This month the entire world was transfixed by the heinous kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian, Christian school girls by the radical Islamic group Boko Haram, who were then forced to convert to Islam; And then this week we watched as a Sudanese Court handed out the death sentence to 27 year old Meriam YehyaI Ibrahim, for the crime of apostasy. Meriam, who is pregnant and has a 20 month old baby whom she shares her prison cell with, had a Muslim father who had left her when she was 6 years old to be raised by her Christian mother. However, since Islam has patrilineal descent, the court in Khartoum felt the sentence was totally legitimate. She is also being sentenced to 100 lashes before her execution for the “crime” of marrying a Christian man.
Where is the outrage?
If you look at college campuses throughout the United States this spring, you see plenty of outrage. A familiar meme is being replicated from Harvard to University of California at Los Angeles. The outrage is being directed against the one state in the Middle East, where the prayer of the muezzin is heard several times a day throughout the streets of Jerusalem calling Muslims to worship in their mosques, where Muslims have unhampered access to their holy sites, where Christians freely go about worshipping in their churches and Jews in their synagogues: the tiny democratic state of Israel.
This outrage takes on many forms. This semester, students who were contemplating serving on the student government of UCLA are being asked to sign a pledge drafted by the Students for Justice in Palestine, Jewish Voice for Peace, and the Armenian Students Association that they will not participate in certain sponsored or free trips to Israel. The statement is ironically titled “The Statement on Undergraduate Students Association Council Ethics.” The administration of UCLA has decided not to take a stand, but “to leave the matter to the students”.
Also this spring, Jewish students from New York University received mock “eviction” notices, slid under the doors by Students for Justice in Palestine, with the threat that “If you do not vacate the premise by midnight on 25 April, 2014, we reserve the right to destroy all remaining belongings. We cannot be held responsible for property or persons remaining inside the premises.”
This past March and April American campuses were ignited by the hate infested activities of the annual “Israel Apartheid Week.” This is when student radicals on campuses from Berkeley to Brandeis and scores of points in between single out Israel for “boycott, divestment and sanctions” in an effort to isolate and destroy the Jewish state. This yearly “hate fest” was the brain child of Palestinian activist Omar Barghouti who admits that he wants to replace Israel with “Palestine, from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) Sea.”
The famous Soviet dissident and now Chair of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, called the American college campus “islands of anti-Semitism within the United States, and expressed the fear that the next generation of American Jews are becoming “the new Jews of silence.”
Life on college campuses or Jewish students across the United States can be extremely difficult. Many have expressed the feelings that they have been intimidated and made to feel fearful, both inside the classroom and on the college campus.
Some of this could have been avoided had university presidents, faculty members, directors of Hillel houses and students been made aware of the fact that under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Jewish students are a “protected minority” and universities have the obligation to protect them from anti-Semitic harassment and discrimination.
This ruling came about by the United States Department of Civil Rights Office of Education in October of 2010. It was based on a briefing before the United States Commission on Civil Rights on November 18, 2005, which I had been privileged to have participated in, along with the late Gary Tobin of the Institute for Jewish Community Research and Susan Tuchman from the ZOA.
It means that federal funding can be revoked if the rights and protections of Jewish students are violated.
Meanwhile, the irony is that while Israel is the sole nation in the Middle East where religious minorities are given total freedom; where during the war in Croatia-Bosnian conflict in the 1990’s, hundreds of Muslims were given political asylum; where right now there are IDF (Israeli Defense Force) units in the Golan Heights giving sorely needed medical assistance to Syrian Muslims who are fighting both against the regime of Bashir Assad and in favor of it; where there are Muslim students who are volunteering to serve in the IDF; where Arabs and Muslims openly serve in the Israeli Knesset, where recently “Miss Israel” has been an Israeli Arab; where in every hospital Muslims, Christians and Jews receive the same sophisticated level of medical care; only Israel is considered the anathema of nations.
Only this little island of freedom in the atavistic, primitive and tribal region of the world that is the Middle East is held up to unparalleled scrutiny and criticism.
Going back to Natan Sharansky: He defines two forms of anti-Semitism: The old 20th century anti-Semitism is against individual Jews and the Jewish people: the new 21st century anti-Semitism is against the collective state of the Jews: Israel.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of EMET; the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-American and pro-Israel think tank and policy shop in Washington, DC