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Antisemitism at Michigan Colleges Has Reached Frightening Levels

Michigan State University sign. Photo: Ken Lund.

In the past six months, violent antisemitic attacks have grown more common in higher education.

Jewish students at Columbia were attacked by individuals “wielding sticks” outside of their library; students at UC Berkeley were berated for attending an on-campus speaker event; and at Tulane, a student’s nose was broken while he was trying to stop protesters from burning an Israeli flag. Universities across the United States have found themselves in a serious predicament, and if they don’t figure out how to stop this blatant Jew hatred on campus, they will soon find their Jewish student populations dwindling.

A study published by the ADL at the end of November 2023, found that of the 700 college campuses and more than 3,000 students surveyed, students from nearly half of these schools reported at least one antisemitic incident on campus — and seven out of every 10 Jewish students had either experienced or witnessed antisemitism since the beginning of the Fall semester. And the numbers have only grown worse since.

This is a dramatic leap from before the atrocities of October 7, but antisemitism had been rising on campus before that. Jewish students feel scared, abandoned, and unwelcome on campus — and the problem is not getting better.

Perhaps no higher education system has been more affected by this problem than public universities in Michigan, a fact recently highlighted on the national television show Dr. Phil, where a senior at the University of Michigan blamed Israel for Hamas’ actions on October 7, and accused Dr. Phil of Islamophobia for asking whether they condemn the mass murder of Jews.

Just this past week, a student leader at Michigan posted to his Instagram story, “Until my last breath, I will utter death to every single individual who supports the Zionist state. Death and more. Death and worse.”

A few days prior to that, anti-Israel protesters brought the annual Honors Convocation ceremony to an unexpected end, and, in the last few months, these protesters have continuously entered university buildings, spewing hate and disrupting classes. None of these actions have elicited meaningful responses from the administration, even though these all clearly violate the University’s code of conduct.

To determine how Jewish students feel, I interviewed multiple high school seniors and college freshmen in Michigan on this topic. These individuals shared one clear message: Jewish students are worried that they will be victimized by antisemitism, and do not feel supported by their peers or universities.

Julia Feber, a senior at Wylie E. Groves High School in Birmingham, stated that she actually “turned down an acceptance from the University of Michigan” because of the “anti-Israel rhetoric on campus.” Instead, she chose to attend Elon University, which is “publicly pro-Israel” and has a large Jewish population. Julia isn’t alone: one in every 15 Jewish college students (7%) has considered transferring schools because of the anti-Israel climate on campus.

My next interviewee, first-year Michigan State University (MSU) student Minaleah Koffron, has felt a dramatic shift on campus in the wake of Hamas’ attack.

“Post-October 7, [there has been a] completely different climate [on campus] … there’s this narrative that Israel is committing heinous acts under the Zionist agenda, and [because] many college students are morally and fundamentally against atrocities like genocide, they turn the conflict in the Middle East into a highly personal issue … thus, the campus culture is divisive, where some promote a hostile environment toward Zionists and, by extension, Jews.”

Minaleah has experienced antisemitism on campus. “The bathroom next to my Hebrew class had the words ‘F*** off Zionists, you genocidal freaks’ and ‘Children’s blood is on your hands’ written on its wall. In that same building, a sticker was put up that equated Zionism with terrorism.”

Minaleah concluded by saying that “students on campus internalize the messages they see. As anti-Israel messages are increasingly shared by my peers and strewn throughout campus, students’ hate for Israel increases. With it, feelings of safety on campus diminish.”

Andrew Klein, another freshman at Michigan State University, has similar feelings about the culture on campus. He states that “after October 7, campus culture has taken a turn for the worse. It has been disheartening to see students who, a few months ago, could not locate Israel on the map become foreign policy experts, putting anti-Zionist legislation through our student government.”

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire: anti-Zionism and antisemitism are two sides of the same coin. Andrew’s friends have had their mezuzot ripped from their doorposts, and are now afraid to wear kippot or their Star of David necklaces openly on campus. “These anti-Israel groups are fueled off of victories, and sadly, right now, they are getting a lot of them.”

There have been countless “victories” for these anti-Zionist individuals on Michigan State’s campus. The Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU) passed two bills, 60-65 and 60-30, riddled with antisemitic rhetoric. The Faculty Senate also passed a resolution calling on the university to divest from Israel. The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement inspires antisemitic rhetoric and has no place on campus.

