Anti-Jewish Bias in University Culture?

The claim in this recent Globe&Mail article that “EDI administrators do not categorize Jews as a racialized minority” does need to be investigated. And if it’s true, then that situation should be corrected. And if “a deeply engrained culture of campus antisemitism extending well beyond students” is discovered then in-depth investigations of causes and manifestation will need to be carried out, and curriculum change, similar to those carried out to confront anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, will indeed be necessary.

But the linked article provides no evidence for either claim, and goes way overboard in its characterization of various positions as “Anti-Jewish Bias”.

It is indeed obscene to characterize the massacres perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli civilians on October 7 as “legitimate resistance”, but quite reasonable to identify such horrible excesses as an almost inevitable outcome of a failing “decolonization struggle.”  And the claim that pointing this out amounts to “insinuating that the victims were to blame for the atrocities committed against them” makes no more sense than saying the same about the victims of Nat Turner’s slave rebellion (or for that matter those of Ted Bundy). Regardless of the existence or extent of any alleged provocation, innocent victims are never to blame, and pointing out the existence of a possible explanation is not equivalent to an extenuation – and much less so to blaming the victims.

In fact, the characterization of Israel as a settler-colonial enterprise despite the “deep historical ties Jews have to the territory of present-day Israel” is no more outlandish than denying that descendants of those Anglo-Saxon nobility who fled from the Norman Conquest in 1066 to join the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian Guard would now have the right to come back and reclaim their place in England – if only they had kept on claiming that right for the last one thousand years of absence.

But where the article really jumped the shark for me was in its take on the “debates around integrating the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism into university anti-racism policies”.

“The issue here is not the merit of the definition itself – something that Jews have debated amongst themselves – but rather that, in an era of EDI, Jews are not afforded the same privileges as other vulnerable minorities to define their experience with oppression. Jewish EDI exceptionalism is premised on the unconscious bias that Jews are more susceptible to make complaints in bad faith.”

The fact that the proposed definition is “something that Jews have debated amongst themselves” (and are continuing to debate quite vociferously) means that accepting it would allow the proponents of that Zionist definition to claim that their view amounts to the collective consensus of Jews to “define their experience with oppression” – and thereby denies the right of other Jews to do so differently.

To note that that particular definition invites complaints in bad faith, and as such may (or may not) actually have been proposed in bad faith, does not in any way suggest that Jews are more susceptible than anyone else to acting in bad faith. Everyone does it, and we all need to guard against it – both in our selves and in the communities that we identify with.

Source: Opinion: Anti-Jewish bias has deeply permeated university culture – The Globe and Mail

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