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We Are Jewish Students Suing UC Berkeley for Antisemitism; Will Next Semester Get Better?

UC Berkeley’s Memorial Glade. Photo: John Morgan.

We are Jewish students at UC Berkeley. On November 28, we sued Berkeley for antisemitism.

Protecting free speech and addressing antisemitism is not a zero sum issue. Left alone, hostility towards Jews leads to discrimination and violence against others. Free speech can’t survive in this environment. Therefore, tackling antisemitism is the first step in restoring free speech.

UC Berkeley’s antisemitism is rooted in a rigid ideology: Jews are oppressors.

At our school, Jew-hate is green-washed as social justice. To belong, Jews must renounce their identity or else be shunned.

In October, Jewish students at Berkeley were told that there was no threat to their safety, but that they should “avoid becoming targets.”

In another email, our antisemitism concerns were questioned, given that Berkeley has a Jewish “provost, at least one other Jewish cabinet member, at least five Jewish deans, and hundreds of Jewish faculty.” Under this logic, Berkeley cannot have sexism. We have a female chancellor, female police chief, and multiple female deans and department heads.

As the semester went on, our fears only intensified.

Two Jewish students were physically assaulted on campus, one week apart. Berkeley has kept both cases “active,” yet refuses to investigate them as hate. The university suggested we seek counseling and make academic flexibility requests. They also sympathized for anything that happened which may have been “offensive.”

Even when we were told to “f*ck off” by classmates, the university stayed silent. When we feared grading retaliation and the pressure to hide our Jewish identity, the university offered no recourse. And when Jewish teachers received e-mails calling for their gassing, the administration was — you guessed it — nowhere to be found.

In December, a Jewish student was robbed and left the note: “F*ck Jews. Free Palestine. From the river to the sea.” Berkeley failed to call this anti-Jewish hate. Previously, Berkeley had no qualms about specifying anti-trans and anti-Asian American hate.

Berkeley is not equipped for the intimidation that Jewish students encounter in the wild. During a protest this semester, students walked through a river to get to class.

The university must know that this is out of control. Perhaps that is why we are sent to Jewish spaces for belonging: to offset the Jewish-free zones on campus.

Berkeley is home to Jewish institutes and museums, Hillel and Chabad, and the Antisemitism Education Initiative. Recently, administrators have joined Jewish students for Shabbat and Hanukkah. This is where we are safe to be Jewish.

How is this different from a Jewish ghetto? Instead of dealing directly with antisemites, Berkeley has manufactured Jewish pockets on campus.

To break the harassment, Berkeley must stop excusing raw antisemitism as “anti-Zionism.”

Berkeley must recognize that for many Jews, Israel and shared Jewish ancestry is inherent to identityJust as the police investigated an anti-kosher incident as hate, the same goes for Israel. Otherwise, we must hide our identity when anti-Jew hate is ignored. This contradicts Berkeley’s “free exchange of ideas” principle.

Long-term fixes will require Berkeley to re-evaluate its governance and culture.

Berkeley’s decentralized governance model means that the Academic Senate has more power than deans. As a result, a minority dominates decision rights, stifling pluralism and discouraging dissent. Checks and balances are necessary to counter this polarization, as no structures currently offset this lopsidedness. Administrative decisions are made in silos. Consistent procedures and accountability expectations are inhibited when each situation is treated differently.

For example, in a lecture, engineering students were indoctrinated by their teacher’s 18-minute diatribe on the linkage between their student struggles and Palestinians’. Nevermind that Berkeley previously sent multiple rounds of forceful communication discouraging classroom political indoctrination. 

Students were told “[Berkeley] is looking further into this.” These words are cheap. Weeks later, the teacher hosted a teach-in focused on technology and Israeli apartheid. Evidently, behavior continues, guised as peace. Berkeley must take disciplinary action to hold staff accountable.

Repairing Berkeley’s culture comes next. The university’s diversity, equity, inclusion and justice efforts lack pluralism.

Berkeley’s Antisemitism Education Initiative should be included in initiatives that already include anti-Black racism and Islamophobia. Furthermore, centers formed for inclusion should not exclude people.

