In the safe spaces on campus, no Jews allowed

Sep 19, 2016

By Anthony Berteaux

This article is excerpted from a longer piece in the Tower.

When Arielle Mokhtarzadeh arrived at University of California, Berkeley, to attend the annual Students of Color Conference, she had no way of knowing that she would be leaving as a victim of anti-Semitism.

The conference has maintained a reputation for 27 years as being a “safe space” where students of color, as well as white progressive allies, can discuss issues of structural and cultural inequality on college campuses.

For Mokhtarzadeh, an Iranian Jew at UCLA, her freshman year was punctuated by incidents of anti-Semitism that were both personal and met with national controversy. She was shocked during her first quarter in school, when students entered the Bruin Cafe to see the phrase “Hitler did nothing wrong” etched into a table. Months later, Mokhtarzadeh’s friend Rachel Beyda was temporarily denied a student government leadership position based solely on her Jewish identity, an event that made news nationwide.

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19 comments on “In the safe spaces on campus, no Jews allowed

  • but in 2012 the school’s SJP adviser was recorded telling members to be proud to be called an anti-Semite — to wear it as a “sign of distinction.

    What the fuck?!?

    Any one on or close enough to college campus life to tell the rest of us what is really going on with this supposed anti-Semite activity?

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  • Neo

    This is such a mess.

    Some antizionists who support Palestinian rights have been accused of antisemitism. Maybe they are and maybe they’re not.

    Some Jews have been accused of zionism. Maybe they are and maybe they’re not.

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  • Laurie, Neo, others

    I started the article. It seemed highly slanted from the start. “Hitler was right” etched into a table? That could be forty years old. Means nothing. That alerted my right there. I read on. I came across this: “For example, they said that Israel was poisoning the water that they sell into the West Bank, and raising the price by ten times. Any sane person knows that this is not true.” I don’t know about the price thing but the poisoning happens to be true. My mother was in Gaza, and knows all about this, what they (the author of the article and those like him) don’t want you to know.

    I tried to read the entire article from The Tower, but had to stop half way through. I skimmed through the rest. I got the gist of it.

    This article is Israeli Zionist propaganda. Pure distortion and lies. Don’t believe a word of it.

    “Some antizionists who support Palestinian rights have been accused of antisemitism. Maybe they are and maybe they’re not.”

    Laurie is absolutely right. And many Jews (like me) who oppose Zionism and support Palestinian freedom are called Jewish anti-semites. Most of them are not. (I should put the word Jews in quotes. I am only a Jew in a technical sense; I have no religion. I don’t even know what a Jew is, and will probably never know.)

    From article: “The history of SJP and its founder’s anti-Semitism will likely fall on deaf ears to progressive supporters of the anti-Israel cause.”

    Yes, that is right. Because it won’t be true coming from this author, this rabid Zionist propagandist. And poor Mokhtarzadeh (who might as well have been made up; it’s not about her); she’s such a victim and aren’t the Israelis and Jews such victims? Always the victims. “No mention of the holocaust at the conference.” Well not mentioning it is not the same as denying it.

    I saw a short film about Hebron and what’s going on over there. Horrendous. The Palestinians are being treated like sub humans. Absolutely awful.

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  • @Dan

    I don’t know about the price thing but the poisoning happens to be true. My mother was in Gaza, and knows all about this, what they (the author of the article and those like him) don’t want you to know.

    This is what I mean. This is a extrodinary assertion and requires extrodinary evidence to support the assertion

    My mother was in Gaza, and knows all about this, what they (the author of the article and those like him) don’t want you to

    This is not evidence, it is just anecdote.

    First, they do not want you to know, is another extrodinary assertion requiring many line of converging evidence to support this assertion. The water being poisoned is an assertion that must be supported by the evidence.

    Of course the Tower is not really an unbiased source but neither are mothers.

    Evidence must be brought forth and then I can change my mind. Not before that though.

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  • @Neo

    It’s not an anecdote when it happens to you, or to someone in your close proximity. It starts to become one once it’s passed on, as in Dan’s post. And if referenced elsewhere, definitely.

    What “anecdotal evidence” should do, of course, is alert researchers, investigators, to do some research, some investigation. Collect the anecdotes, collect samples, get them independently analysed, write it up and get it peer reviewed. How did the scandal in Flint emerge? Did it start with anecdotes? “The water looks filthy and my kids are getting sick…”?

    Neo, you’re not wrong (about requiring evidence), except, is it really “extraordinary”? Why is that?

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  • @OP – The campus was supposed to be her new home, her new safe space — so why didn’t she feel that way? She went to the conference hoping for some answers.

    [So you’re a Jew and you’re starting college? Prepare for anti-Zionism.]

    There is nothing wrong with criticisms of the abuses perpetrated by Zionists, although screaming “anti-sematism” in place of a rational discussion is a standard response from bigoted Zionists.

    But on the first day there, she was horrified when the discussion became an attack on Israel — and soon devolved into attacks on the Jews.

