Anti-Semitism at Hampshire College

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In the wake of the federal investigation recently opened to investigate charges of anti-Semitism and a hostile environment for Jewish students at the University of California Santa Cruz, other students who have experienced anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist harassment are coming forward with their stories. Among these are former Hampshire College students Lihi Benisty and Samantha Mandeles whose testimony paints a truly disturbing picture of the atmosphere of hatred and intimidation faced by pro-Israel campus activists.

Hampshire College is a small liberal arts school in western Massachusetts.   As well-known Israel activists on a campus dominated by the extremist organization Students for Justice in Palestine, which is linked to the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood network, both Benisty and Mandeles have faced harassment and intimidation as the price for voicing their views on Israel.

Lihi Benisty transferred to Hampshire last year as a junior and quickly became active in pro-Israel activism on campus but was shocked by the hostile and violent reception her activities garnered from pro-Palestinian students on campus.

“Being ‘pro Palestine’ right now on college campuses I think is kind of a new fad, especially on liberal campuses,” Benisty explains. “[Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)] is probably the largest group on campus and the most active group and they sound good and they present these facts that how can you not support them if they’re throwing around genocide and apartheid and all those words.”

Benisty attended what was supposed to be a small, intimate event at the neighboring University of Massachusetts featuring Israeli soldier Sgt. Kenny Sachs and was astonished that anti-Israel demonstrators outnumbered the pro-Israel students attending. “There were about 15 of us pro-Israel students and about 30-50 Hampshire students and community members that came to protest,” Benisty recounts. As the only pro-Israel Hampshire student at the event, she became known  as a supporter of Israel and began experiencing increasing episodes of harassment from members of the Students for Justice in Palestine. “The week following the event, I was harassed every night coming home,” Benisty states. “I was called ‘apartheid lover,’ ‘genocide supporter,’ ‘Zionist racist bitch.’”

She adds, “One time I was even called ‘racist bitch’ and someone nudged me, and I didn’t fall, but still, and it didn’t hurt, but it was physical aggression.”

Lihi scheduled a meeting with one of Hampshire’s deans, but the day before she was supposed to meet with him she received a death threat in her email.  “I received an email to my Hampshire email which only Hampshire students and faculty have access to,” Lihi recounts. “It was from Katie Smith who is probably a made-up name, from a gmail account, and it said, in all capitals, ‘Make the world a better place and die slow.’ And that was following all that week of harassment.”

“I didn’t want to be at Hampshire anymore because I couldn’t deal with it,” Benisty summarizes. “It was basically a very, very hostile environment. I felt not only physically unsafe but emotionally unsafe.”

Nor was Lihi alone in experiencing harassment for her pro-Israel beliefs. Samantha Mandeles, a student and pro-Israel organizer at Hampshire from 2006-2010, can recall numerous incidents where both she herself and other students were harassed for their support of Israel, creating a hostile climate for Jewish and pro-Israel students on the campus.

“In my time at Hampshire, I have experienced a lot of anti-Semitism, I have seen a lot of anti-Semitism,” Mandeles recounts. “The example of the harassment of Lihi is egregious, but it is not uncommon in my experience.”

Mandeles recounts one incident from her junior year when she was speaking with a group of friends gathered outside who were discussing Jewish stereotypes.  A Palestinian student she’d never spoken with before was hanging out with the group and upon learning that Mandeles is Jewish he told her, “So you’re Jewish?  So you and your people are responsible for the death of Jesus and all the important prophets.”  Mandeles notes that this student was involved with SJP during his entire tenure at Hampshire.

Another SJP member sent Mandeles a note on Facebook telling her she should “stop advertising your fascist Zionist bullshit.”

One of Mandeles’ friends taped an Israeli flag and a list of facts about Israel to his dorm room door. The flag was subsequently stolen and the sheet of facts was shredded into tiny pieces and left in a pile outside his room. Mandeles describes how another “Jewish, Zionist friend of mine was approached in [the dining hall]…by a pair of SJPers, who, without any sort of provocation, began to loudly sing a Palestinian national song in her face.  She told me that they followed her out of the dining hall, singing at her as loud as they could.”

And Mandeles relates how a Hampshire professor, in a one-on-one academic meeting with a student she knows, told that student that “Jews will always cry anti-Semitism when Israel is criticized because it’s in their nature.”

