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Universities see rise in hostility towards Judaism

As anti-Semitic feelings increase on U.S. college campuses, the Biola community evaluates their part in the conversation. |


Anti-Semitism, or anti-Jewish feeling, has existed on college campuses for decades. The subject’s controversial nature often causes it to lack space in public discussion, especially if students do not think they are anti-Semitic.

However, in the wake of recent events regarding the United States’ political support of Israel and increasing Israeli/Palestinian controversy at various colleges across the U.S., the subject has come to the forefront for both religious and nonreligious universities.


Professor of history and Middle Eastern studies, Judith Rood, recently experienced the division between support of either Israel or Palestine on college campuses. As a Messianic Jewish woman, Rood feels passionately about the conflict in the Middle East.

While attending an Ottoman Studies Workshop at University of California Davis at the end of January, Rood encountered hostile opposition regarding a paper she had written and was going to present from Susan Miller, a UC Davis professor of history specifically of North Africa and the Middle East.

“As we were driving home, I received an apology from her and it was because the organizer of the conference told her that she had to apologize. I was really surprised..then I wrote her a response and explained to her that there’s a bigger problem of anti-Semitism on campus and I reached out to her to say maybe we can do something about this. But she never responded,” Rood said.

Miller is a Jewish woman who is a supporter of the worldwide anti-Israel campaign Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, Rood said. BDS is part of the Palestinian Resistance Movement, which has been working for the past five years to delegitimize Israel as a nation. The number of BDS supporters in the U.S. has grown exponentially due to the three different approaches that they utilize. There is a diplomatic approach, a violent approach and a non-violent approach, which many American Christian Evangelicals often adopt.

The American movement for social justice is evolving into an anti-Israel stance with American financial support of the Palestinian resistance. With BDS movement sweeping through college campuses, causing Jewish students to feel unwelcome and even fearful, Rood said, who has spoken with Jewish college students across the U.S.

During the conference at UC Davis, there was a motion that the student senate was urging to pass that would begin the boycotting of BDS companies. Surprisingly, both non-Jewish and Jewish students alike spoke against the motion. This disunion resulted in a large group of Jewish students leaving the room in protestation. That night, the Jewish fraternity house was vandalized with spray-painted swastikas.

“For Jewish people, it’s a sign of frightening, horrible hatred,” said Rood.


At Biola University, however, the recent attacks based in anti-Semitism have gone largely unmentioned, leaving many students unaware of the depth of the animosity some people feel towards the Jewish community. As a theologically based university, the student body at Biola can become informed on the conflict and its relevance to the modern church.

Senior history major Jon Mayhack, a student in the Middle Eastern Studies class, says that students need to figure out how Messianic Judaism fits into the evangelical world. Since Jewish history classes are not required at Biola, students can become confused as to how Israel and the Church relate to each other in the modern-day.

Junior history major Madison Fry says that students in her Israel-Palestine Conflict class lacked interest.

“The majority of the class believed that the Church has replaced Israel,” Fry said.

Fry says that the roots of this particular belief stem from the New Covenant, which students often cite as a reason for which the land of Israel no longer matters.

“Students are confused on which side to stand, both sides are killing people,” said junior history major Anahit Muradyan.

To understand the relevance of the Middle Eastern events, Rood strongly believes that students need to process the conflict in conversation, not just in their heads.

“We don’t have Jews and Muslims on our campus, but we live in communities. We need to go to other campuses and if Jewish people are being intimidated by the BDS movement for supporting Israel, we need to be standing by them. We can’t let the radicals have the spotlight,” Rood said.


Your Turn.  Post a Comment

  1. jerry lewis

    two states March 5, 2015

  2. Nicole Foy

    Great article, Emily! I'm so glad you addressed an often uncomfortable, definitely murky issue. March 5, 2015

  3. Sojourner Truth

    Universities see rise in hostility towards Judaism.

