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Anti-Semitism on Campus: Overview of Campus Anti-Semitic Incidents

(1995 - 1996)

The ADL Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents has tracked anti-Semitic acts on college campuses since 1984. In this time, reported incidents have increased from the 1984 low of 4 to a high of 143 in 1994. Such incidents include, for example, vandalism of Jewish student offices and other property, personal harassment, anti-Semitic speeches delivered on campus and Holocaust-denial ads printed in college newspapers.

Following years of increases, 1995 provided a welcome downturn in the number of such episodes; the 1995 total of 118 was a decrease of 25 incidents from the 1994 high of 143-a 17 percent decrease in campus incidents, down approximately to the level recorded in 1992. It should be noted that many incidents are never reported.

Anti-Semitism on the college campus in some ways mirrors the rest of society in terms of types of incidents and trends of increase or decrease. Incidents of personal harassment, including threats and assault, outnumber incidents of property destruction and vandalism on campus, as they do in the country generally. Additionally, some incidents in 1995 had the potential to become violent tragedies, such as one at the University of Pennsylvania (see below).

Anti-Semitic speakers continue to be invited to address campus audiences in disturbing numbers. Individuals such as the Nation of Islam's Khalid Abdul Muhammad, CUNY Professor Dr. Leonard Jeffries, Wellesley Professor Tony Martin and Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael) regularly include anti-Semitic statements and historical distortions in their campus speeches.

Paid advertisements denying the Holocaust were again submitted to and printed by several college newspapers in 1995. Ads were printed in student newspapers at SUNY-Binghamton (NY), Northeastern University (MA), Oberlin College (OH), Radford University (VA), Sacred Heart University (CT), and Wittenberg University (OH). Additionally, the newspaper at Ithaca College (NY) ran the ad as an unpaid Op-Ed piece. Holocaust-denial ads were rejected at Washburn University (KS), the University of Massachusetts, North Essex Community College (MA), SUNY-Albany (NY), SUNY-Stony Brook (NY), and Williams College (MA).

The following is a selection of serious recent campus anti-Semitic incidents; for more detailed discussion of other anti-Semitic incidents, see subsequent sections of this report.

  • On March 24, 1995, two Jewish students at the University of Pennsylvania were walking in an area immediately off campus. Derogatory anti-Jewish epithets were shouted at them by two other students sitting on the porch of a private home. When the Jewish students confronted them, one of the two went into the house and returned brandishing a shotgun which he used to threaten the Jewish students, who quickly fled the scene. Both of the perpetrators were questioned by police and university officials, and several other weapons were confiscated from their possession. One of the perpetrators was "voluntarily separated" from the university, though the victims ultimately declined to press charges through the criminal justice system.

  • In the spring of 1995, an article entitled "The Paradox of European Jewry" was reprinted in a special edition of Uhuru, the Black student journal of Kent State University (OH). The article blamed Jews for the "decimation, defilement, cultural colonization, enslavement and genocide of many of the world's people up until today." This incident is particularly disturbing because the funding for the special issue of Uhuru came from the University Provost's office.

  • In October 1995, a column appeared in the Columbia [University] Daily Spectator written by the president of the Columbia Black Student Organization, who referred to Jews as "devils," "tricksters," and "leeches sucking the blood from the Black community." Jews, he wrote, "disguise their evilness under the skirts and costumes of the rabbi," and hide the "blood of billions of Africans" under their yarmulkes.

  • On February 24, 1995, at the University of California at Berkeley, the Muslim Student Association sponsored a rally in support of Hamas, the Middle East extremist group, soon after a series of bus and sidewalk bombings in Israel. Students from several northern California campuses carried a sign depicting an Israeli flag with a swastika in the middle and symbolically volunteered to serve as future suicide bombers. A Jewish observer was spit on by one of the demonstrators.

  • On November 13, 1995, a Jewish student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale overheard a student make an anti-Semitic comment. When he challenged the other student about the comment, he was punched in the face.

  • Throughout 1995, a virulently anti-Semitic anonymous tract entitled, "Anti-Semitism . . . Found" has been mailed to professors at colleges around the country. Colleges receiving the mailing include: Yale, Harvard, Duke, Dartmouth, Brown, Notre Dame, Georgetown, Princeton, Washington University, the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia, and the University of Massachusetts. This mailing has also been sent to government and law enforcement officials around the country. The source of the mailing has yet to be determined.

  • In 1996, a Holocaust-denial videotape "proving" that Auschwitz was not a death camp was sent to History professors at several universities, including the Universities of Oregon and Notre Dame.

  • In April 1996, a female student active in Jewish causes at the University of Miami was systematically harassed after helping to plan a rally against a Nation of Islam speaker on campus. In addition to finding a note attached to her car which said "Ready to go boom?" she received several threatening phone calls and was verbally harassed while walking home at night. On December 6, a 15-foot menorah on campus was ripped from its moorings and pushed into a lake.

  • On October 10, 1996, the Daily Illini, the newspaper serving the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign, published an Op-Ed essay attacking Israel after the opening of an archeological tunnel in Jerusalem. In addition to references in the essay equating Zionism with racism, the piece was accompanied by a cartoon depicting a skeleton, with a blazing gun in one hand, making a peace sign with the other, and clothed in a robe with a Jewish Star on its chest. The cartoon and essay caused a widespread reaction in terms of letters to the editor over the following weeks.

Sources: Schooled in Hate: Anti-Semitism On Campus, ADL, 1997. Copyright Anti-Defamation League (ADL). All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.