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When the Fight Over BDS Is a Jewish Civil War

By Peter Beinart

Vassar, according to one conservative website, is among the ten most anti-Semitic colleges in America. Last month, an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal declared that, “Anti-Israel sentiment mixed with age-old anti-Semitism has reached a fever pitch” there. So it was with some anxiety that I travelled last week to the 155-year old former women’s college at the invitation of the local chapter of J Street U.

I went looking for anti-Semitism. What I found was more interesting.

I asked roughly a dozen Jewish students whether they thought anti-Semitism was prevalent on campus. They all said no, but admitted that they sometimes feel uncomfortable. When I asked what made them uncomfortable, they cited the intensely anti-Zionist climate. (At Vassar, J Street represents the right edge of the Israel debate). Last December, for instance, the Vassar Student Council delayed approving a J Street U request for funds to attend the HaaretzQ conference in New York because some anti-Israel activists argued that even the left-leaning Haaretz, being a Zionist newspaper, supports a racist ideology. This February, a Rutgers Professor named Jasbir Puar gave a speech on campus in which she repeated absurd and incendiary claims that in late 2015 Israel had kept the bodies of dead Palestinians so they could be “mined for organs for scientific research.”

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