    Has anyone been paying attention to the hostility on college campuses to Christianity and also the worlds neglect when churches are being burned across the Middle East and thousands of Christians are being persecuted ! Has anyone raised a finger to address the massacre of Egyptian Christians who were beheaded ! These issues are being largely ignored not only by the secular press but also by Christian college newspapers.
    Where is the chimes on these stories? Jewish persecution has been well documented in our newspapers and Christian press. But Christian persecution is almost totally ignored.

    In the Orange county register, they have had three articles recently on antisemitism and not one on anti Christian bigotry or even a denunciation of the Christian beheadings in Libya. Why is this? Why does Christianity get so little coverage by the secular press and by Christian colleges like
    BIOLA? Where is the passion for the plight of Christians ? Does anybody really care ? What's being done ? Where is the outrage?

    Has anyone called the President or their congressmen to lobby for their help? Is the chimes or the associated students preparing a teach in ? Any seminars ? Any protests ?
    Does anyone at BIOLA care and are they being informed by the chimes ? Did 21 Egyptians Christians die in vain for their faith ? Is their a hotbed of activism on their behalf on this campus ?
    Many college campuses across this country are very engaged with what is going on in this world. There are seminars and protests, and passion for any number of issues.

    What is the passion here ? Does anyone care about the thousands of persecuted Christians right now who are being beheaded, raped, and expelled from their villages !

    If not now, when ? If not you, who ?

    March 5, 2015

  4. Augusta McDonnell

    Emily this turned out great!! March 6, 2015

  5. Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Ph.D.

    Sojourner Truth,
    I couldn't agree more! And that's why I went to speak at the Western Ottomans Workshop, a group of scholars studying Ottoman history, to urge them to address Christian concerns about Islam based on their knowledge of Islam in the pre-modern era. My paper was well-received by the Muslims and Christians there. I found it ironic that it is left-wing, progressive Jewish intellectuals who have a secular perspective who are feeding the fires of anti-Semitism among supporters of Palestinians. The horrific rise of anti-Christian hatred in Syria and Iraq must be reported and addressed in our communities, and my classes hear about what's happening in historical context. Moreover, some recent Biola alumni are working with refugees in Iraq and Jordan, and our students are working with Voice of the Refugees here in Southern California. We often have Middle Eastern Christians, some of Muslim background, but especially Copts, on our campus. We have Middle Eastern heritage students in our student body. Together, we make up a reflection of the Ephesians 3:6 church, co-heirs in Christ and His body in this present age.

    I'm really grateful that Emily decided to take on such a difficult and complex topic. Her instinct supports the old Arabic adage:
    "First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people." Both bear the name of the God of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob. We must stand up for one another, reaching out to those who are seeking the truth and salvation. March 8, 2015

  6. jerry lewis

    Judy, I think that if the neoconservative jews wanted peace, peace could stand a chance. March 8, 2015

  7. jerry lewis

    JERUSALEM (AP) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel will not cede any territory due to the current climate in the Middle East, appearing to rule out the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    Netanyahu's comments, which came as he sought to appeal to hard-liners ahead of national elections next week, rejected a key goal of the international community and bode poorly for reviving peace efforts if he is re-elected.

    "Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that any evacuated territory would fall into the hands of Islamic extremism and terror organizations supported by Iran. Therefore, there will be no concessions and no withdrawals. It is simply irrelevant," read a statement released by his Likud party.

    Netanyahu's office said the statement reflected the prime minister's long-held position.

    The international community has long pushed for the creation of a Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war. In 1993, Israel and the Palestinians signed an interim agreement that was to lead to the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Numerous rounds of peace negotiations have been held since then, with the most recent talks breaking down last year.

    Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said Netanyahu was using regional strife as an excuse.

    "Today Netanyahu revealed his true face," Erekat said. "Since 1993, he worked hard for the destruction of the option of peace and the option of a two-state solution."

    Ahead of national elections, centrist and leftist political parties in Israel have said they support the resumption of peace efforts with the Palestinians March 9, 2015

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