    While it would be unreasonable to blame the atrocities of the Israeli government and Zionist settlers on all Jews, it is simply dishonest for those involved in, or supporting such actions to hide behind other Jews and play the martyr.
    While thieving, murdering, imprisoning within boundary walls, enslaving, and acting as an army of occupation, they are armed Zionist Jews!
    When criticised, they suddenly become just plain “Jews” being subjected to persecution!
    Those who have been sheltered with heads in the sand, need to be dragged out of “Safe-Spaces”!

    “Over the course of what was probably no longer than an hour, my history was denied, the murder of my people was justified, and a movement whose sole purpose is the destruction of the Jewish homeland was glorified.

    Funny how the proportionately much greater destruction of the Palestinian homeland, escapes the bigoted Zionist sympathiser’s mind!

    Statements were made justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians, blatantly denying Jewish indigeneity in the land,

    What a surprise!!!
    People “blatantly denying the {biblical} Jewish indigeneity” of Zionist immigrants and settlers, while dispossessing the locals of the land their families have occupied or owned for generations! Who would have thunk it!!!!!

    @OP – Mokhtarzadeh, an Iranian Jew

    Perhaps these Zionists could explain the “Jewish indigeneity in the land” of Israel/Palestine, of an Iranian citizen!

    justifying the ruthless murder of innocent Israeli civilians,

    Justifying the ruthless murder of “innocent” armed Israeli civilian settler intruders, who are backed up and protected during their theft of land from the locals by the murderous Israeli military, and the racist court system!

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  • This muddle is key to understanding the “cake and eat it” mentality in play from the writer-

    It should be troubling to everyone that an SJP member at Temple University physically assaulted a pro-Israel Jewish student two years ago, calling him a “Zionist baby killer.” But it should be far more troubling that the SJP chapter at Temple (like all SJP chapters) promotes itself as a progressive organization, claiming solidarity with movements such as Black Lives Matter.

    This so hints at a wider and reasonable context for the exchange which has been redacted “for clarity” or some such excuse. It does though go without saying that physical assault is indefensible.


    Mokhtarzadeh walked out on the verge of tears. “It was in that moment, during that conference, that I realized that every identity and every intersection of identity was to be welcomed and championed in progressive spaces — except mine.”

    clarifies the narrow appeal Mokhtarzadeh is making. Intersectionalists are in the vanguard of no-platforming, of denying the voice and the historical narrative of others.

    As ever, the failure to engage properly with the nonsense spouted by others about Jewish people is too often the result of imputing on their behalf merely a simple racist hate, a proposition designed to stop all reasonable exchange. That real political concerns about zionist aggressions may underlie these otherwise nonsensical positions, it seems cannot be allowed out or acknowledged.

    Would it be fair to say that this kind of defense would be most attractive to zionists?

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  • @Neo #4

    Hi, Neodarwinian,

    My mother was in Gaza twice. She is an eye witness. Have you been there? She is a committed human rights activist, is not biased (is a German-Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany). She has been involved with this issue for many years, has done her homework, and is, as I said, an eye witness to the horrors being perpetrated by the Israelis.



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  • Dan

    Jerry Coyne just posted his take on this exact issue.

    Check this section of the post

    And while there’s tremendous support on American and British campuses for the BDS movement, I see that as anti-Semitic as well, for the aims of that movement are not to promote a two-state solution, but to eliminate the Jewish state entirely.

    What do you think of this statement?

    Does the BDS movement have the goal of eliminating the state of Israel?

    Here is the statement from the BDS website:

    Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.

    Israel is occupying and colonizing Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.

    BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Eleven years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.

    Dan, what if someone was opposed to the state of Israel existing in the first place – is that antisemitic? I mean, Noam Chomsky thinks it’s existence is a bad idea, right? He sees it as a necessary but hopefully temporary state, if I understand his view correctly. There are those who say that a Jewish state is a bad idea just as a Catholic state, Muslim state or Protestant state would be a bad idea. The thinking is that secular states work best and that we should tolerate religion as long as it doesn’t stick its nose in where it doesn’t belong and that incoming immigrants should do their best to assimilate and be good citizens in their new homes.

    Granted, WWII was a catastrophe and Jewish refugees had to get the hell out of there to where ever they could land and for christ’s sakes, the US assholes turned boatloads away and I don’t even know how many the other countries took. Yes they should go to Palestine and every other place that they could get to, but why couldn’t they have just assimilated in the places they landed? The minute the state of Israel was created I feel like it was the tipping point towards our current disaster. Just because someone thinks it’s a bad idea it doesn’t mean they mean people harm or that they want to nuke the place you know. It’s there and that’s the reality. But negotiations have achieved diddly squat and now the BDS organization is using money to leverage some human rights actions to benefit the Palestinians. I don’t agree with Coyne that this is antisemitic.

    I am ruffled up.

    Your thoughts 🙂

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  • @OHooligan

    It’s not an anecdote when it happens to you

    Yes, a biographical incident could be something happening to you.

    Anecdote should raise questions and formulate hypotheses. We will see with Dan’s links if poisoning water is supported by the evidence.

    This is an extrodinary claim and needs extrodinary evidence. Unless one is biased.

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  • @Dan

    Poisoned water and poisoning water are two different things.

