POLITICS: Jew-hatred is poisoning America’s campuses
A discredited, disgusting, antisemitic book will be taught at one of America’s most prestigious universities this year.
A fall course syllabus at Princeton includes “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability,” which unapologetically promotes vicious blood libels against Jews.
It accuses the Israeli military of harvesting Palestinians’ organs and Israel of adopting the deliberate maiming of Palestinians as official policy.
Such conspiracy theories echo the antisemitism of 1930s Nazi Germany.
Yet Princeton’s president and leaders responded with mealymouthed indifference.
Their inaction is unsurprising: American universities tolerate Jew-hatred.
A new survey, conducted by leading polling firm Ipsos and commissioned by the nonprofit, nonpartisan group Jewish on Campus, asked more than 3,000 undergraduate students at colleges and universities from coast to coast about their experiences with campus antisemitism.
The results are alarming.
Nearly 60% of Jewish students reported facing antisemitism directed against them personally.
More than half have been subjected to antisemitic hate speech to their face.
Nearly half have been forced to see hateful vandalism on their campuses targeting Jews, such as swastikas etched into dorm-room doors at Stanford and spray-painted on offices at Columbia.
More than 20% of Jewish students disclosed hearing other students make calls for violence, genocide or deadly pogroms against them — simply because they are Jewish.
As president of the World Jewish Congress, I am outraged.
When more than half of young Jews trying to get an education have endured antisemitic harassment, when one in six students polled questions the reality or scale of the Holocaust and when leading universities like Princeton turn a blind eye to blood libels — it is clear something has gone horribly wrong at America’s institutions of higher learning.
In short, our universities have become complicit in the spreading and normalization of anti-Jewish bigotry.
So here is my solemn pledge: From this day forward, the World Jewish Congress will devote every resource at our disposal to confronting bigotry at American universities and educating youth about the dangers of antisemitism.
University presidents and boards will be held to account, with legal action if necessary.
Public officials will be called out for inaction.
Our voices will be heard.
That’s because history confirms the dangers of silence.
What we are witnessing today is a frightening echo of the rise of anti-Jewish bigotry and violence on 1930s German campuses.
At many schools, Nazi student organizations led the charge in systematically harassing, intimidating, physically beating and committing other horrific acts against Jewish students and faculty, all with impunity.
Nothing was done, and by 1935, racist laws the Nazi party implemented excluded Jews from German schools and universities.
Education is urgently required to enlighten students about the warning signs of rising antisemitism as well as the incontestable historical facts about its destructive impact.
Shockingly, per the nationwide survey, 60% of students demonstrated ignorance about past institutional discrimination against Jews in America, including restrictive housing covenants and quotas at universities that severely limited Jewish student enrollments.
I firmly believe today’s youth, Jewish and non-Jewish, have the power to reverse this troubling trend by speaking out against injustice and showing moral courage, just as previous generations courageously fought apartheid, racial segregation and other forms of persecution.
But they should not be expected to bear the full weight of this burden alone.
Responsible adults — including and especially university administrators and faculty — must defend Jewish students when they face hostility and teach non-Jewish students the lessons of history.
At a bare minimum, university leaders must find the integrity and conviction to condemn and prohibit the teaching of any content, including books and ideologies, that promotes ancient libels or blatantly furthers ignorance about Jews.
If we unite decisively against hate, a more just future is attainable for Jews and non-Jews alike.
But we must have the courage to call out antisemitism wherever it emerges, before it can spread and poison young minds. Our nation’s youth deserve no less.
Ronald S. Lauder is president of the World Jewish Congress.