Instances of anti-Semitism by this standard are ubiquitous in American academic life. Nearly a dozen academic associations have enacted formal boycotts of Israeli institutions and in some cases Israeli scholars. Student governments at dozens of universities have demanded the divestiture of companies that do business in Israel or the West Bank. Guest speakers and even some faculty in their classrooms compare Israel to Nazi Germany and question its right to continued existence as a Jewish state.
Yet, with very few exceptions, university leaders who are so quick to stand up against microagressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism. Indeed, many major American universities, including Harvard, remain institutional members of associations that are engaged in boycotts of Israel. The idea of divesting Israel is opposed only in the same way that divesting apartheid South Africa was opposed — as an inappropriate intrusion into politics, not as immoral or anti-Semitic.
Martin Kramer goes further:
Larry Summers asks why universities sniff out every trace of prejudice, but look the other way when it comes to anti-Semitism. “University leaders who are so quick to stand up against microagressions against other groups remain silent in the face of anti-Semitism,” he writes, especially when it takes the form of Israel-hatred. My answer: Jews themselves hesitate to use the A-word. Why? It’s not supposed to exist anymore. And if you’re not for yourself, no one will be for you.
He’s right too. Western leftists who don’t hesitate to make reckless, ignorant statements about supposed apartheid in Israel, an open society with gay pride parades and anti-Israel Muslims in the legislature, are circumspect about the commonplace human-rights horrors of Iran and the Arab world.
The unwillingness of liberal American Jews to call out anti-Semitism on the Left reminds me of the unwillingness of self-described liberals/progressives to acknowledge the effectiveness or moral justification of armed self-defense in response to criminal violence.