The world has been shocked by the horrific attack by Hamas upon Israeli civilians, including women and children, even babies slaughtered in their own homes by terrorists from Gaza. Shockingly, Western countries have witnessed demonstrations in support of Hamas. In the US, pro-Hamas rallies have taken place in New York City, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and other cities including most notably, many of our college campuses.
It should hardly be surprising that campuses across the nation are seeing demonstrations of support for the Hamas murderers, calling it “legitimate resistance”. As if cutting off the heads of babies, and burning people alive are acts of “legitimate resistance.”
Leading the way in these obscene demonstrations is Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a nationwide organization of students dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. Co-founded by UC Berkeley professor, Hatem Bazian, this organization uses tactics of bullying of Jewish students and disruptions of pro-Israel events on campus to get their message across.
For over two decades, the pro-Palestinian movement on college campuses has been proceeding without pause. Aside from criticizing Israel, which everyone agrees, is free speech, these anti-Israel organizations and their invited speakers have all too often crossed the line into vicious anti-Jewish screeds invoking ancient anti-Jewish tropes as part of their argument that Israel is oppressing Palestinians and stealing their land.
In my experience teaching part-time at the University of California at Irvine Extension (1998-2016), I have personally witnessed anti-Israel events on campus where Jews were attacked as a people. I attended numerous speaking appearances by Oakland-based imam Amir Abdel Malik Ali, where he would call various prominent individuals, “Zionist Jews” literally spitting out the words. In 2008, during the annual anti-Israel week of events sponsored by the UC Irvine Muslim Student Union (MSU), I personally saw a cartoon caricature of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a bloodthirsty cannibal with stereotyped Jewish physical features, hooked nose, thick lips, etc.
I was personally present in 2010 when the Muslim Student Union loudly disrupted a speaking appearance on campus by then-Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren. In the wake of MSU’s suspension (reduced from one year to one quarter by the retiring Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs), SJP formed a chapter on the UCI campus. Over the years, I have personally witnessed other disruptions of pro-Israel events by this organization, including in May 2017, an incident which I videotaped. I could go on and on. These incidents have been occurring regularly on college campuses across the nation for over two decades. Meanwhile, university administrations uniformly hide under their desks while their Jewish students are bullied and intimidated.
Back in 2007, a group of concerned Jewish residents of Orange County, California formed an organization, the Orange Country Independent Task Force on Anti-Semitism, to deal with complaints of pro-Palestinian-inspired anti-Semitism at UC Irvine. That was a period when the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights was investigating the university based on these same complaints from Jewish students. The above task force issued a report that contained a list of recommendations. Since then, many of the faces have changed at UC Irvine, and the campus has calmed down somewhat, but the points are still applicable today.
For years, I have been saying that the focal point of the resurgence in anti-Semitism in the US has been on our college campuses. Now it has metastasized into society at large, and it is primarily speared by the well-oiled, well-organized, well-financed pro-Palestinian movement, which has joined in a marriage of convenience with the radical left in America. And now it has come full circle. At a time when all these pro-Palestinian voices in the US should be hiding under a rock in shame at what Hamas has done, they are back in full force on our campuses. Just this week, we have seen people at Harvard, the University of Virginia, Columbia, UCLA, the University of California at Santa Cruz, the University of California at Irvine, and many others singing the Hamas tune with the asinine chants accusing Israel of genocide and killing babies (how ironic!) The list of campuses is sure to grow. This has been widely publicized and has outraged and shocked most decent people in this country. They should be outraged.
But they should not be shocked. This is where it all started-on our college campuses. For too long now, it has been tolerated by weak-kneed or sympathetic administrators, often harried by leftist professors who side against Israel, to say nothing about propagandistic Middle East Studies departments, largely funded by places like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Our universities have tolerated intolerance in the name of tolerance.
Another important aspect of the problem has been the lack of fortitude by many major national Jewish organizations who have been unwilling to confront the largely Muslim forces harassing Jewish students. In my experience at UC Irvine, the Anti-Defense League was largely missing in action, as were Hillel and the Orange Country Jewish Federation. They chose to keep a low profile, and in the case of the Jewish Federation of Orange County, criticized members of their own community, including students who chose to speak out about the problem. Again, I have seen this first-hand in the case of UC Irvine.
In contrast, other Jewish organizations like the Zionist Organization of America, Stand With Us, the Amcha Initiative, and the Louis D Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law have consistently stepped to the plate and supported Jewish students while pointing out instances of campus anti-Semitism. I recognize that the American Jewish community is not monolithic, but as a gentile who is dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism, I have been dismayed at just how fractured the Jewish community is, even when it comes to such life and death issues. All of us who care about Israel and Jewish lives need to set aside our bickering and personal agendas and come together to fight this evil.
With all due respect, now is not a time for candlelight vigils. It is a time to stand behind Israel and hope that this time they destroy Hamas in Gaza once and for all. I take no pleasure in seeing civilians in Gaza City living under Israeli bombing, but it has now become unavoidable. Even now, Israel is trying, as they have in the past, to limit civilian casualties, issuing warnings to evacuate. Not even the US and UK did that in World War II with Germany and Japan, but we were fighting for our survival as Israel is today.
But at home, we must stand with our Jewish fellow citizens and our Jewish students. And we must stand against barbarism even as some of our population choose to use their freedom of speech to support evil.
In addition, universities, at least public universities, should be put on notice that if they cannot or will not support and protect Jewish students, they risk losing public funding. That should become a reality.
We have now witnessed evil in its purest form. But aside from the conflict in the Middle East, there is support for that evil on our own shores. Once again, our universities are playing a disgraceful role. That evil in academia must be confronted and exposed. Not only that, but our Jewish students must be protected. The universities have demonstrated time and time again they are unable or unwilling to protect Jewish students.
Years ago, I warned the administrators of UC Irvine and the leaders of the UC system as a whole that one day, we would witness a tragedy on one of our campuses as a result of this problem. I pray it won’t happen, but the possibility of it happening is now closer than ever.