When Berkeley’s Othering and Belonging Institute blamed “power structures” for the Israel-Gaza War, they conveniently omitted Islamism. The institute’s website also spotlights Islamophobia, but not antisemitism too. This double standard is glaring.

Only by addressing broken governance and campus culture can students’ education be unburdened by discrimination.

Hannah Schlacter is a second year MBA at UC Berkeley. Danielle Sobkin is the daughter of Soviet refugees and a first-gen student. Both are members of Jewish Americans For Fairness in Education (JAFE), a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against UC Berkeley for antisemitism.

The post We Are Jewish Students Suing UC Berkeley for Antisemitism; Will Next Semester Get Better? first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Police are investigating an incident involving a man with a nail gun at an anti-Israel protest in Thornhill

York Regional Police arrested a man at a demonstration outside a synagogue Sunday, alleging he had brought a nail gun. The incident was still under investigation and no charges were laid, police said on Sunday afternoon. No injuries were reported at the protest The demonstration occurred outside the Aish Thornhill Community Shul, on Clark Ave. […]

The post Police are investigating an incident involving a man with a nail gun at an anti-Israel protest in Thornhill appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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An Ideology of Violence

Illustrative: Supporters of Hamas gather for a rally in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Reuters/Joel Carrett

JNS.orgWhen all is said and done, antisemitism is fundamentally an ideology of violence. Behind every missive and every barb—whether delivered online, at pro-Hamas rallies or graffitied on the walls of a Jewish communal building—is a message of dehumanization that licenses physical attacks on Jews and their property.

In the nearly five months that have passed since Hamas terrorists orchestrated the horrendous pogrom of Oct. 7 in Israel, antisemitic violence has exploded around the world. There are something like 16 million Jews around the globe, mainly concentrated in Israel and the United States, but with a presence in Europe, Latin America, Africa and Oceania as well. From what I can tell, there isn’t a single Jewish community that hasn’t been scarred by this latest wave of hostility.

Additionally, in the two decades that I’ve been writing about antisemitic violence, there hasn’t been a single episode in which the perpetrator was a public figure or someone with a media profile. I’m not referring here to the antisemitic rhetoric we’ve heard from influencers like the rapper Kanye West, or any number of the prominent elected officials flinging words like “genocide” in Israel’s direction, or asserting that Diaspora Jews who join the Israeli Defense Forces should be locked up on charges of treason and war crimes. I’m talking about the people who have crossed the line into assaults and even murder, which target Jews simply because they are Jews. The names of individuals we would otherwise have never heard of—like Kobili Traoré, who brutally murdered a Jewish woman, Sarah Halimi, in her Paris apartment in 2017; or Stephan Balliet, the German neo-Nazi who attempted to shoot up a synagogue in the city of Halle, Germany, on Yom Kippur in 2019—are seared into our consciousness solely as a result of their bestial actions.

But that’s changing. Last week, police in the Australian city of Melbourne arrested a known pro-Hamas influencer, a woman who has the ear of some of that country’s elected representatives and whose past activities have earned her media coverage, on the charge of having masterminded the kidnapping and torture of a young man whose only offense was that he works for a Jewish employer.

The 28-year-old Lebanese-Australian woman, Laura Allam, is the CEO of the Al Jannah Foundation, which bills itself as an Islamic humanitarian organization. While Allam’s social-media profiles specify that she is still running Al Jannah, an entry on the Australian Register of Companies notes that the foundation ceased operations in July 2023, less than three years after it was formally incorporated. But while her humanitarian organization may be little more than a husk, Allam has made sure to keep her own voice alive within Australia’s internal debate on the war in Gaza—a debate which, like elsewhere, has been stained by antisemitic invective, conspiracy theories and bloodthirsty celebrations of Israeli deaths.

On Feb. 16, Allam’s pro-Hamas activities took an altogether more sinister turn. Along with an accomplice—identified by the blog Israellycool as Muhammad Sharab, a pro-Hamas fanatic whose social-media posts attacking Israel are decorated with images of samurai swords and ninjas—Allam is alleged to have seized her unnamed 31-year-old victim late at night in the Melbourne suburb of St. Albans at gunpoint. Because of the draconian restrictions imposed on reporting the case by the Australian authorities, who have banned the publication of Allam’s name and photograph by local media outlets, the full details of the assault have not been released. What we do know, though, is that the victim was so badly beaten that he required extensive hospital treatment.

