The Pizza of Privilege: My Experiences with Anti-Semitism in Academia


Anti-Semitic graffiti similar to this has been found on U.S. universities. This comes from a private residence in New York. Photo credit: Alex Silverman/WCBS 880.

Since I joined Southern Fried Science in 2009, I’ve written almost 1,000 blog posts. This post has unquestionably been the most difficult one for me to write. Although I’ve always enjoyed sharing and debating my opinions (even when they’re unpopular in certain circles,) I’ve never been comfortable discussing negative personal experiences. And yet, I feel that the topic of anti-Semitism in academia , something that is in fact much more pervasive than most non-Jews believe, is too important for me to remain silent any longer. More than 40% of Jewish students reported being the victim of some degree of anti-Semitism at their college or university. This can range from mockery to exclusion to  the Michigan State student who was beaten while his attackers made the Nazi salute last summer.

I want to state upfront that it is not my intention in writing this post to start a “which minority group is the most oppressed” competition, nor am I naive enough to believe that my post will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back and fixes these issues once and for all. I also want to state that while I could write a whole book about my experiences with anti-Semitism in the context of my personal pro-Israel advocacy, this post is not about that, other than to say that while not all criticism of Israel and Israel’s policies and actions can be considered anti-Semitic in nature, some of it certainly can.  Finally, it’s important to note that while not all of these examples are necessarily anti-Jewish specifically, all are anti-someone-different-from-me and contrary to a culture of diversity and inclusiveness. My goal is simply to continue an important and ongoing conversation about academic culture by sharing my personal experiences, and perhaps to bring another group into that conversation.  Please feel free to share your own experiences in the comments section.

Read More