In a video released this week, a man went to the University of California at Berkeley’s campus, waving the black-and-white flag of the Islamic State and loudly defending the militant jihadist group's actions.
Most of the people walking past ignore him. A few gave him a thumbs-up, wished him luck and smiled.
Then the man broke out the Israeli flag, and shouted statements defending Israel.
The video shows him getting a less-than-warm reception from some on campus “Israel is a thief in the night, and a thief in the day,” a man said as he walked by. Another ran off a string of expletives. “Tyranny isn’t cute,” a third said.
The flag-waver, media personality Ami Horowitz, filmed the video for his “Ami on the Street” series aired on Fox News.
“Students at Berkeley clearly have a lot of intellect; it is one of the most prestigious and selective universities in the country,” Mr. Horowitz wrote on Fox in a piece published Wednesday. “But do they have wisdom? I went to the bucolic campus armed with a flag that represents the greatest evil known today, ISIS. If these are our best and brightest then we should all be afraid, very afraid.”
The anti-Israel sentiment Horowitz showed in his video, which has attracted more than 150,000 views and more than 400 comments, has peppered college campuses in 2014, with students at several institutions hosting “Israeli Apartheid Week” — complete with film screenings, lectures, workshops, and protests — last winter.
The Anti-Defamation League notes that more than 90 anti-Israel events are scheduled to take place on campuses this academic year, double last year’s figure. Just Tuesday evening, the undergraduate student government at the University of California at Los Angeles called for the UC system to divest from the Israeli military. The Jewish campus orgnization Hillel notes that UCLA, for instance, has 2,600 Jewish undergraduates, which is 9 percent of the student body population.
The ADL attributes anti-Israel events and anti-Semetic discourse to Operation Protective Edge, noting that at least 30 anti-Israel demonstrations had support from student groups. This fall, anti-Semitic acts have occurred even at institutions with historically high Jewish populations.
At Emory University, brothers at a historically Jewish fraternity found black swastikas spray painted outside their house — immediately after Yom Kippur, a holy day of repentance, prompting the university to step up its campus police patrols. One week later, three swastikas were chalked outside of a freshman dorm at Yale University. Both schools ranks among Hillel’s top 25 schools by percentage of Jewish students, at 30 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
Some pro-Israel groups are fighting back.
More than 60 Vassar University alumni, for example, said their institution had reached a tipping point in the spring. When nearly 40 faculty members protested the college president’s opposition to the American Studies Association’s boycott of Israel, the alumni formed “Fairness to Israel,” which consisted of pro-Israel Vassar alumni, parents, and students.
“Israel is not perfect, but to blame Israel alone, as the 39 professors do, ignores facts and does nothing to promote the ‘open, honest and principled discussion’ the professors, who are completely silent with regard to Israel’s side of the story, claim to want,” the group wrote in an open letter published in the Miscellany News, Vassar’s campus paper. “Their letter constitutes propaganda against the Jewish state. Whether intended or not, it shows a blatant bias against Israel, a glaring attempt to delegitimize the Jewish state and yes, outright anti-Semitism.”
Comments on Horowitz’s video showed a largely critical response to the students’ reactions. One said that the video showed “enormous ignorance,” while another noted that “these ‘universities’ do NOT reflect Americans everywhere.”