| Outlook |

If It Walks Like an Anti-Semite…

None of those in the encampments are calling for a two-state solution, or Palestinian self-determination. Just the end of Israel.


American Jews have looked on in horror as pro-Hamas encampments popped up on more than 100 college campuses. But predictably, there have been those voices telling them not to get hysterical.

Novelist Shalom Auslander, in a piece titled “Dear Media, Stop Taking Students Too Seriously,” argues that college kids are inevitably stupid because their prefrontal cortex, which covers decision-making, is not fully formed. (That argument, by the way, has been used by Soros-backed prosecutors to justify lesser charges against murderers in their twenties.)

No doubt Auslander is right that some of today’s pro-Hamas demonstrators might one day actually learn something about the history of Israel — at least the names of the river and the sea about which they are chanting — and some will grow up to be normal, upstanding citizens.

But for every Jerry Rubin of Chicago Seven fame who becomes a stockbroker or James Simon Kunen, who romanticized the 1968 Columbia University student takeover of the administration building in his memoir The Strawberry Statement and ended up writing a second memoir of the rest of his life called Company Man, there are those children of privilege from the generation of 1968 who joined the Weather Underground — e.g., Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Kathy Boudin — and ended up blowing themselves up in Greenwich Village townhouses while playing with bombs or killing two Brinks guards in a robbery gone awry.

Dohrn expressed the latter group’s taste for nihilistic violence as a means of bringing the revolution when she gleefully acted out the Manson Family’s brutal murder of pregnant actress Sharon Tate.

Many of the radicals of 1968 ended up going into the professorate, beginning their “long march” through American institutions with the universities. None were more effective than Bill Ayers, son of the one-time chairman of Inland Steel, who as a member of the Weather Underground planted a bomb in the Pentagon, but ended up as a professor of education. Ayers brought a young community organizer named Barack Obama to head the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, which gave away $100 million between 1995 and 1999 to foster radical educational initiatives.

He and his spouse Bernadine Dohrn hosted Obama’s first political fundraiser and fostered the latter’s relationship with Rashid Khalidi, a former PLO spokesman and subsequently a professor at the University of Chicago and Columbia University. The Woods Fund, headed by Ayers and with Obama on the board, channeled $75,000 to Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network (AAAN). At a 1998 AAAN gathering in Hyde Park, Obama sat next to the keynote speaker, his former Columbia professor Edward Said, as Said compared Israel to Nazi Germany and apartheid South Africa and urged the delegitimization of Israel as an apartheid state.

The professors today forming protective barriers around pro-Hamas encampments and protesting their universities’ efforts to remove them are in many cases first- or second-generation disciples of the radicals of 1968. Ayers himself showed up last week at the University of Chicago encampment to lend his moral support.

JAY MICHAELSON, writing in the Forward, argued that the campus demonstrators are not so much anti-Semitic as they are appalled by Israel’s brutal response in Gaza. (In a subsequent piece, he acknowledged all the ways that the demonstrators’ actions and slogans could be seen as anti-Semitic.)

There are, however, at least two problems with this thesis. The first is chronological. The campuses erupted in pro-Hamas celebrations on October 7, many weeks prior to Israel’s entry into Gaza.

The second is, as I have written many times, that if one cannot specify how Israel can defend its citizens from attacks by Hamas, even when Hamas deliberately hides behind its own civilians, in order to maximize casualties and thereby arouse world pressure on Israel to cease, then one is basically saying that Israel has no right to exist in any borders. Doesn’t arguing that Israel has no right to exist, alone among all the nations of the earth, bespeak anti-Semitism? And if the deaths of 34,000 Gazans (even accepting Hamas’s figures), one-third of them Hamas fighters, is such an incomparable tragedy, why did the slaughter of half a million people in Syria, or an equal number of black tribesmen in the Darfur region of Sudan, pass without a peep on college campuses? Does that too not suggest that somehow, when Jews are involved, it’s different? And is that not the essence of anti-Semitism?

In any event, there is no need for inferences about the desire to see the end of Israel, and inevitably the deaths of the six million Jews living here. That is what “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” means. As Michaelson himself admits, none of the campus protestors have condemned Students for Justice in Palestine — an arm of Hamas, and one of the principal organizations behind the campus encampments — which cheered the slaughter and barbarism of October 7 as a historic victory.

The demonstrators chant in support of the Houthis, whose slogan is “Death to America, a Curse Upon the Jews, Victory to Islam.” None of those in the encampments are calling for a two-state solution, or Palestinian self-determination. Just the end of Israel.

