In their zeal to create a “safe” campus environment, universities have constructed a system in which students from approved victim groups—such as LGBTQs, Hispanics, Muslims and blacks—are coddled, nurtured and shielded from any criticism or emotional challenge. So-called hate speech, which now includes anything that contradicts the prevailing progressive orthodoxy, is said to be harmful, even violent, by those forced to listen to other people’s ideas.
There is, however, one victim group that is rarely protected from vilification and ideological assault—Jewish students who are supporters of Israel. Progressive students have decided, due to their towering moral self-righteousness, that the Palestinian cause is so sacred that anyone who defends Israel is an immoral racist. To support Israel is to risk being slandered as an imperialist, a tacit supporter of apartheid and even a white supremacist, now that Jews are deemed beneficiaries of “white privilege” and despite the fact that the majority of Israeli Jews are non-white.
Groups such as the virulently hateful Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) have waged an unrelenting ideological war against Israel and its campus supporters. As a result, Jewish students are confronted with the kind of rhetorical and sometimes physical violence that, were it aimed at any other minority group, would be immediately and forcefully denounced and punished.
BDS resolutions are pushed through student governments in which Israel is maligned as a racist, apartheid regime that exists on stolen Arab land and chronically violates the human and civil rights of Palestinians. Yearly Israeli Apartheid Weeks reinforce this false narrative with mock “apartheid walls” in university quads and guest speakers who parrot calumnies against the Jewish state and accuse its supporters of racism, ethnic cleansing and genocide.
These hate-fests often include the grotesque and homicidal chant “intifada, intifada, long live intifada!” referring, of course, to an uprising in which Israeli civilians—not soldiers—are randomly murdered by psychopathic Arab terrorists. Indeed, anti-Israel activists constantly express support for Palestinian “resistance,” which is nothing more than a comfortable euphemism for killing Jews.
On campuses where “misgendering” someone is now considered an act of violence, it is very telling that when pro-Palestinian activists call for the murder of Jews, the response is absolute silence. This is also deeply ironic, given that these same activists no doubt think of themselves as extraordinarily compassionate individuals fighting for the cause of the underdog.
On Aug. 15, for example, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) tabled an anti-Israel motion that included the expected slanders against the Jewish state. But it also contained the statement, “UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestinian people and their right to engage in self-defense against their occupiers”—that self-defense, of course, is the supposed “right” to indiscriminately lob rockets and mortars into southern Israeli towns with the intention of murdering Jewish civilians in their sleep. In other words, UMSU made it clear that terrorism and the murder of Jews are not only to be condoned but celebrated.
The pro-Palestinian movement has always devalued Jewish lives, but lately, support for Palestinian terrorism has become even more extreme, bordering on and sometimes crossing into the genocidal.
At Ohio State University, for example, the campus SJP chapter recently hosted a vigil in honor of terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi, who was killed by Israeli counterterrorism forces. “Come out for our emergency protest and candlelight vigil for the recent tragedies happening in Palestine,” the group’s Instagram post read. “We will be honoring our martyrs Ibrahim Nabulsi, Hussein Taha, Islam Soboh and Momen Jaber. Please join us as we continue to fight and stand for justice in Palestine.”
Nabulsi, also known as the “Lion of Nablus,” was not a random terrorist but a key member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, which has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. He was responsible for multiple shooting attacks on Israeli civilians.
Unsurprisingly, when OSU officials were asked about the event, they sidestepped the issue in the most cowardly manner possible. They claimed that the university is committed to free speech and refused to condemn the event because it was being held off campus and was not officially sanctioned by the university.
In Canada, two student organizations—Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Concordia—co-sponsored a similarly grotesque vigil for the terrorists slain by Israel called “Glory to Our Martyrs.”
“Over the past few days,” the McGill Facebook post read, “Zionist aggression has escalated. … Despite the ruthless attempts to break Palestinians’ collective spirit, the latest war has been named ‘The Unity of All Fronts.’ It is in this spirit of unity that we call on the Montreal community to march against Zionist aggression and honor our martyrs. Until full liberation and return, the struggle continues.”
The words “full liberation” and “return” reveal an eliminationist intention, showing that what these activists seek is a “Palestine” that subsumes present-day Israel, presumably cleansed of its Jews. Advocacy of such a genocidal vision confirms how debased anti-Israel campus activism has become.
It should come as no surprise, then, that Jewish students on campus, whether or not they actively support Israel, are viciously maligned by these activists simply because they are Jewish. Anti-Semitism, however carefully it disguises itself as anti-Zionism, is still hate. It is an approved hate, but hate all the same.
Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of the forthcoming book, The Slow Death of the University: How Radicalism, Israel Hatred, and Race Obsession are Destroying Academia.