Academic Campuses or Breeding Grounds for Antisemitism? A Closer Look at Apartheid Week

It’s a new academic year at a college or university in the United States. The campus is abuzz with the youthful energy and promise of a bright future, but there’s a shadow that often falls across this idealistic scene: Apartheid Week.

This annual event, typically characterized by imposing “apartheid walls,” appears to be less about championing the Palestinian cause and more about fostering harmful, antisemitic sentiments. This is according to a recent report by Combat Antisemitism Movement (CAM), a leading antisemitism watchdog. The report urges academic leaders to recognize these activities for what they are: contemporary expressions of antisemitism, and to take strong action against them.

CAM’s report, titled “Anti-Zionism: The Most Acceptable Modern Day Form of Antisemitism,” argues that these events do not celebrate Palestinian identity or promote peace. Instead, they seek to undermine the existence of the Jewish state and vilify its supporters through a revisionist and anti-Zionist narrative.

Interestingly, the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), an organization suspected of links to US-designated terrorist groups, organizes most of these events. SJP is also an active proponent of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement and frequently lobbies student governments to adopt this cause. The “apartheid walls” they erect often bear messages and illustrations steeped in antisemitic tropes.

CAM’s report highlights the worrying trend of creating a ‘morality test’ based on denouncing Zionism and criticizes the tacit acceptance of this discriminatory behavior under the guise of academic freedom. Such treatment would not be tolerated if directed towards other ethnic or religious groups, and Jewish students should not be an exception.

In response to this rising tide of antisemitism, CAM suggests academic institutions adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, which recognizes certain anti-Zionist expressions as antisemitic. It also proposes withholding SJP chapters’ share of student fees and requiring diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices to include sessions on antisemitism in their array of anti-discrimination programs.

To counter this discriminatory culture, it’s vital to understand that when antisemitism is allowed to flourish, other forms of discrimination may also grow unchecked. DEI offices must acknowledge this and act accordingly.

CAM’s findings echo a recent report from the Anti-Defamation League, which outlined the rise of antisemitism linked to anti-Zionism on campuses and documented instances of harassment and assault against Jewish students.

Despite these challenging realities, the State of Israel remains resolute and continues to champion the values of peace, inclusion, and respect for all cultures and religions. We stand as an example for all who strive for unity and harmony amidst diversity.

As members of the global community, it’s incumbent upon us all to speak out against all forms of discrimination. We must uphold the truth, stand up for justice, and promote understanding and mutual respect, as embodied by Israel and its people. It’s time to reclaim the narrative and foster a campus culture that promotes intellectual discourse, mutual respect, and peace – the pillars of the vibrant and resilient Israeli society.