The challenges faced by UK university students

December 8, 2016

Today, the National Union of Students (NUS), the body representing seven million students in the UK, has its national conference. One Jewish delegate, Izzy Lenga, has written an article “Why I won`t be at tomorrow`s NUS NEC meeting”, in which she describes the hostile environment that Jewish students are facing on campus in general, and from student leadership in particular.

The current President of the National Union of Students is Malia Bouattia, who has said that British government policy is controlled by the Zionist lobby, and whose language is so extreme that a government committee said it “smacks of outright racism.” The current President of the Union of Jewish Students said that Malia Bouattia`s attempt to deal with concerns of Jewish students have been half-hearted.

National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouttia.

National Union of Students (NUS) President Malia Bouttia.

This is part of a general climate where many British students are scared to openly mention their connections with Israel, and the atmosphere is so hostile that Israeli students at British universities sometimes do not even reveal their country of origin.

This situation leading to potential action from Jewish students. On Sunday 11th December, the UJS has its annual conference, and a motion has been submitted by two students that the UJS should suspend ties with the NUS. The President of UJS has written that if Malia Bouattia does not apologise, he would not be surprised if they do choose to break ties.

Regardless of how UJS vote on Sunday, hopefully the NUS and Malia Bouattia will change their rhetoric, and ensure that Jewish students and not scared on UK campuses.

Contributed by CAMERA intern Aron White

Sudanese Human Rights Activist Shares Experiences with Child Slavery

Human rights activist Simon Deng discussed the devastating effects of child slavery in Sudan at a lecture Tuesday.

As a child in southern Sudan, Deng said he was abducted and given away to an Arab family as a “gift.” He added that in Sudan, a human can be sold for $10.

“I am not ashamed to speak about what I went through as a child,” he said. “It is very painful, but I talk about it now so we do not turn a blind eye to slavery.”

Simon Deng, Sudanese refugee and former slave

Simon Deng, Sudanese refugee and former slave

As a slave, Deng said his master told him he must “convert to Islam, take an Arab name and become their son” in order to be treated humanely by his captors.

“How could I give away my identity?” Deng said. “Freedom is a God-given right to every human being, which I didn’t know then. Today, I know.”

Deng said the United Nations has “denounced the facts” of slavery in Sudan out of fear of receiving accusations of Islamophobia. He added that the UN — which he called the “United Do-Nothing Nations” — wrongly condemns the state of Israel, while ignoring the “slaughter, abduction and displacement” of millions of Sudanese people.


The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel sixty seven times, and Sudan twice.

The UN Human Rights Council has condemned Israel sixty seven times, and Sudan twice.

Deng also rejected the idea that Israel is an apartheid state, labeling this claim an “insult” to black Africans who have suffered under apartheid.

“I have become a friend to the state of Israel,” he said. “I have become the voice for those who have no voice, for those whom I’ve left behind in Sudan who are still being brought into slavery.”

Deng has also collaborated with the Israeli government to bring southern Sudanese refugees to safety in Israel. He said peace must come to the Middle East in the midst of conflict, calling peace is “the only way for us to live together.”

Cornellians have the capacity to be advocates for Sudanese human rights issues, even from a distance, Deng said.

“As long as you are a student, you have a power,” he said. “You have a power of your pen. Don’t turn a blind eye. Stand up for something.”

This lecture was sponsored by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and Zionist Organization of America.

Initially published at the Cornell Daily Sun, the newspaper of Cornell University

SJP and Trump at George Washington University

December 7, 2016

Noa Levin, 2016-17 CAMERA Fellow

Noa Levin, 2016-17 CAMERA Fellow

Passing by Kogan Plaza during the anti-Trump rally held November 15th, I was struck for the first time with the feeling that I may not be safe at GW. At a rally supposedly about love for one another, I was shocked to hear anti-Semitic rhetoric, hate, and demonization coming from my peers. The list of demands protesters presented to GW administration included a call for divestment from Israeli companies due to “colonialism and apartheid in Palestine” and “escalating state-sanctioned genocide.” While the demands included a statement urging protection of Jewish students from anti-Semitic behavior, this is proven insincere by the intrinsic anti-Semitism in the document.

