A Remarkable Epidemic of Antisemitism at NYU Law School
NYU Law’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter circulated a statement that, in addition to casually endorsing the killing of Israeli civilians, argued that “framing is everything and the Zionist grip on media is omnipresent” and also referred to “Islamophobes funded by the Zionists of the United States”. and Western media.”
Let’s be clear: criticism of Israel, harsh as it is, is not necessarily anti-Semitic. And there are marginal cases where harsh criticism of Israel circumvents the boundaries of anti-Semitism, enough at least to give the critic plausible deniability.
This is not one of those cases. First, the objectionable language noted above is not criticism of Israel, it is criticism of “Zionist” media in the US and the West.
Second, the clearest and most obvious form of anti-Semitism that tries to hide behind anti-Zionism is when you can substitute the word “Zionist” for the word “Jew”, and you end up with an anti-Semitic trope. obvious and long-standing.
The SJP statement falls exactly into this category. Anyone familiar with the modern history of anti-Semitism knows that Jewish control of the media is about as clear as an anti-Semitic trope. “Controlling the media” is even listed as one of the most prominent “anti-Semitic ducks” in Wikipedia’s entry on this topic.
If you’re unfamiliar with this trope and doubt my story, perhaps David Duke’s statements can help educate you. For example: “There is a problem in America with a very strong and powerful tribal group that dominates our media…” And “Wow, I think this whole Trump University thing, really, if we exploit it, can really expose all of the Jewish manipulation of the American media.” Sometimes Duke, like NYU Law’s SJP, makes a bit more subtle reference to “Zionist control” of the media.
Finding an SJP chapter mimicking classic Nazi-style anti-Semitism is unfortunately no surprise, as this is the kind of thing SJP has become known for. What is rather remarkable is the reaction of other student organizations.
You might think that students at NYU Law, once a haven for Jews excluded from Harvard by anti-Jewish quotas, and whose students are so sensitive to any real or perceived offense to any minority group, might have risen as a for speak out against SJP’s anti-Semitic rhetoric. You would be wrong; very bad.
Aaron Sibarium reports in the Washington Free Beacon:
Over the next 24 hours, 11 student groups wrote to the law school mailing list to express support for the statement: Black Allied Law Students Association, Middle Eastern Law Students Association, Muslim Law Students Association, South Asian Law Students Association, Disability Allied Law Students Association, National Lawyers Guild, Women of Color Collective, Coalition on Law & Representation, NYU Review of Law and Social Change, and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex.
When Jewish students protested the piling, they were met with a torrent of vitriol. “Quiet, baby,” replied Michael Stamos, a freshman in law school. Helen Campbell, a third-year student, ridiculed the suggestion that Students for Justice in Palestine should condemn attacks on Israeli civilians. After all, she writes, “one does not condemn an earthquake or a deadly flu epidemic”.
Each student who signed the SJP statement is responsible for having at least negligently endorsed antisemitism, according to the “known or ought to have known” standard. Those who should have known, but did not carefully read the SJP statement or otherwise missed the anti-Semitic implications of the media shtick by Jews/Zionists, should publicly withdraw their endorsement.
And if I were an employer interviewing NYU students, I could very well ask any student who belongs to one of the organizations that embraced SJP’s anti-Semitism why they stayed in that organization.
UPDATE: NYU Law spokesperson Michael Orey sent me this on behalf of the law school:
NYU and NYU Law vehemently reject and condemn anti-Semitism; he has no place in our community. Several complaints have been filed in connection with the recent dialogue between law students on a mailing list. They are investigated in accordance with the law school’s policies and procedures. Any complaint of anti-Semitism made by a student will be investigated and, if appropriate, disciplined in accordance with the Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Student Complaint Procedures of the University, as is the case for student complaints of discrimination or harassment on any other ground prohibited by this policy.
Additionally, Dean Trevor Morrison sent the following email to NYU law students on Tuesday.
The Law School is aware of the debate that has taken place on our student list server on issues relating to Israel and Palestine. Statements made by individual students and groups of students in this forum (and in other contexts) are their own; they don’t speak for law school. NYU Law is committed to free discussion, debate, and dissent, although the vigorous exchange of ideas may include statements that some find difficult, offensive, or painful.
Of course, NYU Law condemns as immoral the intentional killing of civilians. This includes, but is not limited to, the recent attacks in Israel. Tragically, there is too much such violence in the world for law school to ever respond to. At the same time, NYU Law does not take an institutional position on broader issues of public interest like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in general. As students and others express their own opinions on these matters, it is important to keep in mind that everyone in the NYU community is expected to abide by NYU’s Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy. Students who believe they have been victims of violations of this policy are encouraged to report it to the NYU Bias Response Line or the Law School Office of Student Affairs. The Law School has received such reports in recent days and will investigate them in accordance with our policies. Accordingly, we do not plan to offer any further public comment on the matter.
For what it’s worth, I think it’s a mistake to make the controversy a matter of discrimination or harassment policy. Rather, the essence of the problem is that some NYU law students (1) dehumanize Israelis to the point where they think murdering them for no reason other than their existence is acceptable; and (2) either don’t understand why declaring that “Zionists” control the media is anti-Semitic, or understand and believe that the spread of racism is acceptable as long as it is for the greater good of Palestinian nationalism. It is a problem whether or not the students in question have violated NYU policy, and it can also be difficult to see that political opinion, however harmful, violates NYU policy.
I suspect that if there had been a similar outbreak of any other kind of racism at NYU, the law school administration would have thought it had a duty not (simply?) to investigate or punish, but to educate. Some education is clearly warranted.