun which he used to threaten the Jewish students, who quickly fled the scene. Both of the perpetrators were questioned by police and university officials, and several other weapons were confiscated from their possession. One of the perpetrators was "voluntarily separated" from the university, though the victims ultimately declined to press charges through the criminal justice system.
- In the spring of 1995, an article entitled "The Paradox of European Jewry" was reprinted in a special edition of Uhuru, the Black student journal of Kent State University (OH). The article blamed Jews for the "decimation, defilement, cultural colonization, enslavement and genocide of many of the world's people up until today." This incident is particularly disturbing because the funding for the special issue of Uhuru came from the University Provost's office.
- In October 1995, a column appeared in the Columbia [University] Daily Spectator written by the president of the Columbia Black Student Organization, who referred to Jews as "devils," "tricksters," and "leeches sucking the blood from the Black community." Jews, he wrote, "disguise their evilness under the skirts and costumes of the rabbi," and hide the "blood of billions of Africans" under their yarmulkes. (See "Anti-Semitism Among Black Student Groups" for a fuller discussion of this incident.)
- On February 24, 1995, at the University of California at Berkeley, the Muslim Student Association sponsored a rally in support of Hamas, the Middle East extremist group, soon after a series of bus and sidewalk bombings in Israel. Students from several northern California campuses carried a sign depicting an Israeli flag with a swastika in the middle and symbolically volunteered to serve as future suicide bombers. A Jewish observer was spit on by one of the demonstrators. (See "Anti-Zionism as anti-Semitism" for a fuller discussion of this incident.)
- On November 13, 1995, a Jewish student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale overheard a student make an anti-Semitic comment. When he challenged the other student about the comment, he was punched in the face.
- Throughout 1995, a virulently anti-Semitic anonymous tract entitled, "Anti-Semitism . . . . Found" has been mailed to professors at colleges around the country. Colleges receiving the mailing include Yale, Harvard, Duke, Dartmouth, Brown, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Princeton, Washington University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia, and the University of Massachusetts. This mailing has also been sent to government and law enforcement officials around the country. The source of the mailing has yet to be determined.
- In 1996, a Holocaust-denial videotape "proving" that Auschwitz was not a death camp was sent to History professors at several universities, including the Universities of Oregon and Notre Dame.
- In April 1996, a female student active in Jewish causes at the University of Miami was systematically harassed after helping to plan a rally against a Nation of Islam speaker on campus. In addition to finding a note attached to her car which said "Ready to go boom?" she received several threatening phone calls and was verbally harassed while walking home at night. On December 6, a 15-foot menorah on campus was ripped from its moorings and pushed into a lake.
- On October 10, 1996, the Daily Illini, the newspaper serving the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, published an Op-Ed essay attacking Israel after the opening of an archeological tunnel in Jerusalem. In addition to references in the essay equating Zionism with racism, the piece was accompanied by a cartoon depicting a skeleton, with a blazing gun in one hand, making a peace sign with the other, and clothed in a robe with a Jewish Star on its chest. The cartoon and essay caused a widespread reaction in terms of letters to the editor over the following weeks.
In these and other instances, ADL is committed to helping college students, faculty and administrators confront the problem of anti-Semitism on campus. By providing information, counseling and educational approaches such as the ADL A CAMPUS OF DIFFERENCE program, effective means for countering anti-Semitism on each campus have been developed.
Anti-Semitism that expresses itself through Holocaust denial has garnered much of its recent U.S. notoriety by targeting college students. Through campus newspaper advertisements, videotapes and computer networks, the pseudo-scholars who seek to inflame "debate" about the veracity of the Holocaust have made inroads at colleges and universities, attracting national attention through the controversies that erupt on campuses over the publication of their lies.
Just as anti-Semitism on campuses cloaked itself as anti-Zionism in the 1970s and 1980s, Holocaust denial now serves as a campus vehicle for spreading hatred of Jews. By presenting their thesis as an academic question deserving debate, the deniers have found fertile ground among campus newspaper editors eager to demonstrate their commitment to free speech and the airing of controversial ideas. And through the student editors, Holocaust deniers have found an inexpensive method of reaching thousands of impressionable young adults who often have limited knowledge of the Holocaust and are in the process of forming their perceptions of world history. (To be sure, many campus editors have rejected efforts to use their publications for the spread of such propaganda.)
Holocaust deniers, falsely claiming to be legitimate historical "revisionists," portray themselves as scholars seeking the truth behind what they term the largest hoax of the 20th century. Their success does not depend on convincing college students that the murder of 6 million Jews never occurred; rather, just the idea that the genocide can be called debatable and that its scope can be doubted, means that the deniers have scored propaganda points.
Holocaust "revisionism" emerged as an organized propaganda movement in 1979 when Willis Carto, the founder of Liberty Lobby -- the nation's largest anti-Semitic organization -- established the Institute for Historical Review (IHR). Based in Southern California, IHR enables professors with no credentials in history, writers without academic certification and career anti-Semites to engage in pseudo-academic efforts to deny the Holocaust.
Bradley Smith's Campus Campaign
IHR has found its niche on campuses through its Media Project Director, Bradley Smith, who leads the so-called Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust (CODOH). In the spring of 1991, Smith submitted a full-page paid advertisement to The Daily Northwestern of Northwestern University (the academic home of Arthur Butz, an electrical engineering professor who wrote a book in 1976, The Hoax of the Twentieth Century, arguing that the Holocaust never happened). The newspaper printed the ad, which looked like a news article with the headline, "THE HOLOCAUST STORY: How Much is False? The Case for Open Debate."
In a pseudo-scholarly vein, Smith stated that the "Holocaust lobby" prevents scholars from pursuing a thorough examination of the "orthodox Holocaust story." He alleged a lack of proof that Jews were gassed at Auschwitz or that millions of people died there. He contended that the piles of corpses photographed at the liberation of Bergen-Belsen were not a result of a German plan to murder Jews, but rather the result of disease and starvation caused by the flood of refugees into Germany as the Soviet army advanced in early 1945. He did not couch his argument in blatantly anti-Semitic terms, but in a seemingly rational, thoughtful manner designed to provoke serious consideration of his views.
Needless to say, the advertisement, which appeared on April 4, 1991, sparked a furor on campus. It led to letters and Op-Ed pieces in the school paper and lectures and forums on campus about the issue. That, in turn, attracted wide media coverage in the Chicago area.
Obviously pleased with the tumult his advertisement caused, Smith submitted his ads to more campus newspapers in the fall of 1991, beginning with the University of Michigan. During the 1991-92 school year, the ad was published in nearly a third of the more than 60 campus papers to which it was submitted. The material was printed either as a full-page advertisement or as an Op-Ed piece with commentary by the editors, in either case generating controversy wherever it was read. No matter how loud or numerous the condemnations of the substance of Smith's material, the national attention provided a victory, or at least validation, for the Holocaust-denial movement.