Among the list’s sponsors was Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), which is known for co-opting rallies around the country for the purpose of promoting their hateful anti-Israel message. SJP has been active at GW in the past; in February, a campaign and event were organized to teach participants how to boycott Sabra Hummus. This past October, SJP held a general body meeting promoting the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS). BDS involves boycotting Israeli products, urging the withdrawal of investments from Israeli companies, and pushing governments to impose sanctions on Israel. BDS is nothing more than a tactic to vilify Israel, and in fact coincides with the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. In reality, SJP and other BDS proponents are usually blind to the fact that economically destroying Israel hurts the very populations they want to save. As Bassem Eid, Palestinian activist, wrote for The Washington Institute:

“Israelis continue to come to the West Bank to do business, and most Palestinians continue to buy Israeli goods. Indeed, if you ask Palestinians what they want, they’ll tell you they want jobs, secure education, and health. And the people who are failing them in this regard are their own leaders: Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in Gaza. The focus of PA leaders is on enriching themselves and their families, rather than serving the interests of the Palestinians.”

Why does SJP neglect to condemn this corruption? Acknowledging the reality of everyday Palestinian life is essential to helping them.

Politics aside, how is this related to an anti-Trump protest? Unfortunately, it is nothing new to see anti-Israel activists take over unrelated rallies. SJP at CUNY colleges hijacked the Million Student March, blaming “the Zionist [CUNY] administration” for tuition hikes, and Jewish students were called names I refuse to repeat. How is this productive? How does this maintain the safety of all students?

The rally against Donald Trump at GWU

The rally against Donald Trump at GWU

Above all, I am disturbed that SJP’s BDS agenda was included in what was to be a peaceful protest. Although the original wording was taken from a national list and then open sourced, thirteen GW organizations still signed their agreement. At the most politically active campus in the US, do we really condone anti-Semitic and blatantly false rhetoric? As GW students we must condemn anti-Semitism and never permit it in future rallies.

Contributed by Noa Levin, CAMERA Fellow at George Washington University

Atmosphere on campus influenced our attackers

December 6, 2016


CAMERA Fellow Shlomo Roiter.

A number of weeks ago, Cambridge University’s Middle East and North Africa Forum, of which I am a founder and co-president, had the pleasure of hosting Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK. The event was a fantastic success.

Unfortunately, the fact an Israel-related event on a UK campus took place undisturbed is the exception to the rule and not the norm.

Universities in Britain are not known to be especially respectful of freedom of expression when it comes to Israeli speakers.

Harassment, assault, violence and vandalism is generally the currency of operation. Whether the speaker is critical or supportive of the Israeli government’s policies is irrelevant.

I would like to believe this campus obsession with Israel has nothing to do with the fact Israel is the Jewish state. I find it increasingly difficult to convince myself this is not the case.

It appears the primary way to uphold human rights on campus today is by violating the rights of both Israelis and Jews.

Disrupting Israel-related events is only one aspect of a larger scale phenomenon, which in my 18 months here have included a number of horrifying spectacles.

Cambridge campus

Cambridge campus

First was a mock checkpoint set up in the heart of the Cambridge campus, during so called Israel Apartheid Week. The experience was repeated when my friends and I were physically attacked by fellow Cambridge students, simply for wearing traditional Jewish head coverings.

But how can I blame these students for their actions when intimidation of Jewish and Israeli students is allowed for a full week every year under the guise of Israel Apartheid Week?

I appreciate Cambridge is an exceptionally comfortable place to be both a Jew and a Zionist in the UK and that, until these incidents, I never considered antisemitism to even be an issue here. But the anti-Zionist and antisemitic phenomena on campuses in the UK is concerning.

While I applaud the tendencies of Cambridge students to partake in a culture of open-mindedness with regard to Israel-related issues, the disproportionate anti-Israel sentiment on campuses is an issue that needs greater attention. Every student deserves to live in an environment free from hate, even those who support Israel. Ignoring it certainly is not going to make it go away.

Contributed by CAMERA Fellow and co-founder of CAMERA-supported group Cambridge University’s Middle East and North Africa Forum at the University of Cambridge, Shlomo Roiter.

