OpinionSchools & Higher Education

Sometimes fists matter more than facts

Self-defense training is the only way to provide immediate relief to beleaguered Jews on campus.

A pro-Israel rally at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., on Oct. 10, 2023. Credit: Suiren2022 via Wikimedia Commons.
A pro-Israel rally at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., on Oct. 10, 2023. Credit: Suiren2022 via Wikimedia Commons.
Gidon Ben-Zvi
Gidon Ben-Zvi contributes to The Algemeiner, The Times of Israel, The Jerusalem Post, CiF Watch and blogs at Jerusalem State of Mind.

“There are no accidents, only encounters in history,” wrote Elie Wiesel. The outbreak of antisemitism that has swept across U.S. college campuses since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre is no accident.

According to a 2022 study published by the U.S. National Association of Scholars, Hamas’s fans on campus receive huge sums from Qatar—which also supports Hamas itself. In fact, Qatar is the largest foreign donor to American educational institutions.

Just as it sponsored Hamas’s growth until it was ready to strike, Qatar has used its largesse to nurture anti-Israel groups on U.S. campuses in anticipation of the moment these cells could spring into action. Oct. 7 was that moment.

The events of that day have forced Israelis across the political spectrum to reevaluate certain assumptions: For example, that a ceasefire between a democratic country that puts a premium on individual freedoms and a death cult whose raison d’être is to murder Jews everywhere can succeed.

In U.S. universities, something similar is happening to the idea that Jewish students will be safe if administrators implement a “ceasefire” in on-campus antisemitic activity.

Similarly, a White House statement that the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Education are tracking hateful rhetoric online and providing additional resources to campus safety is little solace to Jewish students who continue to be targeted.

Such policies are clearly insufficient. We know this because they have been tried before with negligible effect. Every time Israel has taken military action, Jewish students have been targeted. And every time, the harassment has only gotten worse.

Unfortunately, the situation on campus is similar to that of the Middle East. On one side are the Jewish students who, like Israel, rely on the rule of law and value human life and freedoms. On the other are the Israel-haters who, like Hamas, are chauvinist, supremacist and more than willing to use violence and other bullying tactics to get what they want.

So, while Jewish students rely on the promises of politicians and college administrators, the pro-Hamas bullies—often aided by Qatar—hurl antisemitic slurs and display signs and chant slogans calling for the genocide of Israel and all Jews.

Like Hamas, the terror group’s supporters on campus understand only one language: force. Thus, the implementation of a robust self-defense program would be an effective way to protect Jewish students on American campuses. Teaching Jews to fight back, as Israel is now fighting back, would be a swift solution to the wave of hate crimes American Jewish students—and Jews in general—are facing.

Of course, pro-Hamas college administrators and professors will not react favorably to the sight of Jewish self-defense groups popping up on campuses across the U.S. Echoing the Hamas apologists, they will likely attack these groups as a disproportionate response to pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who have the right to freedom of speech—including, it appears, to hate speech. They may also express concern that innocent people could be hurt if Jews, having been constantly taunted and threatened, learn to throw a left hook. Then there is the nuclear option: a baseless charge of “Islamophobia.”

As such, this initiative would be greatly enhanced if prominent American Jewish organizations commit to investing a portion of their budgets into training Jews to defend themselves. These organizations are currently focused on educating lawmakers, pushing for policies that will protect Jews from attack and monitoring antisemitism and antisemitic incidents. While these goals are noble, they do not provide immediate relief to targeted Jewish students.

With their substantial resources and wide reach, these organizations are uniquely suited to the task of providing such immediate relief. The violent enforcement on campus of fealty to the Palestinian cause and its inherent hatred of Jews, bankrolled by Qatari cash, proves that sometimes—even at the heart of higher education—fists matter more than facts.

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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