In response to Israel’s defensive war against Hamas, American Jews are being harmed all over the country in the name of “Palestine.” Verbal attacks, forced censorship, and dehumanizing language have evolved into public threats, which have led to assaults. We are seeing this play out every day in front of our eyes. When we say “never again,” it falls on deaf ears. The general public needs to wake up and see that Jews don’t feel safe because they are actually under attack. Something must be done before it is too late.

Laela Saulson is a senior at Michigan State University. She is currently a CAMERA fellow, working to combat anti-Israel misinformation on campus.

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Iran’s ‘Supreme Leader’ Welcomes Anti-Israel Campus Protesters to ‘Resistance Front’

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS

Iran’s so-called “supreme leader,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, applauded the anti-Israel protesters who have thrown university campuses across the US into chaos over the past several weeks, declaring them part of a new “branch of the Resistance Front” against the Jewish state.

“Dear university students in the United States of America, this message is an expression of our empathy and solidarity with you,” Khamenei wrote in an open letter published on Thursday. “As the page of history is turning, you are standing on the right side of it.”

Rehashing antisemitic conspiracies of Jewish control, he derided “the global Zionist elite” for speaking against the campus demonstrations.

“The global Zionist elite — who owns most US and European media corporations or influences them through funding and bribery — has labeled this courageous, humane resistance movement as ‘terrorism,’” Khamenei wrote. “You have now formed a branch of the Resistance Front and have begun an honorable struggle in the face of your government’s ruthless pressure — a government which openly supports the usurper and brutal Zionist regime.”

Khamenei also praised students in other countries who have launched anti-Israel demonstrations on campuses, noting the leading role that faculty have played in fostering and supporting the unrest.

“Besides you students from dozens of American universities, there have also been uprisings in others countries among academics and the general public,” he wrote. “The support and solidarity of your professors is a significant and consequential development. This can offer some measure of comfort in the face of your government’s police brutality and the pressures it is exerting on you. I too am among those who empathize with you young people, and value your perseverance.”

Khamenei’s letter came amid an outpouring of praise for the anti-Zionist students by Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda.

“While we support the assassination of the infidel Zionists and the beheading of them, we also appreciate and value the movement of Western demonstrators and sit-in students from Western universities, who through their sit-ins and protests expressed their rejection of the genocide taking place in Gaza,” al-Qaeda leadership wrote in a recent communique

Hamas and Hezbollah, both backed by Iran, have also cheered the protests.

“Today’s students are the leaders of the future, and their suppression today means an expensive electoral bill that the Biden administration will pay sooner or later,” Hamas official Izzat Al-Risheq said in a statement last month.

Naim Qassem, the deputy head of Hezbollah, also praised the protesters during an interview with Al-Manar TV earlier this month.

“We appreciate and value this very much. Perhaps in the future, there will be cooperation among the youth of the world — in America, France, Britain, Germany, and all the activists,” he said. “The [campus protests] are important, especially because they will have an impact on US elections. They will have an impact on the American position.”

Earlier this month, when some universities suspended students who had occupied sections of campus and refused to leave unless school officials agreed to condemn and boycott Israel, the Iran-backed Houthi militia, a terrorist organization that has repeatedly violated freedom of the seas by attacking international shipping vessels passing through the Red Sea, offered to admit the disciplined students as transfers to Sanaa University, an institution it administers.

Some anti-Zionist student groups have reciprocated the admiration.

Last week, Columbia University’s chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) endorsed Hamas, the latest sign of its growing extremism and willingness to embrace Islamic extremism and antisemitism.

“The Palestinian resistance is the only force materially fighting back against isr*el [sic],” the group said in a series of posts shared by Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus, a social media account which exposes antisemitism on college campuses. “There is no way to eliminate the resistance without ending the occupation. When you see a video of a young palestinian [sic] boy traumatized in a hospital talking about how iof [the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF] shot his pregnant mother in cold blood in front of his own eyes, do not question how he chooses to resist years later.”

Campus Reform, a higher education watchdog which first reported Documenting Jew Hatred on Campus’ posts, noted that Columbia SJP has added an “inverted red triangle” to its social media biography, further indicating its support for Hamas. The Palestinian terrorist group has used an inverted red triangle in its propaganda videos to indicate an Israeli target about to be attacked, and anti-Israel protesters on university campuses have been using the symbol in their demonstrations.