Originally published in the Jewish Chronicle.

CAMERA Fellows in Focus: Leora Eisenberg

December 5, 2016

The CAMERA Fellowship program supports student leaders in developing and strengthening their pro-Israel activism on campus. With the school year underway, InFocus is giving you an inside look into the lives of the 2016-17 CAMERA Fellows who are working hard to promote the facts about Israel on campus.

Meet Leora Eisenberg.

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

CAMERA Fellow Leora Eisenberg.

Leora Eisenberg is a freshman at Princeton University who hopes to major in Near East Studies. She enjoys writing, reading, singing, teaching yoga, and educating others about Israel and Judaism. She speaks English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, French and German, and entertained dreams of working as an interpreter in the Middle East.

Leora is a passionate advocate of Israel, and has been featured in publications such as the Algemeiner, Orthodox Union, Hevria, the Forward, and more. She also maintains a regular blog at the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel.

Some of Leora`s recent articles can be found below:

Twitter anti-Semitism, and how Princeton beat it (The Daily Princetonian, 11/15/16)

Action, Not Apathy, is Key to Assisting in the Zionist Project (The Algemeiner, 4/10/16)

That awkward moment when the MSNBC anchor tweets something anti-Semitic (Times of Israel blog, 2/9/16)


Virginia Tech Remembers the Munich Massacre

December 2, 2016

Daniel Kramer, CAMERA Fellow

Daniel Kramer, CAMERA Fellow

Family members of the Munich Massacre victims have been asking and campaigning for a better effort in terms of public recognition for those who were killed. It became a larger deal when the IOC faced backlash for refusing to hold a moment of silence, marking the 10-year anniversary of the massacre, during the London Games of 2012. Fortunately, ahead of the Summer Olympics in Rio, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held a ceremony to mourn the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches that were murdered at the hands of Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games. The memorial began with the IOC President Thomas Bach reading the names of the 11 Israelis out loud following a minute of silence. Bach proclaimed that the massacre “was an attack not only on our fellow Olympians but also an assault on the values that the Olympic Village stands for.”

This memorial event was extremely important to those who had lost members of their family. Widows of two of the athletes who were present stated “We wanted them to be really accepted as members of the Olympic family. Now that President Bach had a minute of silence in the Olympic village, calling out the names of our loves ones, this is closure for us.”

The Israeli Olympic Team pictured during their time held as hostages.

The Israeli Olympic Team pictured during their time held as hostages.

Despite these recent positive efforts from the IOC, anti-Semitism was still prevalent at the 2016 Olympic games. From the Egyptian Judo athlete who refused to shake the Israeli athlete’s hand after defeat, to the Lebanese Olympians who refused to travel on the same bus as the Israeli team, there is still much hatred and refusal to open dialogue with Israel coming from her neighboring countries. The memorial brought to the forefront the very real and dangerous issues that Israelis face on an international level. Being able to not only understand, but recognize, the history of Israeli-Arab relations is vital for those who wants to open dialogue and find an end to the conflict.

The Munich Massacre was a Palestinian terrorist attack during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich. The terrorist group was known as Black September and it was suspected that the terrorist had assistance from German neo-Nazis. Eleven Israeli Olympic Team members and a German police officer were taken hostage and ultimately killed. This was considered one of the first modern day international acts of terrorism, but it was certainly not the last. Since then, Israel has faced countless acts of terrorism from Palestinian led and funded groups, and often times are unable to defend themselves since these groups (like Hamas) use civilians, hospitals, schools, etc. to shield their bases of attack; attacks which often end with Palestinians celebrating in the streets with candy. By commemorating the attacks, the IOC has finally solidified this tragic event into history which will hopefully educate others and prevent an event like this from ever happening again.

