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September 19, 2003 - Image 37

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-19

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Fighting Anti-Semitism

metal detectors and (in one memo-
rable instance) mounted police were
required to ensure our right to
speak. On the bright side, such
furor prompted wide media cover-
age and useful debates about the
Middle East and the need for
diverse viewpoints.
Our Web site, www.Campus-
Watch.org has attracted over a half-
million visitors. Campus Watch has
received warm endorsements, even
from Middle East specialists ("an
important step," "an invaluable serv-
Students in Middle East studies
report that our work has ended their
sense of isolation; at one university,
students have banded together to
form a club inspired by Campus
Watch. In addition, writes a student
at the University of Chicago, the
atmosphere has changed for the bet-
ter; the existence of Campus Watch
means that instructors "have entirely
stopped launching personal attacks
on students who disagree with
In short, Campus Watch has
brought Middle East studies a step
closer to the open forum that it
should be. ❑


Arab vendor; a teenage Arab boy who
assists a Jew selling watermelons shouts
the prices. An older couple haggles
about the price in broken Hebrew with
a Russian accent. I buy a kilo of grapes.
The sign behind the cash register assures
me that trumah and maser (a small por-
tion of the produce that must be taken
from the produce of the land of Israel)
has been fulfilled. Nearly all the vendors
display such documents.
After shopping, I take another bus.
The driver is patient as I juggle my bags
filled with produce and punches my bus
ticket. The other passengers are sympa-
thetic as I find a seat. My fingers ache
from holding the bags. Someone helps
me as one bag gets stuck and begins to
The bus driver is playing a tape of a
Torah lesson given by a prominent
Sephardic rabbi. The words drift
through the bus: "Be strong. Know that
the Holy One, blessed be He, is with
you. Am Yisrael. Eretz Yisrael ..."
And I know that I am home — no
matter what.

New York Ci t y
The Los Angeles. Times quoted the
and speak up can make a difference.
eel frustrated about Arab
Center director as saying the "Jews are
We won the battle through persistent
anti-Semitism? Upset by
the enemies of all nations."
campaigning, good research, and com-
people's insensitivity toward
I knew I had to take action. Just as
munity support. We thoroughly
Jewish concerns? Think
Harvard would refuse funds from a Ku
researched the Zayed Center's Web site
you're powerless to influence your
Klux Klan financier, the university
and downloaded the hate speech before
school or community? Think again.
should also reject the hate-money of
the center got wind of our efforts and
A group of Harvard University stu-
the Sheikh.
began deleting it from their site. We
dents spoke out against hate-speech in
learned more about Zayed Center pub-
the Middle East and, thanks to the
lications with help from MEMRI
Key Lessons
support of the community, achieved
(http://vvww.memri.org), an organiza-
results. I helped organize the group and Soon after the talk, a group of students
tion that translates Arabic press into
our efforts resulted in shutting down
and I founded Students for an Ethical
English. Both the Anti-Defamation
an Arab League think-tank that distrib- Divinity School and petitioned Dean
League and the Simon Wiesenthal
utes hate-speech against Americans and
Graham to live up to the university's
Center helped us gather important
ethical standards and return Zayed's
It all started last year when I was a
gift. The dean told us he would "study
student at Harvard Divinity School. In
the issue." I tried to imagine him mak-
Stay Driven
December, I helped organize a panel on ing this comment if we were African
the rise of global anti-Semitism. One
Americans, gays, or women defamed by We received the most instrumental
panelist, Dr. Charles Jacobs,
a donor. I couldn't.
support from the David Project, the
president of the David Project,
Three months later, after an on-the-ground campus activists in
stunned me with the pervasive,
aggressive media campaign
Boston. It was also comforting to have
Nazi-like imagery and calumnies
brought the issue to CBS
the support of more than 8,000 people
directed against Jews that are
News, the Wall Street journal
who signed my online petition at a
spread throughout the entire
the Boston Globe and CNN
time when leading Arab apologists like
Islamic world, funded by oil
and exposed Harvard's con-
James Zogby began a smear campaign
money from the Gulf. -
nection to the center, and
against my effort.
I was surprised not only by
after thousands signed a Web-
It is unfortunate that the responsibili-
the extent of the hate-education,
based petition, the president
ty to wage a campaign against the
but also by how little the usually
of the United Arab Emirates
Zayed Center's hate-speech should have
well-informed people at the
on a small group of divinity
Harvard Divinity School knew
Harvard responded cau-
students. But it did. American
about the issue of hate-speech in
tiously, announcing that the
moral leaders and human rights groups
the Middle East.
university was pleased that
Should live up to their own standards.
Most shocking, however, was
Zayed had taken action and
There can be no free pass for incite-
what Dr. Jacobs explained next:
that Harvard will delay for a year mak-
ment of hatred and genocide. Hatred is
Harvard Divinity School itself was com- ing a final decision regarding whether
a weapon of mass destruction.
plicit in the problem by accepting
to accept the money.
A few weeks ago, Sheikh Zayed
money from a purveyor of hatred in the
U.S. State Department spokeswoman explained that once it came to his
Middle East.
Jo-Anne Prokopowicz expressed satis-
attention that the center had "engaged
Harvard Divinity School — my
faction that Zayed had shut down a
in a discourse that starkly contradicted
school — had accepted a $2.5 million
center that "espouse[d] intolerant
the principles of interfaith tolerance,
endowment from Sheikh Zayed, ruler
views, including questionable programs directives were issued for the immedi-
of the United Arab Emirates. Zayed
and publications containing anti-
ate closure of the center."
funds a U.A.E. think-thank of the Arab American and anti-Semitic content."
It is disappointing that James Zogby
League called the Zayed Center that
There are several important lessons
of the Arab American Institute and
disseminates anti-Semitism and anti-
here. The first is that hate funded by
Dean Graham of the divinity school
Americanism throughout the Islamic
Arab leaders or anyone else can and
have yet to acknowledge the seriousness
must be countered. This is a victory for
of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism
The Zayed Center published a book
people of conscience of all faiths and
in the Arab world.
claiming that the American govern-
backgrounds. We should never ignore,
Zayed's statement is encouraging. I
ment masterminded the Sept. 11
rationalize or underestimate hate-
hope that other Arab leaders will follow
attacks, hosted notorious Holocaust
his example and understand that demo-
deniers, and featured a lecture by a
The second lesson is that many peo-
nizing Americans and Jews is unaccept-
Saudi professor who claimed that Jews
ple shrink from these battles. It's sad
able and intolerable. Arab leaders who
use gentile blood for holiday pastries.
and a little frightening to experience
want to earn prestige points in the West
the indifference toward Jewish concerns by donating to universities like Harvard
Rachel Fish, a Conservative Jew, is a
and Jewish students that so many
now know that they must promote
2003 Harvard Divinity School graduate
Harvard professors and the dean of the
peace, not hate, at home.
with a master of theological studies
divinity school exhibited.
As a result of our success, I have seen
degree. She works with the New York-
Equally frustrating and disappointing greater willingness among Jews on
based David Project (unvw.davidpro-
is to see the reluctance of some Jewish
campuses and in communities to par-
ject. org) to promote on college campuses
professors and students to speak out
ticipate in campaigns against anti-
a fair and honest understanding of the
against the institutional insensitivity of
Semitism. I am heartened by the
Mideast conflict. Her e-mail address is
Harvard Divinity School.
courage of others to stand up for what's
Ultimately, a willingness to stand up


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