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Campus Jew-Hatred Setback By: Lawrence Summers and Henry Bienen
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, November 17, 2003

FrontPage Magazine has long warned about the growing anti-Semitic environment on our nation's campuses. Now, two significant universities -- Harvard and Northwestern -- have taken decisive moves to counter this growing trend. Harvard University President Lawrence H. Summers spoke the words recorded below at a recent Harvard University Prayer Service. Northwestern President Henry S. Beinen's words were distributed by e-mail to NU faculty and students on November 10th. Finally, we have included an article from the Chicago Tribune on the Northwestern U. chapter of Hillel protesting anti-Semitic graffiti, which President Beinen's e-mail alludes to. We applaud these academic presidents' actions and hope they will hasten the day when Israel is recognized on campus as a democratic and respectful member of the community of nations -- The Editors


by Lawrence H. Summers

I speak with you today not as President of the University but as a concerned  member of our community about something that I never thought I would become seriously worried about--the issue of anti-Semitism. I am Jewish, identified but hardly devout. In my lifetime, anti-Semitism has been remote from my experience. My family all left Europe at the beginning of the 20th century. The Holocaust is for me a matter of history, not personal memory. To be sure, there were country clubs where I grew up that had few if any Jewish members, but not ones that included people I knew. My experience in college and graduate school, as a faculty member, as a government official-all involved little notice of my religion.

Indeed, I was struck during my years in the Clinton administration that the existence of an economic leadership team with people like Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan, Charlene Barshefsky and many others that was very heavily Jewish passed without comment or notice-it was something that would have been inconceivable a generation or two ago, as indeed it would have been inconceivable a generation or two ago that Harvard could have a Jewish President.

Without thinking about it much, I attributed all of this to  progress-to an ascendancy of enlightenment and tolerance. A view that prejudice is increasingly put aside. A view that while the politics of the Middle East was enormously complex, and contentious, the question of the right of a Jewish state to exist had been settled in the affirmative by the world community. But today, I am less complacent. Less complacent and comfortable because there is disturbing evidence of an upturn in anti-Semitism globally, and also because of some developments closer to home. Consider some of the global events of the last year:

There have been synagogue burnings, physical assaults on Jews, or  the painting of swastikas on Jewish memorials in every country in Europe.

Observers in many countries have pointed to the worst outbreak of attacks against the Jews since the Second World War. Candidates who denied the significance of the Holocaust reached the runoff stage of elections for the nation's highest office in France and Denmark. State-sponsored television stations in many nations of the world spew anti-Zionist propaganda.

The United Nations-sponsored World Conference on Racism--while failing  to mention human rights abuses in China, Rwanda, or anyplace in the Arab world--spoke of Israel's policies prior to recent struggles under the Barak government as constituting ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. The NGO declaration at the same conference was even more virulent. I could go on. But I want to bring this closer to home. Of course academic communities should be and always will be places that allow any viewpoint to be expressed. And certainly there is much to be debated about the Middle East and much in Israel's foreign and defense policy that can be and should be vigorously challenged. But where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent. For example:

Hundreds of European academics have called for an end to support for Israeli researchers, though not for an end to support for researchers from any other nation. Israeli scholars this past spring were forced off the board of an international literature journal.

At the same rallies where protesters, many of them university students, condemn the IMF and global capitalism and raise questions about globalization, it is becoming increasingly common to also lash out at Israel. Indeed, at the anti-IMF rallies last spring, chants were heard equating Hitler and Sharon.

Events to raise funds for organizations of questionable political provenance that in some cases were later found to support terrorism have been held by student organizations on this and other campuses with at least modest success and very little criticism.

And some here at Harvard and some at universities across the country have called for the University to single out Israel among all nations as the lone country where it is inappropriate for any part of the university's endowment to be invested. I hasten to say the University has categorically rejected this suggestion. We should always respect the academic freedom of everyone to take any position. We should also recall that academic freedom does not include freedom from criticism. The only antidote to dangerous ideas is strong alternatives  vigorously advocated.

I have always throughout my life been put off by those who heard the sound of breaking glass, in every insult or slight, and conjured up images of Hitler's Kristallnacht at any disagreement with Israel. Such views have always seemed to me alarmist if not slightly hysterical. But I have to say that while they still seem to me unwarranted, they seem rather less alarmist in the world of today than they did a year ago. I would like nothing more than to be wrong. It is my greatest hope and prayer that the idea of a rise of anti-Semitism proves to be a self-denying prophecy--a prediction that carries the seeds of its own falsification. But this depends on all of us.


By Henry S. Bienen, President, Northwestern University, Nov. 10, 2003.

As you probably are aware, there have been several incidents of anti-Semitic and racist graffiti appearing on the Northwestern campus in the past two weeks. We had a spate of similar hate crimes and bias incidents last winter, so it is particularly troubling to have such things occur again this fall. In addition, we received a report of a racially motivated threat to a student that occurred near campus over the weekend.

As I said last winter, I condemn these acts as strongly as I can.

These actions are offensive to the entire Northwestern community and will not be tolerated. University Police are investigating the graffiti incidents thoroughly and Northwestern has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of persons involved in these incidents. The Evanston Police Department is investigating the reported attack on our student.

I truly believe these recent actions are not indicative of the values of the larger Northwestern community. As an institution, Northwestern seeks to provide a diverse learning environment that welcomes students, faculty and staff of all races and religious beliefs. I also believe strongly that, with your continued support, the University will overcome the hateful acts of a few individuals and will build an even stronger Northwestern community.

Please visit the IAFI WEB SITE:  http://www.iafi-israel.org.


Chicago Tribune, November 11, 2003.

A swastika scrawled in blue marker on a Northwestern University building over the weekend was the latest in a string of racist graffiti that has confounded school officials and prompted plans for a student unity rally.

An anti-Semitic phrase was written on an outside wall of the Norris University Center near the 3-foot-tall swastika, school officials said Monday.

The graffiti was discovered Sunday morning, just before hundreds arrived at the center for a conference aimed at helping Jewish high school students decide where to go to college.

Rabbi Michael Mishkin, executive director of the Fiedler Hillel Center at Northwestern, said minority groups at the university plan to make their first organized protest against the graffiti Tuesday. He said students plan to dress in black and remain silent to demonstrate how integral minority students are to the campus.

"Everybody's really upset by this," Mishkin said. "No one wants to see this happening. For the most part the students are taking this in stride, saying there's no room for this here."--

Andrew R. Marks, M.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics.

Lawrence H. Summers is President of Harvard University and former Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton. Henry S. Bienen is President of Northwestern University.

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