inside sources print logo
Get up to date Delaware Valley news in your inbox

Haverford College Students Host ‘Israel Apartheid Month’ Events

Imagine you’re a Jewish student at a small, exclusive college on the Main Line, where other students are hosting a seminar blaming Israel for allegedly using COVID “as a tool for settler colonialism in Palestine.”

That’s what’s happening at Haverford College this week, part of the school’s “Israel Apartheid Month.”

The Jewish Federation is among those decrying the meeting, which is espousing antisemitic tropes that harken back to Medieval times when “blood libel” was a common antisemitic myth and used to justify pogroms (attacks) against Jews.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia called on Haverford College officials to condemn the student-organized campus event entitled “COVID in Times of Genocide: How Israel uses COVID as a Tool for Settler Colonialism in Palestine.”

“The event’s title dangerously and inaccurately implies that Israel spread coronavirus to advance its global control, repackaging a centuries-old antisemitic trope that Jews take advantage of global crises as a means for their own gain and advancement. In this case, the event’s narrative takes on a new form of the antisemitic blood libel trope, accusing Jews of committing ritual murder and perpetuating the harmful stereotype of Jews as evil and conniving,” the federation said.

“Higher education institutions have a responsibility to establish college campuses as a space for free speech and critical thinking. However, it must be rooted in academic integrity rather than disinformation.

“Haverford College and institutions of all sizes have a responsibility first and foremost to protect the safety of their students. This event and the tension on campus that has led to Jewish students and faculty being vulnerable and victimized constitutes a failure of leadership.

“There should be no tolerance for student events that permit dangerous antisemitic tropes and threaten the safety of Jewish students and faculty, particularly when antisemitism is at an all-time high on college campuses following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” the nonprofit said.

“We urge Haverford College to take immediate action to show its Jewish students and community members that there is zero tolerance for the spread of misinformation and hate on its campus.”

College officials justified allowing students to hold their event.

“At a time of wide-ranging responses to current global matters, our campus is navigating the complexities of learning in community, articulating political and social points of view, and strengthening the relational bonds that allow learning and expression to happen in a safe environment,” said Chris Mills, a Haverford spokesman.

“Haverford supports its community members’ rights to expressive freedom, including around political matters. The ability to challenge ideas and understand conflicting views is foundational to our academic mission. We also expect that even the most well-intentioned individuals will make mistakes in these arenas, and even–and especially–in those moments, we aim to provide learning opportunities that will lead to greater empathy, mutual understanding, and constructive citizenship in a world that is struggling to reach peaceful solutions to conflict,” said Mills.

Jason Holtzman, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, told DVJournal, “At a semi-prestigious university you would think that students would be smarter than this. But going into conspiratorial, libelous rhetoric is very dangerous and disturbing.”

The students “should have more critical thinking skills than to buy into conspiratorial claims like this. It’s really dangerous.”

Rav Shai Cherry, senior rabbi at Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, said, “Can’t we expect more from our elite college students than to traffic in a regurgitated blood libel? Is there no commitment to honesty or accuracy in political protests in the age of TikTok?”

“It’s pure insanity,” Holtzman added. “I can’t believe the college would allow this event to go on when antisemitism is at an all-time high on college campuses.”

Haverford is not the only area campus where some students apparently are embracing antisemitism in the wake of the Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel. The president of the University of Pennsylvania resigned after trying to defend that institution’s policies before Congress.

Haverford College, founded in 1833 by Quakers, has about 1,400 undergraduate students.

Please follow DVJournal on social media: Twitter@DVJournal or