OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The anti-Jewish collegiate revolution

Logic and rationality are not the strong sides of these days of rage.

An anti-Israel protest at New York University on May 3, 2024. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
An anti-Israel protest at New York University on May 3, 2024. Photo by Carin M. Smilk.
Yisrael Medad
Yisrael Medad is a researcher, analyst and opinion commentator on political, cultural and media issues.

We are facing, I would suggest, a situation in which could be said that never have so many university students been not only on the wrong side of history but on the most immoral side as well. That is true at least since 1933 at Oxford, when 428 students against 275 voted in favor of the resolution, which Winston Churchill termed “that abject, squalid, shameless avowal” not to fight for king and country “under no circumstances.”

Any fair observation of the happenings across campuses this past month in the United States would not be wrong to characterize them as aggressive, threatening, menacing, occasionally out-right violent, foul-mouthed, damaging and very anti-Jewish.

Even a correspondent for The New York Times, Katherine Rosman, could not avoid writing on April 26 that the “issue at the core of the conflict rippling across campuses nationwide [is] the tension between pro-Palestinian activism and antisemitism.” Three days later, she highlighted how it works when three Jewish students approached a tent village at Columbia University and the cry went up: “We have Zionists who have entered the camp.”

At the University of California, Los Angeles, a campus journalist was prevented from walking about. A Jewish female student there was beaten and required medical attention and an older man was attacked and threatened. One Christian, supporting Israel at the University of Pennsylvania by holding the blue-and-white flag, was “ghettoized,” having a chalk circle drawn around him (at 0:54 on a CNN video). At Stanford, a protester dressed up as a Hamas suicide-bomber. This violence—actual and implied—and more probably led to the ugly scenes the night afterwards. But the atmosphere of violence was initiated by the pro-Palestine proponents.

This has led to a situation whereby students have termed as “conditionally Jewish” those Jews who are barely acceptable in polite society on campuses, as Tessa Veksler explained to Mandana Dayani. There’s a scale now for being Jewish, and it has nothing to do with Judaism as a religion or ethnicity. Rather, it has to do with the degree of revolutionary value—specifically on behalf of the ideology, Palestinianism—that seeks to eliminate both Jewish national identity and as many Jews as possible.

The campus uprisings revolve around the Jews, not Arabs of a certain Palestinian strain. It is done so in a two-tiered obverse/reverse situation.

First, the attack is on Israel as the Jewish state. Of all the tragedies, wars and human-rights violations in the world, it is Israel that draws so much attention, in addition to being incorrectly and falsely accused of various crimes. Moreover, more likely than not, any Jew not immediately recognized as belonging to the rallies, encampments and other springtime frivolities will be identified as a “Zionist.” Of course, in doing so, these anti-Zionists prove how wrong their claim is that Judaism should not be identified as nationalism. Then again, logic and rationality are not the strong sides of these days of rage.

Secondly, Jews have once again come to the fore as “revolutionaries” with all the ramifications pertaining to those sections of America’s population not interested in any sort of revolution—be it social, economic or intellectual.

Thirdly, there is the role of a specific Jewish sub-group: the fervent frenzied anti-Zionists. If not for the involvement, participation and financial resources of IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace and their sponsors providing cover as well as justification, the marches, take-overs and encampments could not have succeeded as they have. As I am not fully familiar with all the Jewish academics urging them on, I’ll just note my suspicion of their responsibility in encouraging and urging on the antics.

One professor, however, deserves a mention. Naomi Klein, professor of climate justice at the University of British Columbia, spoke during Passover outside Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s residence in Brooklyn, N.Y. According to the transcript of her remarks, she promoted “an exodus from Zionism.” She is bothered that “too many of our people are worshipping a false idol. … Profaned by it.” That “idol?” Yes, Zionism.

Israel, she promotes, is an “ethnostate … of colonial land theft, roadmaps for ethnic cleansing and genocide.” Drunk on her own four cups of whatever, she proclaimed that “political Zionism’s version of liberation is itself profane.” For Klein, Judaism is “internationalist by nature.”

And so, not only do the anti-Zionist Jews of the secular variety (the Neturei Karta is too complex to be dealt with here) undermine the religious nature of the Passover celebration but apply a globalist messaging that corrupts and perverts the essence of the Jewish people, its religion and culture—the entire crux and soul of being Jewish, as exemplified by the Passover holiday.

An enslaved people—the Jewish people—existed as a community in its exile. It accepts a unique religious practice and philosophy of belief, and proceeds to a specific land and territory to fulfill its commandments that cannot be done anywhere else. And every year since, during the time of the Holy Temples and exiles across the globe, a symbolic feast marking the event is concluded with the words, “Next Year in Jerusalem.” Yet, for Klein and cosmopolitan compatriots, that not only should not be but is sacrilegious, if I be permitted to borrow a term.

As has happened in the past, Jews are playing with other Jewish lives as pro-Palestinians exploit and take advantage of anti-Jewish sentiment. They are literally feeding a frenzy of antisemitism. That they call themselves “progressives” is a travesty and a failure of their educational system. Too many of America’s Jews are caught up in the stage of being sophomoric, and it is proving dangerous. Far, far too dangerous.

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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