Even the Jewish community at Hampshire was often remiss in defending Israel. Mandeles recalls a Passover seder she attended where the campus rabbi, at the point in the evening where the assembled traditionally declare “next year in Jerusalem,” refused to say the words, stating “I am not going to say ‘next year in Jerusalem’ because I know Israel is a very contentious issue and I don’t want to offend anyone.”  The rabbi, she notes, is no longer at Hampshire.

“I got to Hampshire and wasn’t really expecting such an elevated and poisonous level of contempt,” Mandeles says, summarizing her experiences. “I just didn’t know that it was going to be so nasty.”

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  • Chezwick_mac

    The intellectual/cultural descendents of the brown-shirts are alive and well on campuses throughout the Western world. Take heed, proponents of freedom.

  • Amused

    Looks like a few palestinians know how to pull the strings of the catholic antisemitism which IS and always has been rife in Massachussettes . Doesn't take much to get'em out of the closet . Catholics are taught from childhood ,that JEWS crucified Jesus . This goes well beyond any politics , for it is religious bigotry . That's the "wonderfull thing " about religion , adherents need not study the meaning of their own dogma .

    • Makabit

      How delightful. Responding to an article about bigotry on campus with more bigotry. Outdated bigotry at that. Look up a little thing called 'Nostra Aetate', and get over yourself.

      • Amused

        Oh please , spare me the B.S. , you know its true . I'm not bigoted against catholics , I simply listen to their words , not all of course , but a great many , there is the subtle just under the surface disdain for jews . "Christ killers " …."they crucified our Savior "…they're all going to hell for rejecting their messiah ", man I've heard it all .That's the trouble with ALL organized religion "ours is better " …theirs is inferior " both are in error . This underlying " THEOLOGICAL ANTI-SEMITISM " is what allowed the christian Europeans to engage in or turn their heads away from what was happening to the jews .

        • aspacia

          Amused, that is true of all religions including Judaism.

    • Chinapiggydick

      As a person who grew up with a Catholic backround in Ireland but who no longer believes I do have to say in Catholicisms defence this is a farcical statement. How can a pro zionist even begin to talk about religious bigotry. What do you think of the 750 displaced palestinians left homeless in settlements in the West Bank this year. This includes according to Amnesty International
      "Israeli military bulldozers demolished three homes and water cisterns in ‘Aqaba village in the northern West Bank on Thursday morning, leaving 22 people, including 12 children, homeless."
      Is this morally wrong or am I just being a lefty loon.

      • ajnn

        These houses are torn down because a person living there is a terrorist who tried to kill a lot of people.

        Israelis kill buildings and other inanimate things. Palestinian Arabs kill real people.

        The Israelis kill the buildings to give the Arabs a reason to not kill Israelis. They take NO OTHER ACTION against the people who organize murder 9terrorist attacks).

        In this context, perhaps you might want to reconsider your comparison of people and buildings.

        • Chinapiggydick

          You are telling me that all these people that are getting there homes taken are terrorists. I think even the Israeli government would laugh at this conclusion.
          In regards your statement
          "Israelis kill buildings and other inanimate things. Palestinian Arabs kill real people."
          It is well known to the world the disparity in the ratio of killings is OVERWHELMINGLY on the side of the Israelis. Also the aggresion by Israeli settlers is vastly greater than that of the refugees of the West Bank and East Jerusalem according to various human rights.
          My comparison of humans and building. What? I think its time for me to start looking true more worthy right wing publications sites.

      • Fiona

        As a person who also grew up with a Catholic back round in Ireland but no longer believes in Catholicism I too was of the same opinion as yourself until I became a Christian. You are listen to and believing propaganda, I hate to admit it but I believed it to and I feel so embarrassed that I did. The same thing is happening as happened in Nazi Germany. Do you think that the Germans just hated the Jews because they were Jews. Some did but their heads were filled with propaganda and the same thing is happening again and don't be so arrogant to think that you would not fall for it too and somehow you are different from the Germans. You aren't . I fell for it. Hitler wrote about what he wanted to do to the Jews but no one believed him. Well the Muslims are writing what they want to do to the Jews and no one seems to want to believe it either. The 'Palestinians' are being used as human shields by their own people. the Muslims are Nazis they will not be happy until all Jews are dead and they will tell you so themselves. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ that my eyes were opened otherwise I would still believe the lies spewed by our media. And it is true that the Catholic Church do hate the Jews just because you don't know about it does not mean that it is not so. I don't think the average Joe knows what the catholic church believe but there is a lot about the catholic church that the average Joe does not know. Americans support of Israel was because they were a Christian nation and the further they depart from that faith the further their support departs from Israel. It is so sad to see I pray that the Muslims be saved and I pray that Jews be saved and I pray that you be saved. Open a bible and open your eyes. –

        31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye CONTINUE IN MY WORD, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know THE TRUTH, and the truth shall make you FREE. [John 8 KJV]

      • Amused

        what does traditional christian bigotry against jews , have to do with palestinians ? Btw ….yours is showing .

