May 3, 2015
When one thinks of fraternities, the usual associations are all wrong from the viewpoint of the left. This is presumably why the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity at the University of Virginia was targeted by Sabrina Rubin Erdely. After all, she described UVA students as “throngs of toned, tanned, and overwhelmingly blond students” — doubtless incipient Nazis in Erdely’s overactive ethnic imagination.
So it’s quite odd to find a fraternity that does things like spitting on wounded U.S. military veterans and throwing beer bottles at them. Or tearing American flags off cars of military veterans and urinating on them.
But that’s what some members of the Zeta Beta Tau chapter at the University of Florida did, with the result that the chapter has been shut down. No students were expelled from the university.
The media was up in arms about the UVA story until reality intruded. However, the ZBT incident received no national news coverage, although it was covered by some local media. This is quite unlike the case where students at the University of Oklahoma were videotaped singing a song derogatory of Blacks — a major national story with articles in the NYTimes, LATimes, etc. In the OU case, the students involved were expelled, despite high-profile ponderings on whether the expulsions violated students’ free speech rights.
There has also been no mention of this incident in the Jewish press. The Forward and JTA have had several stories on ZBT over the years, and in December, 2014 a Forward article distributed by JTA noted that ZBT is one of several “historically Jewish Greek houses.” The story wasoccasioned by the UVA rape allegations, and highlighted the role of ZBT in combating rape on campus, including a quote from a rabbi that is intended to place the story in context: “The prevention of suffering is what we do as Jews, and making pathways for people to heal if they’ve been traumatized is also what we do.” No word if ZBT is reaching out to the wounded veterans.
Andrew Joyce has written about the very old Jewish reputation, dating from Roman times, of Jews avoiding military service in the Diaspora. Such behavior obviously feeds into the loyalty issue — that Jews have no loyalty to the nations of the diaspora — given the contempt shown for the symbols of American patriotism. Joyce cites an academic work on Jews and the military by Derek Penslar who wrote, regarding the numbers of Jews serving in the U.S. military in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that Jews “were decidedly underrepresented. … American Jews and the U.S. military are still not a natural fit.” This despite the very clear and decisive role of the Israel Lobby in promoting the Iraq war.
In any case, Penslar’s statement seems to be borne out by the actions of the ZBT chapter of the University of Florida.