In the spring 1992 semester, Smith peddled a second ad, devoted to the issue of "Jewish Soap," in which he sought to build on the notoriety generated by the first ad. But this time, not a single campus newspaper accepted it, including many which had published the first one.
Smith was quiet during the 1992-93 academic year. At the beginning of the 1993-94 year, however, he launched a new advertising blitz, challenging the veracity of the newly opened U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and attacking the work of Emory University's Professor Deborah Lipstadt in her acclaimed book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.
This advertisement was more strident in its arguments and accusations than was the first:
The Deborah Lipstadts [sic] -- and there is a clique of them on every campus -- work to suppress revisionist research and demand that students and faculty ape their fascist behavior... To many it will appear impossible that deception on such a grand scale can actually be taking place.
By the end of the spring 1994 semester, Smith's ad had been published, in various formats, in 32 campus newspapers, although it had been rejected by many others. A particularly furious controversy erupted when the ad was printed in December 1993, in The Justice, the student newspaper of predominantly Jewish Brandeis University; the uproar was covered by national news organizations, including in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Time magazine. The ad cost $130, but the check was never cashed as the editors donated it to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum -- which refused the money. About 2,000 copies of the paper were stolen from distribution stands the day the ad appeared. Campus police guarded the 4,000 new copies that were ordered and distributed two days later, the same day that 250 students held a protest rally.
Smith and his colleagues also garnered widespread media attention when the ad was published -- along with an accompanying editorial and a banner headline reading, "An illustration of hate" -- in the Queens College Quad, the student newspaper at Queens College, a campus of the City University of New York with a 30 percent Jewish population. The resulting controversy was included in a segment on Holocaust denial on the CBS newsmagazine, 60 Minutes. That was followed by a one-hour Donahue program featuring Smith and CODOH representative David Cole. The editors at Queens, like those at Brandeis, refused to accept the advertising fee, and the two events netted Smith invaluable free publicity from the nation's most venerated news organs.
During the 1994-95 academic year, Smith again held off on submitting advertisements. Instead, he sent 250 campus editors copies of a video (see previous reference) in which David Cole -- who claims Jewish parentage -- provides a tour of Auschwitz from a denier's viewpoint. Three papers -- those at the University of Akron, Tulane University and Rowan College of New Jersey -- printed uncritical summaries of the video written by inexperienced staffers. In each case, the editors later printed apologies after students and ADL protested the falsity of the articles.
In early to mid-April 1995, Smith began submitting his ad to campus newspapers again. The advertisement, the same one used during the 1993-94 academic year, was no doubt distributed with an eye on timing, as it was received during or right after Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remem-brance Day), just before final exams, and often in time for the last issue of the semester. The possibility for an effective on-campus response was limited at the 17 schools where the ad was printed. But the schools where the advertisement appeared were also nowhere as large or prestigious as the group of colleges and universities where Smith's first advertisement appeared in 1991 and 1992. This might signal that Smith's message has become a bit shopworn and that many campus editors are wise to his tactics and motivation.
Campus editors need not feel that constitutional principles of free expression are at work when deciding whether to print Smith's material. The First Amendment does not compel journalists to disseminate lies that fuel anti-Semitism. Just as most campus editors would not print an overtly racist or sexist advertisement filled with obvious lies and distortions, they should exercise that same right of refusal when it comes to material defaming Jews.
The advertisements and speaking appearances by Holocaust deniers lead well-meaning students and academics into the trap of debating the "revisionists" on their own terms. The deniers seek to create an ongoing debate over the existence of the Holocaust. But the principle of a free press and the quest for truth on campus do not mean that students must be subject to blatant lies about the near-extinction of European Jewry. Encouragingly, many campus journalists are by now familiar with Bradley Smith and will not publish his material, denying him the publicity and legitimacy he craves. Smith, however, relies on the rapid turnover and limited institutional memories of most campus newspaper staffs.
Exploiting the World Wide Web
The 1995-96 academic year did not see much Bradley Smith propaganda in college newspapers. He has tried peddling a classified advertisement to tout a denier's Internet site. The ad reads, "46 Unanswered Questions About the German Gas Chambers Free on the World Wide Web." The questions are written by David Cole, and internet surfers reaching the site have the option to order Cole's video tour of Auschwitz. The advertisement ran twice in October 1995 in The Diamondback at the University of Maryland, but was pulled due to student protests. It was rejected by newspapers at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Pierce College in Tacoma, Washington. A similar ad, reading "46 Revisionist Questions about the World War Two 'Gas Chambers,'" also ran at least five times in the Cornell Daily Sun in February and March 1996, engendering considerable controversy on campus. The newspaper, in an editorial, recognized the ad as "hate-filled" but justified continued publication as serving the cause of free speech and "open debate." As a result of the advertisement, Cornell Hillel invited the ADL director of campus affairs to speak at Cornell about Holocaust denial and advise them on strategies to counteract it. Soon afterwards, a newly elected editorial staff decided to terminate the publication of the ad.
It may seem that Smith has been focusing recently more on developing his World Wide Web site than on exploiting campus media, but the Internet is even more of an ideal tool to reach students than college newspapers. Students are frequent Web surfers, and their access to cyberspace is often free. What is more, they may examine the material in complete privacy and at their convenience. The Internet also allows Smith to circumvent newspaper editors who might reject his advertisements, and is more cost-effective and far-reaching than student publications. However, the computer material must be sought out, with no guarantee that college students will find it or, if they do, explore it further. Hence, Smith has coordinated his Web and advertising strategies by running small, inexpensive ads promoting his Web site.
In addition to the efforts of Bradley Smith and David Cole, college students may be subject to Holocaust-denial theories from within academia as well. Northwestern University's resident faculty denier, Arthur Butz, for instance, promotes his own Holocaust-denial materials on his University-provided faculty Web site. This site links the surfer to other Holocaust-denial, racist and anti-Semitic sites including those of Bradley Smith, Greg Raven (currently head of the IHR) and Wellesley professor Tony Martin. At Washington State University, an anonymous student has produced his own Holocaust-denial Web site with equivalent linkages.
Infiltrating University Libraries
In April 1995, a student at Northeastern University in Boston noticed several Holocaust- denial texts in the school's main library. The books were found in the history section, alongside genuine texts about the Holocaust, and included titles such as The Six Million Reconsidered and The Real Eichmann Trial. ADL protested, asking in a letter to Dean Alan Benenfeld, the director of the school libraries, that the books be moved off the library's history shelves and to a section dealing with anti-Semitism, propaganda or hate literature. Dean Benenfeld responded, writing that the university would investigate the matter. Ten months later, he told ADL that the school had discovered "inconsistencies" in the library's cataloguing system, and was switching to the system used by the Library of Congress that includes a category for misinformation and propaganda.