    I do not want eye witnesses as I will not take this to a court of law. Positive, empirical evidence. You know, like I have yet to see anywhere in any news source. Palestinian winging does not impress me. There situation is bad but my sympathies lie elsewhere.

    On one side a reliable ally and on the other practitioners of an insane religion. It is a very good thing that these people are powerless. Israel does not play all that fair but the converse would be horrendous.

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  • Neo


    By Lawrence J. Haas | Contributor
    Sept. 20, 2016, at 11:00 a.m.

    Hailing the new 10-year, $38 billion Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel on U.S. security aid, President Barack Obama couldn’t pass up the opportunity to chastise the Jewish state for failing to secure a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security, Obama said in a prepared statement as officials from both countries signed the agreement last week, “has been unwavering and is based on a genuine and abiding concern for the welfare of the Israeli people and the future of the State of Israel. It is because of this same commitment to Israel and its long-term security that we will also continue to press for a two-state solution … despite the deeply troubling trends on the ground that undermine this goal.”

    Well, that’s quite the dysfunctional friend we have there what with the abysmal human rights record they’ve racked up and even after that they still shake us down for 38 billion bucks. With friends like that who needs enemies?

    Palestinian winging does not impress me.

    Did you mean “whining”? On second thought, stick with winging, it’s less cruel.

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  • Laurie, too complicated. I am opposed to Zionism, genocide, and the occupation of the Palestinians. Before anything can happen the occupation has to end. The BDS is a non-violent, very important movement. They are being delegitimized by Israel and the US.

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  • From article (link #2):

    “[…] Another longstanding problem is the lack of wastewater treatment in the Gaza Strip. This problem has been aggravated in recent years by electricity shortages so plants could not be operated. Moreover, during Operation Cast Lead Israel damaged wastewater-treatment facilities, resulting in higher quantities of untreated sewage. Although some infrastructure has been rebuilt and new infrastructure laid in towns previously not connected to a sewage system, Gaza’s wastewater-treatment facilities are far from able to meet the required amounts and standards.

    “As a result, the aquifer’s water is high in nitrogen and chloride, making 90 to 95 percent of Gaza’s main water supply unfit for drinking and problematic even in terms of agricultural use […]”

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  • 17
    Pinball1970 says:

    I don’t think anyone really believes anti Semitism would stop if the Israelis left the occupied territories.

    The Koran has vile texts regarding the jews and Christianity set the stage in the Gospels for centuries of persecution.

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  • Pinball

    I don’t expect antisemitism to disappear even with the best compromises we could ever make in the Israel/Palestine situation. I also don’t expect any of the “ism”s to disappear either. But we can definitely do better on all of these isms. If Israel was held to the bare minimum of its human rights obligations and to the borders agreed upon in previous negotiations and set down by the UN then that would be a huge, very wonderful good sign to the entire world and this means the 1.5 billion Muslims in this world who never let the Israeli appartheid leave the front of their minds.

    This should be accomplished immediately just based on simple ethics and human rights values but with the current increasingly ominous picture in that part of the world, which will increasingly affect us here in the West, these measures are critical to pulling the rug out from under the fundamentalist Muslim groups ability to recruit foot soldiers. Israel has no intention of making a single concession, as they haven’t done in decades and their evil actions are dragging us all down into the muck. Every politician in the West is well aware of the situation and speaking for the American gov. they are petrified of the zionist lobby here and haven’t the guts to take a stand.

    We hear their real opinions when someone slips up and leaves the microphone on from time to time!

    Yes, the koran has vile texts and it’s a lucky break that a huge number of Muslims can’t even read the book for themselves. I know another sacred book that is loaded with vile texts too that go completely ignored even by those who believe it’s the word of God.

    Even though the Koran is believed to be the literal word of Allah and the Bible is just written and edited by a bunch of dudes (mostly), moderates can be convinced to ignore sections of these books. There are good ways to accomplish this that give me hope. 1. Blame awkward verses on crap translation. 2. Blame it on crap interpretation. 3. claim ignorance of the verse entirely. 4. Blame Satan for interfering with the sacred text. etc. etc.

    I also want to point out that in the Middle East, North Africa and other parts of the world, Jews and Muslims definitely have lived in communities together and I’m not going to claim that they were best buddies and that everything was all friendly between them, but there have been plenty of long stretches of time where they coexisted in a decent spirit of detente and had decent stable relationships between families.

    What every Muslim knows is that Jews are their direct cultural cousins and also they must agree that there is a close genetic relationship between them due to semitic origin. Progressive North Africans are now trying to put distance between themselves and the label “Arab”. They are more interested in their indigenous Maghreb origins and are more positive about seeing themselves as closer to the Mediterranean people genetically than to those on the Arabian peninsula.

    Sorry to be so long winded (again) but I am always discouraged by the situation in Israel/Palestine and I want to present the reasons to be hopeful as I hope I have done here. Things in that part of the world will probably get a lot worse before they get better though. Sad to say.

    If there is a God/Allah, now would be a good time to fix the shit mess over there! He never listens. He’s such an asshole.

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  • This does not add up. This woman is getting a lot more grief than your garden variety Jew experiences. I suspect her Iranian nationality is a bigger problem than her Jewishness.

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