Opinion: Rash of anti-Semitism now alleged to infect Stanford
A national rise in anti-Jewish bigotry has allegedly spread to this state’s most prestigious university after earlier infecting the process of creating California’s new ethnic studies curriculum and spurring record amounts of anti-Semitic vandalism and violence over the last year.
The strongest reaction to what’s happening at Stanford University, perpetually ranked among the world’s five leading academic institutions, comes in a complaint just filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by a former decade-long director of Stanford’s student counseling service and a 13-year therapist there.
The complaint filed for psychiatrist Ronald Albucher and therapist Sheila Levin, an eating disorder specialist, claims anti-Semitism created a year-long hostile work environment for them and others. What allegedly occurred at the counseling service is not unique either at Stanford or in California and the nation.
Federal authorities and the Anti-Defamation League report anti-Semitic episodes, up dramatically over the previous year, rose even more after a nine-day exchange of rocket and missile fire between Israel and the Palestinian terror organization Hamas in mid-May.
One incident saw pro-Palestinian activists drive several cars up to a Los Angeles restaurant and ask if anyone there was a Jew. They then bloodied several startled individuals before driving off.
Violent anti-Semitism like this revives one of the world’s oldest plagues. The Los Angeles beatings occurred in a far more publicly visible place than the deadly synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway.
The anti-Semitism evidenced in the Stanford complaint and the creation of the ethnic studies curriculum has not been so open. While creating the curriculum, for example, advocates of Critical Ethnic Studies quietly included Jews in stating that pale-skinned immigrant groups gave up all or most of their prior identities after arrival in America, eagerly accepting “white privilege.” That’s obviously false.
This pattern repeated at Stanford, the complaint charges, when a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program in the student counseling service “advanced anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power, conspiracy and control and endorsed the narrative that Jews support white supremacy…”
In fact, Jews were leading supporters of civil rights in America long before the Freedom Riders of the 1960s, where they made up about half of all white participants.
The EEOC complaint says the DEI program “refused to address (increasing on campus) incidents of anti-Semitism including…drawing of Nazi-style swastikas in prominent locations, including within Memorial Church,” a Stanford landmark.
A week before the complaint was filed, Rabbi Jessica Kirschner, head of Stanford’s Jewish student organization Hillel, wrote to Jewish alumni that anti-Semitism has infected student-to-student relations on campus.
She said multiple Jewish students have been confronted by fellow students saying things like “Don’t talk to me if you’re Jewish.”
Imagine the strong response if the targets had been Black or Latino. So far, Stanford has done nothing.
The EEOC complaint also cited a presentation to pre-doctoral students by the counseling service that announced a program exploring “how Jews are connected to white supremacy.” Stanford administrators allegedly ignored objections to this for more than a year before the federal complaint was made.
“These things reinforce anti-Semitic stereotypes,” said Alyza Lewin, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights, which filed the complaint. “They create a false picture of Jews as negative beings. That encourages the kind of anti-Semitism we are seeing nationally.”
Neither accepting nor denying any of this, Stanford deplored the alleged incidents. “Stanford forcefully rejects anti-Semitism in all its forms,” a spokesperson told a reporter.
Added Dee Mostofi, Stanford’s assistant vice president of media relations, “…We are launching a… program this summer and fall aimed at recognizing and addressing bias and discrimination.” This action may be too little and too late to prevent harm to Stanford’s reputation and could harm recruiting of faculty and students.
Rabbi Kirschner told alumni she will soon meet with Stanford President Marc Tessier Lavigne, “who has assured me he is committed to deploying university resources to address anti-Semitism…”
Meanwhile, the university responses look tepid to many alumni.
Said Lewin, “What happens to the university’s reputation depends on how it responds. Stanford has the opportunity to become a real leader in fighting all kinds of bias, including racism and anti-Semitism.”
No one knows yet whether it will do that.
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Email Thomas Elias at email@example.com. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net.