But administrative improvements do not solve the problem raised by the presentation of these books as legitimate history texts. The fact that university librarians would place anti-Semitic propaganda alongside genuine scholarly works by known historians demonstrates either carelessness, a decline in library standards, or the growing acceptance of "revisionism" within academia and the need for effective education to counter the deniers. The books' placement on the history shelves only perpetuates the false impression that debate over the veracity of the Holocaust is part of serious academia, instead of the work of a few well-organized anti-Semites.
No data has been collected on campuses regarding the effect of denial propaganda on college students' attitudes about the Holocaust. Surveys regarding its impact on the American public are inconclusive, with varying results.
Anti-Semitism and Black Student Groups
Campus communities are every bit as complicated as those in outside society. People relate to one another in many different ways, as individuals and as groups. In the same way that relations between individual students can vary so, too, do the relationships between student groups. Much has been written in recent years about the relationship between Black and Jewish student groups. These relations vary from campus to campus, year to year. In most cases, Black and Jewish students coexist in relative isolation from each other and with limited meaningful contact. While there are many cases of warm interpersonal relations among individuals, ongoing linkages among organized groups are rare. The potential exists for misconceptions, miscommunication, or campus polarization leading to flashpoints of anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism among some segments of the Black community has been a growing campus force since the early 1980s, largely paralleling the increasing popularity of Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam. NOI's acceptance on campus has been assisted by the increasing trend in student life and academia toward the search for heightened racial consciousness and identity. The organization's anti-Semitic and anti-white message further reinforces and appeals to racial separatism and militancy. The NOI and similarly minded demagogues have dusted off easily accessible, widely known stereotypes and injected them into public consciousness. This blatant anti-Semitism masquerading as free expression has poisoned interethnic discourse at several schools.
In the Classroom
Black academics such as Leonard Jeffries of the City University of New York (CUNY), and Tony Martin of Wellesley College, have invoked academic freedom as justification for espousing their racist and anti-Semitic views in the classroom and in outside lectures. They clamor for the right to express their opinions, but will not brook any disagreement with their views. From behind their lecterns at respected institutions of higher learning, under the cover of pseudo-scholarship, they try to make bigotry sound respectable. Lecture halls are transformed from places for pursuing higher knowledge to breeding grounds for ethnic hatred. In the process, these entrepreneurs of bigotry generate a significant income from lucrative lecture fees.
Leonard Jeffries, the former head of the Black Studies Department at the City College of CUNY, and a professor there since 1972, has espoused racist and anti-Semitic views and theories since at least the early 1980s, when his comments -- made while he was department head -- began to attract public attention. In the spring of 1988, a white student wrote an account in the student newspaper of his experiences in Jeffries' class, Black Studies 101. The student recounted numerous times when Jeffries constructed large parts of his class around anti-white arguments.
The New York Times reported that in an April 1990 class on African heritage, Jeffries said that "rich Jews who financed the development of Europe also financed the slave trade," and that "the Jewish Holocaust is raised as the only Holocaust." The Times also reported that Jeffries has taught students in his classes that Blacks are "sun people," humanistic and communal, and whites are "ice people," cold, unfeeling oppressors.
Jeffries exploded onto the public scene in August 1991, when the New York Post published an account of a vitriolic anti-Semitic and racist speech he made on July 20 at the Empire State Black Arts and Cultural Festival in Albany, New York. Jeffries asserted that "rich Jews" controlled the Black slave trade, and that Hollywood was the site of a Jewish-dominated conspiracy to systematically denigrate Blacks. He called then-Assistant U.S. Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch the "ultimate, supreme, sophisticated, debonair racist" and a "Texas Jew."
On September, 19, 1991, after more than a month of widespread media coverage of Jeffries' bigotry, the City University Faculty Senate voted to condemn the remarks. On October 27, City College's Board of Trustees voted 10-4 to give Jeffries a one-year extension as chairman of the Black Studies Department rather than the standard three years. On March 23, 1992, CUNY's Board of Trustees voted to remove Jeffries as head of the department, replacing him with Dr. Edmund W. Gordon, formerly chairman of the African-American Studies Department at Yale University.
Jeffries challenged the decision in Federal District Court in Manhattan, claiming CUNY violated his freedom of speech by penalizing him for his statements. In 1993 the jury sided with Jeffries, and he was awarded $360,000 in damages and reinstated as department chairman.
The University appealed the decision, arguing that Jeffries' statements disrupted the school's operations, but the appeals court upheld the verdict in April 1994. However, a month later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in another case, Waters v. Churchill, that a government agency may punish an employee for speech if the agency shows "reasonable predictions of disruption." The New York State Attorney General at the time, G. Oliver Koppell, used that ruling to appeal the Jeffries case to the Supreme Court. In November 1994, the high court ordered the court of appeals to reconsider its findings.
In April 1995, the appeals court reversed itself, upholding Jeffries' dismissal as department head. When his term was over two months later, the trustees did not reappoint Jeffries, but chose Professor Moyibi Amoda to head the Black Studies Department. Jeffries appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear his petition.
Jeffries still teaches at City College as a tenured professor, and still continues to speak at colleges and universities. He was a speaker at the viciously anti-Semitic, anti-white Black Holocaust Nationhood Conference held in Washington, DC, October 14 and 15, 1995 -- the weekend before the Nation of Islam's Million Man March.
In the spring semester of 1993, Anthony Martin, a tenured history professor in the Africana Studies department of Wellesley College in Massa-chusetts, assigned as a primary textbook for a survey course on African-American history The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Volume I. The book is an anonymously written conspiracy theory of Jewish domination of the slave trade published by the Nation of Islam, the Black Muslim group led by Minister Louis Farrakhan. Three Jewish students -- described later by Martin as "Hillel representatives" -- sat in on a lecture at the beginning of the semester during the period when students may attend a variety of classes to choose their courseload.
In response to student and faculty concern over the book, Martin delivered a speech on March 4, 1993, to the Wellesley College Academic Council titled, "An Answer to My Jewish Critics," which he printed in his self-published book, The Jewish Onslaught: Despatches From the Wellesley Battlefront, published in December of that year. In this speech, and another one within the same month entitled "Broadside No. 1," Martin accused Jews of controlling the African slave trade. In his second speech, Martin also stated that Jews controlled the civil rights movement to the detriment of African-Americans; that Jewish-owned publishing companies had conspired with Jewish academics to control scholarship on African-American history and culture; and that Jews today are engaged in a conservative, racist "offensive" against Black progress.
Martin has taught at Wellesley since 1973 and been tenured since 1975. In The Jewish Onslaught, Martin describes a "conspiracy" against him at the school that includes the three Jewish students who attended his class and ADL. Professor Selwyn Cudjoe, the director of Africana Studies at Wellesley, has been one of Martin's most outspoken critics; African Americans who disagree with Martin, including Cudjoe, become characterized by him as "handkerchief heads," "Uncle Tom house Negroes," "good Negroes" and "unthinking Negro stooges."
