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Witness at Anti-Semitism Hearing Defends Comparisons Between Israel and Nazi Germany

November 9th 2017


A witness called before the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on campus anti-Semitism is drawing fire from pro-Israel groups for defending comparisons between Israel and Nazi Germany and downplaying the targeting of Jewish students.

Barry Trachtenberg, director of the Jewish Studies program at Wake Forest University, submitted testimony to the committee saying “there is nothing necessarily wrong in comparing the actions of Israel to those of Nazi Germany” and arguing against legislation that directs the Department of Education to consider the State Department's definition of anti-Semitism during discrimination probes.

Trachtenberg’s comments triggered outrage from a top official at an anti-Semitism watchdog who also testified Tuesday.

“The Jewish community, Jewish families, Jewish students are having to deal in real-time with anti-Semitism on campus,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “To read this crap from this guy—it is, I think, an insult to the Jewish community.”

The Anti-Defamation League found a 59 percent spike in the number of anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses in 2017. Anti-Semitism, the organization’s CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote in testimony for the hearing, “is disturbingly pervasive.”

Cooper described anti-Semitism on college campuses as an issue that brings together Jewish organizations across the spectrum but said of Trachtenberg, “this is someone who simply does not represent the mainstream of our community.”

“If you’re being brought forward as an expert, as a representative—of what? of who?” he said. “I’m frankly disappointed if this is the quality of the opponents that they’re bringing forward.”

A senior official at a national pro-Israel organization who requested anonymity said Trachtenberg’s remarks are “insane” and reveal “how far anti-Israel academics will go to justify their incoherent bias.”

“This is Alice through the looking glass. Everything is backwards,” said the official. “If you believe this sort of testimony, [then] college campuses are hostile to progressive intersectionality but friendly to Jews. Calling out Palestinian terrorism is out of bounds, but saying Israeli Jews are Nazis is just how people talk. It's insane, and goes to show how far anti-Israel academics will go to justify their incoherent bias.”

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