OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Campus Jew-haters should own their antisemitism

Leaders must be called out and their institutions publicly shamed. And donors must stop giving money to universities that don’t protect its students.

Plywood walls erected outside Gould Plaza on the campus of New York University after pro-Palestinian protests, April 23, 2024. Credit: quiggyt4/Shutterstock.
Plywood walls erected outside Gould Plaza on the campus of New York University after pro-Palestinian protests, April 23, 2024. Credit: quiggyt4/Shutterstock.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

Faculty and students are proudly protesting Israel’s existence and praising Hamas for the slaughter of Jews. Not satisfied, they call for an intifada, and the erasure of Israel and its population from the Middle East. Some of the protesters cannot identify the river or sea they want to be “free” but chime in with other virtue signalers. Individually, they may not all be antisemites, but their views are antisemitic.

Note to antisemites: Stop complaining that even as you block roads, occupy buildings, hold rallies, propagandize in classrooms and convene “academic” panels to demonize Israel, you are being silenced. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t shut you up. You’re like those chattering-teeth novelty items and about as intelligent.

If you are so convinced of the virtue of your cause, why do you hide your faces? You have a constitutional right to be antisemites. What you don’t have a right to is impunity for your views. The rest of us have the right to label you what you are. Don’t complain if your future is affected. No one is required to employ or enroll bigots.

Understandably, protesters want to feel safe amid the lynch mobs, like the Germans and Austrians in November 1938 who joined the Nazi rampage on KristallnachtThe head of the Anti-Defamation League was attacked for comparing the keffiyeh to a swastika. He is wrong. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a keffiyeh; it’s not unique to Palestinians. Israelis, including my son, sometimes wear them. However, when used to conceal one’s identity, it is a sign of gutlessness, like a Klansman’s hood. Just like those racist cowards, keffiyeh-clad antisemites don’t want good people to know they are walking, talking bilge pumps of hatred.

Defenders of protesters need to ask themselves if they would have the same attitude if you substituted the “N-word” or “gay” or “Muslim” for “Jew” or “Zionist.” Would progressives object to employers rejecting applications from Klansmen? Would they support their right to speak and teach on college campuses? If not, then they should not be upset if antisemites are screened out.

Students for Justice in Palestine, Professors for Justice in Palestine, and the other promoters of Jew-hatred and apologists for terror should be treated like the Ku Klux Klan. They have a right to freedom of speech, but, like the KKK, they should be shunned. Only when students, faculty and administrators treat antisemites as they would members of the Klan will such demonstrations of hate be stamped out on campus.

That’s the long-term solution. In the short run, universities must take aggressive action. Some presidents are finally showing a semblance of a spine by suspending students and bringing in police to clear out protesters violating the law. This is necessary but insufficient. Professors need to be fired. Students need to be expelled and their tuition forfeited. Those expelled should be barred from graduate programs or enrollment in another university.

Let student protesters go home to explain to their parents how they sacrificed an Ivy League education, lost their scholarship and squandered tens of thousands of dollars of their family’s hard-earned money standing up for terrorists who massacred Jews. Antisemitic parents like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) may be proud of their child (her daughter was arrested), but how many others will be?

USC received terrible publicity for canceling its valedictorian speech because of safety concerns. The reason for the worry is that she expressed antisemitic views online. There was ample justification for USC’s action, given what has happened at other commencement events. Earlier this year, the Honors Convocation at the University of Michigan was abruptly ended when protesters disrupted the event, ruining it for the graduates and their families. In 2019, the president of New York University had to apologize when a commencement speaker made an antisemitic speech that spoiled that ceremony.

Antisemites are entitled to their views but not to give commencement speeches. Words should have consequences.

Unsurprisingly, Jews can be found among and defending the protesters. Some still haven’t learned the lessons of the 30s and the recognition that antisemites cannot be appeased.

Berkeley law-school dean Erwin Chemerinsky remains my poster exemplar. Recall as a champion of free speech, he defended the antisemitic law students under his tutelage and said antisemitism wasn’t a problem at Berkeley. Chemerinsky woke up after Oct. 7 sounding like Capt. Renault in the movie “Casablanca” when he expressed shock at learning that there was gambling going on at his friend Rick’s Café. “I was stunned when students across the country, including mine, immediately celebrated the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7,” he wrote in The Los Angeles Times.

Chemerinsky planned a dinner party at his house this month for third-year law students. Before the dinner took place, the group he earlier defended, Berkeley Law Students for Justice in Palestine, put up a cartoon caricature of the dean holding a bloody knife and fork with the words “No Dinner With Zionist Chem While Gaza Starves!” During the dinner, a Palestinian activist stood up with a microphone and started to give a speech. Chemerinsky demanded that she leave his house, and his wife, also a Berkeley law professor, tried to wrestle the microphone away from her. Suddenly, freedom of speech was not inviolate. Legally, he was correct; the right does not extend to a private home, but it was an illustration of how his efforts to appease antisemites failed. However, the lesson clearly did not sink in as his wife said, “We agree with you about what’s going on in Palestine.”

Tolerance of antisemitism will continue so long as universities object to defining the word. They refuse to accept the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, which is accepted by the U.S. government and 45 countries.

Unsurprisingly, Columbia—now ground zero for campus anti-Semites—created a task force for addressing the problem, which refused to adopt any definition. “AsaJew” professors, the ones who use their identity to claim authority to speak for all Jews, have collaborated with the antisemites to prevent universities from adopting a definition, thereby crippling administrators’ ability to mitigate the toxic environment on many of their campuses.

The behavior of university presidents in the wake of the antisemitism tsunami reinforces the truism that they care most about image and money. Leaders failing their students must be called out, and their institutions must be publicly shamed. Donors must stop giving money to universities that do not protect Jewish students.

More importantly, the U.S. Department of Education must enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which uses the IHRA definition of antisemitism as a guide to determine if institutions discriminate against Jews based on an individual’s race, color, or national origin. As provided by the law, federal funding should be cut off from institutions that fail to protect Jewish students.

Meanwhile, antisemites, be proud. Take off your keffiyehs and let everyone know who you are, and that you unashamedly stand with murderers and rapists. Exercise your First Amendment right to be a bigot, but don’t expect the rest of us to accept your extremism or for there to be no consequences for your words.

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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