NOR IS THERE ANY NEED to infer hatred of Jews when the cry of “worldwide intifada” is a call to kill every Jew, wherever he or she may be. That is the meaning of genocide, and it is explicitly stated in the Hamas charter that Jews around the world, not just Israelis, are the targets.

The verbal and physical attacks on Jewish students on American campuses, the beating of a Jewish woman senseless at UCLA, the poking of another in the eye with a flagpole at Yale, the swastikas painted on Hillel centers, destruction of Jewish religious artifacts, the blocking of Jewish students attempting to enter a library or get to class — all these involve a singling out of Jewish students solely because they are Jewish.

I’m not suggesting that every demonstrator would be willing to paint swastikas on Jewish buildings, rip down mezuzahs, or chant “We want Jewish genocide,” as did a group at UCLA, or physically assault Jewish students. But what is telling is that those who have done all those things have suffered no opprobrium or condemnation from their fellow demonstrators for doing so. They have acted with the confidence that their actions will find favor in the eyes of their comrades. Those comrades are, then — to appropriate the jargon of critical race theory — anti-Semite adjacent.

Not much less concerning, in my mind, is how few non-Jewish students, apart from frat brothers at a couple of Southern campuses, have protested what is going on or stood up for their Jewish fellow students. That made it easier for one tenured faculty member to post to the effect: The Jews are the champions at exploiting their victimhood to win sympathy and shut down criticism.

THE CAMPUS DEMONSTRATORS have let the genie of anti-Semitism out of the bottle. The taboo that existed among all those who considered themselves enlightened against Jew hatred is no more. And once out, the genie will not be soon be put back in the bottle.

Sure, some of those who have spewed hatred at Jews or failed to criticize those who do will one day recant their words or their passivity. But the more likely response for most is that they will find ever more convoluted ways to justify what they do and say today.

And in that effort, they will be assisted by various leftist ideologies that divide all people into ethnic identities — good and bad — just as the Marxists once divided them into the proletariat (good) and the bourgeoisie (bad).

One of the reasons that so many university administrations have responded so feebly to the assault on Jewish students, in violation of longstanding campus rules, is that the administrators themselves are steeped in those ideologies.

That is why then Harvard president Claudine Gay found it so hard to speak out against the eruption of anti-Semitism on the Harvard campus. She herself was a leading proponent of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), and was selected for her job based on those criteria. Northwestern University president Michael Schill caved to demonstrators’ demands to have a say in university investment decisions and further promised to grant full scholarships to five Palestinian students and hire two Palestinian professors. Well, that should certainly calm things down — as if there were not already enough Muslim students manning the encampments or professors peddling the Palestinian Nakba “narrative.”

DEI essentially teaches that any group that enjoys more than its proportion of any societal good has “stolen” in it from those less fortunate, and is an oppressor to the latter’s oppressed. In that fashion are Jews turned into white supremacists. And DEI administrators are ubiquitous on elite campuses. Stanford University, for instance, has 177 diversity bureaucrats, 41 in the medical school alone, at an annual cost of tens of millions of dollars.

It is routine to demand of all candidates for teaching positions that they provide some statement of how their work will advance DEI. Not surprisingly, those selected by DEI criteria are eager to expand its reign and to bolster its underlying presuppositions. Nellie Bowles offered in a recent TGIF column at the Free Press a sampling of hundreds of academic job-opening announcements from normal-sounding departments for which applicants must express their commitment to pressing for “decolonization.”

And whom has the world settled upon as the leading “colonizers”? Why, the Jews, of course, despite the fact that only the Jews are indigenous to Israel. When Jews began to return to the land in significant numbers, they did not conquer it from an existing people. They purchased land from its owners and caused to blossom areas long considered worthless, as too malarial or non-arable. If one wishes to go back in history in search of colonizers, the Arab tribes who swept out of the Arabian peninsula, conquering by the sword vast swaths of territory, are a much better example.

Nor does this ideological indoctrination even start in college. As we wrote last week, it begins in high school in the form of Ethnic Studies requirements. Minnesota’s legislature, for instance, has decreed that all classes, even geometry, require an Ethnic Studies component. The principal draftsman of the applicable standards, Brian Lozenski, has written that “[given] the colonial roots of the dispossession of Palestinian land and the creation of Zionism... studying Israeli settler colonialism in comparison to US settler colonialism [is] at the heart of the discipline of Ethnic Studies.” A link to a toolkit for a step-by-step guide to students who want to know how to “decolonize Palestine” is helpfully provided.

Far from there being little for American Jews to worry about as they contemplate their future, my guess is that there is much more to worry about than they realize, and that is without even going into the vast sums underwriting the campus unrest from the Soros’s Open Society Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers, not to mention billions from the personal charity of the Emir of Qatar.

But that is a story for a future day.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1010)

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