OpinionSchools & Higher Education

The derangement of the university

Pro-terrorist “protesters” dare to demand that the university they have disrupted give them food and drink.

Anti-Israel protesters set up an encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York, April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
Anti-Israel protesters set up an encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York, April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock.
Phyllis Chesler
Phyllis Chesler
Phyllis Chesler is an emerita professor of psychology and women’s studies at the City University of New York (CUNY).

We have lost the battle against insanity. Perhaps we never fought it. Regardless, the world has gone quite mad.

I just witnessed this on the Columbia University campus. A young white female student, draped fashionably in a keffiyeh, stood at a microphone and demanded that the administration provide food and water to the student “protesters” lest they die of dehydration or starvation.

Yes, she actually said that.

The student insisted that the administration had an “obligation” to those students who have “paid for a meal plan.” Yes, she actually said that too. She was speaking in front of Hamilton Hall, just broken into by criminal outsiders as well as students. The young jihadists barricaded themselves inside. This act of breaking and entering finally destroyed all pretense of normal student life.

Some occupations, it seems, are more equal than others.

Did the “starving and thirsty” student think that she and her co-conspirators are war victims and therefore entitled to food drops or a guarantee of safe passage for aid deliveries?

Some of the most privileged students on earth have decided that they are endangered sacred victims. This is beyond diagnosis but surely qualifies as some kind of psychosis.

What other conclusion can be reached about the surging mobs on American campuses and street demonstrations that, in Islamist style, are pathologically arrogant and violent? Clearly, they are engaged in some kind of delusional mimicry of religious war.

This is all the more disturbing because many educated, “good” people—including a large number of professors—honestly and earnestly believe all or most of the Big Lies about Israel that the internet and the media have fed them over the years. The professoriate insists that the crimes Israel has allegedly committed (yes, Israel) literally endanger world peace.

These “good people” are blaming the Jews for having been attacked (by a righteous “resistance”) and having dared to fight back. To them, Netanyahu—rather than the antisemites—is the reason Jewish students cannot enter campus safely and all students cannot take their exams or graduate.

Blame it on the Jews. Never on the Jew-haters or on the jihadists.

One “good” person actually said to me: “Israel did not have to go into Gaza. There must have been another, better way to respond to 10/7. An international alliance might have condemned Hamas and held them accountable in some way.”

I was speechless. I could not think of a world body that has ever condemned Hamas or any other antisemitic Islamist entity for its crimes. Would such “condemnation” bring back every last Israeli hostage safely? Would it ensure that Hamas would not strike again and again?

Putting “condemnation” aside, has any world body ever taken meaningful action against the Muslim extremists who have slaughtered Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahai, Armenians and more? Have they acted against communist China, which has put a million Muslims in concentration camps and jailed and tortured Buddhists?

Apparently, if a Muslim is killed, no one cares except when a Jewish person has done the killing, even if that Jewish person did it in self-defense.

The other day, a Syrian woman on television dismissed what Israel has done in Gaza as “minor, unimportant, compared to what [Syrian dictator] Bashar al-Assad did when he murdered 300,000 Syrian Muslims.”

She’s more than right.

An Iranian dissident friend of mine cannot believe the level of scrutiny Israel faces given what Iran has done to its dissidents and its women, not to mention Iran’s pivotal role in funding international terrorism.

Moreover, if one wants to blame Netanyahu for “funding” Hamas in the (misguided) hope that it would keep them “quiet” (point taken) or keep himself in power (point also taken), then what can we say about Obama and Biden’s funding of Iran, which is now about to become a nuclear power?

Afghan women are committing suicide because of the Taliban’s misogynist policies. Which international alliance has gotten the Taliban to stop?

The belief in the greater morality or effectiveness of international alliances is hopelessly naïve.

I asked one professor what else Israel could have done after Oct. 7 other than attempt to root out Hamas and its terror tunnels. He said that Netanyahu should have forged a world alliance to hold Hamas accountable.

I was absolutely speechless. After a moment, however, I asked him whether he felt the same about Ukraine. He did. He favored “realpolitik” and did not think asking Ukraine to stand down would be appeasement.

“What Ukraine should have done is give Putin what he initially wanted and then built a wall and tried to join NATO,” he said. “Ukraine is filled with Russians anyway, and so many of [the Ukrainians] are Nazis. Think of how many lives would have been saved. It would have been the more civilized thing to do.”

This man actually teaches at a university. Yet he cannot face reality: No wall would stop Putin. No wall could stop Iran and Hamas. All walls can be breached. Terrorists and tyrants are not concerned with being “civilized.” They will never stop. They can only be stopped by a stronger military power with the freedom to use that power. The world’s neighborhoods, beginning with the Middle East, are nasty and brutish places filled with tribal warfare and ferocious hatreds.

The students who are currently occupying campuses and buildings would not survive these places for a single minute. Nor would the professors or administrators who are protecting and defending those students.

Late the other night, New York City police were called in to remove the students and outside radicals who barricaded themselves inside Hamilton Hall. The police found horrendous vandalism: smashed windows and overturned or damaged furniture. Will the ensuing arrests lead to serious penalties?

Let’s find out how many of the radicals were students and how many were paid and trained outsiders. Let the lawyers begin their class action civil lawsuits on behalf of students— especially Jewish students—for the disruption of their studies and the deliberate destruction of their peace of mind.

Please remember: The 1968 student protests at Columbia were against a war. The 2024 protests are in favor of a war against Israel, America and the Jews.

I am in mourning for my beloved academia, for my country and for my civilization.

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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