published : 2023-11-07

Jewish Professor Challenges Student's Antisemitic Comments and Criticizes College's Response

Union College professor Stephen Berk confronts student who said Israel supporters will 'burn in hell'

A photo of Jewish professor Stephen Berk passionately addressing a classroom, standing up against antisemitic comments, taken with a Nikon D850.

In a daring confrontation, Stephen Berk, a Jewish studies professor at Union College, stood up against a student who made antisemitic comments, specifically targeting Israel supporters. The incident occurred when a junior at the college took to social media to criticize a campus bingo night held to benefit Israeli victims of terror.

An image of Union College campus, where the incident between Professor Stephen Berk and the student took place, captured with a Sony A7 III.

The hateful comment sparked an in-class dialogue between Berk and the student, Ayah Osman, which was later shared on social media. Though Osman claimed Berk misrepresented her words, she did admit to believing that those who attended the event deserved to 'burn in hell.'

A photograph of David Harris, the president of Union College, providing a statement regarding the incident, snapped with a Canon EOS R.

Berk was shocked not only by the student's comments but also by the reaction of the college administration. Despite the vice president of academic affairs being present during the exchange, no action was taken. Instead, she made a self-serving speech at the end, failing to rebuke the student.

A picture of a student-led protest against antisemitism on college campuses, symbolizing the rising concern, taken with a Fujifilm X-T4.

Union College president, David Harris, responded to the incident by stating that the student's words were not condoned. However, he also criticized Berk for confronting the student in a public setting and how she was portrayed in the media.

An image of a panel discussion at Cornell University addressing antisemitism, highlighting the need for action, taken with a Nikon Z6 II.

This incident, along with others across various college campuses, has raised concerns about the rise of antisemitism. A Cornell University law professor has joined the conversation, urging schools to address this issue. Berk believes that Union College, despite its reputation as one of the best liberal arts colleges in the United States, has allowed anti-Israeli sentiment to flourish.

A photograph capturing activists advocating for tolerance and understanding, emphasizing the importance of combating bigotry, shot with a Sony Alpha a7R IV.

Berk asserted that he did not directly confront the student, but rather she took responsibility for her statement. To his surprise, the college administration conflated Berk with the student, condemning both their remarks. This left him astonished and concerned about the state of the college's leadership.

A picture showcasing a historical moment from Jewish history, reminding us of the suffering endured, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Emphasizing the importance of taking a stand against bigotry, Berk stressed that Israel is in the right and that the United States should not tolerate hateful rhetoric. He reminded everyone of the historical suffering endured by Jewish people and affirmed their determination to never hear such words again.

An image of Brian Kilmeade from 'FOX & Friends,' urging universities to stand up against ignorance about history, captured with a Nikon D6.

In conclusion, Brian Kilmeade, the host of 'FOX & Friends,' called on universities to stand up to their students and not be afraid to address ignorance about history. The hope is that colleges will take strong action against antisemitism and foster an environment of tolerance and understanding.