The self-published book was barely on the market a week when the president of Wellesley, Diana Chapman Walsh, wrote to 40,000 graduates, parents and friends to denounce it. She wrote that the book "gratuitously attacks individuals and groups at Wellesley College through innuendo and the application of racial and religious stereotype." More than half the faculty signed a statement repudiating the book. However, the college did not censure Martin and his tenure status was not affected.
Martin issued a typically paranoid-style response to Walsh's criticism, claiming that the college administration had conspired against him and was attempting to silence Black people. In the summer of 1994, Wellesley president Walsh denied Martin a merit raise, challenging his scholarship. The History Department, with which Wellesley had cross-listed his courses, dropped his classes from its offerings, so students would no longer receive history credit for a Martin class.
Martin continues to teach and to spread his venomous views in speaking engagements at universities throughout the country. He was also a featured speaker at the NOI-linked "Black Holocaust" conference preceding the Million Man March. Speakers such as Martin and Leonard Jeffries are in demand -- and paid handsomely -- because of the notoriety derived from their anti-Semitic and racist remarks. Bigotry has become a lucrative career choice.
The prominence of pseudo-scholars such as Jeffries and Martin shows that anti-Semitism and bigotry are no longer fringe activities on some campuses, but occupy a growing place in the realm of academic debate. The ivory tower has been breached at its core, and there are undoubtedly students who take their cue from the ostensibly respected professors entrusted with their academic development. Instead of learning the skills of critical thinking and how to work together, students of different ethnic backgrounds are pitted against each other by such academic bigots in an ever-downward spiral of suspicion and prejudice.
Outside the Classroom
Just as racism has infected some academic offerings, views such as Jeffries' and Martin's have seeped from the classroom into the activities of everyday campus life. In speeches and newspapers on campus, Jews are portrayed by some Black activists -- either students or speakers invited by student groups -- as bloodsuckers, architects of the slave trade and controllers of finance and the media. And it seems that the more provocative the racist speakers become, the more they are hailed by such militant Black student groups. While the numbers of such activists are small, they often set the tone for discourse and poison intergroup relations for the vast majority of their less-active fellow students.
Khalid Abdul Muhammad at Kean College
For example, the virulently anti-Semitic, bigoted speech given by Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad at Kean College in New Jersey on November 29, 1993, drew widespread attention from the media and thrust NOI's campus activities into the national spotlight. But rather than damaging his speaking career, the controversy that surrounded the speech has elevated Muhammad's celebrity status among radicalized Black students.
Muhammad was brought to campus by a Black student organization and was paid $2,600 in student funds. All members of the audience were frisked by Nation of Islam guards before entering. For three and a half hours Muhammad treated his audience of 150 to a rambling diatribe against Jews and whites:
Who are the slumlords in the Black community? The so-called Jew . . . Who is it sucking our blood in the Black community? A white imposter Arab and a white imposter Jew. Right in the Black community, sucking our blood on a daily and consistent basis... You see everybody always talk about Hitler exterminating 6 million Jews. That's right. But don't nobody ever ask what did they do to Hitler? What did they do to them folks? They went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned around and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to a Jew to get money...
We don't owe [the whites] nothing in South Africa. . . we give him 24 hours to get out of town, by sundown. That's all. If he won't get out of town by sundown, we kill everything white that ain't right (inaudible) in South Africa. We kill the women, we kill the children, we kill the babies. We kill the blind, we kill the crippled (inaudible), we kill 'em all. We kill the faggot, we kill the lesbian, we kill them all.
Kean claimed that only 25 to 50 members of the cheering audience were students. Neverthe-less, the college's response was too little, too late. Eleven days after the speech, following media criticism for her silence, Kean then-president Elsa Gomez issued a statement that did not mention Muhammad by name or address anti-Semitism:
We each have the moral responsibility to ensure an environment of mutual respect. . . Kean College has supported and will continue to support freedom of speech and freedom of dissent. . . I find the verbal abuse contained in a recent speech on this campus reprehensible. It stretches the limits of free speech into the area of intolerable.
College presidents often view it as their duty to balance the conflicting interests at hand, frequently leading to indirect or weak responses to incidents such as this one. They also largely see such events in terms of the school's public image. But Gomez's vagueness in specifically condemning Muhammad sent a message that the supporters of such raw bigotry had won, and that the school was willing to tolerate their message. She also drew media critics who were not placated by her late statement. Inadequate administration responses to campus anti-Semitism leads to more finger-pointing and to a cycle of suspicion, as voiced by the December 24, 1993, editorial in The Jewish Standard of Teaneck, New Jersey:
Would the response have been so slow and weak had another group -- other than Jews, that is -- been so affronted? If a Jewish speaker had vilified Blacks. . . would the college have immediately repudiated the speaker and his/her forum?. . . Jews are often thought of as fair game, while other groups are protected.
In the absence of an immediate, direct response, Gomez silently signaled that such naked bigotry was not an urgent priority. And those who may have heard the signal the loudest were Kean's students.
Khalid Abdul Muhammad at Howard University
Kean College was not Muhammad's first campus appearance -- he had been speaking at colleges and universities since February 1990. Nor would it be his last. But following media criticism of Muhammad's comments, condemnation from numerous Black leaders and a full-page ADL newspaper advertisement in February 1994 that printed excerpts from the speech, NOI leader Louis Farrakhan temporarily removed Muhammad from his position as a minister and the organization's national spokesman (he was reinstated as a NOI minister in July 1995). But Muhammad was invited to speak at Howard University -- the nation's pre-eminent Black university -- on February 23, 1994, by a small student organization called Unity Nation that has ties to NOI.
At that event, even before Muhammad launched into his anti-white tirade, law student and Unity Nation leader Malik Zulu Shabazz warmed up the enthusiastic crowd of 1,000 -- half of which were students -- by leading an anti-Jewish chant:
Shabazz: "Who caught Nat Turner and killed Nat Turner?"
"Who is it that controls the Federal Reserve? Who?"
"Who is it that set up the Hon. Marcus Garvey and the Justice Department and the judges that sent him to prison?"
Though Muhammad avoided anti-Semitism that night, Shabazz's Nazi-like rally turned the nation's attention to Howard and generated much negative publicity for the school. Though many students and faculty publicly stated that Shabazz and the rally did not represent the university community, the school found itself the focus of unwelcome attention from the media and Congress.
On March 7, 1994, The Washington Post printed an Op-Ed piece by Howard president Franklyn Jenifer entitled "Decrying Antisemitism." But though Jenifer's piece was longer and stronger than that of Kean's president, he, too, did not mention Muhammad by name and he, too, insisted that hatemongers should be allowed to speak on campus under the rubric of free speech:
Recent events in this nation and on our campus have shown us that bias does not just come in one flavor. It is my belief and the overwhelming belief of all others in the Howard community that all forms of ethnic bias, especially antisemitism, violate the principles on which our institution was founded. . . At the same time, we must remember that the right of free speech is inviolate, no matter how outrageous or offensive the message.