        • Chinapiggydick

          Well I'm fairly sure my Jewish friends know that not to be true. I have never in my life decried a person for being Jewish. My aunt for one is a practising Jew even though she is from a Catholic background. What I have showed is my displeasure at the Israeli expansion through aggression and settlements. Thats not bigotry.
          I mean that anti-semite accusation is a really farcical defence mechanism. Even Ilan Pappe has been called that.

      • aspacia

        china, what about the 650,000 Jews expelled from Arab/Muslim lands. Why no crying or outcry regarding them.

        Oh, nearly forgot, you are a lefty loon because many Muslims are illegally constructing many buildings only to have the Israeli government bulldoze them along with illegal Jewish housing. How about Gaza you loon.

    • Uwe

      You are completely correct. The Roman Church has caused havoc on this world. And I will rejoice when the harlot will finally go down in ashes!

    • aspacia

      Not for the last 40+ years Amused. This has changed.

  • Amused

    Ain't it ironic , that of all people , Fidel Castro , had to be the one to correctly name it – "theological anti-semitism " .

  • Grantmann

    Ahhh, the tolerance of the Liberals and the Left. So so accommodating and willing to hear another side of a topic to discuss in dispassionate terms within the hallowed ivy-covered walls of academia.

    As an ex-Connecticut Yankee, I'm sure glad I moved down south away from the craziness of the north.

  • StephenD

    Think about it. It is a brilliant strategy. First, you offer some altruistic emotional theme to enrage your "wide mouth bass" audience. Then you introduce the cause subtly to be Race rather than even the political system (which in this instance is irrelevant anyway) of which you have (a perceived) grievance. Slowly and over time the "issue" is no longer necessary because you get to hang onto your hate for the race alone. Throw in a good portion of seeming Justifiable Indignation and Rage into acts of violent aggression and soon everyone pays attention to you. You MUST be right. Why else would anyone be so forceful? Soon, violence against even innocent folks simply associated with your focus group are subject and suspect as well.
    This truly is a brilliant, EVIL maneuver…straight from the depths of hell.
    I've heard "Lucifer" is translated “The Brilliant One?”

  • NotaBene

    Idiot. Lucifer means ‘Light-Bringer’ (or Light-Bearer, depending on your translation).

    • StephenD

      Thanks for the correction. Not something I would get upset about but if this helps make your day there cupcake, enjoy! LOL

  • Ben

    My past experience of antisemitism in USSR shows that leftists successfully use the Christian stereotypes vagainst Jews(and nazies too). In this stories we see the unification of 3 types of modern antisemitism.
    The Islamist activity supported by leftists is the real danger in American intellectual circles.

  • Honest

    What this article didn't say is what percentage of the SJP students are from Muslim families. My guess is ….. MOST of them are from Muslim families AND ones who have arrived in the states fairly recently. If that is the case then they are probably coming from homes and mosques that are indoctrinating them in Islam's eternal jihad against everything non Muslim AND, as we all know by now, Islam especially has it out for "the Jews". When are we, as a nation, going to wake up? Islam is at war everywhere now. All non Muslim nations must TOGETHER confront this or be swallowed by it. We can do it sooner and, hopefully, by peaceful means, or we can do it later and it will be alot nastier but it MUST be done for the sake of civilization. Also, why are the western nations letting Muslims in at all? What is the matter with us? They are our ENEMIES. A two year old could understand this. Can you imagine the USA importing millions of Germans and Japanese into our ranks seventy years ago? No? But that is exactly what we're doing.

