What is anti-semitism? What is anti-Zionism? Why have these forms of discrimination taken hold with unusual intensity on college campuses, and what are the consequences on and off campus? How can the global Jewish community unite to tackle these serious problems in a revolutionary way?
About This Post
This is the first post in the Bronfman Big Idea Series.
This post outlines a proposal submitted to Charles Bronfman’s Big Idea Contest at Brandeis University seeking the next big idea in Jewish communal innovation. It is entitled “Using the Internet to Fight Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education.”
The author, who shall remain anonymous, is an attorney living in the United States who became interested in combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia after experiencing these forms of discrimination on campus firsthand.
After working to spread awareness about serious problems locally, the author launched the Anti-Racist Blog, which has the mission of exposing anti-semitism and anti-Zionism on American college campuses.
The website now covers topics on a global scale and reveals the immense scope of the problem that confronts the Jewish world. The Anti-Racist Blog was the inspiration for the proposal submitted to the Bronfman contest.
Attention Readers of The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy!
The author has created a website just for you to help you understand his proposal more fully. After reading this post, please continue to Stop Campus Hate, where you can read the proposal’s executive summary. I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity to get further involved in developing this idea.
Defining Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism
So let’s get to it. What is anti-semitism? What is anti-Zionism?
The author defers to the US Government’s Commission on Civil Rights for the four main sources of global anti-semitism in recent years.
- Traditional anti-Jewish prejudices that pervade European and other countries, including ultra-nationalism and other movements that claim Jewish communities control the government, media, international business, and the financial world
- Anti-Israel sentiment that crosses the line between objective criticism of Israel’s politics and anti-semitism
- Anti-Jewish expression by Europe’s growing Muslim population, based on longstanding antipathy toward Israel and Jews, as well as Muslim opposition to developments in Israel and the “occupied territories,” and more recently Iraq
- Criticism of the US and globalization that spills over to Israel and to Jews in general, who identify with both
Examples of anti-semitism can be seen here.
As far as anti-Zionism, the author refers to Judea Pearl, father of slain Wall Street Journal reporter, Daniel Pearl. Prof. Pearl states:
“Anti-Zionism earns its racist character from denying the Jewish people what it grants to other collectives… namely, the right to nationhood and self-determination.”
He continues, “Jewishness is more than just a religion. It is an intricate and intertwined mixture of ancestry, religion, history, country, culture, tradition, attitude, nationhood, and ethnicity, and we need not apologize for not fitting neatly into the standard mode of textbook taxonomies– we did not chose our turbulent history.”
While anti-semitism and anti-Zionism are conceptually separate, they often overlap.
While Jews around the world have made incredible strides in acceptance and equality, the rise of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism on college campuses reveal that all is not well. Almost every day, reports of harassment, vilification, and outright prejudice against Jews and those who support Israel come from our college campuses.
“This assault on the identity of Jewish students, our future leaders, at one of the most vulnerable times in their lives is a troubling trend that has implications reaching far beyond academia,” the author writes.
Besides attacks on Jews and Israel supporters themselves, a troubling acceptance and support for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiments on campus creates even more problems for the Jewish people. “In reality, these problems will not dissipate unless the Jewish community across the globe unites to reverse their momentum.”
The status quo for combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism is not working. The author’s proposal aims to tackle these problems in a revolutionary, comprehensive, and modern way.
He states: “My proposal consists of creating a first-of-its-kind multipurpose internet site with a range of capabilities and functions, which will combine to form the most powerful tool against anti-semitism and anti-Zionism that has ever existed. The research plans, and abilities of this proposal have the capacity to be duplicated to fight these forces around the world.”
(Keep reading to learn how these ideas will be put into action.)
The Core Components of the Idea
1. Global Incident and Library Tracker Website
A website will serve as a central hub for documenting all incidents of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in acadedemia worldwide. Reports will be collected from schools, Jewish organizations, surveys, and the media. As well as documenting incidents, the website will also analyze trends and patterns by type, school, region, and country. Tools can then be developed and refined in order to combat the trends.
Such a website will fulfill multiple purposes: it will be documented proof of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism reported in the first person. It will record history so that “in the future, people can see the reality of the problem that Jewish people have faced on campus.” And it will be a mechanism for government’s to track and find targeted solutions to such actions.
The US Commission on Civil Rights has previously stated that they have insufficient data to properly track such incidents and crimes. This website would solve that problem in the US and around the world.
The website will be the first of its kind to have a global incident tracker for college and university anti-semitism and anti-Zionism worldwide.
The author says, “I envision a virtual map with marks made in the locations where an incident occurs. Users will be able to click on a location and read a description of what occurred. This interesting and useful resource will give visual life to these problems, which have all too often been minimized or ignored.”
