2024.05.02 Pro-Jewish at GWU, Washington, DC USA 123 119145 by Ted Eytan CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2pNGZYy

2024.05.02 Pro-Jewish at GWU, Washington, DC USA 123 119145 by Ted Eytan CC BY-SA 2.0 https://flic.kr/p/2pNGZYy


Why Months of Jewish Discrimination and the Normalization of Antisemitism on University Campuses Must Stop

This weekend, two people approached a Jewish girls elementary school in Toronto and fired multiple gun shots. There was no one present at the school at the time, but the shooting will only heighten the fears of a Canadian Jewish community that has now experienced multiple shootings at schools and community centres, attacks on students, and vandalism at Jewish businesses and homes. Politicians moved quickly to issue statements condemning the incident, yet some are the same people that voted against measures to safeguard these institutions or have shown little regard for months about Canadian Jewish community concerns. Further, many supporters of recent protests, including the encampments at universities, have remained silent, presumably saving their voices for criticism of efforts to enforce campus policies to ensure that all students and faculty are safe. I recognize that many protest supporters will reject the suggestion that there is a link between recent campus protests and antisemitic violence, but to my mind, the linkage is clear. Indeed, by normalizing antisemitic speech and downplaying the safety and discrimination concerns of their Jewish colleagues and students, they have provided the fuel for the serious threats that have followed.

I have written previously on how Jewish students have a right to feel safe on campus and why real political leadership – not just tweets – are desperately needed to combat rising antisemitism. Those posts sparked what has become depressingly common for anyone that chooses to speak out against antisemitism, namely a torrent of hate, including false claims of support for genocide, personal threats, and dismissal of concerns as fabrications or propaganda. This may trigger a similar response, but now is not the time for silence.

In my 26 years as a professor, there have been numerous discussions regarding safety on campus for vulnerable groups including Black students, Indigenous students, Muslim students, LGBTQ students, trans students, and women student groups. The response in each instance involved a commitment to establish measures to ensure that everyone on campus feels safe. But not this time. This time – when Jewish students and faculty make those claims – we are told there is no right to “feel” safe. Alternatively, skeptics point out that some Jews do feel safe, as if that negates those who do not (try to imagine the reaction if the response to women saying they do not feel safe on campus was to identify a small minority who disagreed).

The double standards involve more than just the response to campus safety. The horrors of sexual assault on October 7th are somehow still dismissed by some as unproven or a “weaponization” of sexual assault claims or even as propaganda. Believe all women has been a foundational principle on campuses, yet not this time. Meanwhile, campus encampments are described as peaceful, but entry is often restricted to those who adhere to particular political beliefs. It is impossible to imagine universities tolerating students occupying public spaces in support of other issues such as anti-vax measures or doing nothing if encampment leaders denied Black or Indigenous students entry to a public space. However, for weeks those calling for the immediate release of hostages or who express support for Israel have been blocked or harassed at encampments that are implausibly called “peaceful protests.”

Indeed, the claims of peaceful protest are inconsistent with messaging such as “all the Zionists are racists” or “Zionism is a death cult” that has been seen at the University of Ottawa encampment, alongside chants that “all the Zionists are terrorists.”

University of Ottawa, May 2024

University of Ottawa, Tabaret, May 2024

As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated earlier this month:

“In a country like Canada, it should be and it must be safe to declare oneself a Zionist. Jewish or not, Zionism is not a dirty word or something anyone should be targeted for agreeing with. It is the belief, at its simplest, that Jewish people, like all peoples, have the right to determine their own future.”

Chants claiming all Muslims are terrorists would rightly be condemned as Islamophobia, yet saying the same thing about those who believe that Jews have the right to determine their future in their own state is characterized as legitimate. University policies leave no doubt that students have the right “to be treated with respect and dignity and without harassment and discrimination.” It is simply not credible to argue that those policies are being upheld and enforced with respect to Jewish students.

As antisemitic incidents have skyrocketed since October 7th, the political response has often emphasized that Jewish Canadians cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Israeli government. That is obviously true not only because Jewish Canadians are not responsible for Israeli government policy, but also because support for Israel is not the same as support for the Israeli government. I am a strong supporter of Israel, but that does not mean I support all the actions of the current government. That is actually the norm for many people regardless of their country. If the polls are correct, a minority of Canadians support the current Canadian government, but I’m quite certain the overwhelming majority still support Canada.

