Oberlin alums fight back against purported anti-Semitism on campus

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Angry alumni at a prestigious Ohio college have had enough of what they consider anti-Semitism on campus, and have demanded the school put a stop to it.

Some 200 Oberlin College graduates signed an open letter to the northern Ohio school, blasting what they called a hostile environment for Jewish students and faculty on campus. The critics charged that the Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction Israel movement on campus has morphed into raw racism.

"Several student organizations at Oberlin have assumed the role as the mouthpiece of the BDS movement, which claims to be a defender of Palestinian rights, but whose inflammatory language falsely portraying Israel as an illegitimate, colonialist and murderous regime demonstrates that its primary goal is to demonize the Jewish state," reads part of the letter.

It goes on to state that the campus BDS advocates send an implicit message to Jewish classmates to “either forfeit your allegiance to Israel and join us, or we will brand you as an enemy of justice and complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people.”

“Students are being personally attacked for their beliefs.This is quite different from a disagreement over ideas.”

— Melissa Landa

The drafting of the letter was spearheaded by Melissa Landa, an instructor at the University of Maryland and graduate of Oberlin. Landa told FoxNews.com her group wants a task force formed to address anti-Semitism on campus carried out under the guise of pro-Palestinian activism.

The school's graduates include actor and writer Lena Dunham, conservative commentator Michelle Malkin, actor Ed Helms and novelist and playright Eric Bogosian.

“While current students can speak to the atmosphere on campus, alumni have an investment in the future of the college," Landa said, adding that Oberlin President Marvin Krislov will meet with the group Jan. 26 to discuss the ongoing issue.

Members of Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine issued a statement rejecting the charge that members are anti-Semitic.

Pro-Palestine activists erected this "apartheid wall" in front of the entrance to a library on the Oberlin campus.

Pro-Palestine activists erected this "apartheid wall" in front of the entrance to a library on the Oberlin campus. (LegalInsurrection.com)

"We reject the idea that support for the Palestinian cause is anti-Semitic,” read the statement. “Criticism of Israel may challenge the political opinions of some students, but that is not a threat to their safety. We will continue to confront the realities of the occupation on our campus."

Oberlin College officials did not immediately return requests for comment.

Over the past several years, Oberlin has had a slew of issues concerning Anti-Israel activism, according to legal blog, Legal Insurrection.

Chalk graffiti was also used during what was dubbed "Apartheid Week" by BDS activists.

Chalk graffiti was also used during what was dubbed "Apartheid Week" by BDS activists. (LegalInsurrection.com)

Most recently, there is even a belief among some that BDS activists have attempted to co-opt the Black Lives Matter movement on campus.

This past November, the Oberlin Black Student Union brought forth a petition regarding what they referred to as the “cultural appropriation of ethnic foods and cultural insensitivity” in the dining hall.

Among the list of 50 different demands was that the school divest from Israel. The 14-page list of demands was endorsed by Oberlin Students for a Free Palestine.

Anti-Semitism is on the rise on campuses across the country, often driven by BDS activists, said Brett Cohen, executive director of campus affairs for StandWithUs, an international education organization that attempts to ensure that the Israeli side of the debate is heard.

“There is a direct correlation between efforts to boycott and divest from Israel on campus and increased hate crimes against Jews, including swastikas painted on Jewish centers and fraternities, Jewish students being harassed and intimidated, and several cases of outright violence,” Cohen said.

“The pseudo-academic delegitimizaton of Israel fuels this fire, and has created a situation where some pro-Israel students are afraid to voice their opinions in the classroom.”