This map tracks visits to the Anti-Racist Blog. It gives you an example of what an incident tracker could look like, although the proposed map would differ significantly. The proposed incident tracker would be three dimensional, interactive, and movable. The map would have have options enabling users to look at either anti-semitic incidents, anti-Zionist incidents, or both.
2. Blog, Web-Based Community Discussion Forum, and Videocasts
In concert with the website, a blog, such as Anti-Racist Blog’s existing one, would be a forum for posting news and discussing stories, events, and videos related to combating anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.
The blog would provide an alternative avenue for tracking from the mainstream media and would promote user buy-in by allowing users to talk about creative and innovative ways to solve these problems.
The author is interested in developing two programs which would enhance the blog and website’s use. They are:
- ETR Project: A Global Initiative to Expose, Track, and Reduce Anti-Semitism and Anti-Zionism in Higher Education
- SIR Project: Stop Internet Racism
The new blog would include more in-depth global coverage. Unlike the Anti-Racist Blog, the second blog would be a place where users could post their own writings and initiate their own conversations on areas of concern. The blog will be an important resource for quick communication and discussion on these topics.
The blogging section of the website would additionally include weekly videocasts reporting on the events of the past week and keeping users up to date on trends and patterns around the country. It would serve as an action alert system for users on college campuses worldwide.
3. Blogging Alliance Among Students, Professors, and Activists
Out of the website and blog, a new blogger organization will be created with chapters around the world. The author would train bloggers and develop information so that students, professors, and university alumni could start physical chapters of the organization, using their own affiliated blogs or sections of the parent website to track issues on their home campuses and record how the issues are addressed.
Members of the blogging alliance would feed information and local stories to the larger website. The fact that blogs are free and have virtually no barriers to entry makes this endeavor very feasible. When stories around the world are covered on the larger blog as a result of being received from the smaller blogs, then the Jewish community worldwide can come together to devote attention, energy, and resources toward finding solutions.
Activists around the world will be able to compare issues and results in order to form a best practice database, helping them compound their efforts and deepen their results. From the best practice database, training sessions and manuals would be developed.
4. Scholarly Article Forum, Online Journal, and Symposium
The website would also have a scholarly function. It would feature an independent section devoted solely to scholarly articles and research, reaching out to scholars across the globe, and asking them to contribute on such topics as why anti-semitism and anti-Zionism exist on campus; where are they most prevalent; how to reduce them; and methods for getting schools, communities, and governments to fight these prejudices.
The author proposes publishing an online scholarly journal comprised of submissions to the site, and other academic articles discussing anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia. He adds that the website would sponsor symposium, presumably at Brandeis University, where experts, politicians, and students from around the world could come together to discuss and define ways for combating campus anti-semitism and anti-Zionism.
5. Help Line
A key feature of the website would be a help line where users could write in and be able to record the issues they were facing in return for attention and action plans.
Through the help line, they could also be connected with the closest alliance and receive ongoing support and regular check ins to assure that their issue was dealt with appropriately and that their safety was ensured.
“There are few issues of more concern to the Jewish community worldwide than the safety of its young adults, the prevention of erosion of Jewish identity, the molding of our future leaders, and the prevention of the spread of anti-semitism and anti-Zionism…
The website will safeguard young adults by highlighting problems they face, and then providing information, help, resources, and support to them. By making a problem outside of the isolation of academia, the larger Jewish community will be able to exert its force and resources to protect students who are now facing problems largely on their own today.
The site will also prevent the erosion of Jewish identity by: fighting anti-Jew prejudice that often tries to attack and erode a person’s Jewish self-affiliation; connecting Jewish students from across the globe, thereby showing students and other readers that they are part of a proud and strong community that cares about its members, and by providing a sense of empowerment among young Jews and other readers will have a resource to proactively fight back against the prejudice they face.”
The Bronfman Contest also asks applicants to submit ideas for classes they would like to teach. I am including this section in our series because I have found the responses to be interesting and creative overall.
Among the classes that the author would like to teach are the following:
- A comprehensive class studying modern anti-semitism and anti-Zionism in academia
- Creating a blog or website as an action tool on an issue that is important to each student
- Federal laws and legal methods for fighting discrimination based on religion, ethnicity, and national origin
- Role playing class in which students would be assigned different roles in the Middle East conflict and would have to maintain and react to them throughout the course of the class in an effort to better understand the real world situation– you already know I love this idea
So what do you think of these ideas? Are they valuable? Are anti-semitism and anti-Zionism issues that affect you? Are the ideas suggested here the best way to fight them? How could these ideas be developed to address your needs more fully? What are your reactions and thoughts?
We can’t wait to hear your comments.
Comment and Click On
(This entry was co-written by the authors of the Anti-Racist Blog and The New Jew: Blogging Jewish Philanthropy. All images sourced from the Anti-Racist Blog.)
Like what you are reading? Please subscribe by e-mail or feed reader by clicking the sidebar icons.