Reporting Karen Anderson
BOSTON (CBS) – The I-Team has learned a major Jewish group is now calling for an investigation into the teaching practices at one of Boston’s top universities.
The Anti-Defamation League recently sent a letter to Northeastern’s president, Joseph Aoun, urging him to investigate charges by Jewish students of what they perceive to be “an atmosphere of intimidation of those who are supportive of Israel, or an official indulgence of anti-Semitism.”
The Northeastern campus is bustling with activity with the start of a new academic year, but the I-Team found some Jewish students there are starting school with serious concerns.
“I just felt very ostracized in the class by the professor,” said one female Northeastern student who asked that her identity be hidden.
She said last year one of her professors in the school’s International Affairs Department gave a lecture praising the Palestinian group Hamas, then she wrote a paper arguing Hamas was not a legitimate organization.
“I cited reasons as indisputable as the U.S. considers them a terrorist organization,” the student said. “He wanted me to rewrite my paper because he did not see how I could logically have come to that conclusion.”
The student was troubled by the professor’s response. “I am still entitled to that opinion and he shouldn’t have to force his views upon me,” she said.
Another Jewish student who spoke to the I-Team also insisted on anonymity. “I’ve been here for almost four years now and I’ve gradually seen an increase of hostility against Israel and against just Jewish students,” he said. “It’s very anti-Israel and because it is so anti-Israel, it leads to feelings of anti-Semitism.”
Charles Jacobs is the president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance, a Jewish advocacy group that has accused certain Northeaster professors of having a bias against Israel and Jews.
“I think the Palestinian narrative should be taught and should be taught and expressed as well as anybody can express it, but that can’t be the only thing that happens on campus,” Jacobs said.
“It’s a terrible thing that at a major university in Boston, Jewish students are intimidated by faculty members who are there simply to propagate their own anti-Israel line,” Jacobs added.
Northeastern officials claim Charles Jacobs and his group are just trying to divide and intimidate the university, but now another Jewish group is weighing in. “We consider it a serious issue and we think Northeastern should take it seriously as well,” said Robert Trestan, New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
The ADL sent a letter to Northeastern last month saying, “We strongly urge Northeastern to investigate the allegations and report on its investigation, and to do so promptly.”
Said Trestan: “University campuses are the ideal place in the United States for the free flow of ideas and that means that the free flow of ideas is a two-way street and these students are essentially alleging that it’s a one-way street.”
Northeastern officials would not talk to the I-Team about these charges, but other students we spoke with on campus said the university allows a full exchange of ideas.
“I think Northeastern does a really good job fostering diversity,” said one student.
“There’s definitely many different backgrounds and we are all like one big family,” said another student.
One Northeastern official claimed the school has not received even one formal complaint from a Jewish student. That was news to the two Jewish students who spoke to the I-Team. They both said they have filed formal complaints with school administrators.
The university did give the I-Team a year-old press release which said, “Jewish life and learning is thriving at Northeastern and growing stronger.”