Vassar has recently distinguished itself in at least two ways. First, it is one of a tiny group of colleges whose faculty supported the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel in substantial numbers. Thirty-nine faculty members signed a letter that sang the praises of the boycott-Israel movement. Second, as I have written here before, Vassar was the venue for an open forum at which two professors were vilified for leading a trip to Israel and at which Jewish students who spoke up were heckled. William Jacobson has provided extensive coverage of the situation at Vassar and was there to speak earlier this week.
In a blog entry describing reactions to Jacobson’s speech, Jewish studies professor Rebecca Lesses draws attention to a series of posts by Vassar’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, the most shocking of which includes this language: “Of course, mainstream media hasbarats have been around for decades, as have ‘hasbaratchiks,’ fifth-columns in foreign governments who subvert national policies to serve Israel.” The author of the linked article, Greg Felton, also wrote a book entitled The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America. Lesses observes that the Occidental Quarterly, on which the SJP draws, is an anti-Semitic magazine. While I hesitate to take the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which she cites, for it, a look through the Occidental Quarterly, which includes an article about libertarianism as a creed advanced by Jewish intellectuals to advance Jewish “group evolutionary interests,” tends to support the charge.
When the source of the passage they had quoted was brought to SJP’s attention on their Facebook page, they were completely unrepentant: “We at Vassar are all about the academic freedoms. If the idea is alright, who cares where they come from?”
Of course it is disappointing that the Vassar SJP believes or pretends to believe that academic freedom is a defense of their decision to cite with favor an anti-Semitic crackpot writing for an anti-Semitic publication. More shocking is their belief that “the idea is alright.” Even an undergraduate can be expected to know that when you accuse a group of being part of a “fifth column,” you are accusing them of treason and suggesting that they deserve the fate of traitors.
The SJP consists of students, and perhaps a national publication is not the place to discuss their foolishness. But the adults in the room, including the 39 who signed the pro-BDS letter, and the administrators who stood by while Jewish students were heckled at Vassar, ought to be held to account for inattention to to a campus climate in which students feel free to post and defend anti-Jewish tropes.Frontpage Mag - Students for Justice in Palestine Says Neo-Nazis are Right about Jews - Daniel Greenfield
Students for Justice in Palestine, despite its occasional use of Jewish front men and women, is a hate group that has engaged in attacks on Jews. But one Students for Justice in Palestine chapter in Vassar appears to have crossed the line into openly endorsing Neo-Nazi views of Jews.
It’s not surprising that SJP members would feel this way. Nazi materials are still popular in the Middle East, especially among Arab nationalists. PLO/PA leader Abbas wrote a Holocaust denial thesis.
They just usually know better than to say it.
The author of the linked article, Greg Felton, also wrote a book entitled The Host and the Parasite: How Israel’s Fifth Column Consumed America. Lesses observes that the Occidental Quarterly, on which the SJP draws, is an anti-Semitic magazine. While I hesitate to take the word of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which she cites, for it, a look through the Occidental Quarterly, which includes an article about libertarianism as a creed advanced by Jewish intellectuals to advance Jewish “group evolutionary interests,” tends to support the charge.That’s the Kevin McDonald flavor of hate.
Greg Felton has defended Gilad Atzmon, who is quite blatantly anti-Semitic, rather than a critic of Israel. He defends Holocaust denial and he’s a 9/11 Truther.
Felton also claims the Jews are really European Khazars and that Zionists were behind the Holocaust and 9/11.
Meanwhile SJP’s Tumblr ran a post accusing Jews of “willy-nilly throwing around charges of antisemitism”.
Because when you’re caught defending Neo-Nazi levels of crazy anti-Semitic hate, that’s just willy nilly.Petra Marquardt-Bigman
As I wrote earlier, the Kansas City shooter’s reliance on Max Blumenthal’s work showed how increasingly Neo-Nazis and the radical Anti-Israel left have become dependent on each other.
Blumenthal had also posted at Mondoweiss which is closest to the intersection between Neo-Nazis and the Anti-Israel left.
One of its writers had said, “I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, but I can understand why some are.” Another had written that, “Israel is no normal state, but one governed by the forging of Zionist system-logic into a Satanic ideology.”
Alan Sabrosky, wrote at Mondoweiss that “an awful lot of American Jews” are “agents of a foreign government” and called for “excising” the cancer. Elsewhere he wrote that, “I don’t care if we’re called anti-Semites or not,” claimed that most American Jews are “traitors” and accused Israel of being behind the September 11 attacks.
Mondoweiss’ Jeffrey Blankfort went so far in his hatred for Israel as to assert that, “When it comes to talking about Israel-Palestine — David Duke and Pat Buchanan are more informative than Noam Chomsky or people on the left.”
The left likes to claim that it fights fascism, yet it’s become increasingly comfortable with Neo-Nazis when fighting their common Jewish enemy.
