The strategy hit upon by the Israel Lobby is to denounce pro-BDS student politicians as religiously discriminatory, because being Jewish is a religion (except, of course, when it’s not). Here’s the latest in the New York Times:
Student Coalition at Stanford Confronts Allegations of Anti-Semitism By JENNIFER MEDINA APRIL 14, 2015Is there any other kind of campus politics than identity politics?
LOS ANGELES — The debate over what constitutes anti-Semitism has spilled into Stanford University’s student government election, with a Jewish student claiming that she was asked how her Judaism affects her view of divestment from Israel, morphing what was a contest about campus issues into a fierce discussion on identity and loyalties.
Like other candidates, Molly Horwitz, a junior from Milwaukee, was eager to receive an endorsement from the Students of Color Coalition, an umbrella group that has helped dozens win seats in the student senate.This NYT article is more honest than Adam Nagourney’s last month, which worked hard to imply that the Jewish candidate at UCLA was being discriminated against by Stutz Bearcat-driving WASPs instead of the usual Coalition of the Fringes. (See my post on Nagourney’s article, “Who Knew Haven Monahan Had Transferred from UVA to UCLA?“)
Ms. Horwitz, who was adopted from Paraguay, wrote extensively in her application about navigating both Jewish and Latino circles. Like many other students, she had paid close attention to the campus debate over divestment earlier this year.Ms. Horwitz’s chosen Identity Politics category is running for office as a Person with Mental Health Issues battling Stigma. From her campaign statement:
But Ms. Horwitz said that what happened in the interview with the student coalition left her shocked and horrified. After talking about issues such as student mental health services with the eight representatives, Ms. Horwitz said …
Mental health is something that needs to be talked about. I’ve suffered from mental health issues, and the very fact that I hesitated to put that in my statement is why we need change. With concerted effort by senators and students we can eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health at Stanford.Back to the New York Times:
… the interview changed topic: “Given your Jewish identity, how would you vote on divestment?”
“I was really taken aback by the question, and it took me a minute to process it, so I asked for clarification to make sure I knew what they were really asking,” Ms. Horwitz said in an interview. “They said they saw in my application that I had a strong Jewish identity, and how would that impact my decision?”
Ms. Horwitz said that she responded by explaining that while she was supportive of the process the student senate had used to vote in favor of urging Stanford to divest, she opposed divestment and found the ultimate outcome of the vote disappointing. “There was an awkward silence, and the interview ended a minute later,” Ms. Horwitz said. Although she did not receive the group’s endorsement, she is still a candidate in the election, which begins Thursday.In other words, Ms. Horwitz is pro-Israel and the Students of Color Coalition is anti-Israel, so she failed to get the endorsement of this identity politics group due to a disagreement over issues.
The Students of Color Coalition’s high crime is, apparently, noticing that strongly Jewish-identified students, like Horwitz, tend to be anti-BDS. Moreover, there’s a lot of resentment on California campuses among non-Jewish student politicians that Jewish student politicians will go off campus to fundraise among Israeli-American millionaires in order to manipulate student elections.
During the debate over divestment earlier this year, Ms. Horwitz wrote several posts on Facebook against it. Miriam Pollock, a friend and campaign manager for Ms. Horwitz, said in an interview Tuesday that before Ms. Horwitz started gathering signatures for her campaign, the two scrubbed her Facebook page to hide all posts indicating support for Israel, including a photograph of a pair of shoes decorated to look like the Israeli flag.The other hot button getting campus polititics so much national attention all of a sudden is increasing Jewish concern that the ascendant Of Color coalition of the Fringes won’t let Jews join in any reindeer games.
“We did it not because she isn’t proud — she is — but the campus climate has been pretty hostile, and it would not be politically expedient to take a public stance,” Ms. Pollock said. “She didn’t want that to be a main facet of her platform. Of course she was going to be honest if she was asked about her stance on divestment.”
Ms. Horwitz is a little beige in color, so she makes a good test case. Her request for solidarity from the Students of Color Coalition was rejected, in part because she’s so pro-Israel.
The essential question may eventually turn out to be: Are Jews part of the sacralized Fringe or are they part of the demonized Core?
Maybe all this Fringe over Core propaganda will turn out in the long run not to be good for the Jews? Perhaps more centrist Jews will start to worry about this mindset they’ve nurtured?
Unfortunately, the more likely effect of these trends is for Jewish spokespersons to double down on sacralizing the Fringe, just while octupling up on their rightful place as the fringiest of the Fringe.