On Dec. 2, 2019 at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, flyers of the latest publication of the David Horowitz Freedom Center (DHFC) claiming Pitzer College as one of the unsafest colleges for Jews in the United States were posted throughout campus. The DHFC based its claims off numerous instances of the Pitzer College student body’s endorsement of anti-Israel organizations and their ideals. In response, Pitzer College President Melvin L. Oliver, who has a track record of defending the college’s neutrality in the face of widespread anti-Israel pressure, issued a statement stating that the DFHC’s opinion of Pitzer as unsafe for Jews falls into the category of “attack speech [and] hate speech so extreme that it requires our response.”
The DHFC publication circulated around campus was headlined “Pitzer College…Promoting Jew Hatred and the Hamas Agenda.”
“In recent years this intercultural understanding [of Pitzer College] has become remarkably intolerant of Jews and their homeland of Israel. Last spring the Pitzer College Council attempted to impose the Hamas-funded and anti-Semitic BDS movement on the College by voting to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa in Israel. When the College’s president vetoed the discriminatory measure, he was rewarded with calls for his censure and claims that he was ‘weaponizing institutionalized Islamophobia.’ The Pitzer Student Senate also promoted the BDS movement by passing a budgetary amendment prohibiting the use of Student Activities Funds to pay for goods or services from companies or organizations associated with Israel,” the article read.
Oliver stated that these accusations “are demonstrably false and intentionally incendiary,” adding that “as an institution Pitzer generally refrains from judging or sanctioning the exercise of free speech on campus. But occasionally we are confronted by attack speech or hate speech so extreme that it requires our response. This is such a case.” Last year, Oliver vetoed a Pitzer College Council vote to suspend the college’s study abroad program in Israel, despite facing calls to resign for this veto. Oliver also heavily criticized academic boycotts of Israel during his speech at the University of Haifa.
In response, the DHFC released a statement directed at Oliver signed by Horowitz himself:
“Thank you for the Orwellian smear against our Freedom Center. Hate speech is calling a legitimate, fact-based critique of your support for a Jew-hating terrorist support group like Students for Justice in Palestine hate speech. Hate speech is a term the academic community has weaponized for the sole purpose of suppressing speech they disagree with. I have attached the facts that show that SJP was created by a Hamas operative named Hatem Bazian, is funded by a Hamas front group headed by Bazian, called American Muslims for Palestine, and that it supports a movement – BDS – whose founder has called it treason for a Palestinian to acknowledge that any part of Israel should exist. SJP’s entire program is designed to spread Palestinian Jew-hatred on our campuses – through genocidal lies such as Israel is an apartheid state or that Israel occupies one square inch of Arab land, or that Jews have not lived continuously in their historic homeland for 3,000 years but invaded the region in 1948. The propaganda spread on your campus with your support which seeks the obliteration of the Jewish state in so many words is no different from Nazi Jew hatred, and in fact the Palestinian movement began as a Muslim movement supporting Hitler. All these are easily ascertainable facts, which I am attaching to this letter, though you will obviously ignore them. Some of the students participating in this campaign of Jew-hatred are simply ignorant. You don’t have that excuse. You are a disgrace – an all too typical disgrace among your academic colleagues which is why Jew-hatred is rife on our campuses today.”
The DHFC is a conservative foundation founded by David Horowitz; it runs several websites and blogs, including Jihad Watch, which has been accused of spreading Islamophobia and has faced heavy controversy and scrutiny over its “anti-Muslim” activities.
Pitzer College is part of the Claremont Colleges Consortium, made up of Pomona, Harvey Mudd, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges.
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