MIT President Sally Kornbluth is no stranger to making light of antisemitism. Kornbluth is now notorious for her evasive response to questions at the December 5 Congressional hearing about Jew hatred at MIT, Harvard, and UPenn. What many people don’t realize, however, is that Kornbluth had a legacy of indifference towards antisemitism during her time at Duke University, where she was Provost before her move to MIT in January of this year.
One of the most egregious examples of her behavior involves Kornbluth’s handling of the Duke University Press (DUP). In late 2017, DUP published Jasbir Puar’s infamous and poorly written Right to Maim, in which Puar uses inscrutable and bizarre language to claim that Israelis — i.e. Jews — intentionally maim “Palestinians” in order to control them and use them for economic gain.
When Jewish faculty at Duke wrote a letter of concern to Duke’s President Vincent Prince, he brushed them off, saying the book would be judged “in the court of public opinion.” He passed the buck to Sally Kornbluth, since the DUP reported to her as Provost. He promised that she would evaluate “the issues” and “how the editorial board is selected and how diversity of thought and expertise is ensured going forward.” Kornbluth did nothing of the kind.
Kornbluth took no action on Puar’s book, and DUP continued to publish material dehumanizing Jews and erasing Jewish historic ties to the land of Israel. Examples include The Colonizing Self Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine, which accuses Israelis of living in “Palestinian” homes, and Palestine Is Throwing a Party and the Whole World Is Invited, which claims that investment policies maintain the “occupation” and subordination of “Palestine” in relation to Israel.
Jewish faculty learned in early 2022 that additional problematic publications were planned, such as Invited to Witness Solidarity Tourism across Occupied Palestine and a Detours: A Decolonial Guide to Palestine, both of which ignore Jewish presence and relationship to Israel. The faculty members requested a meeting with the DUP director, to include Kornbluth. She did not show.
Many believed over the years that since Kornbluth is Jewish, she would support our community — but they were wrong.
In 2019, Duke and the University of North Carolina hosted a conference on Gaza that was rife with antisemitism. A civil rights complaint was filed, requiring Duke to address its antisemitism problem.
Kornbluth was silent.
Also in 2019, Duke’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter held its Israeli Apartheid Week. Speakers included local students who visited leaders of the terrorist group. the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Speakers called Israel a “white supremacist nation” and invited students to sign up for more Eyewitness Palestine trips.
Kornbluth was silent.
In November 2021, approval of a new Students Supporting Israel (SSI) chapter was vetoed by the Duke Student Government (DSG), when an SSI member dared to push back on the false “settler colonial” narrative about Israel. SSI was eventually reinstated, but only after the DSG was called out for their discriminatory behavior. Price and Kornbluth ignored the plight of Jewish students and Duke’s role in enabling antisemitism, saying that DSG’s actions are “independent of, and not determined by or sanctioned by the University.”
In 2022, Mohammed El-Kurd — who claims that “Zionists have an unquenchable thirst for Palestinian blood” and feed on organs of “Palestinians” — spoke to a large audience at Duke. He mocked Jewish students, crumpling up their fliers on stage as the audience laughed. Many individuals and organizations reached out to Duke president Price. Price did nothing — and Kornbluth was silent.
So, what did Kornbluth say publicly about antisemitism on campus? She signed a letter denying its existence.
It comes as no surprise, then, that Kornbluth denies antisemitism at MIT, just as she did at Duke. Her intransigence is beyond redemption. While there are calls for her to be fired for her tolerance of Jew hatred, President Price is just as guilty and deserves the same.
The author is a former assistant professor of General Internal Medicine, Duke University, and Co-Founder, North Carolina Coalition for Israel.
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University of California Student Government Passes BDS Legislation
The University of California-Davis (UC Davis) student government passed on Friday legislation adopting the boycott, divestment, and sanctions, (BDS) movement and falsely accusing Israel of genocide.
“This bill prohibits the purchase of products from corporations identified as profiting from the genocide and occupation of the Palestinian people by the BDS National Committee,” says the measure, titled Senate Bill (SB) #52. “This bill seeks to address the human rights violations of the nation-state and government of Israel and establish a guideline of ethical spending.”
Puma, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney, and Sabra are all named on SJP’s “BDS List.”
Powers enumerated in the bill include veto power over all vendor contracts, which SJP specifically applied to “purchase orders for custom t-shirts,” a provision that may affect pro-Israel groups on campus. Such policies will be guided by a “BDS List” of targeted companies curated by SJP. The language of the legislation gives ASUCD the right to add more.
“No ASUCD funds shall be committed to the purchases of products or services of any corporation identified by the BDS List as being complicit in the violation of the human rights guaranteed to Palestinian civilians,” the bill adds.
A notable provision of the bill regards the charter for the Special Committee on Ethical Standing. It says the committee must be “dissolved” in a year and its”responsibilities” absorbed by UC Davis’ Ethnic and Cultural Affairs Commission, a division of the student government that which describes itself as a special advocacy group for non-white students. The requirement makes BDS a permanent policy of the school and links it to the issue of racial justice, which, on a college campus, serves as a safeguard against any future attempt to pass legislation proscribing the adoption of BDS.
SJP praised the bill’s passing and signing by ASUCD’s president, Francisco Javier Ojeda.
“The bill that was passed prevents any of the $20 million in the ASUCD budget from being spent on companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestinians, as specified by the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement,” the group said on social media. “From McDonald’s to Sabra to Chevron, none of our student feeds that fund ASUCD operations will be used to financially support 30+ companies that are complicit in Zionist violence.”
