OpinionSchools & Higher Education

How students are brainwashed to hate Israel

At Duke University, the approved antisemitic narrative is never questioned.

Anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activists in New York City, May 11, 2021. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock.
Anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian activists in New York City, May 11, 2021. Credit: Ron Adar/Shutterstock.
Amy Rosenthal. Credit: Courtesy.
Amy Rosenthal
Amy Rosenthal, who lived in Israel as a child, is co-founder of the North Carolina Coalition for Israel.

It’s appalling to watch students at prestigious institutions shout in support of terrorism and a place that doesn’t exist: “Palestine.” How did young people become so delusional, misinformed and morally bankrupt?

The seeds are sown at our once-venerable academic institutions. Since students don’t know what they don’t know, they are vulnerable to propaganda and manipulation by faculty with a political agenda. Duke University is an excellent example.

In response to “the violence in the Middle East,” Duke’s provost Alec Gallimore established a yearlong Initiative on the Middle East in February. By assigning Bruce Jentleson, a professor of public policy and political science, to lead the initiative, Gallimore put the fox in charge of the hen house.

Jentleson deliberately ignores certain essential issues, such as Muslim antisemitism, the repeated rejection of Israel’s right to exist and ongoing terrorist attacks against Jews. By doing so, Jentleson presents the Middle East he wants students to see.

Daniel Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt and Israel, was Jentleson’s first speaker. Rather than blame Hamas for the current war, Kurtzer attacked Israeli intelligence failures and American support for Israel.

Up next was Humanizing the Humanitarian Crisis. Speakers claimed that assigning blame to one side or the other would not bring peace, thereby absolving Hamas. A visiting scholar at the “Palestine Program” at Harvard spewed anti-Israel propaganda by imposing a false narrative of the “nakba” on students and calling Israel an apartheid state. She also falsely claimed that “both sides are causing terrorism.”

Then came Finding Common Ground in the Middle East, based on the Roots program. Its stated goal is to “humanize the other” (which other, one wonders), especially in Judea and Samaria. Since 82% of Arabs in these areas support the Oct. 7 massacre, perhaps Hamas supporters should have been the target audience rather than college students.

On April 1, former Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad spoke, with Jentleson as moderator. Fayyad began with the ridiculous claim, “Everyone is entitled to their own truth,” which is antithetical to the purpose of academia. He decried the Oslo Accords, angrily proclaiming that the agreement “did not recognize not one of our national rights as a people; none, none whatsoever.” Clearly, Fayyad believes peace is incompatible with Palestinian “rights.”

Not once was the word “terrorism” mentioned. When Fayyad praised terror attacks on Jews, Jentleson said nothing. The P.A.’s pay-for-slay program, which funds Palestinians who murder Jews, was not discussed. The audience heard nothing about the P.A. security forces’ complicity in terrorist attacks. The fact that a Muslim “Palestinian” people did not exist until Yasser Arafat colluded with the Soviets to create it in the 1960s was ignored. When Fayyad was born in the 1950s, a “Palestinian” people that he claims are owed the right to kill Jews was a nationalist fantasy.

Jentleson fawned over Fayyad and avoided challenging him. When asked if Israel can be accused of genocide, Fayyad said that the International Court of Justice took up the case, so the blood libel must be legitimate.

Jentleson then asked, “What can Arab Americans do to make their voices heard to support the Palestinians?”

Voices in support of “Palestinians” and Hamas are heard quite well at Duke. When Students Supporting Israel and others held an event calling for the return of hostages taken by Hamas, their voices were drowned out. A pro-Hamas group banged on drums and shouted the pro-terror slogan “Long live the intifada,” among others. They marched up to the pro-Israel group yelling, “Resistance is justified when people are occupied.”  The agitators faced no consequences for their disruption of Jewish voices.

Other events held by Jentleson’s initiative included Adania Shibli, who is praised for her focus on “Palestinian” victimhood, and Robert Satloff, who is excited about the prospect of partnering with the terror-supporting P.A. Satloff fawned over Jentleson, praising him for fostering “civil discourse.” Civility is easy, of course, when the approved narrative is never challenged.

Finally, on April 16, Duke neurosurgeon David Hasan spoke about his experience volunteering in Gaza. He mentioned “innocent people on both sides” but his focus was overwhelmingly on suffering in Gaza. The starvation, torture and murder of Israeli hostages were ignored and excluded.

This is how anti-Israel propaganda works: It excludes ugly and uncomfortable truths about terrorism and Jew-hatred in the Islamic world. This propaganda by exclusion has been relentless and pervasive, sewing the moral confusion, ignorance and antisemitism we see on campus today.

Duke is just one example. Similar programs exist at other institutions, so it’s no surprise that antisemitism and pro-Hamas activism have exploded across the country.

Until academia returns to the standard of teaching the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the hate we see on campus will only escalate.

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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