Jenifer's calm words belied the ugly atmosphere at Howard, which was revealed by one incident more telling than all the denunciations of bigotry. A Jewish Yale University history professor and recognized expert on slavery, David Biron Davis, had been slated to lecture on slavery at Howard on April 4. Apprehension over how some students might react to a Jewish speaker, as well as concern for Davis's well-being, prompted an associate dean to tell Davis that "this was not the best of times" for him to visit Howard. Davis reportedly expressed relief at the postponement, but the incident served as an indicator of the mood on campus at the time.
Muhammad returned to Howard on April 19, 1994, again at the invitation of Unity Nation, as one of four speakers for "Documenting the Black Holocaust." Anticipating the evening of hatred that lay ahead, President Jenifer and Howard professors issued statements that day condemning the event. On behalf of the board of trustees, Jenifer wrote of "our deepest concern that the Unity Nation organization has chosen to provide a platform on our campus for individuals who are associated with blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric."
The president's fears of a hatefest were not unfounded. Most members of the enthusiastic crowd of 2,000 were not Howard students but the event nevertheless further tarnished the school's reputation. Muhammad, the last speaker, brought the cheering crowd to its feet several times. He repeatedly compared American slavery to the Holocaust, calling Jews, "no-good, dirty, low-down bastards!" Of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, Muhammad said, "they had piles of shoes, as if I was supposed to be impressed. . . we didn't even have shoes." The fiery speech also included an admiring reference to Long Island Railroad gunman Colin Ferguson, who killed six white people on a commuter train in December 1993; Muhammad called him "Brother Colin" and said God had directed Ferguson to kill the white victims.
Also featured that evening were Tony Martin, Leonard Jeffries and law student Shabazz, all of whom delivered hateful remarks that served to further divide the Howard community. Despite Howard's public soul-searching in the two months between Muhammad's two appearances, the April 19 event injected a fresh dose of vitriol into the discussions.
Khalid Abdul Muhammad at York College
Muhammad once again made headlines when he came to speak at York College, a branch of the City University of New York in the impoverished neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens with a student body that is more than 60 percent Black. The date was November 7, 1995, the college's annual Black Solidarity Day, and the school -- under pressure from the CUNY administration to bar Muhammad from campus -- had denied a student group's request to bring the NOI speaker to York, citing incomplete information about the event and lack of time to make proper security arrangements. That morning, York's administration stationed about 120 New York City police and CUNY officers at the school's three gates. Dressed in riot gear, they were instructed to keep out everyone except faculty and students.
But when Muhammad arrived at campus, dozens of students massed at the front gate began shouting and jostling. After about an hour of the protest and one arrest, York acting president Thomas Minter, worried that the demonstration would escalate into violence, allowed Muhammad to come onto campus. The Nation of Islam spokesman then proceeded to launch into his usual anti-Semitic, racist themes, using new examples drawn from recent headlines.
Referring to the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin three days earlier, Muhammad said to the crowd of 200 to 300 students, "I cannot be sad when my enemy is struck down."
Touching on the trial of O.J. Simpson for the murder of his ex-wife, Muhammad said, "I want to tell the Black woman, 'Stop running around with a blonde wig on your head.' If you believe that blondes have more fun, ask Nicole Brown Simpson."
Muhammad also referred to the day's protest, calling acting president Minter and Ronald Brown, acting vice president of student development, who are both Black, "plantation Negroes that the master had sent to the gate."
Muhammad's appearance at York, aside from allowing him yet another platform from which to spout his hatred, sent a regrettable message to campuses across the country. It permitted the supporters of the Nation of Islam to bully their way around established school procedures and signaled the triumph of intimidation. However, though York capitulated, the administration and students had agreed by the end of that day to review and change the procedures that led to the debacle.
An article in the November 9 New York Times about the incident, based on interviews with York students, stated "most [students] revealed more sympathy with [Muhammad's] often vituperative declarations than they seemed to realize." Some students said that while they didn't always agree with the broad generalizations about white people, they did believe that Jews have a disproportionate amount of control over society. But they also said Muhammad touched their raw feelings about discrimination they believed they would face in the job market. A member of York's student government was quoted saying, "He speaks to us." A year later, in November 1996, Muhammad was again invited to York College (although he did not appear).
*Around the time of Khalid Muhammad's speech at Howard in February 1994, flyers were being distributed in Atlanta announcing a speech on February 27 at Spelman College, an elite Black women's college, by Silas Muhammad, Chief Executive Officer of the Nation of Islam Lost and Found (a separate organization from Farrakhan's, but which shares most of his worldview). The flyer began:
YES!!! The Jews ARE the BLOODSUCKERS of the Black Nation!! They're masquerading as the chosen people of God in an attempt to steal our birthright!
After announcing the place, date, and time of the speech, the flyer ended with this tag line:
THE HEAT OF A GERMAN OVEN IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE FIRE THAT ALLAH HAS KINDLED FOR THEM!!
Silas Muhammad was to give the keynote address at his organization's celebration of Saviour's Day (an important holiday for the group) in Atlanta. The Nation of Islam Lost and Found denied circulating the notice, but Spelman decided not to allow the group to hold its celebration at the school after the Atlanta ADL Office brought the flyer to the attention of Spelman president Johnetta Cole. Soon thereafter, Moorehouse College canceled a similar Silas Muhammad appearance.
San Fransciso State
On May 19, 1994, students at San Francisco State University unveiled a 10-foot mural honoring Malcolm X. Its left border featured a U.S. flag, dollar signs, Stars of David, a skull and crossbones, and the words, "African blood." It had been commissioned by the Pan-African Student Union and African Student Alliance. A student government committee that approved the mural claimed not to know it would contain such symbols. Jewish students, a Black faculty member, and others protested the anti-Semitism and asked that the offending section be painted over. The artist refused, saying he had not meant to offend Jews but to depict Malcolm X's anti-Israel feelings. A day after it appeared, the mural was splattered with red paint.
In the days following, while the student government debated the fate of the mural, supporters of the painting broadcast tapes of Malcolm's speeches on the campus plaza and chanted "Zionism is racism." On May 24, school president Robert Corrigan issued a forceful statement condemning the mural, blasting the student government for its inability to resolve the problem, and authorizing the painting's removal:
This is not a free speech issue. It is the case of a commissioned artwork, placed without final approval and with widely offensive elements, as a permanent part of a state building. . . Particularly offensive is the prominent use within the mural itself of a yellow Star of David. With all its historical associations with Nazi Germany, such a symbol is shocking and utterly abhorrent. If we were to allow the mural to remain as is, we would be contributing to a hostile campus environment, one which says to students: 'We tolerate intolerance; we are silent in the face of bigotry.'
Corrigan's blunt response resulted in the mural being painted over the next day (the artist, given the option of painting over just the offensive symbols, refused). However, some students washed off the gray paint, so the mural had to be sandblasted away. Corrigan's sharply worded, candid statement is all the more remarkable when contrasted with the weak and delayed responses of other college and university presidents to anti-Semitic incidents on their campuses.
