By Saul Golubcow
A few Jewish outlets recently carried the story of Princeton University allowing antisemitic literature to be part of an upcoming course taught by Satyel Larson, an assistant professor of Near East studies. I am referring to the professor’s inclusion in her syllabus of “The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability,” by Rutgers University Professor Jasbir Puar which, without evidence, claims that the Jews of Israel maim Palestinians so that their organs may be harvested.
The story is not just about the disregard of one isolated act of antisemitism. It reflects on an increasingly virulent antisemitism infecting colleges and even high schools throughout our country. This presentation of Jew hatred makes even unacceptable antisemitic tropes of “Benjamins,” “hooked noses” and “control of the world” pale in comparison.
An accusation of Jews harvesting organs without the slightest evidence cannot arise without the author feeling a deep-seated antipathy to Jews. We must then deliberate as to what she wishes to accomplish and how is it that many recipients of these lies accept what they are told and even enable the further dissemination. Puar claims that it is Israel and not Jews whom she wishes to indict. By now we know that this dissimulation is part of the antisemites’ game book, a disingenuous excuse to revive the millennia-old “blood libel” by which the Crusaders roused mob rage to murder Jews, and the Nazis to prepare for their genocide.
Visualize being a current Jewish student at Princeton sitting in a classroom and hearing that your co-religionists in Israel are harvesting human organs. Shame spreads over you, especially if you don’t have the facts to refute the charges. Where then on the Princeton campus (or at Rutgers or Duke) are you “safe?” After all, everyone else knows what’s to be done to accused miscreants and their defenders who harvest human organs. They are to be stopped through whatever it takes. Thus, Puar’s writings can easily for some lead to a “final solution.”
Puar is a leading academic at Rutgers University. She maintains her rank, privileges and everyday cordiality with colleagues. If her racism were aimed at any other group, she would not still be employed at Rutgers. Her book was published in 2017 by Duke University Press. Consequently, these institutions allow and enable antisemitism. At the book’s first appearance, there should have been public reactions, ferocious responses that included counter attacks by faculty, alumni, donors and Jewish organizations at both universities to the publication and continued dissemination. Perhaps I simply missed these reactions. If they did not occur, they still must.
Jewish leaders at Princeton need to approach the Newman Center, the Baptist Center, the Society of Humanists and even the Muslim center to rouse ire among non-Jews. Jewish self-contained outrage is not sufficient — current antisemitism is not just another expression of hate. Non-Jews must come to comprehend the history, specificity and danger of today’s Jew hatred, and react angrily.
Many Jewish outlets, let alone the mainstream media, did not cover the particulars or implications of this story. But a missed opportunity need not be a lost opportunity. All media must initiate a broad coverage as this brand of antisemitism places all Jews in danger the violence it can bring.
And the rest of us must consider the pain that our children are experiencing every day in colleges; desisting from donating to institutions that enable antisemitism; deciding where we send our children based on a school’s tolerance of antisemitism; encouraging Jewish organizations on campuses to fight any appearance of antisemitism; stopping our association with groups with whom we may otherwise share values if it supports, enables or does not act against antisemitism; speaking out against all forms of antisemitism by peppering media, politicians, institutions and corporations with calls and letters.
The institutionally supported fabrication of Israel’s organ harvesting is a stark indication that we are in the midst of an antisemitic contagion to which more attention must be paid.
Saul Golubcow writes from Potomac.