Many well-meaning progressives have voiced their concerns about the conflation of anti-Zionism with antisemitism, often rightly so. Irrespective of the merits of the claims being made, far too often, charges of antisemitism have been used as a cudgel to silence those who are critical of the Jewish State’s policies. Those concerned about informal censorship regimes, conservatives chief among them, should be wary of this trend.
However, there are times when the difference between legitimate criticism and actual prejudice is revealed. One such example has emerged in the Green Mountain State.
The University of Vermont (UVM) is currently experiencing a spate of antisemitic incidents. The students committing these blatant acts of bigotry may have been initially motivated by their sanctimonious opposition to the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories. Irrespective of what is motivating them, this sentiment has clearly entered the realm of outright xenophobia.
For example, UVM students were recently seen throwing rocks at the Jewish student-life center on campus. When asked to cease their vile behavior, one of the perpetrators asked the person beseeching their goodwill, “Are you Jewish?”
There’s no way that this can be construed as anything other than explicit antisemitism. Yet the school refuses to acknowledge what’s happening.
Rather than denouncing and combating antisemitism on campus, Suresh Garimella, the university’s president, has rejected any criticism of his leadership as “an uninformed narrative.” While Garimella did say in a statement about the contoversy that “there is no doubt that antisemitism exists in the world and, despite our best efforts, in our community,” he called out those supposedly guilty of “exploitation of fear and divisiveness” who are “advancing false claims that UVM failed to respond to complaints of antisemitic behavior” for creating “confusion and a sense of insecurity for the entire community.” This statement is an affront to the Jewish community at UVM and a shunting of the administration’s basic institutional responsibility.
Imagine if any other religious, ethnic, or cultural group had experienced this sort of physical violence. The university‘s response would undoubtedly be swift and decisive, as it should be. But alas, in 2022, Jew-hatred, along with contempt for anyone who is less educated or is conservative-leaning, is the only socially acceptable form of intolerance in liberal circles. Until that changes, UVM and the rest of academia, a bastion of progressivism, will continue to be a hostile environment for the People of the Book.