Despite his efforts, Corrigan did not succeed in banishing Black anti-Semitism from San Francisco State. In November 1994, the Pan African Student Union and The All African Peoples Revolutionary Party (which was founded by Black nationalist and anti-Zionist propagandist Kwame Ture, the former Stokely Carmichael) invited longtime anti-Israel activist Ralph Schoenman to speak on campus. A flyer announcing the lecture was headlined, "Zionism is Racism!" It billed Schoenman as a "Jewish scholar, writer, human rights activist" who would speak about "Isreali (sic) brutality and Zionist imperialism throughout Africa, Latin Amer., and Palestine." Underneath, in smaller letters, the flyer read, "Come and learn why students resisted SFSU administration, CSU police, along with the Zionist powers who defaced the mural of Malcolm X at the end of last semester. Come and find out why the Zionists hide behind the term, 'anti-Semitic' when they are condemned by the masses for their evil actions against helpless people."
About 25 of the audience of 60 seemed to identify with or were members of the sponsoring organizations. The nearly two-hour speech was filled with half-truths and blatant lies presented in a seemingly reasonable manner.
The impact of NOI and similar thinkers may be seen at its most pernicious through the activities of students who not only cheer anti-Semitic diatribes, but deliver them. One of the more recent -- as well as particularly flagrant -- examples of this impact was a letter in the October 12, 1995, Columbia University newspaper, The Spectator, written by the head of the school's Black Student Organization, Sharod Baker. Entitled, "Struggling Blacks don't need dirty tricks," it was a noxious anti-Semitic diatribe filled with classic NOI statements about Jews and whites. Among other statements, Baker wrote:
I single Jews out because their oppression of blacks cannot go unnoticed while they disguise their evilness under the skirts and costumes of the Rabbi. Lift up the yarmulke and what you will find is the blood of millions of Africans weighing on their heads. It is their consciences that make them write articles that attack me. . . I speak of Jews because of those from their race who are always on our backs like leeches sucking the blood from the black community then pretending to be our friends.
Baker, a senior who has a twice-monthly column in the newspaper called "Blackdafide," is known on campus for bringing NOI speakers, including Khalid Abdul Muhammad, to Columbia. The column, which resonates with NOI-type phrases, appeared to be a reaction to Jewish criticism of and opposition to the Million Man March in Washington. It brought an outcry from the campus Jewish community, alumni, parents and prospective students.
Although The Spectator had every right to publish the article, the editors would have been well within their rights and responsibilities to reject it, or at the very least edit it. Like professionals, student journalists are obliged to make critical decisions on the veracity and logic of published material. The student editors maintained that they published the column to give the issue a good airing and alert the Columbia community to the beliefs that existed on campus; however, the impact on race relations and intergroup understanding at the university were severely harmed.
The university issued a terse statement that claimed to deplore Baker's letter but maintained its right to be published. On November 7, University president George Rupp wrote a letter to the Columbia community condemning Baker's piece in far stronger terms. He claimed his fund-raising travels in Asia in October had prevented him from issuing a statement sooner. Unlike his peers at Kean College and Howard University, Rupp did not invoke freedom of speech as a justification for printing the letter. He also condemned Baker in much more unequivocal terms than did the other presidents confronted with similar problems:
The October 12 article was full of anti-Semitic rhetoric. It used hateful language about the Jewish people that is redolent with the worst elements of modern history, perhaps of all history. No person of goodwill can read or hear such language without calling it what it is: shameful and unacceptable. This issue is not about free speech alone. Of course we support free speech. . . But we are not obliged to honor every utterance. I see no evidence that this article is seeking truth. It contains egregious factual errors. It relies on the crudest and most inflammatory images and stereotypes. . . In short, it is unworthy of the discourse we expect in this community.
On November 15, Baker spoke at a Columbia forum entitled, "A Call to Unity," where he apologized for his letter. "I apologize for the colloquial language and the flippant way that I wrote concerning the Jewish people and their culture. I was wrong in that I treated our serious case and lofty quest for fair treatment in a way that lowered the dignity of our case. . . I will stand and be man enough to apologize," Baker said.
Nation Of Islam Propaganda
On October 16 -- a few days after Baker's letter appeared -- the Nation of Islam held its Million Man March in Washington, DC. This gathering served as a true "Day of Atonement" for many of the participants, as it had been billed, but it also gave some bigots, including those on campuses, a fresh opportunity to launch more tirades holding Jews responsible for American slavery. In the month following the march, anti-Semitic Op-Ed pieces appeared in newspapers at the University of Akron, California State University at Fresno, Southwest Texas University and the City University of New York's Hunter College. The writers decried Jews for calling Louis Farrakhan anti-Semitic and parroted the NOI leader's standard arguments "proving" that Jews controlled the slave trade.
Howard University once more stimulated the concern of the Jewish community with an editorial in the March 8 issue of the student newspaper, The Hilltop. It accused ADL of spying on Black leaders, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and of attempting to strong-arm corporations into halting their support for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People because of the support its former director, Benjamin Chavis, had given Farrakhan. The writer, editorial page editor David Gaither, called the League's Washington, DC Regional Director a "pariah," and stated that the school's chairman of African American Studies "should be held accountable" for working with ADL. Accompanying the editorial was a cartoon depicting ADL as a horned devil, a timeworn anti-Semitic image.
Anti-Zionism as Anti-Semitism
In another example of the former acceptability of anti-Zionism, the University of Michigan's daily newspaper regularly published anti-Israel rhetoric during the 1988-89 academic year. The editorials included support for a "Zionism is racism" statement, censure of a Jewish group that tried to call attention to Arab terrorism, and an accusation that Israel had been behind the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. These unfounded attacks on Zionism prompted a protest by 200 members of the Jewish student community and drew national attention.
The Changing Mood
But with the 1991 Gulf War, the subsequent election of the Labor government in 1992, Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, and increasing acceptance of Israel by the Arab world, campus anti-Zionism has become largely passé. Israel, once treated as a pariah by many nations, has been clearly accepted by most of the world, as demonstrated by the large number of countries that have established diplomatic relations with Israel in recent years and by the overwhelming turnout of foreign dignitaries for the funeral of assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. While Muslim student organizations at a few schools -- such as the University of California at Berkeley, San Francisco State University and the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee -- are still engaged in anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda as if the intifada never ended, and other radical student groups continue to sponsor anti-Israel speakers and materials, college and university campuses have mirrored the world's acceptance of the Jewish state.
However, while campuses were overwhelmingly sympathetic to Israel in the wake of the Rabin assassination and the spate of Hamas suicide bombings in Israel in February and March 1996, these tragedies perversely gave Israel-bashers at some schools a fresh excuse to spout their rhetoric. The violence in Israel served as a catalyst to show that anti-Zionist beliefs more common to the 1980s are still held by some students.
