I am a little surprised to hear about the recent anti-semitic incidents at Harvard and Northeastern, given the massive amount of Jews at Harvard. At least when I was in school it was an unbelievable Hillel building and I’m sure little has changed. Still, other groups are growing wildly that actively preach hatred of Jews. The past UN vote certainly doesn’t help the situation. Don’t think this is just an international issue: anti-Zionism is anti-Semitism and it will trickle down to the college level. The UN’s recognition of Palestine will filter into innocent Jews being blamed as oppressors. Not pretty.
Anti-Semitism is unfortunately something that rallies Jews together, so one would expect that Jews who don’t have anything to do with Jewish organizations will suddenly come out of the woodworks to stand together. Obviously this isn’t happening. Most Jews who are nominally affiliated will just withdraw totally. After all, why attend a menorah lighting if you risk getting pounded?
I’ll explain why: the reason that people do engage in intimidating Jews is because they think they can. There’s a story I’d like to share, with a proviso: the figure I’m mentioning is rather controversial and I’m not coming out and endorsing this person’s activities. However, this story I think is important.
In the 1960′s and 1970′s, Jews got smacked around quite a bit. There was one incident at Yeshiva University where one the of the locals posted up: ANY JEWS AT THE CORNER OF W 186 AND AUDOBON AT 12 PM ARE GOING TO GET BEAT UP. It happened to be that a Rabbi Meir Kahane was on campus, and he heard about the sign. He got the entire campus together and 500 YU students showed up at the corner. No one got pounded.
Point of the story: people bully when they think they can get away with it. If you stand with the Jewish organizations on campuses when these things happen, people will be less likely to try to imitate Jews on campuses, not more.