Friends of Israel is a CAMERA-supported group dedicated to developing a student body educated in the historical and contemporary Middle East. On November 9th, in partnership with the German Culture Club, Political Science Club, CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), the ICC (Israel on Campus Coalition)  and the ICC GW (Israel on Campus Coalition of Greater Washington), Friends of Israel organized a screening of the documentary Munich ’72 and Beyond at the historic Lyric Theatre in downtown Blacksburg. Produced by Michael Cascio and Stephan Crisman, the film, which depicts the victims’ families’ struggle for knowledge about what happened on September 5, 1972 and their subsequent legal battles with the International Olympic Committee, was particularly salient following the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, where a “Place of Mourning” was dedicated in an official I.O.C. ceremony. This gesture, while symbolic, confirmed the right of Israel to participate in the Olympic Games despite efforts to bar Israel from the Olympics despite refusal of some from the Middle East to compete against Israelis due to anti-Semitic feelings.

After the screening, Friends of Israel hosted a brief Q+A session including Professor Ken Stiles, a former CIA counter terrorism specialist, and Sam Kessler, a Postdoctoral Fellow in Judaic Studies. A bagel and grits dinner reception followed the documentary screening.

This article was contributed by Daniel Kramer, Virginia Tech CAMERA Fellow and President of CAMERA-supported group Friends of Israel.

Arab Israeli Speaker Encourages Integration

December 1, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Aviya Zarur

CAMERA Fellow Aviya Zarur

“If we are courageous enough, we can work together,” said Jonathan Elkhoury, a member of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) brought to campus on Tuesday by Judges for Israel, an Israeli education and culture group, and co-sponsored by StandWithUs and the Zionist Organization of America.

“Unlike many people who try to divide the land, Jonathan Elkhoury portrayed a powerful message about unity and coexistence,” said Jenna Nimaroff ’19 of the presentation.

Elkhoury is a 24 year old Christian, gay and Lebanese man who found refuge in Israel. He was born in South Lebanon, where his father was a soldier in the South Lebanese Army. His father fled Lebanon in 2001 when Israel removed its forces due to Hezbollah assassinating the commander of SLA’s Western Brigade and proceeded to harass Israeli troops in the territory. Elkhoury was left behind with his mother.

Elkhoury and his mother struggled to leave Lebanon and reunite with his father because his mother, as a woman, had few rights in Lebanon. Single motherhood is frowned upon in Lebanon, and government organizations make sure to not assist them for fear of being seen as supporting sexual relations out of wedlock. In order to receive visas from the government, his grandfather had to lie, and say that Elkhoury’s father was abusive and was out of their lives for good.

Jonathan Elkhoury

Jonathan Elkhoury

August of 2001, Elkhoury, his brother and his mother left Lebanon. No one, including their family, knew that they were leaving. He himself did not know that they were leaving the country as he followed his mother clutching two teddy bears. They had to act as if they were going to Cyprus on vacation and his mother knew that she would not be able to contact anyone left behind.

When they arrived in Cyprus there was a man who had his father’s phone number and helped them acquire visas and tickets to get to Israel. When the journey was over they were in Nahariya. “Just 1.5 miles away from the Lebanese border,” they were reunited with their father after having no contact with him for over a year and half, explained Elkhoury.

The Israeli government provided financial assistance and citizenship to Elkhoury’s family as well as the about about 2,500 Christian refugees that they took in from Lebanon. Eventually Elkhoury’s family was able to move to Haifa, a mixed city with a multicultural population of Jews, Bahá’í, Muslims, Christians and others living together in peace.

However, when choosing a school, the Arab population rejected Elkhoury because he was a Lebanese and his family did not support Hezbollah. Instead he went to a Jewish school that welcomed him with open arms and made it their mission to make sure that he learned Hebrew and was integrated with the rest of the school. Within three months, he was speaking fluent Hebrew.

In 11th grade, just as other minorities in Israel, he was asked whether or not he wanted to join the army. Without knowing that Israel is accommodating and no units are barred, he did not join the army from fear of not being accepted because of his sexuality. Instead he chose to contribute to his country through National Service by volunteering in Haifa.

At a school in Acre where he was volunteering, someone asked why he ran from Hezbollah. When he stated his disapproval of Hezbollah and Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah since 1992, Elkhoury was verbally attacked and had to run out of fear.

These people, he explained, refuse Israeli society, and feel that where they come from is their only identity. He quoted Gabriel Nadaf, “We are all rooted in this land, and we as Christians have the responsibility to be involved in protecting Israel, our lives, freedom, our home and our identity. It is our right to rise, volunteer and protect the holy land and Israel.”

