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Boycott Calls Against Israel
How to Fight BDS? A Guide for the Perplexed III
Editorial Note


While much has been written on BDS, the phenomenon is usually discussed in isolation from the underlying trend on campus known as “political correctness.”  The term, invented in the 1980s by conservative critics of social sciences and humanities, refers to an imposition of a radical leftist vision of society on campus.   As the two articles below indicate, this vision privileges formerly marginalized minorities at the expense of other members of society.

In the United States where political correctness is most advanced, the said minorities include women, people of color, native people, and LGBTs (lesbians, gays bisexual and transgender).   Universities went to great length to ensure that, in the name of diversity, such minorities are amply represented on campus.   

To protect the diversity project, universities have instituted a strict speech code. Broadly conceived, it aims to eliminate speech that can offend one of the protected minorities.  Recently, the speech code was expanded to include “micro-aggression” brief, verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating messages to the recipient because of his or her membership. Self-appointed monitors are quick to protest “micro-aggression.”  In one case, Scholars of Color disrupted a class at UCLA because the professor changed the word Indigenous in a student’s essay to lower case.  This was deemed as disrespectful to the ideological belief of the student. The professor was banned from the campus for a year.


Protecting the diversity project has extended well beyond speech code to privilege the narrative of oppressed minorities everywhere, including alleged victims of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism.  Needless to say, the Palestinians are considered the symbol par excellence of oppressed and marginalized minorities. As IAM reported, Palestinian students on campus have built successful coalitions with other minorities to push for BDS. 

With the Israeli narrative being considered beyond the pale of a politically correct discourse, anti-BDS activists face a considerable problem.   Pro-Israeli speakers have been shouted down and Jewish students harassed for trying to provide a different narrative.  It is not clear whether such instance amount to an anti-Semitic incident, as some observers suggest. What is clear, however, is that running afoul of what is essentially political censorship in the name of political diversity, makes fighting BDS hard.  

But crafting responses to account for such a complex environment is made even more daunting when the role of academics is factored in.  As the student from Princeton and other critics noted, faculty is a crucial factor in refashioning the current paradigm in social studies in general and Middle East in particular.  




By JONATHAN ROSENBLUM \  07/09/2015 12:06

Think Again: Campus thought control

On about 200 campuses, there are annual Israel Apartheid Week rallies calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. Many of the events are formally sponsored by academic departments.

(This is the second half of the article)

TO A large extent those worrisome trends reflect the hegemony of leftist thought in the groves of academe in America. Those Democrats polled by Luntz are shaped in America’s universities, where a particular political orthodoxy is ever more entrenched. America’s universities spend hundreds of millions of dollars annually ensuring every type of diversity, except one: diversity of thought.

At the University of Iowa Law School, for instance, until very recently 49 out of 50 members of the faculty were registered Democrats. Of 155 Princeton faculty and staff members who contributed to the presidential campaign in 2012, only two contributed to Mitt Romney – a visiting engineering professor and a custodian.

Not by accident is the most leftist dominated segment of American life also that in which free speech is least protected. Kirsten Powers (a Democrat) has written a new book called The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech. Much of that book is devoted to American universities where left-wing students, administrators and faculty have sent the message that “anyone [who] strays off the leftist script... might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, even expelled” because their speech has given offense.

Nearly 60% of the colleges and universities in America have campus speech codes that dramatically restrict, if not obliterate, freedom of speech. One, for instance, bars students from “offending... a member of the university community.”

Fordham University prohibits using email to “insult.” Offense and insult are determined by the ones so offended. Numerous universities have instituted “trigger warnings” on course content to warn students that course material may cause them distress by challenging their worldview.

Janet Napolitano, chancellor of the University of California system, the nation’s largest, recently instituted seminars for deans and department chairs to guide them in things that should no longer be said because they constitute “micro-aggressions,” defined as “brief, subtle verbal or non-verbal exchanges that send denigrating message to the recipient because of his or her group membership.”

Included are such statements as “America is a land of opportunity”; “I believe that the most qualified person should get the job”; “America is a melting-pot” and “affirmative action is racist.”

