ERWIN CHEMERINSKY: Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now


Category:  Op/Ed

Via:  s  •  8 months ago  •  6 comments

ERWIN CHEMERINSKY: Nothing has prepared me for the antisemitism I see on college campuses now

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T

I am a 70-year-old Jewish man, but never in my life have I seen or felt the antisemitism of the last few weeks. I have heard antisemitic things from time to time through my life. I remember as a child being called a “dirty Jew,” and my friends and I being called “Christ killers” as we walked to Hebrew school. I recall a college girlfriend’s parents telling her that she should not go out with me because “Jews are different.” I had an incident in a class I was teaching about the ethics of negotiations, where a student matter of factly said, “the other side will try to Jew you down,” without the slightest sense of how that was a slur.

But none of this prepared me for the last few weeks. On Friday, someone in my school posted on Instagram a picture of me with the caption, “Erwin Chemerinsky has taken an indefinite sabbatical from Berkeley Law to join the I.D.F.” Two weeks ago, at a town hall, a student told me that what would make her feel safe in the law school would be “to get rid of the Zionists.” I have heard several times that I have been called “part of a Zionist conspiracy,” which echoes of antisemitic tropes that have been expressed for centuries.

I was stunned when students across the country, including mine, immediately celebrated the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7. Students for Justice in Palestine called the terror attack   a “historic win”   for the “Palestinian resistance.” A Columbia professor   called   the Hamas massacre “awesome” and a “stunning victory.” A Yale professor   tweeted , “It’s been such an extraordinary day!” while calling Israel a “murderous, genocidal settler state.” A Chicago art professor   posted   a note reading, “Israelis are pigs. Savages. Very very bad people. Irredeemable excrement…. May they all rot in hell.” A UC Davis professor   tweeted , “Zionist journalists … have houses w addresses, kids in school,” adding “they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” There are, sadly, countless other examples.

How can anyone celebrate the   killing of 260 people   attending a music festival, or the   brutal massacre   of more than 100 people in a kibbutz, or the pulling of people from their houses to take as hostages? If this happened to people who were not Jews would there be such celebrations?

I have heard few campus administrators speak out publicly about the antisemitism that has become prevalent this month. They want to seem neutral or not be perceived as Islamophobic. I understand. I, too, refrained from speaking out against those who defended Hamas’ terrorist attack.

But when do we stop being silent and when do we say the antisemitism must be condemned and it is not acceptable on our campuses? I believe this must be that time.

To be clear, I — and I hope all of us — mourn the loss of life in Israel and in Gaza. There is surely room in our hearts to feel compassion for all who are in danger and all who have lost loved ones. But it is simply wrong to confuse condemning antisemitism with ignoring the plight of the Palestinians.

Of course, criticism of the Israeli government is not antisemitism, any more than criticizing the policies of the United States government is anti-American. I strongly oppose the policies of the Netanyahu government, favor full rights for Palestinians, and believe that there must be a two-state solution. But if you listen to what is being said on college campuses now, some of the loudest voices are not advocating for a change in Israeli policies, but are calling for an end to Israel. Students regularly chant, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “We don’t want no two states, we want all of 48,” referring to going back to 1948 before Israel existed.

An oft-repeated mantra among some is that Israel is a settler colonialist country and should be forced to give the land back to the Palestinians. I have no idea how it would be determined who is rightly entitled to what land, but I do know that calling for the total elimination of Israel is antisemitic.

There has been enough silence and enough tolerance of antisemitism on college campuses. I call on my fellow university administrators to speak out and denounce the celebrations of Hamas and the blatant antisemitism that is being voiced.

Students have the right to say very offensive and even hateful things, but school administrators — deans, presidents and chancellors — have free speech rights too. They must exercise them and take a stand even if it will offend some and subject them to criticism.

It is a very difficult time on campuses across the country. Many of our students and faculty members have family and friends in Israel or in Gaza. Many care deeply about the suffering we are seeing, and yet there is no bridge between those who seek the elimination of Israel and those who believe it is essential to have a Jewish state. I hope there will be a time when campus officials can find ways to bring their communities together. But it is not realistic now. This makes it all the more important that they show moral leadership and speak out against the antisemitism that is rampant now, as they would condemn all other forms of racism and hate on campus.


jrDiscussion - desc
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
1  seeder  Sean Treacy    8 months ago

 Chemerinsky, darling of the Progressive left and frequently cited on this site, has done as much as anyone to enable this atmosphere or racialist obsessions run amok on college campuses. Hopefully, he's seen the light and will work to undo so much of the damage he's done. 

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
1.1  seeder  Sean Treacy  replied to  Sean Treacy @1    8 months ago

He was caught on tape admitting he discriminates against white people in faculty hiring at Berkley.  Can he really be surprised when that racist mindset turns  against him? 

I never thought the leopards would eat MY face, says the President of the Leopards Eating People's Faces Party. 

Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
2  seeder  Sean Treacy    8 months ago


Yale Daily News affixed a “correction,” saying claims that Hamas raped women and beheaded men are “unsubstantiated."

Essentially Holocaust denialism by tomorrow's MSM reporters and Democratic Party communications staff. 

Professor Principal
3  JohnRussell    8 months ago

I think that young people today do not have the understanding of the history and practice of anti-semitism that previous generations have had. Hopefully this dreadful episode in current events will spark schools to teach the history of anti-semitism again. 

In addition, college age people today are totally out of contact with the experience of the founding of Israel, which occurred in the shadow of the Holocaust. What the younger generation sees is right wing governments in Israel that appear unconcerned with the aspirations of the Palestinian people. 

We all have work to do. 

Junior Expert
3.1  George  replied to  JohnRussell @3    8 months ago

So you are going with.....Ivy league college students attending some of the most prestigious schools in the world don't have a grasp of history and what it means? and they are too lazy to research it and are making judgments based on the herd mentality?  I can't wait to hear your explanation when the start to burn crosses on the lawns.   It was just a marshmallow roast?

Professor Principal
3.1.1  JohnRussell  replied to  George @3.1    8 months ago

People are not born anti-semitic. Young people today have not experienced a world where Israel has "struggled", but they have experienced a world where the Palestinians appear to "struggle".  I assume all this colors their opinions. 


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