Just as Nadaf preaches for the Christian community, Elkhoury supports this idea even more generally.

Elkhoury emphasized the importance of integrating into Israeli society and working among its citizens to make a change. “Israel is not perfect, no country is, and we are doing our best to make it even better,” he added. One can be a proud Arab-Israeli. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, about 70 percent of Arabs in Israel consider themselves both Israeli and Arab but are too afraid to speak up, said Elkhoury.

“With his chutzpah and liveliness, Jonathan embodies all the traits of a sophisticated and strong individual living in a complex and diverse society,” Ron Gadot ’18 said about the speech.

“Elkhoury shed a light on aspects of Israel that are not commonly discussed. Stories like Elkhoury’s can help people better understand the difference of the living as minority in Israel versus other middle eastern countries,” said Erin Chambers ’20, who was also at the speech.

The way to really make a change is to be proud of being Israeli and work to make a difference through society, said Elkhoury at the conclusion of his speech. Just as he was included at his school, Elkhoury wishes that all Israelis including Lebanese, Christians and Muslims to be one unit, living together and supporting each other.

Originally published at the “Brandeis Hoot” – Brandeis` Campus Newspaper

Contributed by Aviya Zarur, CAMERA Fellow at Brandeis University, and First Year representative for Judges for Israel, a CAMERA-affiliated group.

The Dream of Shimon Peres

November 30, 2016


Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow

Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow

  “For me, dreaming is simply being pragmatic”

  “Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.”

On September 28, the international community came together in suffering the tremendous loss of Shimon Peres, the former President and two-time Prime Minister of Israel, who died from a massive stroke he experienced two weeks earlier. At 93, Peres was the last of Israel’s founding fathers, a larger-than-life leader and human activist, and a Nobel Peace laureate who exemplified what it meant to be an unremitting warrior for peace.

But what was perhaps the most noteworthy and defining feature of Peres was the fact that he was both an eternal optimist and a dreamer.

Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres

Despite decades of unsuccessful attempts at permanent peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, and the ups and downs that accompanied his more than 70-year political career serving the public, Shimon Peres remained a tenaciously optimistic believer in the possibility of coexistence between Israel and its neighbors. Refusing to submit to a dark and inexorable state of cynicism and fatalism, he instead chose to walk in the pathway of light and boundless potential.

In 1993, Peres along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin, worked with Yassar Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) to jump-start the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, ultimately achieving the three the Nobel Peace Prize. As the Israeli Foreign Affairs Minister in 1994, Peres was involved in secret peace agreements between Israel and Jordon, which ultimately led to a peace treaty signing, which represented an end to the official state of enmity between the two countries in order to “end the bloodshed and sorrow” and achieve lasting peace.

And if his resume didn’t already speak for itself, Shimon Peres’s universal influence was signified by the world leaders and delegation that flew in from 75 different countries to pay respects at his funeral. “Shimon Peres was never cynical,” President Barack Obama eulogized, “it is that faith, that optimism, that belief even when all evidence is to the contrary that tomorrow can be better that makes us not just honor Shimon Peres but love him.”

We as Binghamton students, as the upcoming generation of aspiring world leaders, and as trailblazers in our own right, can learn a tremendous amount from the legacy of Shimon Peres.

Peres introduced a level of perseverance laced with the positive prospect that we need today to make progress in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He then applied that prospect through outlets of education, which he believed to be the greatest influence in creating a more peace-conscious people. Likewise, in university, we open our eyes to those dissimilar to us while we simultaneously develop ourselves through the education we seek to receive.

In the current state of affairs, there’s a stalemate in which people are no longer willing to take the risks needed for peace. The unrest in this region needs strong visionaries such as Peres, who through dreaming and progressiveness, can create a “new Middle East.” In this capacity, although anticipation for peace in this conflict at times seems to have reached a point of stagnation, we must refuse to submit defeat to the failures and inadequacies of our surroundings—no matter how overly ideological and optimistic we may seem.

A light has gone out in the world, however we can set our own torches on fire through the everlasting flame Peres left us.

