Jews behave like Nazis, Zionism is genocide, and the Bible commands the Chosen People to wipe out every living thing.
When the Hillel at Knox College, a prestigious and private liberal arts school in Illinois, discovered the above opinions promoted vigorously on Twitter by Kwame Zulu Shabazz, a visiting professor, they asked the administration to investigate. What followed was a lesson in just how unwelcoming American academia is to its Jewish students and faculty members these days.
David and Jennifer Bunde, co-advisers to the Jewish student group at Knox, told Inside Higher Ed that equating the Jewish right for self-determination with mass murder was really no big deal.
“We do not believe that the faculty member [who made the tweets about Jewish people] was intending to be anti-Semitic,” the wrote. “We believe that he was trying to call out injustice on behalf of people of color the world over. Unfortunately, the language used in some of his tweets played into age-old stereotypes. We do not think he understands that Jewish students, faculty, and the wider community found his words hurtful and dangerous.”
The Bundes did add, however, that they were disappointed with Shabazz for “failing to modify his language.”
After a Jewish faculty member at Knox who, according to Inside Higher Ed, was involved in the campus discussion about Shabazz’s tweets found anti-Semitic hate mail slid under her office door, the college’s administration finally addressed the matter. Megan Scott, Knox’s vice president for communications, said in a statement that “It is not the college’s practice to follow the personal social media accounts of its faculty or staff members. The tweets in question were first brought to the administration’s attention through a bias report filed by a student. As an academic institution, we must maintain an unwavering allegiance to the constitutional rights of members of our community, particularly the freedom of speech that is essential for unfettered academic inquiry. However, the college does have an obligation to and a process for investigating bias incidents reported to us and addressing the extent to which a hostile environment or violation of our policy has occurred. Under our protocol (here) and in response to the student’s report, an initial assessment by the college’s bias incident team began and is ongoing.”
In addition to failing to condemn Shabazz’s blatant anti-Semitism, Scott also defended Knox by citing statistics about the rise in anti-Semitic incidents on American college campuses—an 89 percent increase from last year, according to the ADL—as if that somehow excused or explained the professor’s bigotry.
“When Jewish student leaders went through the proper channels to discuss the tweets,” wrote Jonathan Schrag, the editor of the school’s paper, “they were told to instead blame themselves, as they have not done enough to help oppressed groups on campus.”