Since the incident, Allam has remained silent, save for one final post on her Instagram account before it was shut down. With sickening self-regard, Allam depicted herself as a victim, ignored by unnamed “community leaders” who “turn around and say such abhorrent words like ‘this is not our fight’ while a woman in your community has now endured a lifetime of pain, suffering and trauma.” Such leaders, she went on, had nothing to fear from her, at least for the time being. “I pride myself in my selflessness (sic) and the idea of remaining quiet—for now,” she wrote. “Why? Well, I’d like to hope that you so-called ‘selfless individuals’ realize that if I decide to speak up on what has occurred, it will have the most detrimental effect on our community and every single effort we have put into our movement.”

Allam, it would seem, recognizes that her turn to antisemitic violence would be a setback for the community she claims to represent. Yet there is no apology on her part, merely a tactical decision to “remain quiet.” Quite the pledge from a woman with her record.

Before the news of the attack in Melbourne, Allam had already attracted national attention for her furious messages on social media. “Good riddance,” she declared on learning of the deaths of four IDF soldiers in Gaza. One day after the Oct. 7 pogrom, she announced that she had “woken up to some great news from our beloved Palestine.”

Allam’s rejoicing in the mass killing, rapes and mutilation that defined Oct. 7 were an obvious signal to Australian politicians to avoid any contact with her—but they didn’t. At a pro-Hamas demonstration outside the Australian parliament in Canberra at the beginning of February, Allam stood alongside senators from the left-wing Green Party, drawing a rebuke from TV host Andrew Bolt. “The Greens may not have known of Allam’s past, but this is who they find next to them in their gutter,” he stated, in a reference to the news in December that Allam was using the Al Jannah Foundation to resettle Palestinians from Gaza in Australia, which led opposition politicians to question whether supporters of Hamas were being imported into Australia under the guise of humanitarianism.

By orchestrating an assault on someone whose “offense” was to work for a Jewish employer, Allam ceased being a cheerleader for Hamas and became, in effect, a vehicle to spread its vengeance outside the Middle East. Cheering “resistance” is no longer enough for the pro-Hamas movement cluttering our schools, colleges and streets with their genocidal slogans; they are now duplicating those same “resistance” tactics to intimidate defenseless Jewish communities in their midst.

Allam may be a shocking example of this trend, but sadly, she is not the only one. Last week, Jewish students at the University of California, Berkeley were forced to evacuate a building where they were due to hold a meeting after pro-Hamas agitators gathered outside, banging on the windows and screaming “intifada, intifada.” Two Jewish students ended up being assaulted. If you study the video of that episode, you’ll be struck most of all by the demeanor of the mob, their faces a veritable picture of virtue signaling as they bellow “shame on you” at Jewish kids who were just trying to hold a get-together, but who were, in that moment, the embodiment of the hated Zionist state.

Our elected leaders—in the United States, in Europe and elsewhere—have failed us. Every outburst of antisemitic hatred in history has been directed by a mob, and the present situation is no different. Don’t fool yourselves; the mob is back, and this time it wears a keffiyeh rather than a swastika armband. If the authorities won’t expel these people from our campuses and imprison them when they engage in attacks on Jews, and if we are unwilling or unable to defend ourselves, we will find, sooner rather than later, that the only option we have is to head for the exits.

The post An Ideology of Violence first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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The Pro-Hamas Fifth Column Intends to Kill People

Sigmund Freud, circa 1921. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

JNS.orgSigmund Freud always took a somewhat jaundiced view of the human psyche, but in the wake of the horrors of World War I, it turned even darker. Confronted with mankind’s capacity to destroy itself, Freud concluded that within every living thing, there is a drive towards senescence and homeostasis—a state in which things do not change. The ultimate form of such a state, of course, is death. Thus, Freud believed, all life contains within it the seed of its own destruction and dissolution—a death drive.

But Freud understood that this was not simply a desire for stasis. In 1932, he wrote to Albert Einstein, “According to our hypothesis human instincts are of only two kinds: those which seek to preserve and unite… and those which seek to destroy and kill and which we group together as the aggressive or destructive instinct.”