Students for Justice in Palestine at University of California-Davis is one of many SJP chapters that justified Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7. In a chilling statement posted after the world became aware of the terrorist group’s atrocities on that day, which included hundreds of civilian murders and sexual assaults, the group said “the responsibility for the current escalation of violence is entirely on the Israeli occupation.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters — which have said in their communications that Israeli civilians deserve to be murdered for being “settlers” — lead the way in promoting a campus environment hostile to Jewish and pro-Israel voices. Their aim, the civil rights group explained in an open letter published in December, is to “exclude and marginalize Jewish students,” whom they describe as “oppressors,” and encourage “confrontation” with them.
The ADL has urged colleges and universities to protect Jewish students from the group’s behavior, which, in many cases, has violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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‘Horrifying and Heart Wrenching’: IDF Releases New Footage of Shiri Bibas and Her Young Sons in Gaza
The IDF released “horrifying” new footage on Monday showing Israeli hostage Shiri Bibas and her two children flanked by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, filmed shortly after their abduction during the October 7 Hamas-led attack on southern Israel.
Captured by surveillance cameras in Khan Younis, the footage shows Bibas wrapped in a sheet and clutching her red-haired sons, Ariel, aged 4, and Kfir, who was only 9 months old at the time of their abduction, and is the first proof of life since October 7. The children’s father, Yarden Bibas, was separately abducted and his condition remains unknown.
IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari expressed the military’s deep concerns over Shiri and her children’s fate.
“Seeing this young mother clutching her babies surrounded by a group of armed terrorists is horrifying and heart wrenching,” he said at a press conference on Monday.
“Those who have the audacity to question our need to operate in Gaza, but don’t have the basic decency and humanity to demand that Hamas release our hostages first of all, they all should take a good look at this terrified mother, Shiri, clutching her babies,” he said, adding that the IDF would “leave no stone unturned” in returning the hostages.
The IDF, according to Hagari, lacks sufficient information to ascertain whether they are alive or dead but is “making every effort to obtain more information about their fate.” The footage was obtained from a Khan Younis military post belonging to the Mujahideen Brigades, a small armed group who are holding Bibas and her children.
The Bibas family said in a statement that the videos “tore our hearts out.”
“Witnessing Shiri, Yarden, Ariel and Kfir, ripped away from their home in Nir Oz into this hellscape, feels unbearable and inhumane,” the family said. “We’re issuing a desperate call to all the decision-makers in Israel and the world who are involved in the negotiations: Bring them home now. Make it clear to Hamas that kidnapping children is out of bounds.”
The family also called for Shiri and her children to be prioritized in any future hostage release deal with Hamas.
Hamas had claimed in November that Shiri, Ariel, and Kfir were casualties of an IDF strike, a claim the IDF has contested as unverified and said at the time that the claim was part of the terror group’s “cruel and inhuman” psychological warfare. Hamas also released a video of a visibly distressed Yarden Bibas after he had been informed by his captors that his wife and children were killed by the IDF.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the footage as “heartbreaking” and said it “reminds us who we are dealing with — brutal baby kidnappers.”
“We will bring these kidnappers of babies and mothers to justice. They won’t get away with it,” Netanyahu said.
Irit Lahav, spokeswoman for the embattled community of Nir Oz, said that the video “reminds us that we are all held hostage until the return of all the hostages.”
A quarter of Nir Oz’s residents were either kidnapped or murdered on October 7.
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Antisemitism Accusations Lodged Against Middlebury College
Accusations of institutional antisemitism against Middlebury College in Vermont have been lodged in a civil rights complaint filed by StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel.
The complaint, filed with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) argues that high level Middlebury College officials, by refusing to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally, have fostered a “pervasively hostile climate,” which prevents Jewish students from enjoying the full benefits of being a college student at a higher education receiving federal funds, according to the complaint.
A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering. In an email to one Jewish group that planned a vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”
A month later, the administration uncomplainingly accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official, a request which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.
StandWithUs also noted that Middlebury allegedly ignored numerous complaints of antisemitic harassment committed by anti-Zionist groups. After a local Chabad rabbi wrote to school officials reporting acts of “intimidation,” including preventing Jews from entering the cafeteria, during a “Day of Resistance” event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), the school’s associate vice president of safety warned him not to report the incidents to outside law enforcement, saying that doing so would be a “risk to individuals and to our community.” The official also denied being aware of any antisemitic incidents.
“The hostile environment at Middlebury College and the administration’s failure to act to correct it are unacceptable,” Carly Gammill, Director of Legal Strategy at SWU Center for Legal Justice, in a press release issued on Friday. “Too often, when Jewish students raise concerns about antisemitism, they are subjected to administrators who deflect the bigotry at play”
“Jewish students deserve the same level of respect, consideration and lawful response as all minority groups when they report cases of bigotry and discrimination,” Gammill added.
Middlebury also allegedly refused to punish anti-Zionist students for using their social media accounts to publish hate speech. Social media posts that cheered Hamas’ atrocities as “decolonization,” called Jews “colonizers” deserving of being victims of violence, and said “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” proliferated in the days and weeks after Oct. 7, but this day, Middlebury has never issued a statement condemning antisemitism.
The Algemeiner has asked Middlebury College to comment on SWU’s allegations.
“Middlebury college has failed egregiously to provide adequate protecting for Jewish students seeking to remedy persistent antisemitic bigotry on campus,” Yael Lerman, SWU director of the Center for Legal Justice said in Friday’s press release. “Middlebury administrators disregarded student allegations, attempted to silence them, neglected to enforce its own rules, and at times were complicit in discriminating against Jewish students. In doing so, the college has violated its obligations under Title VI and must be held accountable.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
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