Contributed by Dalya Panbehchi, CAMERA Fellow at Binghamton University

Neo Nazi Publication “Your Ward News” appears at York University; Administration Promises Action

November 29, 2016

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

CAMERA Fellow Ben Shachar.

Students from the Israeli Students Association (ISA), a CAMERA-supported group, recently discovered copies of the virulently anti-Semitic Your Ward News being distributed on official newsstands throughout York University. The publication was found in highly-frequented areas on campus such as Central Square.

Your Ward News is a neo-Nazi publication that has been accused of spreading “racism, homophobia, misogyny, and anti-Semitism”. This past June, after years of campaigning by an anti-racist coalition called “Standing Together Against Mailing Prejudice” (STAMP), the Canadian Minister of Public Services and Procurement Judy Foote prohibited Canada Post from delivering Your Ward News.

One example of the sickening anti-Semitism of The Ward

One example of the sickening anti-Semitism of Your Ward News

Examples of anti-Semitic content present in the publications found on campus include a vile caricature of human rights lawyer Richard Warman confined in a gas chamber. In the accompanying caption, the editor-in-chief of Your Ward News James Sears says that he “admires Adolf Hitler” and “refuses to accept…a false Hollywood narrative of six million Jews dying in homicidal gas chambers”. In the letters-to-the-editor section, Sears further describes the Holocaust as a “blood libel hoax perpetrated against the German people”.

The Ward engaging in Holocaust Denial

Your Ward News engaging in Holocaust Denial

Another cartoon in the publication depicts Bernie Farber, the former chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress, with a red Star of David on his forehead and horns. Farber is a member of the STAMP coalition and has lambasted Your Ward News for its Holocaust denial, anti-immigrant xenophobia, and homophobia.

More horrific anti-Semitism from The Ward

More horrific anti-Semitism from Your Ward News

ISA members promptly alerted B’nai Brith Canada after the discovery. B’nai Brith notified the York University administration, which promised to “take appropriate steps to ensure that this publication is not being distributed or delivered to locations on campus.”

ISA President Eli Razimor said that it was “disturbing to see such hateful anti-Semitic content being distributed on campus”. Razimor also commended the university administration for their vow to ban the publication.

Contributed by Ben Shachar, CAMERA Fellow at York University.

Why Did Oberlin Professors Go to Bat for an Anti-Semitic Colleague?

November 28, 2016

After a long investigation held largely behind locked doors, Oberlin College has finally fired Joy Karega, an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition who moonlighted on social media as a hardcore anti-Semite. The Board of Trustees accused Karega inter aliaof “failing to meet the academic standards that Oberlin requires of its faculty.”

This is the belated but satisfying conclusion of a nine-month drama. The Tower first reported in February that Karega had made a breviary of anti-Semitic posts to Facebook. No mere bigotry, these were wild conspiracy theories in which she suggested that the Jews orchestrated 9/11, control ISIS, and enslave humanity through the vanguard of the all-powerful Rothschild banking dynasty. First responding to the news with uncertainty and ambivalence, Oberlin later suspended and has now terminated Karega.

Despite arguably being the most straightforward and egregious example of rising campus anti-Semitism, stakeholders in the Karega affair drew it out longer and treated it with more nuance than outsiders expected. Pragmatism underlies ideology: College administrations elevate risk-aversion to an art and Karega has met expectations by threatening throughout to sue. Yet identity politics has complicated what in any other configuration would be a textbook case for the campus inquisition.

Joy Karega is an African-American woman whose teaching focus at the time of the scandal was “social justice writing.” And ostensibly, though with the thinnest pretense, the targets of her protest were Zionism and the Israeli government. This combination broke the morality-mold of the “privilege”-obsessed Left that conflates Jews with whites, who are saturated by original sin, and couples anti-Zionism with the cardinal virtue, since 1968, of U.S.-targeted “anti-imperialism”.

Most of us aren’t malicious racists and we know the Arab-Israeli conflict can drive otherwise cool people crazy, so let’s review where Karega is coming from. In January 2015, there was a series of Islamist terror attacks in France. The two main events were mass-murders—one at the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and another at a kosher superette in Paris. The killers were al-Qaeda- and ISIS-inspired French Muslims who fought police to the death in two separate sieges.