Four days after the round of deadly Hamas suicide bombings in Israel, U.C. Berkeley's Muslim Unity Group, which includes Hamas supporters, staged an anti-Israel rally on campus on March 8, 1996. The Jewish Bulletin of Northern California reported the following about the incident: "In front of a few hundred onlookers. . . Muslim students and Hamas supporters trampled and spat on an Israeli flag as they glorified the recent suicide bombers and chanted 'Destruction! God is great!' in Arabic. A half-dozen men wearing military fatigues and Hezbollah headbands accepted blessings from a Muslim cleric and vowed to become martyrs for the cause."
On the same day, two advertisements ran in the student newspaper. One was sponsored by the local Jewish community and featured a Star of David and language "condemning these vicious acts of terrorism." It was signed by 67 individuals and groups, including government officials, the University religious council, and student campus leaders.
However, it was not signed by Berkeley's Chancellor, Chang Lin Tien. A university spokesman said Tien sponsored a separate advertisement in order to avoid the appearance of taking sides. While the task of balancing competing interests often proves a delicate one for university heads, incidents such as the bombings fall outside the pale of normal political disputes and should be treated as such. Instead, the Chancellor issued an ad that called violence and the deaths of innocent people "reprehensible," and stated, "I encourage the entire campus community to engage in constructive and respectful dialogue on these important issues."
Tien also declined to issue a statement after the pro-Hamas rally. Coupled with his refusal to forcefully stand alongside the Jewish populace in its hour of grief, this lack of action outraged the Jewish communities of Berkeley and the surrounding area. ADL wrote a letter to Tien that stated in part:
While we wholeheartedly support the right of free speech. . . we feel it is incumbent upon the Administration of Cal to exercise moral leadership and disassociate itself from such poisonous rhetoric and conduct that threatens the very security of Jewish students. While we commend your initial statement. . . we feel that it doesn't go far enough in addressing the hurt, outrage, and overt threats felt by the students and the community at large. Your encouraging the campus community to engage in dialogue implies condonation of a vile and hateful activity like the March 8 rally.
The Rabin Assassination
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, an event that traumatized Israel, also proved an excuse for some students to engage in anti-Semitism. One of the most flagrant examples came from the pages of the newspaper at California State University, Fresno, The Daily Collegian. While hardly representative of the response on the nation's campuses to the Rabin murder, it demonstrates the depth of hatred that still exists among some students.
The newspaper's lead story on the Monday following the assassination, November 6, 1995, (incorrectly dated as November 7) was a venomous attack on Israel. The writer, Hadi Yazdanpanah, wrote of "varied reactions" on campus to the assassination, but the article's first quotation was of an anonymous student who said, "I was kind of happy." Given the shock and outrage with which most of the Western world greeted the shooting, this quotation hardly seems representative of most students' reactions.
Yazdanpanah went on to quote the student as saying, "When they [the Jews] disobeyed God, they broke the covenant; from that point on it's no longer their land." Paraphrasing the source, the reporter wrote, "he is against the proposed peace accords because it will return only part of the land taken over entirely by the Zionist-Jews to the Palestinians."
These quotations and statements took up the first part of a lead news article, not an Op-Ed piece. It contained far more opinion than reporting, and in no way purported to explore the real range of reactions on campus. The editors failed in their responsibility to draw a line between balanced writing and racist implications.
The editors showed their judgment to be flawed once again by publishing an extended commentary by Yazdanpanah on Monday, November 13. Entitled, "Rabin's military barbarism forgotten while world mourns," it began, "Yitzchak Rabin was the most despicable mass murderer that the 20th century has seen, making Hitler look like Big Bird." The piece descends from there into blatant anti-Semitism, with references to "the Jew-nited States of America" and "the Jew-nited Nations." He wrote that "The Zionist-Jews have the American government on a dog leash. . . bowing to Israel." Its bigoted rhetoric fell far outside the pale of a serious Op-Ed page.
On November 17, after criticism by Jewish students and the surrounding community, university president John Welty issued a statement that condemned Yazdanpanah's pieces but did not mention anti-Semitism. The writings "indicate to me that simple civility and respect for others has diminished markedly during the past few months," Welty wrote. While his comments were on the right track, and while he did write that "intolerance. . . will not be supported," Welty's comments fell short of a strong, direct response to such clear Jew-hatred. Yazdanpanah's writing reflected much more than simple lack of respect and civility, and should have been treated as such.
Following criticism by ADL and others for his inadequate response, Welty wrote a letter to the editor of the Collegian on November 20, for publication. It was a much stronger condemnation of Yazdanpanah's Op-Ed piece and of the newspaper for publishing it:
The article is a shameful example of bigotry and hatred which has no place in civilized discourse. . . In choosing to print the November 13 opinion piece, The Collegian staff failed to either recognize or exercise [their] responsibility. There was a failure to recognize the difference between opinion and bigotry; between public discussion of the issues and hatemongering; between editorial and tirade. Further, in spite of your claim that six hours were spent verifying the accuracy of content, the piece is riddled with inaccuracies.
Responding to Campus Anti-Semitism
Administrators, faculty, staff and students have an important responsibility to establish and maintain a tone of civility on campus by demanding and enforcing a policy of zero tolerance towards all forms of bigotry. If they send mixed or muddled messages concerning anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred, some will see this as tacit approval and even as license to engage in such behavior.
The following recommendations are offered with the understanding that each case is different and needs to be handled with sensitivity and consideration for the special circumstances involved. ADL staff are available to work with students, faculty, staff and administrators on campuses where acts of hate have occurred or are threatened.
Extremist Speakers on Campus
All members of the campus community should speak out vigorously and unambiguously publicly opposing the choice of an extremist speaker. Criticism is not the equivalent of censorship, but is a basic affirmation of freedom of speech and opinion.
University presidents, faculty senates and student government bodies should be encouraged to make a strong public statement denouncing the message of extremist speakers as antithetical to the goals and identity of the institution. Such statements are consistent with principles of academic freedom and are a necessary step in distancing the university from expressions of bigotry.
University officials and student governments should be encouraged to help reduce the stress brought about by the appearance of an extremist speaker through sponsoring alternative forums, structured dialogue, prejudice-reduction training, educational programming and other appropriate interventions.
Ensure that only duly constituted and recognized groups within the university community may institute a request for a speaker who is to be paid from student or university funds.
Work to see that the speech is held in a reasonably secure location. Admission might be limited in most cases to those with valid university ID cards. Speakers should be required to allow questioning in a calm, non-intimidating atmosphere.
Campus and local officials should insure that security for the event is entirely under their control. Speakers should not be allowed to place their own private security force inside or outside the auditorium.
If there is a simultaneous counterdemonstration, it should be held in a separate location from the speech to reduce the risk of physical confrontation.