Each of these “suggestions” seeks to impose a particular societal vision and/or foreclose societal debate. They constitute a liberal version of the Gulag’s reeducation centers. Objections to the first two statements are based on a desire to portray America as so racist that individual talent and hard work are virtually irrelevant and it is impossible to speak of a hirings based on merit. “America is a melting-pot” is objectionable, because it prefers the traditional view of America as an affirmational society bound together by certain common ideas over the multicultural vision of a balkanized society based on ethnic, racial and sexual identities. The view that non-colorblind admissions and hiring is inherently racist is one side of a long-standing debate, and it just happens to be the view adopted by the US Supreme Court of late.

A group of Scholars of Color recently disrupted a class at UCLA, charging that the tenured professor had committed “micro-aggressions” against them. Example: The professor changed one student’s capitalization of “indigenous” to lower case, and thus disrespected her ideological point of view. Were the students punished for disrupting a class? No. The 79-year-old professor was instructed to stay off the graduate campus for a year, and UCLA commissioned an “Independent Investigative Report on Acts of Bias and Discrimination Involving Faculty.”

At Marquette University, a Jesuit school, Prof.

John McAdams was stripped of tenure and fired for a blog post, in which he criticized by name a graduate teaching assistant who had told a student that he could not defend the traditional Catholic teaching on same-gender marriage in class because it might offend other students.

McAdams wrote that the graduate student had used “a tactic typical among liberals now.

Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.”

His firing proved how right he was and how effective those tactics have proven.

Not all offense is equal. Jewish students live in a hostile environment, which can at times be genuinely frightening, on many campuses across America. Last summer, Boston police had to protect pro-Israel students over three successive days from pro-Palestinian mobs shouting “Jews back to Birkenau.” Over 50% of Jewish students report that they have personally experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism.

No one, it seems, is particularly concerned about aggressions – micro or otherwise – against them, even though Jew hatred is not exactly an unknown phenomenon throughout history.

On about 200 campuses, there are annual Israel Apartheid Week rallies calling for the destruction of the State of Israel. Many of the events are formally sponsored by academic departments and promoted by professors on their emails.

Ruth Wisse, in “Anti-Semitism Goes to School” (in the May Mosaic) describes how a group of pro-Palestinian student groups demanded that candidates for student government at UCLA and Berkeley sign a pledge that they will not participate in trips to Israel organized by groups like AIPAC or Aish International’s Hasbara Fellowships. Most candidates refused to sign, but the student government president did.

While expressing discomfort with the pledge, UCLA’s Jewish chancellor declined to go further on the grounds that promotion of the pledge is a form of free speech. When it comes to leftists, minorities and those otherwise easily offended, the subjective hurt of those offended trumps free speech; when it comes to insult and intimidation of Jewish students, however, the value of campus free inquiry and speech is suddenly rediscovered.

As Wisse puts it, “Institutions that enforce ‘sensitivity training’ to ensure toleration for gays, blacks and other minorities may inadvertently be bringing some of these groups together in common hostility to Jews as the only campus minority against whom hostility is condoned.”

Crossing the Line 2: The New Face on Anti-Semitism on Campus, an excellent documentary by Jerusalem U intersperses interviews with Jewish students with scenes form campus anti-Israel rallies. In one surreal scene, Becky Sebo, a student at Ohio University speaking against a student government Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions resolution, is dragged away in handcuffs by police. The police were called by the student government president, whom we see in another scene pouring a bucket of blood on herself in support of BDS.

In two weeks, we will discuss the ideological underpinnings of what has been called liberal fascism, and its implications for Jews and Israel.

The writer is director of Jewish Media Resources, has written a regular column in The Jerusalem Post Magazine since 1997, and is the author of eight biographies of modern Jewish leaders


38 Ways College Students Enjoy ‘Left-Wing Privilege’ on Campus

Tal Fortgang is a student at Princeton University.

'I can take classes and earn degrees in departments that are designed to line up exactly with my worldview'

Among the great ironies surrounding the state of academia is the continued insistence on hearing more and more “marginalized voices” and increasing “diversity” on campus, as if there is some kind of archaic conservative establishment making that difficult to do.

One would likely be hard-pressed to find a more left-leaning group than college professors and admissions officers, who prioritize pulling marginalized groups out of their marginalization and adding people of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds to campus conversations.

Yet in their efforts to achieve a more egalitarian conversation, left-wing academics and their students completely ignore (at best) and marginalize (at worst) students and the rare colleague who disagree with them politically.

