OpinionSchools & Higher Education

DEI programs encourage campus antisemitism

Since Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs do harm—but no proven good—it’s time to end this disastrous experiment.

Ethnic studies. Credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com.
Ethnic studies. Credit: Shutterstock/Rawpixel.com.
James Sinkinson
James Sinkinson
James Sinkinson is president of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

Despite their noble-sounding title, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs in American universities and colleges exclude—and often attack—Jews, already the single most persecuted minority in the United States. 

Worse still, evidence shows that despite the vast budgets and bloated bureaucracies dedicated to DEI initiatives, they have proven to be ineffective at improving the campus experience of marginalized groups.

Studies show the prevalence of antisemitism—largely its anti-Zionism form—is skyrocketing on U.S. college and university campuses, to the point where Jewish students don’t feel safe and even resort to hiding their Jewish identity to avoid persecution.

Rather than remedying this problem, DEI initiatives instead promote a radical, rigid ideology that depicts Jews as members of the white privileged class—disregarding the fact that many Jews are people of color.

DEI staff also encourage antisemitism by labelling Israel as an oppressor state and demeaning Jews who support it. If efforts are made to include antisemitism in DEI initiatives, they are often quashed.

Since the perverse culture that spawned DEI programs is today so ingrained, and the movement wreaks so much damage, many believe these programs should be eliminated entirely.

The bitter irony is that Jewish students need and deserve support from their college and university administrations more than ever. 

Jew hatred on American campuses has escalated wildly, threatening Jewish students in the classroom and making them so fearful to admit support of Israel or even their Jewishness. 

According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the number of antisemitic incidents at college and university campuses between 2014 and 2021 increased three-fold, from 47 incidents in 2014 to 155 in 2021, and 359 anti-Israel incidents in the 2021-22 academic year. 

Other recent surveys show more than half of Jewish students (55%) have experienced antisemitism on campus, and nearly three quarters of Jewish students hide their Jewish identity for fear of persecution.

In addition, 55% of Jewish students hide their support of Israel. Not surprising: Some 65% of professors and researchers in U.S. Middle East studies believe Israel practices apartheid. 

In theory, DEI is all about improving the lot of disadvantaged and historically-marginalized groups. 

In practice, however, DEI initiatives promote an inflexible ideology based on critical race theory, according to which a person is foremost the member of a collective identity based on race, gender, or other “approved” categories. Each of these identities is categorized as either “oppressors” or “oppressed.”

In this context, Jews are assigned to the white, privileged, oppressor group. And since Jews are allegedly oppressors, so is the Jewish state—a belief that fuels anti-Zionist antisemitism. 

Note that assigning American Jews white identity is never done in consultation with Jews. In fact, Jews as a people—of many colors—have been oppressed, persecuted and the victims of massive genocide for millennia because they are not considered white. 

According to the Pew Research Center, fully 17% of American Jews report some identity as Hispanic, black, Asian or mixed race. In other words, a huge percentage of American Jews are objectively not “white.”

Scurrilously, many DEI “professionals” demonstrate a clear bias against the Jewish state. A Heritage Foundation study done in 2021 examined the Twitter feeds of 741 DEI personnel at 65 universities and found that of all Israel-related tweets, 96% were critical of the Jewish state. 

By contrast, 62% of tweets DEI personnel made about China—a notorious human rights violator—were favorable. The study also found that while DEI personnel frequently accuse Israel of genocide, apartheid, settler colonialism, ethnic cleansing and other extreme crimes, similar accusations were not directed at China. 

University-based DEI staff also seem to care little that the majority of Israel’s total population are people of color … and that the majority of Israeli Jews are people of color, hailing from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regions.

No wonder, then, that DEI initiatives do little to address antisemitism. Indeed, a study done by the advocacy group Stop Antisemitism found that of 24 major colleges with DEI initiatives, only two had any specific programming or materials related to antisemitism. 

Moreover, attempts at improving DEI initiatives to include Jews and antisemitism are often quickly rebuffed. Take the case of former DEI faculty director Tabia Lee, who is black. She attempted to organize a program on antisemitism and the Holocaust.

Lee invited Jewish speakers of color—Jewish immigrants from the Middle East, one of whom was queer. However, since these speakers’ identities contradicted the “correct” view of Jews and Israel as white oppressors, Lee was ridiculed by her colleagues and eventually fired.

No evidence shows that DEI programs—despite bloated staffs and budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars—have actually helped improve the lives of members of marginalized communities on campus.

According to another Heritage Foundation study, the average university has more than 45 people working as staff responsible for promoting DEI, 4.2 times the number of staff that assist students with disabilities. The average university has 3.4 DEI personnel for every 100 tenured or tenure-tracked faculty members—a large number of whom draw six-figure salaries.

Yet, the Heritage study, which included surveys administered to students at 65 universities, accounting for 16% of all students in four-year institutions in the United States, found that there was “little relationship” between DEI’s vast bureaucracies and minority students’ satisfaction with their college or university experience. 

Tragically, the DEI industry has spread like a blight—so rapidly consuming vast quantities of money and spreading such a poisonous philosophy that excision seems the only solution.

Such was the conclusion of the State of Florida, which recently banned colleges and universities from spending any public funds on DEI initiatives. 

In short, DEI initiatives ignore Jewish students and harm many of them, especially those who support the Jewish homeland. What’s more, DEI has no proven effect in improving the lives of any U.S. college and university students. It’s clearly time to end the disastrous DEI experiment.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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