OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Putting a stop to campus hate

We must quench the inferno by passing the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
Anti-Israel protesters on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Washington University in downtown Washington, D.C. on April 26, 2024. Photo by Andrew Bernard.
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a think tank that specializes in the Middle East. She is the author of Saudi Arabia and the Global Terrorist Network (2011).  

Anarchy reigns in our universities. Across the country, campuses are exploding with the adolescent rage of a hateful minority. Jewish students are being subjected to a terrifying climate of hatred and fear. Jews are once again the ultimate outsider, the perfect scapegoat, the haters’ incarnation of evil.

Remember where all this began: with the horrific and genocidal Oct. 7 Hamas massacre. By Oct. 9, celebrations of the attack had broken out across the U.S. This pro-terrorist movement has now escalated to the extent that many students are afraid to cross campus or the quad while wearing a kippah or a Star of David.

An Israeli student at Harvard University was only trying to get to class when he was attacked by thugs hiding behind keffiyehs and masks shouting, “Shame! Shame!” Other Jewish Harvard students returned for the spring semester to find posters of the hostages held by Hamas defaced with demented slogans like “Israel did 911” and “Fake News!” Barbarically scrawled on an image of Kfar Bibas, a 9-month-old kidnapped by Hamas with his family and dragged into Gaza, was “Evidence needed. Head still on.”

This was just the beginning. Jewish students are being routinely terrorized, bullied, spat upon, jeered and harassed. According to the ADL, a majority of Jewish students feel uncomfortable with their fellow students even knowing they are Jewish. More than half feel subjected to hostile environments in which they are routinely intimidated and threatened. This was attested to in the riveting testimony of nine courageous students at a House Education and Workforce Committee hearing on March 4.

Noam Barenholtz, a relative of mine who is an undergrad at Yale University, described the situation best in an article in The Yale Daily News:

Welcome to Beinecke Plaza, or as it’s now affectionately known, Gaza Solidarity Plaza. If you look to the left, you’ll see posters idolizing terrorists like Leila Khaled, who hijacked two planes, and Walid Daqqa, who was convicted of leading the terrorist ring that kidnapped, castrated, gouged out the eyes of, tortured and murdered a 19-year-old Israeli.

Looking right ahead, you’ll notice the central flagpole is missing its American flag. That’s because in a great act of patriotic fervor, protestors tore it down while the crowd cheered. And they weren’t satisfied with just desecrating Yale’s American flag: they also ripped an American flag a student was holding. As one protestor told the News, they want to “divest from the defense of Israel, Ukraine, America and more.” Supporting your own country is unpopular in the Gaza Solidarity Plaza.

There’s a religious, almost revivalistic atmosphere about the whole scene. Hundreds of people, students, faculty and outside agitators, hold hands, close their eyes, pray in unison and call for violence in Israel. “Resistance is justified when people are occupied,” they shout, calling for more terrorism against Israelis, who have, of course, committed the crime of being Jewish instead of Palestinian. Someone hands out propaganda leaflets that, among other antisemitic lies, blame Zionists for the Holocaust. “Stop genocide,” everyone chants, as they yell chants that imply that it’s the Jews’ own fault Hamas wants to kill every one of them.

The protestors also seem to have a strange relationship with the truth. Right after shouting, “Intifada, revolution, there is no other solution,” they sing “all we want is peace.” The Intifada, for those unaware, involved bus bombings and terrorists indiscriminately targeting civilians, including tourists, at restaurants and hotels.

This is why my organization EMET has been working so hard over the past several years to pass the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Many have claimed that the act is an assault on the First Amendment. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Section 6 of the bill clearly states: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed to diminish or infringe upon any right under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

To appreciate the necessity of this act, simply substitute the word “black,” “gay” or “Hispanic” for the word “Jew.” Would it be acceptable to bring a Ku Klux Klan member to campus who says, “We need a million more lynchings of blacks”? Obviously not. So, why is it OK for students to shout, “We need a million more Oct. 7s”  or “Jews, go back to Poland?”

We are not dealing with a rational policy debate over a two-state solution. We are dealing with murderous loathing of the very existence of the State of Israel and the Jews as a whole. It is a violent assault on Jewish students for the unspeakable crime of being Jews.

This is an inferno that has been allowed to burn for far too long. It threatens not just Jewish students and the State of Israel, but the United States itself. It’s time we put a stop to it. The U.S. Senate can help do so by passing the Antisemitism Awareness Act.

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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