Brandeis Center - Pro-Palestinian Antisemitism at Vassar (Petra)
Vassar College, which describes itself as “a highly selective, residential, coeducational liberal arts college,” has recently attracted a lot of attention because of the energetic activism of so-called “pro-Palestinian” groups like Vassar’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who were apparently supported by dozens of faculty members. As I noted in a related post a few weeks ago, the anti-Zionist – and sometimes also anti-Semitic – website Mondoweiss seemed to view the activism at Vassar as a kind of bellwether indicating victory in the “BDS war on campus.” By now, Mondoweiss has published another similarly triumphant report on a Vassar event with the movement’s “rock stars” Ali Abunimah and Max Blumenthal; according to an announcement on Facebook, the event was co-sponsored by Jewish Studies and the departments of English, Political Science, Religion, Geography, and Sociology.
Before addressing subsequent developments, it is useful to recall that the first Mondoweiss report included the acknowledgement that “SJP students can be obnoxious,” though it also suggested that they should be compared to “abolitionists during slavery” who were “dedicated to a principle worth living and dying for.” However, if this comparison is at all justified, it is arguably in the sense that the goal of “pro-Palestinian” activism is the abolition of the world’s only Jewish state – and it is hardly surprising that the pursuit of this goal indeed often results in undeniably “obnoxious,” i.e. anti-Semitic, conduct.Vassar’s SJP chapter seems eager to provide plenty of evidence for this deplorable phenomenon. As Rebecca Lesses documents in a just published blog post, SJP Vassar featured anti-Semitic material on their tumblr page. When I clicked on the link to check out the page, I discovered that additional anti-Semitic material had been posted – or, to be more precise: a cartoon suggesting that Israel can get away with any behavior due to the Holocaust was cross-posted from a site named “neonationalist.” Apparently, Vassar SJP had no qualms about featuring material from “neonationalist,” even though the page is exactly what one would expect: a “white pride” promoter sharing utterly offensive material on topics like “Nationalism,” “Racialism,” “Anti-Feminism,” and, yes, “Anti-Degeneracy.”
If this was an isolated case of supposedly left-wing “pro-Palestinian” activists and far-right reactionaries finding their lowest common denominator in their shared enthusiasm for anti-Semitic material, it would perhaps not be worth mentioning. But unfortunately, there are plenty of similar examples, as I have shown when I documented (pdf) the popularity of Max Blumenthal’s work on Israel at racist and neo-Nazi forums. In the meantime, it has become clear that in addition to the sites I mentioned, Blumenthal’s writings were also posted on the neo-Nazi forum used by the arrested suspect in last month’s fatal Overland Park, Kansas, shootings. As William Jacobson rightly emphasizes in a related blog post, this does not mean that Blumenthal should in any way be considered as responsible for the shooting; however, Jacobson is also right to argue that it is time to examine “the intersection between neo-Nazi and anti-Zionist conspiracy theories.”
Likewise, it is arguably time for colleges and universities to examine the question if the support from faculty and staff for supposedly “pro-Palestinian” activism shouldn’t be matched by support for programs that would educate students about anti-Semitism. If Mondoweiss is right to see Vassar activism as a bellwether, there can be no doubt about the urgent need for improving students’ knowledge and understanding of anti-Semitism.Petra also tweeted that SJP Vassar has apparently taken down one of their posts from a White Nationalist site:
P.S. A comment on these sources. Commentary and Frontpage Mag picked up on my posts about Vassar SJP. I think it's important for the word to get out that although members of the Palestinian solidarity movement claim to be anti-racist, and against anti-semitism, they sometimes have a scary affinity for racist, far-right White Nationalism.
But that doesn't mean that I agree for the most part with the political views of either journal. I would put my own political beliefs pretty squarely in the traditional Democratic camp, and in some cases further to the left. It's clear both journals are much further to the right than I am on almost all issues.
The motto of FrontPage Mag is "Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out." Obviously, I do not agree with that. There are reasoned criticisms of liberalism and strong advocacy of conservative positions - but this is not one of them! I think the article from FrontPage Mag is reasonable - but don't bother reading the comments, because several of them display the irrationality that is typical for comments on articles that say anything about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this case, right-wing irrationality, which is sometimes liberally sprinkled with anti-Muslim slurs. In articles in more centrist or left-wing online sites, you can see left-wing irrationality, liberally sprinkled with antisemitism.
FrontPage Mag is published by David Horowitz, who began his political journey as a New Left activist in the 1960s and is now firmly on the right.
Commentary was founded in 1945 by the American Jewish Committee and is now a neoconservative stalwart. In its own words:
Since its inception in 1945, and increasingly after it emerged as the flagship of neoconservatism in the 1970s, the magazine has been consistently engaged with several large, interrelated questions: the fate of democracy and of democratic ideas in a world threatened by totalitarian ideologies; the state of American and Western security; the future of the Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture in Israel, the United States, and around the world; and the preservation of high culture in an age of political correctness and the collapse of critical standards.Commentary far more frequently than FrontPage Mag publishes articles that I agree with (generally some of their articles on Israel or antisemitism).