Columbia SJP, a group that has re-formed under multiple names since being suspended by school administrators during the fall semester, was central in staging a slew of riotous demonstrations in which anti-Zionist activists verbally assaulted Jewish students with antisemitic epithets, clamorously expressed support for terrorism and Hamas, and caused thousands of dollars in damages to school property.

The anti-Zionist student movement’s support for terrorism and anti-American ideologies has been expressed before.

Footage of the protests which erupted on college campuses at the end of spring semester showed demonstrators chanting in support of Hamas and calling for the destruction of Israel. In many cases, they lambasted the US and Western civilization more broadly.

“Yes, we’re all Hamas, pig!” one protester was filmed screaming during the fracas at Columbia University, which saw some verbal skirmishes between pro-Zionist and anti-Zionist partisans. “Long live Hamas!” said others who filmed themselves dancing and praising the al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Hamas terrorist organization. “Kill another solider!”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Advocacy Group Attempts to Shore Up Support for Israel Among US Democrats

US President Joe Biden addresses rising levels of antisemitism, during a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Annual Days of Remembrance ceremony, at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC, US, May 7, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

A pro-Israel advocacy group is attempting to quell fears among US Democratic politicians that expressing support for the Jewish state amid the ongoing war in Gaza will lead to electoral defeat in November. 

Democratic Majority for Israel (DMFI), a group that advocates for pro-Israel policies within the Democratic Party, circulated a memo this week explaining that the war in Gaza is simply not a top priority for most of the electorate. The memo, first acquired by Axios news website, asserts that “it just isn’t true” that Democratic support for Israel will come at an electoral cost. 

The group argues that a series of misleading polls has caused Democratic elected officials to become more tepid in their support for the Jewish state. 

To bolster its claims, DMFI points to a poll conducted by the New York Times in May which revealed that only 2 percent of voters cite Israel, Palestinians, Hamas, or Gaza as their most important issue. Nonetheless, the Times tried to exaggerate the extent to which voters care about the Israel-Hamas war by highlighting the 5 percent of voters who cite foreign policy as their biggest issue, according to DMFI. However, these 5 percent of voters did not identify if the war in Gaza is their major foreign policy concern.

The group also points out a Harvard-Harris poll from April which showed that Americans overwhelmingly side with Israel in its ongoing war effort. Eighty percent of Americans support Israel and only 20 percent back Hamas, the poll revealed.

DMFI also suggests that Israel’s ongoing military offensive against Hamas has not had a noticeable impact on President Joe Biden’s national standing. According to polling data aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, the president’s approval rating on Oct. 7of last year stood at 39.6 percent, and on April 23 last month, his approval stood at 40 percent. The same poll reveals that presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden did not grow over the same time period. 

DMFI president Mark Mellman told Axios that anti-Israel activists represent a small fringe of the American electorate. 

“People sometimes mistake volume for percentage, and the fact that some people are very loud doesn’t make them the majority. … It doesn’t even make them a substantial minority,” Mellman said.

The group’s efforts to reach out to Democrats come on the heels of a high-pressure effort by left-wing groups to force the Democratic establishment to stop supporting Israel. Anti-Israel organizations have organized efforts to encourage voters in Democratic primaries to vote “uncommitted” in lieu of voting for Biden. Moreover, nearly every appearance by Biden in recent months has been marked by the presence of scores of angry anti-Israel protesters

The relationship between Democratic politicians and the Jewish state has significantly soured in the months following Hamas’ Oct. 7 slaughter of over 1,200 people in southern Israel. High-profile Democrats such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA) have suggested that Israel is committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians.

Meanwhile, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) signed onto a letter urging Biden to pause weapons shipments to Israel. Biden vowed to stop arms deliveries to Israel if the Israeli army attempts to dismantle the remaining Hamas battalions within the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, expressing concern about the prospect of civilian casualties during such an offensive.

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Hate crimes in Toronto are predominantly antisemitic—and the numbers continue to rise: TPS security and intelligence commander

Antisemitic hate crimes continue to account for more than any other category of reported hate crimes in Toronto, according to the head of Toronto police intelligence. Superintendent Katherine Stephenson of Toronto Police Service (TPS) confirmed the ongoing spike in hate occurrences during a presentation at Holy Blossom Temple on May 29, where she addressed 350 […]

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