It is important to be in touch with campus newspaper editors to educate them about the nature of Holocaust denial on a continuing basis. Campus newspaper staffs change from year to year. Outreach is needed well before any Holocaust-denial advertisements are received. Attempted intervention after the fact may be too late.
Educate campus editors on the background and agenda of Holocaust deniers such as Bradley Smith, David Irving and Ernst Zündel. Emphasize that campus newspapers are under no legal or moral obligation to accept unsolicited advertising containing false, misleading and defamatory premises. Commercial newspapers generally do not accept such advertising. Despite the claims of Holocaust deniers, this is not a legitimate First Amendment issue.
Counter-ads and letters to the editor should expose Holocaust deniers as representatives of the larger hate movement and show how their message, though cleverly packaged, is really one of semicamouflaged anti-Semitism. Responding to the deniers by attempting to prove the historicity of the Holocaust plays into the hands of the deniers, by giving the impression of an ongoing debate on the subject.
Appropriate leaders of the academy, such as the university president and the chairman/members of the History Department should be encouraged to take a public stand against the use of the campus newspaper to spread Holocaust denial propaganda.
Vandalism, Graffiti, Intimidation and Harassment
Universities must establish legally valid policies on student, faculty and staff conduct that are clear and unambiguous. Such policies should be widely published in student and staff handbooks and other appropriate places, making it clear that vandalism, racist graffiti, intimidation and harassment have no place on campus and will not be tolerated. Violators will be punished.
Enforcement of such policies must be strict and prompt. Within appropriate forms of due process, violators must be punished and must be publicly decried.
Racist and bigoted graffiti should be promptly removed. Such graffiti should be seen as a special human relations problem distinct from standard maintenance procedures and pre-set maintenance schedules.
Posters containing bigoted messages should likewise be considered unauthorized and promptly removed by university officials.
Making the Campus a Better Place
Administrators, student leaders and faculty have an ongoing responsibility to speak out on matters that could create or affect tensions on campus. This should be done during pre-crisis as well as crisis situations.
Faculty and administrations must establish high-priority long-term human relations and prejudice-reduction programming within the curriculum (where appropriate), in the orientation process, through student services and in university publications.
Students, faculty and administrators should be equally concerned and respond equally to instances of bias directed at any group on campus. Distinctions as to the seriousness of the incident and the importance of a response must not be based upon the group identity of the victims.
Fraternities and sororities should be held responsible for acts of bigotry committed by their members as part of fraternal and interfraternal events.
Jewish student groups should actively seek productive ongoing coalitions with other groups of students. Responses to anti-Semitic events (e.g., extremist speakers, Holocaust-denial ads, etc.) should actively engage non-Jewish members of these coalitions in joint activities. Similarly, Jewish students should respond on behalf of their coalition partners when they are subject to various forms of assault.
Encourage alumni, parents and members of the surrounding community to speak out on issues of bigotry on campus. Their voices can have a major positive impact on the decisions of university officials.
ADL On Campus
The Anti-Defamation League has worked hard to counteract bigotry and anti-Semitism on campus through the ongoing work of its Department of Campus Affairs/ Higher Education, its Civil Rights Division, Regional Offices and its A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute.
ADL response to these problems is focused in four distinct areas:
- Providing consultative services to the campus Jewish community throughout the country in responding to anti-Semitic outbreaks
- Providing timely information through the dissemination of ADL research materials, prepared advertisements and widespread campus speaking engagements
- Providing consultative services to the non-Jewish campus community in responding to other forms of hate on campus
- Ongoing programmatic initiatives.
These provide ADL with both a reactive and proactive capability in its campus-related work.
ADL provides a number of specific services to Hillel foundations and other segments of the Jewish community on campus faced with anti-Semitic incidents. These include:
- Making available research materials and documented reports detailing the background and operations of extremist speakers and organizations appearing on many campuses. Such information provides the basis of a national concerted and systematic response to such individuals and groups.
- Consulting with individual Hillel bodies and Jewish groups on the most effective strategies and tactics for responding to such episodes on campus. These often include input from the ADL Legal Affairs Department on effective use of the legal and criminal justice systems to respond to specific situations.
- Providing print and audiovisual materials for counteraction efforts. These have included such items as a video rebuttal to the anti-Semitic positions of CCNY Professor Leonard Jeffries; a video and study guide responding to the teaching of hatred in the college classroom (focusing on the Tony Martin case); ADL publications outlining the background and tactics of Holocaust deniers; an ADL Home site on the World Wide Web; ADL advertisements in campus newspapers responding to the Nation of Islam or to Holocaust denial, and an ADL Campus Counteraction Kit that has been provided to all Hillel foundations.
- Serving as a liaison between the Jewish campus community and law enforcement personnel in dealing with hate crimes on campus.
- Visits to specific troubled campuses by ADL professionals who will speak to the campus community and meet with key student, faculty, staff and administrative leaders. The ADL-Hillel campus Crisis Management Team represents a particularly innovative initiative. The Team is composed of selected representatives of ADL, national Hillel and respected professionals from academe and community service agencies who are available on short notice to respond to such specific challenges as Holocaust denial, Black-Jewish conflict and anti-Israel agitation.
The Department of Campus Affairs/Higher Education administers a number of national programs that have proven their worth in the field. Such programs not only seek to react to specific crises but also train Hillel staff, faculty and students in specific areas of community relations and crisis response. These include:
- The Albert Finkelstein Memorial Campus Editors Mission to Poland and Israel, which brings 15 to 20 campus newspaper editors on an annual voyage of discovery to Israel and to the principal sites of the Holocaust. Upon the group's return to campus, ADL Regional Directors and Hillel campus directors maintain an ongoing relationship with the participants.
- The various programs of the Samuel and Mildred Levine Institute to Combat Bigotry on Campus, including:
- the production of print and video materials.
- regional conferences for Jewish students on responding to anti-Semitism.
- regional conferences for Jewish faculty.
- the Crisis Management Team program.
- an annual national teleconference for the campus Jewish community.
- The ADL A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE Institute provides anti-bias education and training on college and university campuses. The Institute's A CAMPUS OF DIFFERENCE program is an important bridge between the diverse constituencies that exist on our nation's campuses. A CAMPUS OF DIFFERENCE training programs have already been initiated at more than 80 campuses around the country. More than 400 campuses use A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE and ADL materials in their own in-house training. An ADL video entitled Facing Difference: Living Together on Campus (developed in association with the National Association for Campus Activities) is used in the orientation program at several hundred colleges and universities.
- National Campus Affairs and Regional Office staff prepare and conduct pre-freshman orientation programs for Jewish high school students going on to colleges and universities and provide summer programs for Jewish college students who are returning to campus. Such programs have been and are being conducted in Chicago, Detroit, Long Island, Westchester County (NY), Houston and at Jewish summer camps.
The college and university campus has emerged as one of the primary battlegrounds in the ongoing struggle against organized and politicized anti-Semitism in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League is committed to fighting this battle with all appropriate resources.