UW STUDY ON RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION EXCLUDES JEWS
“Muslims, atheists more likely to face religious discrimination in US“, so screamed the headline of a press release dispatched by the University of Washington in September of 2020. At a time when Jews are by far the most targeted religious group in the United States, how could any reputable study come to such an absurd conclusion? Delving into the article, the answer soon became obvious; the study explored views towards Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, and Humanists, but not Jews. Addressing the glaring omission, the study authors explained “Judaism was not included in the study because at the time  previous research suggested little discrimination, and very positive public attitudes, toward Jews”. The only problem is that this is a lie, or to be more diplomatic, the authors are mistaken. In March of 2015 the ADL reported that antisemitism rose 21 percent in 2014 in what it called “a particularly violent year for Jews”. The following year, the ADL reported “Anti-Semitic Assaults Rise Dramatically Across the Country in 2015”. In 2016 Jews were the single most targeted group for religion-based incidents. There were 1267 recorded antisemitic incidents that year, an increase of 34.5% over the previous year. The FBI, which uses different criteria, reported that Jews were the primary target of religion-based attacks in 2016, experiencing 54.4% of religiously motivated crimes; twice as many incidents as were inflicted upon the Muslim community in the same year.
In the academic bubble of our nation’s universities, and all too often within their Jewish Studies departments, Jews cannot be classified among the victim class. At the University of Washington it is difficult to find any academic decrying antisemitism other than the classic right-wing manifestation. Yet Jews are increasingly the target of antisemitc attacks from the antisemitic/anti-Zionist left, Islamic extremists, and other minority communities. It is in this combustible environment that Jewish studies professors call for a boycott of Israel while hurling antisemitic tropes like “Jewish Supremacy” towards the Jewish state, perhaps deluding themselves that such calumnies can be precisely calibrated so as to avoid harm to their own Jewish students. According to a recent study published by the Amcha initiative, “the presence and number of faculty who expressed support for an academic boycott of Israel prior to the onset of the Israel-Hamas war were strongly and reliably associated with every measure of faculty and student-perpetrated antisemitic activity during this period”.
So how is it possible that University of Washington scholars can simply exclude Jews, the single most targeted group for religion-based hate crimes from a study claiming to identify the most targeted religious group? The answer is in the title of a book by British comedian/author, David Baddiel, “Jews Don’t Count“. Baddiel’s premise as articulated by Sarah Brown in Fathom is that “Jews are excluded from the category of oppressed groups because they are themselves associated with the oppressors – with money and power.” In other words, the justification for erasing Jews as targets of bigotry is as antisemitic as the acts of bigotry that these UW academics choose to ignore.
While the solution to such blatant bias is unclear, a vital first step is for the Jewish community to recognize the proliferation of antisemitism within academia and oppose it with the same unapologetic righteousness with which we take on other causes.