While many on the left claim that “cancel culture” merely accounts for holding individuals responsible for their actions, others claim the act of collectively excising persons from public life over perceived wrongs sets a dangerous precedent.
In one Syracuse University student’s view, this unique form of public ostracism is now being weaponized against Jewish people, as is evident on her own New York university campus.
Justine Brooke Murray — a political science major and Campus Reform correspondent — told The Western Journal as much during an interview about her recent Op-Ed.
“[T]he Left disguises their destructive attempts to cancel those whom they disagree with as merely ‘holding people accountable,’ because they’re too afraid of being held accountable for bullying people into silence. They easily weaponize ‘cancel culture’ against Jews, by touting the age-old tropes we have been dealing with for years — that we are all greedy and privileged, except this time, we’re considered White,” Murray told The Western Journal.
“That’s why Jews are not considered high enough on the totem-pole of intersectionality to receive the victimhood status awarded to other minority groups. Today, Jews are hated for their nation state, and are labeled as right-wing ‘white supremacists’ unless they disavow Israel and shed their Zionism, which for most Jews is a major component of their faith,” Murray continued.
“Even if you are the most liberal in your beliefs, to be accepted on campus, and to be accepted as a progressive activist, a Jew must disavow a major part of his or her identity. It doesn’t matter how far Left you are — you will also be targeted and ostracized if you’re public about your connection to Israel.”
Published in The Algemeiner — a Jewish news publication — on March 8, Murray’s Op-Ed walked through her experiences dealing with anti-Semitism during her time on Syracuse’s campus.
Murray’s experiences don’t merely illustrate anecdotal examples of individualized bigotry — they reveal the problem to be systemic at Syracuse, involving students, staff members and even administrators.
During her freshman year, for example, Murray came across a poster in her dormitory which included a flag of Israel with the Star of David crossed out. Upon confronting the dormitory staff member responsible, “he expressed shock that Jews would find it offensive” and insisted the anti-Semitic image was intended to celebrate Black History Month.
Murray had also discovered students could receive college credits if they worked for the Syracuse Peace Council (SPC), an organization in favor of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement meant to destroy the Jewish state.
Additionally, Murray revealed that during the fall semester of her junior year, one professor told her class that “Israel created Hamas,” saying “Hamas is a creature of Israel. Nothing antisemitic about it.”
“A month later, the university witnessed a spate of racist graffiti incidents, including swastikas etched on the walls of our dormitories and in the snow. Another Jewish professor received a threatening email in her school account, calling her a ‘monstrous-looking k*ke,'” Murray told The Western Journal.
“Of course, the administration spoke up here, because they assumed the perpetrators came from the political Right.”
“They did nothing to support my Jewish professor who was attacked over the summer, because the perpetrators were Left-wing students smearing her under the veneer of ‘Palestinian rights.'”
Murray publicly defended a Syracuse professor over the past summer who had been earmarked for her openly Zionist beliefs. Because of this, both student and professor were targeted by “the campus hate mob,” according to Murray.
Subsequently, the mob harassed her on social media, attempted to release her personal information and even sent Murray multiple death threats.
“This situation got so bad that the FBI had to get involved, because the university continued to ignore our reports and refuse to help us. They even let students off the hook, who were identified as perpetrators. At one point, an administrator even admitted to me that the university is still unsure whether they want to consider anti-Zionist attacks antisemitic,” Murray told The Western Journal.
Murray’s Algemeiner Op-Ed hoped to shed light on a more recent example of what she saw as anti-Jewish bigotry — the school’s Student Association rejected a proposal to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism.
The student group rejected the proposal on two fronts: One, because it could not support political opinions and positions, and two, because it saw the IHRA’s inclusion of “anti-Zionism” in its definition as a threat to “free speech.”
The Student Association argued that including “anti-Zionism” in the definition would be political because it would paint any criticism of Israel or the Israeli government as “antisemitic.” This is, however, a total misrepresentation of what “anti-Zionism” means, as is explained by the Anti-Defamation League’s definition of the term.
“Anti-Zionism is a prejudice against the Jewish movement for self-determination and the right of the Jewish people to a homeland in the State of Israel. It may be motivated by or result in anti-Semitism, or it may create a climate in which anti-Semitism becomes more acceptable,” ADL’s website reads.
“Anti-Zionism can include threats to destroy the State of Israel (or otherwise eliminate its Jewish character), unfounded and inaccurate characterizations of Israel’s power in the world, and language or actions that hold Israel to a different standard than other countries.”
Moreover, the Syracuse Student Association’s concern for free speech and supporting political opinions came off as hypocritical, Murray explained, given that the group was fully willing to stifle speech and promote political opinions as long as those actions served an anti-Israel agenda.
“This is the same Student Association that, on the same day, advertised that the school’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion had invited to campus a divisive, sharply political speaker, Marc Lamont Hill, who is known for proudly spewing antisemitic blood libels, publicly supporting convicted terrorists, and most recently stating that the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement is to ‘dismantle the Zionist project,'” Murray pointed out in the Op-Ed.
“This is the same Student Association that also passed a resolution to block a conservative speaker, Ben Shapiro, from appearing on campus last year, accusing him of anti-Palestinian bigotry.”
This is all emblematic, in Murray’s view, of the slow transformation of cancel culture.
While it used to only apply to conservatives and those that reject certain left-wing principles, the political tactic of social condemnation and ostracization will soon be applied to other groups as well — namely, Jews.
“College campuses are becoming increasingly intolerant of students who do not follow the progressive orthodoxy, and university administrators are turning a blind eye to violence and threats of violence against students targeted by the radical left,” Murray told The Western Journal.
“It’s no longer just a situation of a conservative student being shunned, mocked or ignored. Now, uttering a conservative viewpoint — or simply questioning the far-left view of the world — is apparently justification for a student to be cancelled, ruined, denied attendance at school, fired from a job or rejected from joining any organization, and the target of physical violence,” she continued.
“To question any liberal progressive posture now justifies begin subjected to a nasty, slanderous social media campaign that also drags in your family members, friends and any associations.”
“The self-appointed campus warriors who launch these eradication campaigns are convinced that all things are justified, including violence, against conservative voices — and now, that applies to Jews who do not hide their identity,” Murray said.
The Western Journal reached out to Syracuse University for comment but did not receive a response by the time of this story’s publication.
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