These instincts are not always opposed, however. Freud asserted that “an instinct of the one sort can scarcely ever operate in isolation; it is always accompanied—or, as we say, alloyed—with a certain quota from the other side, which modifies its aim or is, in some cases, what enables it to achieve that aim.”

In the unity of sex and death, Freud implied, there comes a point at which the death drive becomes a desire for the orgasmic destruction of oneself and others. Sex enables death and vice-versa.

All of this came to mind when I read that a man named Aaron Bushnell had committed suicide by setting himself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington while shrieking, “Free Palestine.”

I was neither shocked nor surprised by the news. It was inevitable from the moment the pro-Hamas fifth column in the United States began its pro-terror campaign. The instant the genocidists took to the streets, it was obvious that behind all the screaming and slogans was nothing more than an inchoate murderous rage. This rage has reached such a peak of intensity that it has ceased to be mere antisemitism. It is nothing but itself. It is the death drive. These people want to die and they want others to die. Worse still, they take pleasure in that desire and its consummation.

In Hamas’s case, the death drive took the form of mass murder. In Bushnell’s case, it took the form of suicide. One could say that this is a point in Bushnell’s favor. At least he didn’t try to take anyone else down with him. But his self-immolation has prompted statements from his ideological kin that point to something far more sinister.

Reporter Andy Ngo recently tweeted about a post on the anarchist website “CrimethInc.” featuring an email Bushnell apparently sent to the site stating his intentions. CrimethInc. seems to be dedicated to promoting illegal activities to further the anarchist cause. As such, its comments on Bushnell’s missive are disturbing, to say the least.

At first glance, it appears that the site simply wants to dissuade others from immolating themselves, saying, “Let’s not glamorize the decision to end one’s life, nor celebrate anything with such permanent repercussions. Rather than exalting Aaron as a martyr and encouraging others to emulate him, we honor his memory, but we exhort you to take a different path.”

The site never explicitly states what that “different path” might be. However, it does say, quite falsely, “All available evidence indicates that the Israeli military will continue killing Palestinians by the thousand until they are forced to stop.”

Given the necessity of forcing Israel to “stop,” the site muses, “If protests are going to exert leverage towards stopping the genocide, it is up to people in the United States to figure out how to accomplish that. But what will it take? Thousands across the country have engaged in brave acts of protest without yet succeeding in putting a halt to Israel’s assault.”

“If your heart is broken by the horrors in Gaza and you are prepared to bear significant consequences to try to stop them, we urge you to do everything in your power to find comrades and make plans collectively,” the site exhorts. “Lay the foundations for a full life of resistance to colonialism and all forms of oppression. Prepare to take risks as your conscience demands, but don’t hurry towards self-destruction. We desperately need you alive, at our side, for all that is to come.”

“All that is to come,” once again, goes unnamed, but the site reemphasizes, “Let’s admit that the kind of protest activity that has taken place thus far in the United States has not served to compel the U.S. government to compel a halt to the genocide in Gaza. It is an open question of what could accomplish that. Aaron’s action challenges us to answer this question—and to answer it differently than he did.”

The site is careful about its rhetoric to the point of esoteric writing, but there is a small indication of what it means by “differently.” It states, “If nothing else, Aaron’s action shows that genocide cannot take place overseas without collateral damage on this side of the ocean.”

It is quite clear what “collateral damage” means in this context: dead people. Such dead people will be produced, the site forthrightly states, “differently.” That is, they will not be produced by suicide. People will be murdered.

I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the implications of this are fairly obvious: The pro-Hamas fifth column in the U.S. intends to kill people. Given the atrocities of the current moment, it is impossible to imagine that most if not all of those people will be Jews. It seems that however careful they may be about saying so, the death cultists in the U.S. intend to imitate their fellow death cultists in Gaza. The death drive will seek to sate itself on American Jews as it did on Israeli Jews. The pleasures inherent are too much for the cultists to resist.

Major Jewish organizations, the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and all relevant agencies should take note: Bushnell’s death was not just a suicide, it was also an exhortation to murder—and people are listening.

The post The Pro-Hamas Fifth Column Intends to Kill People first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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