    • SRM

      Actually, a good portion of the students at Hampshire SJP are not Muslim. There were several Jewish Israeli refuseniks in SJP who graduated this past year and the year before. Prominent in the were group were several American Jews, some of whom also graduated this past year. There was one student from Sri Lanka who was heavily involved, but she graduated. There was another from Italy, who also graduated. Most SJP students were white, American, and of European descent. There were several students of Arab or Muslim descent, but they were not, and are still not the majority in the group. There were two or three who hailed directly from the Disputed Territories. Still, I think it is more a case of "useful idiocy" than Muslim indoctrination (for the most part).
      S. Mandeles

  • JoC

    I just can't get over that a professor would make a comment like that about Jews crying is in there nature.. I mean I shouldn't be surprised… This hatred is learned but still. As an adult and a teacher no less, that person has a responsibility to ALL students!

    It's amazing how "Free Speech" is only FREE when certain groups want it to be.

  • Flipside

    SJP, JSU… This is just how rich white people do gang warfare. The Jew gangs, and the Arab gangs and the Communist gangs and the Christian gangs and the Democrat and Republican gangs. They all do this anemic cracker warfare on campus. In this iteration, the Jew gang is trying to use “hostile environment” sexual harassment as a stolen sword.

    • KathleenP

      Fascinating thesis, Flip. However, most colleges and universities now are hardly bastions of "rich white people." As you'd find out if you ever set foot in one.

      As for the "One State" anti-Israel idiots, they have been singing the same sad old song for decades. I had to listen to their bilge when I was a student back in the 80s, although at that time Central America was the cause celebre among most campus leftists. Once it became clear that a truly glorious Marxist revolution was never going to happen there many of them increasingly turned their sights to the Middle East. The deluded fools of the International Solidarity Movement to me are virtually indistinguishable from the "Tools for Peace" volunteers who went down to Nicaragua to help prop up the Sandinistas, only to have their ideals shattered when the Sandinistas pragmatically agreed to allow a democratic election (and were promptly ousted by the opposition party.) Such is the way of campus leftists. They don't inhabit the real world in any sense of the word. They are irrelevant. On this at least I can agree with you.

      • Flipside

        I know I overstated the wealth of the actual college student to make my point. I meant also the on/off campus organizations too. There is definitely a lot we can agree on including this portrayal of ISM and the analogy of the majority of the pro-palestinian activists with the Iran Contra era protesters. Ideally, Israel and Paleatine will settle into full establishment and the ding-dong activists and foundations can argue over something unrelated.

    • Ghostwriter

      You probably like seeing Jewish kids get beat up,don't you,Flipside?

      • Flipside

        1) I don’t like seeing kids get beaten up.
        2) College students are not kids, they are young adults of voting age.
        3) You assume Jews can’t fight.
        4) Historically, the JDL initiated fistfights on college campuses.
        5) Nobody got beaten up, someone in the above article claimed she was in fear of the hostility against her spoken views, but apparently not so fearful that they couldn’t be syndicated.

        • UCSPanther

          I have news for you: Students publicly expressing support for Israel have been assaulted, threatened, and in one case even attacked with a machete.

          • Flipside

            Yes. That blog news does claim that in Ottawa Nick Bergamini and Mark Klibanov were allegedly attacked by a varying number of unidentified Arab men that Nick says he recognized from campus. I suppose that could pads for “some college kids getting beaten up for their views” even though it was grown men at a bar, one, a journalist pundit who belligerently touted himself and his buddy, an Israeli activist. It still doesn’t really amount to kids getting beaten up all across American universities simply for being Jews or having opinions.

        • Bubba

          Well, if you notice, the article says that neither of these students are on campus anymore, and therefore they are no longer in the vicinity of those students who would harass them.

    • ajnn

      OH, Flipside again with more anti-jewish postings.

      Usually he claims to be 'anti-zionist' rather than 'anti-jewish'. Looks like your mask is slipping !!!!

      • Flipside

        I wonder how Jews look at you when you call anti-Zionist Jews “anti-Jewish Jews.”

        • UCSPanther

          We'll keep hammering at your mask until it breaks. You antisemites can't keep it hidden for long…

          • Flipside

            Get your kicks just how you want it.

    • aspacia

      Flipped, do you know where the term cracker stems from? You are misJewaphobic, just admit it.

      • Flipside

        That can be your crossunder rap name.

  • Vermont Yid

    I have personally given more than a dozen cans of mace/pepper spray to female, Jewish students who are attending the University of Vermont in Burlington. WAKE UP YIDDEN! ARM YOURSELVES! What would you do if you yelled "Help!" and no one came to your aid? We Jews have been the whipping boys of the world for far too long. WAKE UP! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!

    • dr. love

      The Goyim are armed, too, and we outnumber you.