When Jewish students or faculty raise concerns about their safety or the hate associated with activities on campus, the typical response is the assurance that anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. However, the reality is that the vast majority of Jews say that “caring about Israel is an essential or important part of what being Jewish means to them.” That doesn’t mean they necessarily support the Israeli government, but when they hear “we don’t want no two state, we want all of it”, such comments are clearly at odds with recognition of Israel’s right to exist and therefore strikes at the heart of what is an essential part of being Jewish for the majority of Jews.

Further, even if the intent is not antisemitic, universities have long emphasized that is effect, not intent, that matters. For example, we would never dismiss an Indigenous or LGBTQ student concern about actions they considered discriminatory on the basis of assurances that there was no discriminatory intent. In fact, the opposite is true as university EDI documents state that discrimination is often unintentional. What matters is not what the speaker or initiator intended, but rather the impact on the affected individual. In the case of Jewish students, however – whether Zionist or otherwise – they are told that how they perceive the speech or campus actions is irrelevant, effectively meaning Jews do not get to decide for themselves what is antisemitic and giving licence to others to cause harms on the basis of their professed intent.

It is the cumulative effect of months of this discrimination  – Jewish students and faculty left to feel unsafe on campus, told their political or religious beliefs are unwelcome, or the failure to enforce university policies on student non-discrimination – that has created a normalization of antisemitism that was once unthinkable on Canadian campuses. For years, I spoke out on discrimination issues such as the Muslim travel ban in the U.S. or the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Like many, I thought that the university community and political leaders would similarly support the Jewish community in our hour of need. Instead, for many there has been silence at best and active campaigning against my community at worst. While universities must safeguard freedom of expression and space for legitimate criticism of the Israeli government, we can ill-afford more days where Jewish students are harassed, discriminatorily targeted, or excluded on campus for their beliefs. I look to our political and university leaders to do what is right and stop this nightmarish new antisemitic normal.


  1. You once again conflate Zionism and Judaism, and quite frankly are publishing an outright lie as your definition of Zionism.

    You know who also has a right to self determination? The Baha’i people. You know who doesn’t need a large chunk of Palestine to do that? The Baha’i people.

    Zionism was a mistake made by Western countries that felt guilty after abandoning the Jewish people to genocide, and it is has now lead to an insane religo-ethnist apartheid state.

    How about you write about how Palestinians feel when IDF soldiers hold their children down and smash their legs and arms with rocks? How about your write about the 20,000 civilians the IDF bombed to death? How about you write about the dozens of Palestinian hospitals that have been bombed out? The millions of Palestinians who have had their homes and entire lives torn apart by Israeli fire and shrapnel?

    Hell, you fancy yourself a numbers guy, why don’t you just publish the number of Palestinians killed in the past decade and the number of Israelis killed?

    How about you report on Israelis settlers who are literally burning the aid and food trucks?

    If you want to compare this to other minorities like LGBTQ students, then go ahead and point out which LGBTQ government is actively creating an apartheid state. Really go ahead and tell us which other minority group has created a religious ethno state.

    Israel had the world’s sympathy, then they slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians in their homes. It should not be hard for you to comprehend why people have lost sympathy.

    • What is happening in Canada to jews is disgusting. They are being blamed for what’s happening in the middle east because they are jewish. All you are trying to do is rationalize this bigotry.

    • I agree that it’s the conflation that is most disturbing.
      When critics of Israel conflate Judaism with support for the state of Israel, they are rightly accused of antisemitism. Yet, Israel’s supporters constantly make the same conflation, which at this point looks like an obvious effort to silence all criticism of what is happening in Gaza.
      Strong support for a state regardless of its actions isn’t a protected right and it never should be. If the Canadian state was still killing and displacing Indigenous people at the rate that Israel is doing so to Palestinians, then support for the Canadian state would rightly be condemned as support for genocide.

      I support the right of Jewish and Muslim and all people in Israel and Palestine to live in safety without discrimination and constant violence. States are not religions or ethnicities. A state or multiple states are only useful in so far as the extent to which they facilitate the protection of ALL people who live in their territories. Polls show most people around the world are completely done with the excuses for Israel’s decades long illegal settlements, apartheid policies, and well documented state and settler violence against the Palestinian population etc. Conflating criticism of these excuses with antisemitism threatens free speech and civil society.