Karega posted on Facebook that all this was actually Jewish revenge for France’s desire to “free Palestine”; she blamed Israel’s intelligence service, Mossad, for the violence. But not all of the violence: she talked only about Charlie Hebdo, failing to mention at all the murders at the Jewish market. The Jews can do without Karega’s sympathy, but her omission is important in light of her interpretation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hurried visit to France to honor those victims: “Netanyahu wanted to bend [President Francois] Hollande and French governmental officials over one more time in public just in case the message wasn’t received…”


Screenshot of one of Joy Karega’s antisemitic Facebook posts.

So we’re dealing with a person who mixes viciousness and vulgarity in a particularly stiff cocktail of anti-Jewish racism. For Karega, the Jews exist only as a demonic force assaulting and sodomizing the world, even when their supposed machinations result in mass violence to Jews. And there is little relationship between her ruminations and what might be considered criticism of Israel.

Nevertheless Karega found support. While the bulk of the Oberlin faculty released a statement demarcating her “bigotry” from Oberlin’s “institutional DNA,” a groupuscule of professors dissented, refusing to co-sign because they felt Karega was being made a scapegoat for privileged concern about campus anti-Semitism. “I am outraged,” groused English and Africana Studies professor Gillian Johns, “at the irresponsible hostility drummed up against [Karega] as a scapegoated target for what we have been led to believe is a more general concern about anti-Semitism.” Professor of Studio Art and Africana Studies Johnny Coleman complained that “black students’ demands for systemic institutional change are effectively dismissed — while a call to denounce anti-Semitism and bigotry in all forms has been composed and circulated in a manner that specifically targets an early-career black female colleague.” And campus anti-Zionist Jews concurred: “We see the level and form of condemnation as…reinforcing oppressive anti-Black…narratives.”

These startling apologetics are limned by the forensic scrupulosity with which Oberlin disposed of such a plain case. In light of social trends that lead us only to presume that the frequency and acceptance of anti-Semitism will increase, we can draw an important lesson from the Karega affair.

The American analysis of racism is broken: It will not do to resolve that racism equals privilege plus power. The biggest failure of Holocaust education in the U.S. has been to emphasize the aspects of Nazism that resemble our own historical experience of racism. We focus on eugenics and the kooky “racialist” pseudo-science whose antecedents in the European Enlightenment also shaped racism in the United States.

Another post spreading hatred and anti-Semitism

Another one of Karega’s posts spreading hatred and anti-Semitism

We therefore try to understand anti-Semitism through the lens of the African-American experience, but that leads us to focus narrowly on bias that “punches down” at weak minorities. In fact, the event from American history that is most illustrative of the story of Jewish persecution is never raised in that context: the Salem witch trials. Anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory, and at root each conspiracy theory is a narrative in which an evil and powerful secret society—earthly agents of the Devil—enslaves and exploits the people. Karega’s ravings make this clear: Hers is a salvationist paranoia in which the Jews are identified as a people of darkness at which the oppressed must “punch up” to liberate themselves. She preaches a racist “anti-racism” and the hatred this sort of thing stirs is ultimately exterminatory.

Yet in the moral cosmos on campus, Karega as an African-American woman is doubly entitled to identify among the oppressed children of light. And Jews, who are conflated with the oppressor-whites, are pickled in post-colonial sin. So it is no wonder that she would not only find defenders among her colleagues on the identitarian Left, but enjoy the latitude of students failing to recognize anti-Semitism when they see it—even when it is expressed in the neo-Tsarist register that Karega favors.

Considering more than immediate dynamics of power when fighting racism will not lead us to forsake the wretched of the earth. If historical and contemporary Europe makes anything clear, it is that racism punches down and up. Recognizing the full sphere of oppression, rather than focusing on the yin of color-bias and excluding the yang of anti-Semitism, fosters a moral intelligence more able to meet the challenges of society and history. This holistic approach seems especially urgent after the recent election, as the forces of a right-wing populism that trains its gunsights on “elites” and “the establishment” gather in the hinterlands off campus.

Originally published at The Tower.

Written by Jean Paul Pagano, a freelance writer.