  • 080

    This is just the tip of the iceberg. We are living in a period of irrationality that is very similar to that of the 1930s in Europe. It may have already converted Europe into Eurabia. All governments are encouraging anti-Semitic outbursts by their self-defeating policies. The only possible answer is the defeat of those countries in the Middle East that promote terrorism. This Homeland Security serves very little purpose. One would think that they at least should be investigating anti-Semitic outbursts at universities.

  • Dispozadaburka

    Better check out what is coming up at Columbia University.

  • Trulio

    The "atmosphere of hatred and intimidation faced by pro-Israel campus activists" is an added pretext of the same fears that anti-semites have suffered from for thousands of years. It's not just about Israel, or pro-Israel supporters. It's about fear of the independent mind, and any group, tribe, or religion that they're allied with.

    Before the 1960s quotas against Jews were in place on many major campuses in the U.S. Back in the 1930s, Jonas Salk was kept out of many medical schools that he tried to get into despite his A average. Cornell, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale—had rigid quotas in place. And not just campuses, but entire countries couldn't handle Jewish independence. It had, and never will, have much to do with the geographical land mass called Israel. When students begin to notice a support for the fear-mongers on campuses, simply pity them and then find yourself another campus. One that has not been tagged as a lemming factory.

  • mjazz

    Your employer can be sues for allowing a hostile workplace environment.
    I don't see why colleges can't be sued for the same thing.

  • jasonz

    soulutions like this are simple. pro paletine and arab are not after peace but domination and destruction. this is a simple truth. when confronted with facts on how palestine is wrong, the arabs will simply make up a new set of facts to counter act the israeli legit facts. they harrass you because you let them and you run away. cary a tazer, cary a gun, they assault you strike back and make them sorry. that is how you stop them. i know its not PC, but this is go time kids. this is survival, this is war. either fight or die, thats the choice. when you cannot use the power of persuesion, you use the persuesion of power. thats what they are doing. dont fool yourselves by thinking you can do any less and win

  • findalis

    This isn't just at Hampshire, but at almost every campus in the United States and Canada. It is the goal of the Muslims and leftists to make every campus, every university in the US free of Jews. Today it is by intimidation, tomorrow it will be quotas, finally it will be outright saying no.

    Welcome to the 21st Century. The century in which the job Hitler started will be finished by the Muslims and their allies.

  • taxpayer

    All one can hope for is that the alumni giving dries up. Vote with your wallet.

  • Fred

    Start kicking ass if they physically attack , fight back, never back down, never show fear. Even if you lose a fight you will gain a lot of respect.

  • pyeatte

    I agree Fred. The time maybe has come to crack a few heads when cornered and one's hand is forced. Given the criminal behavior of the SJP, and lack of response of college administrations, you Must fight back.

  • hampshire alumn

    SJP is "creating a hostile climate for Jewish and pro-Israel students on the campus." Why does this article fail to mention that the MAJORITY of members of Students for Justice in Palestine at Hampshire for years have been Jewish? Judaism and Zionism are not the same thing guys. You will learn this as growing awareness of Israel's human rights abuses and illegal actions under international law are made aware to more and more Americans — the last to catch up with what the rest of the world already knows. This is one more pathetic attempt to claim anti-Zionism, which is a political movement, is anti-Semitism. Oh, and don't forget: Palestinians are semites too.

    • rjmom

      You're wrong. Judaism and Zionism are indelibly linked. Observant Jews pray three times a day for the return of the Jewish people to Jerusalem; the Jewish calendar is based on the seasons in Israel; many prayers, songs, and holiday blessings concern the wish to return to Jerusalem. Just as France is the home of the French, Israel (specifically Judea) is the home of the Jewish people. You need to stop lying, stop getting your information from anti-semitic websites, and learn about Judaism.

  • hampshire alumn

    Also, your article totally lacks journalistic credibility when you publish "I know a student who said that a professor said this." Why not go directly to the source instead of someone said that someone said? If you're confident that this happened, why not publish the professor's name? I've worked with several of the professors who support Hampshire SJP, and they would never say "the Jews" in that sentence, that's completely incorrect. Jews are #1 in the movement for justice for Palestinians at Hampshire.

  • Brujo Blanco

    If the Jews are taken down then another group will be identified for annilation. In the early 1980’s I was in Germany and a German told me that if the Jews were not the way that they were then bad things would not have happened to them. He Jews have been targets and they will continue to be targets until their tormentors are stopped.