      Obviously in Canada violence and the threat of violence to the Jewish community is completely unacceptable and we should use all of our tools both as citizens and at a government level to put an end to it. But the conflation of Judaism with support for a State that is committing war crimes before our very eyes is part of the problem and that conflation is being done as much by strong supporters of Israel as by those these supporters say they are concerned about.

  2. Hell why don’t we talk about the Aid workers that the IDF keep intentionally killing? Why don’t we talk about that little girl trapped in a car with her dead parents and the IDF intentionally bombing the *ambulance* sent to help rescue her?

    Why don’t we talk about the literally naked Israeli hostage waving a white flag that the IDF murdered cause there they thought he was just a naked Palestinian civilian holding a white flag?

    You want to talk a out defending a minority group and standing up for the oppressed, how come you have ZERO criticism of the literal war crimes being committed by the IDF on a daily basis?

  3. I am sorry, in case it wasn’t clear, it is deplorable for anyone to shoot at a school where innocent children who have done nothing to anyone go to learn.

    Of course, now that we agree on that, I’m sure that you would be equally concerned for the elementary schools in Gaza right? The public schools there have been literally bombed into rubble, I’m sure you’re just as concerned about that and catching the perpetrators in the IDF right?

  4. And you are glossing over the fact that people who label themselves as “anti-Zionist” are both sometimes actively engaged in anti-Jewish hatred or are calling for things like eradication of the state of Israel which, understandably, could distress people of the Jewish faith given that it is the only Jewish country in the world.

    You are reinforcing a double standard that seemingly only applies to Jews. We have seen politicians attack people criticizing China or the Chinese government as spreading Asian hate. It didn’t matter that the criticisms were of the Chinese government or the Chinese state, people were happy to label them as racist. And campus DEI departments, as Prof. Geist points out, similarly focused not on the intent of the speaker but on the feelings of the alleged targets of the speech. Except when they’re Jewish.

  5. The IDF just burned to death 45 refugees in their tents.

    Yes, targeting schools and innocent people with threats of violence is deplorable. You know what else is deplorable?

    Trapping 45 innocent people in an inferno and burning them alive.

    I am sorry, because I do not want it to sound like people shooting at that girls school is in any way remotely justifiable, it is deplorable and I hope they catch and jail those responsible. But connecting it to campus protests, instead of connecting it to the monstrous acts being committed in the name of the Jewish state, is absolutely absurd and intellectually dishonest.

  6. While the commenter ‘J’ is certainly welcome to his/her/they point of view, I believe this article relates to how citizens within Canada are treated when there are frictions in other parts of the world. I live in Toronto and enjoy the benefits of having large communities from many countries in the world. If people where treated as the Canadian Jews have been in this friction (whatever one’s point of view on who is right or wrong), our country would be a terrible place to live. Imagine if Russian or Ukrainian Canadian’s born in Canada had groups of people accusing them of being responsible for that friction (whatever ones point of view on this illustrative example). Both communities may have family members directly affected by events and the last thing they need are: hateful slogans, accusations that they are hateful people, threats to their personal safety, and politicians that have no interest in protecting them (and Canada)

  7. I appreciate that “J” is able to at least validate that shooting at a school is not justifiable. Unfortunately, over and over again, far too many “pro-Palestinian” voices have tried to deflect and diminish concerns about anti-Semitism. Credit is due when an opposing voice is at least willing to validate one’s concerns.

    That said, there ARE perspectives, anecdotal evidence and objective facts out there that could help to answer J’s questions. It’s not too hard to find them (UNLESS one adamantly refuses to get information outside of biased anti-Israel sources, such as The Guardian, or they can find other perspectives but unable to accept them).

    So if those answers are out there, waiting to be heard, what is stopping J (or people like J) from proactively seeking out those answers by themselves?

    Of course, it’s their right to comment here, but IF they are seeking answers then WHY are they using an article about anti-Semitism as a launching pad to publicly broadcast their own concerns? Wouldn’t it be easier and more productive to just proactively seek out knowledge out there to answer their own concerns?

    I hypothesize that ATTITUDE is a blocker to seeking out and integrating opposing views. If someone really wants to be correct, they would intentionally research outside their bubble. In “An Open Letter to Anti-Zionists from a Veteran of the Left”, Kathleen Hayes writes: “Finally I decided to do something extraordinary: I subjected my beliefs to rigorous empirical fact-checking. Rather than reading only the approved sources of information I’d relied on for a quarter century, I investigated opposing views. I can attest that this is very hard to do. When you are a dedicated leftist, simply asking ‘Could the left have a serious problem with antisemitism?’ seems disloyal.”

