Some Complaints of Campus Anti-Semitism Are Called Attempts at Censorship

Some recent complaints of anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses do not involve actual discrimination but instead represent attempts “to silence anti-Israel discourse and speakers,” argues a statement issued today by Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors, and Kenneth Stern, the American Jewish Committee’s point person on anti-Semitism and extremism. The statement, which cites recent complaints of anti-Semitism at Rutgers University and the University of California’s Berkeley and Santa Cruz campuses, says it is “dangerous” to characterize anti-Israel remarks as ethnic discrimination, in violation of federal civil-rights laws. Doing so, it says, changes the campus debate “from one of exposing bigotry to one of protecting free speech, and the last thing pro-Israel advocates need is a reputation for censoring, rather than refuting, their opponents.” The organizations and students who have brought the complaints have argued that the behavior they cite clearly crossed a line and created a hostile environment for Jewish students.

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