And therein lies the ultimate irony: The very voices that decry inequality in all its manifestations either accept or turn a blind eye to the stunning dearth of conservative academics and the de facto censorship of right-wing students on overwhelmingly left-wing campuses.

Were it some other group suffering such a marginalization, there is no doubt that the left would be up in arms, crying discrimination and demanding rectification.

Some might even call such a monopoly on prevailing campus orthodoxy a type of “privilege,” defined as an asset “of value that is denied to others simply because of the groups they belong to,” to quote Peggy McIntosh, the matriarch of privilege’s modern construction.

While the marginalization of right-wing thinkers on campus in no way compares to the experience of black Americans throughout history, it might behoove left-wingers on college campuses to think about the various privileges from which they benefit simply by being members of the overwhelmingly dominant group in their academic communities.

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my political persuasion most of the time.

2. I can spend my entire college career taking only classes with professors who think exactly as I do.

3. I can take classes and earn degrees in departments that are designed to line up exactly with my worldview.

4. I can be sure that an overwhelming majority of the material I am assigned to read for class will confirm what I already believe.

5. My professors will assume that I already think just like them, and use examples and anecdotes that testify to our philosophical uniformity.

6. I can almost always be sure that my professor will present or corroborate my side of a debate.

7. I will likely never have to make the choice between writing what I believe to be true and writing what I think will get a good grade.

8. If I do not get the grade I was hoping for, I can be sure it had nothing to do with the professor’s antipathy towards the political views I have expressed, or me personally.

9. I do not have to fear tipping my hand about my political views in my schoolwork.

10. I can pursue an English degree out of my love for literature, not put off by the lenses of critical theory that influence the way literary analysis is taught.

11. I can speak up in class without fear of being derided for my politics.

12. I can feel confident that even if I don’t personally speak up for my side of an issue, it will likely cross my classmates’ minds.

13. I can be sure that even if people disagree with me, they will not call me evil or bigoted.

14. I can avoid spending time with people whom I have been taught to disagree with, and who have learned to disagree with me.

15. I can be sure that no one will chalk up my opinions to privilege or lack of empathy.

16. More generally, I can express my views on controversial topics without my motives and character being questioned.

17. If my ideology becomes a source of personal issues, I have ample support available at an institutional level.

18. If I need a role model with whom I agree politically, I can easily find one or more.

19. I can freely use social media to share my politics (not that I should) and I will receive encouragement and support in ‘likes,’ ‘shares,’ and especially in comments.

20. I can be social and go to parties without facing mockery and looks of confusion from those who assume my lifestyle is ascetic and Puritanical.

21. I can act disrespectfully toward figures of authority and remain immune from criticism.

22. I can talk about my politically oriented extra-curricular activities without fear of judgment or derision from my peers.

23. I can describe my summer writing job without censoring the name of the publication or its political leanings.

24. If I am religious, others will assume that my beliefs are a force for good and not an extension of an anachronistic and oppressive legacy of superstition.

25. I can use buzzwords and academic jargon to make my arguments, and they will be accepted as legitimate.

26. I can safely say that the arc of history bends in my direction and anyone who disagrees will be “on the wrong side.”

27. I can write off opinions of those who disagree with me because of their overarching ideology.

28. If I can categorize someone who disagrees with me as “powerful” or “oppressive,” I don’t even have to listen to them to begin with.

29. I can be confident that no one will dismiss the sources of my news and information as biased.

30. I can easily obtain my college’s support for explicitly political events I’d like to organize.

31. I can get “trigger warnings” appended to texts that challenge me or make me feel uncomfortable.

32. I can get commencement speakers, recipients of honorary degrees, and other guests disinvited from my campus if I disagree with them.

33. I can disrupt and disrespect speakers whom I do not wish to hear; I will subsequently be praised for my denial of their freedom to speak.

34. I can monopolize terms like “justice” and claim that they only apply to what I am saying.

35. I can accuse those who disagree with me of “violence.”

36. I can claim that my personal experiences are “invalidated” by those who disagree with me.

37. If I have to follow current events for class, I can be confident that the recommended sources of news will be slanted in my direction.

38. If I find my ideas challenged, I know I always have a “safe space” to retreat to, where people will massage my challenged beliefs and sing me a lullaby of things I’d like to hear.

This article originally appeared on The College Fix.

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