    Complex problems are solved with rational mindful behavior, not reactionary narratives. But this isn’t easy to do. For Kathleen Hayes, apparently the blocker used to be identity politics of some sort. Presumably, for “J” or people like J, it could be that or something else.

    And yes, this applies to everyone, myself included!

    * All of the above is assuming that J was not asking rhetorical questions, and is genuinely wanting to know the most rational answers available. I could be wrong in this assumption. If so, please reframe this comment to some hypothetical person to whom this does apply.

  8. I’m sorry but none of these replies explain why you should connect anti-semitism to campus protests but just stop your causal link there.

    Why would you thinkit’s the protests that are causing anti-semitism? Why not the literal war crimes being committed in the name of the Jewish state that people are protesting?

    After 9/11, an act committed by a non-governmental radical Muslim sect, you saw a flare of anti-Muslim sentiment in the west and specifically the US.

    After America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan you saw an increase in the ‘death to America’ sentiment, all throughout the middle East.

    After decades and decades of Jewish settlers stealing Palestinian land, forcing them to live in a police state, and murdering thousands of them, all done in the name of the official Israeli government, voted in as head of the Jewish people, you see a rise in anti-Semitism.

    If the author has just called for people to combat anti-semitism, since it’s never justified, I would be fully on board. But to link it to the on campus protests, and not directly to the actions of the Israeli government that is being protested is just absurd.

    • I’d suspect you know that the supporting evidence for antisemitism on display at various protests is fully available for you in media and social media. However, it sounds like your attitude is permanently stuck in a groove of refuting/downplaying/dismissing evidence and perhaps a profound lack of empathy for any negative impact it’s had. Perhaps for you, “there is only solution, Intifidah revolution” and anyone who chants this was predestined to be a victim, a puppet pulled by the strings of world affairs, with no choice but to chant threatening and intimidating words that hurt and alienate others. Perhaps you are afraid to admit there is any wrongness in the “pro-Palestinian” protests because for you, admitting that is a weakness, rather than a strength of character. Good luck in ever finding answers to your questions!

      • Again, the cause of antisemitism is not the campus protests.

        If you want to combat anti-Semitism at the protests, be my guest, but the cause of the current rise in anti-Semitism is not the protests, but is 100% the result of the actions taken by Netanyahu, the Israeli government, and the Israelis who voted him in.

        You may slow the rise of anti-Semitism, but you will not stop it as long as the Israelis government is committing war crimes and human rights abuses against the Palestinian people.

        • Sure, but I would invite you to look up “attribution bias” and introspect if your argument is perhaps too binary to be complete and accurate.

          (Although it’s of no personal consequence to me, when you dismiss that along with every other opposing perspective you don’t like)

  9. Let’s stop making every criminal act a hate crime.Would we have seen all these politicians at
    a public school if it was shot at would police presence be escalated.We have turned everyone into racists.The actions in other parts of the world have made Canadians feel like we’re responsible for this.Born in this country I was always proud of what is was to have the freedoms.Now we can no longer voice our opinions free of persecution. We have only made racial divide wider by initiating separate policies based on your race or background.Programs benefit’s awards based on ethnicity instead of treating all as equals.Its a slippery slope we are on and I don’t see a change for the good.No one should take a life or lives as we have seen in the Gaza Strip or any conflict.

    • Trying to solve inequity by pretending it doesn’t exist is naiive and flat out mathematically stupid.

      If you take a system that is unbalanced and bias it towards perfect balance, it will very very slowly approach neutral forever without ever actually reaching it. It’s called an asymptote and it’s a basic part of how virtually every natural system in the world responds.

      If you are unbalanced and you want to achieve neutrality you have to bias it in the opposite direction and then you will overshoot a little then you’ll swing back and overshoot a little the other way and those oscillations will dampen out over time at neutral.

      I.e. people who say we should address racial imbalance by ignoring it have no actual interest in addressing it.

  10. Joe The Eurosquatter says:

    These students and faculty ripped the band-aid off your fake “leftism”, Mickey. You’re a fucking Nazi shill. Go home to Germany.

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