“Diversity” Advocate Denies Antisemitic Violence

by Rafael Medoff

A prominent spokesman for greater “diversity” and “inclusion” of minorities in American businesses and institutions seems to have something of a blind spot when it comes to one particular minority group. Guess which one.

Alvin Tillery, Jr. is director of the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy at Northwestern University and a leading advocate of the Diversity-Equity-Inclusion (DEI) campaign. On his LinkedIn page, he says, “I call myself a DEI evangelist because I see my work in the DEI space as my life’s mission.” For somebody so dedicated to his work, you would think Tillery would pay a little more attention to the facts about issues such as antisemitism before making public statements about them.

Tiller was asked by the New York Times on January 6 about the problem of antisemitism on American college campuses. He replied, “No Jewish students have really been subjected to violence on most of these campuses,” with the exception of the assault of a Jewish student at Columbia University and a bomb threat against Jews at Cornell.

It seems Mr. Tillery has not been paying careful attention as Jewish students have been assaulted on many campuses around the country in recent weeks.

Pro-Hamas students shoved and accosted a Jewish student outside the Harvard Business School (Oct. 18). They assaulted three Jewish students near the Tulane University campus (Oct. 26). They attacked a “Bring Them Home” information table at the City College of New York, seizing its literature and destroying its posters (Nov.2). They punched two Jewish students at Ohio State University, while calling them “kike Zionists” (Nov. 10).

Not enough for Mr. Tillery? How about what happened at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst on November 3? A Jewish student was setting up a symbolic Shabbat table at a vigil to call attention to the Israeli hostages in Gaza. A pro-Hamas student in a nearby building began shouting and cursing at him. “Then he charged out of the building and punched me in the head several times,” the student recounted.“I put my hands up to protect my face and he grabbed the flag and kicked me in the chest several times and shoved me.” The attacker then produced a foot-long knife. “He kept stabbing the Israeli flag until it was completely destroyed.” 

Still not enough to impress Alvin Tillery? Pro-Hamas students physically surrounded and taunted a Jewish student at the New School, in Manhattan. They trapped Jewish students in a room at the Cooper Union library. They blocked an entrance to the City College of New York library and shoved a cell phone into the face of a Jewish student who tried to walk by, to record her against her protests. They vandalized an Israeli flag at the Jewish fraternity house at Carnegie Mellon. They violently disrupted classes, study sessions, and meals at Rutgers. At the University of California at Berkeley, they grabbed a Jewish student by the neck as they tried to steal his Israeli flag. At a George Mason University fraternity house, they assaulted a Jewish student and ripped his Star of David necklace from his neck. The list goes on and on.

It would be disturbing enough if Tillery was simply too disinterested in antisemitism to be aware of these and other incidents. But his record on related issues suggests there might be more at work here than mere apathy and ignorance.

Tillery is one of the most outspoken supporters of disgraced former Harvard president Claudine Gay. In a recent essay, Tillery declared that all of the criticism of Gay for her weak response to pro-genocide chants on campus, and her plagiarism, has been “motivated by racism.”

Tillery’s “proof” that Gay really does care about antisemitism is that she issued her first statement about Hamas “two days after the event,” whereas Harvard’s first statement about the killing of George Floyd took place five days later.

What actually happened was quite different. On the evening of October 7—the very day of the pogrom—33 student groups at Harvard issued a grotesque statement saying that Israel was “entirely responsible” for the Hamas massacre. For two days, President Gay was silent.

Finally, in response to a wave of criticism, Gay issued a statement saying she was “heartbroken by the death and destruction unleashed by the attack by Hamas.” She did not explicitly condemn the attack. She did not say a single word about the vile statement that 33 student groups had issued. After more criticism, the then-president issued another statement, this time saying she condemned the Hamas pogrom—but still refusing to criticize the student cheerleaders for Hamas on her own campus. In short, Tillery completed misrepresented what transpired at Harvard.

If Tillery’s attitude toward Jews and antisemitism is typical of Diversity-Equity-Inclusion advocates, is it any wonder there is so much criticism of those programs and their spokespeople?

(January 2024)