TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A college campus is a place for freedom of speech.
But an increase in complaints about ant-Semitism on college campuses across the country and right here in the Tri-State Area has inspired a new program to help potential victims, reports CBS 2’s Emily Smith.
A disturbing cell phone video on YouTube shows an Israeli ambassador being bullied off stage last year by some pro-Palestine undergrad students at the University of California-Irvine.
With an increasing number of anti-Semitic complaints like that, a Bergen County anti-defamation group has started a program to help incoming freshmen prepare for what seems to be happening.
“Students are having a hard time dealing with the anti-Israel rhetoric that they are faced with. In many cases there is a tremendous amount of imbalance,” said Eltzion Neuer of the Anti-Defamation League of New Jersey.
“That’s something that you don’t expect when you come from a pro-Israel home,” added Rutgers University sophomore Raffi Mark.
The new program in Teaneck isn’t meant to get students riled up over possible anti-Semitic attacks, but to show them when an anti-Israel stance crosses the line.
“It’s not just about anti-Semitism; we have to be very careful. We don’t want to be accused of simply stifling all of the criticism of Israel,” Neuer said.
As a student at Rutgers, Mark said the bullying mostly comes from other students — even in class.
“I have a friend who took a class where he sat in class and felt attacked every time he spoke,” Mark said.
Smith obtained video of Rutgers students going at it. A student organization for Middle Eastern justice co-sponsored the supposedly public event, but when pro-Israel students showed up some were denied admission.
”I have a friend who was accused of killing Palestinians by virtue of being pro-Israel,” said William Paterson University student Melissa Brown.
Brown said she sees anti-Semitic bullying at her school, too.
“They vandalized our posters for halal saying ‘Free Palestine. Stop the Israeli genocide in Palestine.’ And that hurt. They have opinions but shouldn’t express it on our property,” Brown said.
The ADL gave Smith the itinerary. The first topic is “there are two sides to every story.” They hope Sunday’s program helps spread the word a college campus is a place for free speech, but not bullying.
The event is sponsored by the UJA Federation of New Jersey. More than 100 students are expected.
Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below.