Editor’s note: The David Horowitz Freedom Center has prepared a report on the “Top Ten College Administrations Most Friendly to Terrorists and Hostile to the First Amendment.” These campuses provide financial and institutional support to terrorist-linked campus organizations such as the Hamas-funded hate-group Students for Justice in Palestine while actively suppressing speech critical of Israel’s terrorist adversaries and their allies in the United States. Frontpage will be highlighting one campus from this report each day. Vassar College is the latest campus to be added to the list. The Freedom Center also placed posters on Vassar’s campus linking SJP to Hamas terrorists. These posters serve as a challenge to the Vassar College administration to defend speech that exposes the truth about SJP and its ties to terrorism.
Vassar College: John Chenette, Interim President, and Ed Pittman, Associate Dean of Campus Life and Diversity
A small liberal arts college located in the quiet town of Poughkeepsie, New York, Vassar College has for several years been home to a radical, anti-Semitic, pro-Hamas student movement against the Jews and Israel.
In March, 2016, the Vassar Student Association passed a resolution supporting the BDS movement against Israel by a vote of 15-7. The Amcha Initiative, an organization that tracks anti-Semitism on campus, gives insight into the atmosphere as the BDS resolution was debated: “A Jewish student who attended the BDS vote outlined antisemitic activity by pro-BDS students during the meeting, stating, ‘One Jewish student talked about how the BDS campaign had invoked every anxiety nightmare she had ever had. She was crying as she spoke. Pro-BDS students laughed at her.’…Another Jewish student talked about Israel’s founding in the wake of the Holocaust. He was immediately accused of using the Holocaust as a political tool to justify the ‘genocide’ of another people.”
Other events at Vassar indicate the campus SJP chapter’s support of anti-Israel terrorism. In February 2016, Vassar SJP sold T-shirts picturing convicted terrorist Leila Khaled holding a gun with the words “Resistance is not Terrorism” written below the graphic. SJP Vassar also endorsed the T-shirt’s message by a post on social media: “Check out our friends at Existence is Resistance!!! They will be selling sweet fucking antiZionist gear at our events. 100% of profits goes towards organizing Palestinian resistance #ExistenceisResistance.”
In May of 2014, Vassar SJP managed to briefly shock even the radical campus administration by posting a “racist, anti-Semitic graphic” on its social media Tumbler page, depicting a 1940’s-era Nazi propaganda poster of a many-armed figure wearing a loincloth featuring the Star of David and holding a bag of money. The organization was briefly suspended, but was quickly reinstated.
Mostly silent during these outpourings of hatred, the reaction of Vassar administrators was quite different when the David Horowitz Freedom Center challenged the false and one sided campus narrative on Israel by hanging up posters critical of SJP and the BDS movement, and naming campus activists who supported these genocidal causes. Vassar Interim President Jon Chenette sent an email to the entire campus stating that the posters had been taken down and destroyed and that “Those in our community who were singled out in these postings deserve our unconditional support.”
Associate Dean of Campus Life and Diversity Ed Pittman went even further to heal the supposed wounds caused by the Freedom Center’s posters, organizing two separate sessions of an “all campus dialogue.” He stated: “Our best approach in these situations is to stand ready to support those who are impacted. It’s such a politically fueled issue that words and sometimes images are used to hurt, threaten and intimidate others because of their views.” Pittman concluded that the goal of Campus Life and Diversity was “to offer counter opportunities for discourse,” when he and Chenette had just done the very opposite.
For their immediate destruction of posters critical of SJP and coddling of students who may have been offended by them, while continuing to allow Hamas propaganda targeting Jewish students to appear on campus, Vassar administrators Jon Chenette and Ed Pittman make the case for Vassar’s inclusion on our list of administrations most friendly to terrorists and hostile to the First Amendment.