Anti-Semitism claims invest in poor arguments

by Caleb Minnick, Staff Columnist

Recently, San Diego State was given the dubious honor of being the sixth most anti-Semitic campus in America, according to conservative activist, David Horowitz. This admittedly inflammatory article was quite shocking to read. Is SDSU really as bad as he claims?

No stranger to controversy, Horowitz is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement.” Horowitz has a long track record of Islamophobia and racism, so it’s reasonable that his accusations were denied by the school administration and local Jewish groups.

“I can tell you the kind of activities we’re seeing at San Diego State are not putting it in a top 10 list of anti-Semitic campuses,” Michael Rabkin, executive director of the San Diego Hillel, said.

In defense, Tina Malka, associate regional director of the San Diego Anti-Defamation League argues the absurdity behind calling a campus such as SDSU an “anti-Semitic university.”

Articles similar to Horowitz’s are used to smear anyone who criticizes Israeli policy as being anti-Semitic. The incidents he describes as “anti-Semitic” are very dubious. Virtually, all of incidents used as evidence of alleged anti-Semitism are acts of criticism directed against Israel and have no disparaging mention of Jews.

Assuming that any criticism of Israel is a criticism of Jews is flat-out wrong. Israel does not represent all Jews. In fact, plenty of Jews and Israelis disagree with the current policies of Israel. Some of the most prominent critics of Israel, are American Jews, such as Max Blumenthal and Judith Butler.

Writing in San Diego Jewish World, former Jewish Studies director at SDSU, Laurie Baron, was “outraged” by Horowitz’s claims. Baron said the Horowitz article “does not appear to have done any systematic surveying of Jewish students or on-campus investigations of the anti-Semitic incidents it lists.”

Horowitz cites the effort to call for divestment in companies that profit from war crimes carried out by Israel as anti-Semitism, but nowhere in these proposals does it mention anything about Jews. All of these actions are targeted at the Israeli government. Horowitz claims calling Israeli policy “apartheid” is anti-Semitic. Yet Haaretz, the most influential newspaper in Israel frequently describes Israeli policy in the West Bank as “apartheid.”

Former President Jimmy Carter even called his best-selling book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Is he anti-Semites as well?

The one accusation that has any basis is the SDSU branch of Students for Justice in Palestine’s association with Greta Berlin, a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement. Berlin once tweeted an anti-Semitic video, that was later deleted. Berlin claimed it was posted as an example of “propaganda” and was not meant to disparage Jews.

This didn’t sit right with other pro-Palestine activists and she was roundly condemned for her ambiguous stance on the video. If I was running SJP, I wouldn’t want to associate myself with someone with such a controversial past. Horowitz also cites vague reports of pro-Israel activists being yelled at, but doesn’t care to actually link to show evidence of this display of anti-Semitms.

Going off how accurate the rest of the article is, call me skeptical.

Now, I can also find things to criticize about the boycott movement. The call for all refugees to be allowed to return is something Israel will never accept. There are millions of Palestinian refugees in the countries surrounding Israel, and if they were to return the “demographic problem,” this would put an end to the Jewish majority and the Jewish state.

No Israeli government would ever accept this. It would be fair if the refugees were allowed to come back, but with the political realities as they are, it’s cruel to promise these refugees that they will get to come back, when Israel would never allow it. They should be allowed to migrate to a future Palestinian state, but getting them into Israel is a pipe-dream.

There is plenty to agree and disagree on. One thing is certain: partisan hacks like David Horowitz should not be given our attention. The debate on Israeli policy is extremely important, and hysterical accusations do nothing but poison the well.

We should be open to all people and all ideas about how to solve the conflict. Each side should make sure they do not get caught-up with shrill ideologies that add nothing to the debate.