A slightly different version of this article first appeared in JNS on December 10, 2021.
Recently, a law journal at New York University committed to boycotting “Israel, complicit Israeli institutions, or their support and lobby groups.” The statement itself is quite telling. The authors had to caveat themselves out of actually applying BDS to the most important functions of a law journal (see footnote 7 of their statement), presumably knowing that to do otherwise would blatantly violate anti-discrimination law.
The journal is called the NYU Review of Law & Social Change (RLSC). On this note, let’s talk about “social change.” Let’s talk about the increasing normalization of calling for the exclusion, and even obliteration, of Jewish institutions and communities not just in Israel, but wherever they might exist.
Consider the comments made on November 27 at the 2021 American Muslims for Palestine convention (intended for students) by Zahra Billoo from the Council on American-Islamic Relations:
So oppose the vehement fascists. But oppose the polite Zionists too. They are not your friends. They will not be there for you when you need them. They will take your friendship and throw your Palestinian brothers and sisters under the bus. [Adopts a mocking tone] ‘Oh, you get along because you’re all in Girl Scouts together?’ Talk to them about what is happening in Palestine and see how that conversation goes. And so when we think about Islamophobia and Zionism, let’s be clear about the connections… [B]ecause the next thing I’m going to tell you is to know your enemies. And I’m not going to sugarcoat that. They are your enemies. There are organizations and infrastructures out there who are working to harm you.
Billoo is calling on students to consider their Jewish peers as enemies, and students at NYU have obviously internalized this message already.
The RLSC isn’t just boycotting “Israel” or “Israeli institutions.” It’s boycotting “their support and lobby groups.” Nowhere are the terms “support and lobby groups” defined, though it’s obviously referring to mainstream Jewish groups outside of Israel (or the sentence would be redundant).
What this really means is any university Hillel which supports the right of Israel to exist and defend itself is now banned by RLSC from cosponsoring any academic events, as it could accurately be construed as a “support group.” Same for any Jewish American charity or other Jewish social, cultural, or political organization. Considering that the vast majority of American Jews hold pro-Israel beliefs, the RLSC decision is effectively a ban on mainstream Jewish participation in RLSC activities. There’s a word for this.
This is the exact kind of “social change” that seems to be picking up steam in the United States today.
Disturbingly, this isn’t even the first time NYU students have targeted Jews for exclusion. In 2018, a shocking total of 51 student groups pledged to refuse to co-sponsor events with pro-Israel groups at NYU, as well as outside mainstream Jewish organizations like the Anti-Defamation League.
Nor is this limited to NYU. Consider just a couple other recent events organized by or for student groups.
At a November 19 event, San Francisco State University professor Rabab Abdulhadi claimed that Jewish organizations are all connected to the Mossad, while notable antisemite and former Bristol University professor David Miller suggested a solution:
[W]hat needs to happen is Palestine needs to be free… And we do that, not just by the resistance in Palestine… It’s not just the, we, we do Palestine solidarity work, but that we have, in order for Palestine to be free, the Zionist movement in general needs to be dismantled. Not just in Palestine, but in Britain and in the U.S., every single Zionist organization needs to be dismantled… [W]e have to be thinking about how each one of these organizations is ended or is de-Zionized… I think, you know, the enemy haven’t heard that enough from us and perhaps they need to hear it a bit more… [T]hey will be punished…
At yet another recent event on October 29, participants discussed how to revoke tax-exempt status for certain Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish National Fund, while one – Suzanne Adely of the National Lawyers Guild – labeled American Jews who support such groups as “conspirators to genocide.” She was turning the antisemitic “Zionism is racism” into “Zionists are genocidal maniacs.” Knowing that mainstream Jewish society is Zionist, the implication is obvious.
The self-described “anti-Zionist not antisemitic” crowd is now openly viewing their enemy not as a perceived evil state in the Middle East, but as a distinct group here at home in America. The “social change” is that no longer is American society – except the increasingly lonely Jewish community – reacting with the appropriate shock and outrage to incitement to hatred and violence against Jews. As of this writing, not a single news outlet outside of the Jewish world has reported on Billoo’s hate screed.
As Jewish blogger David Lange wrote on Twitter when he exposed Billoo’s recent antisemitic tirade, “things are about to get uglier” for American Jews.