1998 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents
Executive Summary
Serious Incidents
Harassment, Threats
& Assaults
Vandalism Incidents
Campus Incidents
Regional Breakdown
Communities Respond
Note on Evaluating
Anti-Semitic Incidents
Charts and Graphs

Audit Data Charts

Listing of Reported
1998 Campus Incidents

Related Link(s):

ADL Model Hate Crimes Legislation

States with Penalty-Enhancement Hate Crimes Laws

State Hate Crimes Statutory Provisions

ADL Resources

VI. Campus Incidents

"You're a f---ing Jew. You're a stereotypical lazy-ass Jew and all you care about is your money." -- One student to another at Monmouth University (New Jersey), December 1998

After a slight increase in 1997, the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses in 1998 dropped to 86, representing the smallest number of such incidents since 1989. This reflected the marked decrease in certain kinds of anti-Semitic activity which had been directed at college campuses in the past, such as an anonymous document entitled "Anti-Semitism -- Found" which was mailed to professors at 16 different colleges and universities around the country in 1997. There was also a decrease in the number of invitations issued to well-known racist speakers to appear on college campuses in 1998.

Campus Anti-Semitic Incidents 1989-1998

However, Holocaust denier Bradley Smith's Committee for Open Debate on the Holocaust, whose advertisements and opinion pieces were printed in 26 college newspapers across the country (6 more than in 1997), contribute to an atmosphere on some campuses in which anti-Semitism is openly expressed. For nine years, Smith has attempted to place Holocaust-denial advertisements in campus newspapers. However, in 1998, he embarked on a more aggressive campaign than in previous years. It should be noted that in some instances, the ads were printed without the editors of newspapers fully realizing the anti-Semitic nature of Smith's propaganda, and most editors and faculty advisors of the college papers and administration officials at the schools where the ads were printed subsequently issued strong apologies, and refused to print any further Holocaust-denial material. However, the responses from administration officials at a few of the colleges where the ads appeared were less than satisfactory, ranging from no statement at all to a weak statement of regret.

Some examples of campus incidents (for further detail on campus incidents, see Anti-Semitism on Campus -- And the ADL Response, and Listing of Reported 1998 Campus Incidents)

  • An explosive was reportedly set off on a Jewish student's car at Johnson and Wales University on February 12, 1998.

  • While appearing before a class at the College of Staten Island (NY) on March 5, 1998, it was reported that Professor Leonard Jeffries attempted to explain a past comment he had made in which he referred to Jews as "skunks." He claimed he was referring only to Jewish imperialists in Africa, not those who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

  • During a class at Florida International University in September 1998, a professor reportedly joked, "The way Jews get rich is by saving their pennies, unlike us who spend it on fancy clothes."

  • An anonymous caller left the message, "Jewish whore," "Adolf Hitler," "Jewish slut" on a Jewish student's answering machine at Salisbury State University (Maryland) on September 9.

Anti-Semitism on Campus -- And the ADL Response

College and university campuses have emerged throughout the 1990s as one of the major sites for the introduction and dissemination of anti-Semitism into American society. In addition to the many cases reflecting purely interpersonal conflicts and prejudices, anti-Semitism on campus evidences a disturbing level of organization, premeditation and politicization. Increases in the scope and depth of such campus bigotry can be seen in the activities of off-campus groups which use the campus as a platform (e.g., Holocaust deniers and the Nation of Islam), of student groups antagonistic to Jewish interests, and of some few faculty who incorporate hatred into their curriculum (e.g., Tony Martin and Leonard Jeffries).

In recent years, a rising number of anti-Semitic incidents have occurred on college and university campuses throughout the United States. Last year, the Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents showed that acts of anti-Semitism on campus increased at an annual rate of 14 percent, even though such incidents in American society as a whole declined by nearly 9 percent. During the 1990s, repeated instances of anti-Semitic bigotry on campuses such as Howard University to San Francisco State have made national headlines.

Veteran Holocaust denier Bradley Smith launched an effort to place a newly designed advertisement in campus newspapers during the fall 1998 semester. This is the ninth year he has mounted such a campaign.

This new quarter-page ad draws upon themes and techniques which Smith and other Holocaust deniers have used in the recent past. It features a supposed offer of $250,000 (up from last year's sum of $50,000) to anyone who can arrange a 90-minute, prime-time, nationally televised debate between Bradley Smith and a representative of ADL. It goes on to dispute the existence of gas chambers, the veracity of survivor testimony and the authenticity of The Diary of Anne Frank. Like the ads of previous years, it provides the Internet address of Smith's Web site. This Web site provides a massive library of Holocaust-denial and blatantly anti-Semitic materials. From this site, an Internet surfer can link into a grand tour of the hate movement, incorporating sources such as David Irving and Ernst Zündel to Tony Martin and the Nation of Islam.

The ad is designed to do two things. First, it seeks to generate a heated controversy on campus so as to leverage interest on the part of the general off-campus media, which will report on the ad in print and broadcast news stories, thus providing Smith and the Holocaust-denial movement a good deal of inexpensive publicity. Second, it seeks to entice members of the campus and general communities onto Smith's Web site and onto those sites linked to it.

From September through December 1998, the ad was published at student newspapers on 26 campuses around the country while many more campus publications turned it down or announced that they would refuse to print it if submitted. The Collegiate Network, an umbrella group representing over 50 generally conser-vative campus publications, was contacted by Smith for its mailing list. The Network has threatened to expel any of its constituent publications that accept the ad (the ADL Audit considers the publication of a Holocaust-denial ad an anti-Semitic incident).

ADL, through its Department of Campus/ Higher Education Affairs and Programs, working in collaboration with the League's Regional Offices and campus Hillel Foundations, has been at the center of a national campaign of response and counteraction. This has included providing accurate and up-to-date information on the Smith campaign to the national campus community through mailings, direct contacts with student journalists, on-campus appearances, and extensive use of the Internet (including E-mail, discussion groups and ADL's Web site). A counteraction kit over 50 pages long has been developed and deployed effectively.

ADL efforts and materials have been instrumental in the decision of several university presidents (e.g., the University of Vermont and Indiana University - South Bend) and one university Senate (Georgia State University) to publicly denounce Holocaust denial and criticize the publication of Smith's ad on their campuses. Several campus newspaper staffs have apologized in print for running the ad. Many students and faculty on affected campuses used ADL materials in writing letters to the editor in response to the publication of the Smith advertisement.

One event of particular note took place at California Polytechnic State University, located in San Luis Obispo, California. In early November, the campus MEChA (the Mexican-American Student Association) organization sponsored a statewide youth conference, drawing approximately 1,200 college and high school students. Astonishingly, the printed conference program began by welcoming the participants to "Cal Poly State Jewniversity" and including a reference to the city of "Jew York." Such references reflect the rhetoric and style of Khalid Abdul Muhammad, who had been a featured speaker on campus the year before.

As a result of the work of ADL and the campus Hillel, the Cal Poly MEChA organization issued a formal apology, a repudiation of the anti-Semitism and expelled those students who had been responsible for the production of the printed conference program. In addition, the president of the University as well as the chairs of the Academic Senate and student government issued a strong statement denouncing the distribution of such anti-Semitic material on campus. The statements were circulated throughout the campus community and sent to all those who had attended the MEChA conference.

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