OpinionSchools & Higher Education

American universities and the seeds of evil

When three university presidents cannot condemn antisemitic calls for genocide, the depravity of academia is proved.

Memorial Church at Harvard University. Source: 365 Focus Photography/Shutterstock
Memorial Church at Harvard University. Source: 365 Focus Photography/Shutterstock
Roza I.M. El-Eini
Dr. Roza I.M. El-Eini, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, specializes in the study of British Mandatory Palestine.

The signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993 between Israel and the PLO set a dangerous precedent because it established terror-diplomacy as the PLO’s modus operandi. Seeing their bombings, stabbings and violence against Israelis rewarded, the PLO readily continued on this path, which culminated in the second intifada of 2000–2005. In tandem with this terrorist campaign, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel began. Based on the anti-apartheid movement, it spread its antisemitic mantras to universities around the world.

Even before this, academics had been declaring that “Zionism is racism” and Israel was an “apartheid state” that was “ethnically cleansing the Palestinians” and “committing genocide.” Holocaust imagery was evoked through the libelous accusation that the Gaza Strip was a “concentration camp.” Well-organized and funded student unions joined in, advocating for an especially aggressive form of BDS. As a result, Jewish faculty and students were left increasingly isolated and distressed. Universities complacently and in many cases benevolently permitted “Israeli Apartheid Week” to become a fixture on campus, so that Jewish students and faculty were annually confronted with raw antisemitism.

University faculties became clogged up with academics—many from the Middle East and woefully underqualified—who peddled and published toxic antisemitic tropes. This has been well-documented by Israel Academia Monitor, which since 2004 has been holding up a mirror to academia’s unscrupulous BDS advocacy and anti-Israel activism. Some of the world’s leading institutions of higher education and academic publishers have become complicit in the dissemination of anti-Israel propaganda, indoctrinating students and legitimizing antisemitism.

Princeton University, once the home of Bernard Lewis, one of the greatest scholars of the Middle East, exemplified this when it authorized a Near Eastern Studies course for autumn 2023 with the turgid title of “The Healing Humanities: Decolonizing Trauma Studies from the Global South.” The syllabus included Rutgers University women’s and gender studies professor Jasbir K. Puar’s book The Right to Maim: Debility, Capacity, Disability, an anti-Israel screed published in 2017 by no less than Duke University Press. In the book, Puar parroted blood libels against Israel, claiming that the IDF is “harvesting Palestinian organs.” Where to begin? Perhaps by restricting the use of the notably abused terms “university,” “professor,” “academic,” “university publisher” and “academic publication.”

Almost immediately after the horrific news broke of the atrocities perpetrated by Hamas on Oct. 7, thousands upon thousands of faculty and students were unleashed onto university campuses and the streets of major cities in suspiciously well-organized antisemitic mob events, chanting pedantically rhyming hate slogans. The heaving throngs of the geographically ignorant hollered, “From the river to the sea!” a genocidal call for the elimination of Israel.

It soon transpired that many did not know of the whereabouts of all of this water. Perhaps they conflated it with the issue of global warming, thus pulling in another ignoramus, juvenile climate hysteric Greta Thunberg, complete with her febrile link to academia via her honorary doctorate of theology from Helsinki University.

Much more sinister, however, is Hamas’s infiltration of America and Europe both on and off campus. Lorenzo Vidino, of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, has mapped out and quantified this phenomenon in his study “The Hamas Network in America,” revealing that the genocidal antisemitic organization has been operating in America for over 30 years.

Making their well-funded way from training camps in Latin America—which also harbors Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, among others—Hamas terrorists cross the perfidiously open U.S. border and burrow into the hearts and minds of Americans while being zealously embraced by academia.

As a result, virulently antisemitic jihadists have concluded an alliance with progressives to further their joint assault on the Jews and Western civilization. Universities are at the forefront of this in their role as the Trojan Horse of terrorism, using the freedoms they enjoy even as they are systemically destroying them root and branch.

And who are “they”? “They” are, for example, the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who glibly sneered and smirked their way through a congressional hearing on campus antisemitism. The moment is now indelible: The presidents of three of the world’s most prestigious universities testified before a House committee that to call for the genocide of the Jewish people is only a violation of their universities’ “code of conduct” in certain “contexts.” Their redolent hypocrisy and dereliction of duty was palpable.

The seeds of evil were long ago sown on university grounds and the writer Douglas Murray is correct when he says that “universities have let evil grow on campus.” The depravity of the three university presidents in question has proved it.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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