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In academic conflicts over Israel, Jewish studies professors remain dangerously silent

In academic conflicts over Israel, Jewish studies professors remain dangerously silent

College campuses have long been warm spaces for Jewish students. The rapid spread of tent protests that began at Columbia University last month has only exacerbated the problem, providing an international platform for pro-Palestinian (and anti-Zionist) students and faculty anchored in our postsecondary institutions.

Jewish and non-Jewish demonstrators, professors and students, spoke openly on these campuses. But one cohort has remained relatively silent: professors of Jewish studies. Although Zionism is not inherent to Judaism, most Jews support Israel and, rather than defending Jews on campus, these professors – who are generally more left-leaning – often side with pro-Palestinian protesters or just keep quiet.

This is the thesis that gave rise to an in-depth article published this week in Mosaic, a journal of Jewish ideas, titled “Jewish Studies Against the Jews.” Author Andrew Koss joins Avi and Phoebe to explain his research and take a critical look at the state of Jewish academia in the United States, Canada, and beyond.

And before that, the hosts have a few questions about Jewish Heritage Month. Why does it exist? Does it really do anything? And how does teaching hora to children celebrate “diversity and equity,” as our public school boards suggest?

Credits

Hello Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our musical theme is by Socalled. The show is a co-production of the Jewish Learning Lab and CJN, and is distributed by the CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast, donating to The CJN, and subscribing to the podcast Substack.