update deskSchools & Higher Education

‘Stomach-churning’ Jew-hatred at Tufts

The university in the Boston area said it was disappointed by and rejected a student government vote to divest from Israel.

Carmichael Hall in the Residence Quad at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Carmichael Hall in the Residence Quad at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Tufts University is investigating “reports of some extremely disturbing antisemitic words and conduct” directed at Jewish students who opposed anti-Israel resolutions in the student government and “Islamophobic actions” against students who supported them.

The school “will hold accountable any student found to have engaged in these behaviors,” wrote the university president and other senior academic officials. 

“Let us be entirely clear: Antisemitic and Islamophobic words and actions are entirely unacceptable and should be met with condemnation from the entire community, regardless of your perspective on the resolutions,” they added.

The highly-ranked, nearly 175-year-old private school in Medford, Mass., also condemned the student senate’s vote to divest from Israel at a meeting on March 3.

“As we have done in the past, we reject the boycott, divestment, sanctions movement, we wholeheartedly support academic freedom and all our academic and exchange programs and we will continue to work with all companies that we engage with and do business with now,” the senior Tufts officials wrote.

The officials wrote that “the immense loss of life in Gaza is tragic. We mourn with the Palestinians, but we also feel for the Israelis grieving over those they have lost and share their desire for the safe return of the hostages. It is possible to hold both of these views simultaneously.”

“It is also possible for us to be supportive of both the right of Israel to exist and for the self-determination rights of the Palestinian people,” they added. “However, these resolutions do not allow for these views to coexist and, as a result, force our community into opposing groups rather than uniting us to build from areas of agreement.”

Rabbi Naftali Brawer, executive director of the Tufts Hillel, wrote that “What is particularly disturbing (as if the resolutions haven’t caused enough harm) are reports of vitriolic antisemitism expressed throughout the evening by students in support of the resolutions.”

“Jewish students were spat on and subjected to stomach churning antisemitic taunts and jeering from their peers, such as ‘Go back to Israel, we don’t want you here!’ ‘You stink’ and ‘Israel controls the entire world,’” he added.

The Anti-Defamation League office serving Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont posted on social media that it is “appalled by reports of vile antisemitism” at Tufts, which it said “must immediately investigate these allegations and take concrete steps to address the antisemitic hostility on campus that has only escalated in the wake of Oct. 7.”

The Coalition for Palestinian Liberation at Tufts, which supported the resolutions, has alleged that its members were spat upon and one was “nearly punched.” The group also said that “Palestinian students were forced to relive the trauma inflicted on them by the Zionist occupation and prove their humanity to peers who responded to this painful emotional labor with mocking gestures.”

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