Jarrod Tanny

Hamas, Jewish Studies, & Their War Against the Jews

The Jewish Studies Zionist Network, which I founded along with Dr. Adam Fuller (Youngstown State University), issued an important statement today because of the inexcusable behavior from Jewish studies. My academic field has shamefully refused to offer any robust support for Israel, whitewashed Hamas’s terrorist attack, and have remained silent as the threat of violence against diaspora Jews, especially on college campuses, becomes increasingly plausible.

I have been warning about this threat posed to Diaspora Jewry by the anti-Zionist left for years, especially once Jewish studies began to sign off on the violent rhetoric emanating from the very campuses they call home.

I am reproducing JSZN’s statement in full below, so it receives as much circulation as possible. Never again is now.

The Jewish Studies Zionist Network unequivocally condemns the American campus community and the student groups and organizations who have responded to Hamas’s murder of more than one thousand Israeli citizens, with nothing more than apologetics, sympathy for Gaza, or outright silence rather than voicing support for Israel in its worst moment of war since 1973. Jewish studies in particular has been silent.

To understand the magnitude of the academy’s unprecedented complicity in the murder of Jewish civilians, one needs to understand that Hamas’s invasion resulted in the largest mass killing operation of Jews since the Holocaust. Hamas murdered women and children and then posted images and video footage of beheadings on social media. Hamas is an Islamist terrorist organization, elected by the Palestinians in 2006. Their foundational covenant avows in the name of Islam to exterminate the Jews off the face of the earth, because Allah commands it and because the Jews are engaged in a Jewish supremacist conspiracy to take over the world.

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

On October 7, 2023, Hamas attempted to put their genocidal agenda into practice.

JSZN had hoped this would be a wake-up call for the academy, which has in almost every conflagration in the region sided with the Palestinians unconditionally. But how could they sign off on mass murder?

Yet they have.

All across the country student organizations on campus have issued statements of solidarity with “Palestine.” At Harvard, over thirty student associations avowed that “The Apartheid regime is the only one to blame. … We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.” The organizations have demonized Israel because “Israeli officials promise to ‘open the gates of hell,” in Gaza.

Yet it was Hamas, not Israel, that opened the gates of hell this week.

Law clubs at U Michigan issued a statement equally as bad if not worse, making it clear that mass murder to free Palestine from the River to the Sea is acceptable:

“…Until yesterday, Israel had gotten exceedingly comfortable with the mass subjugation of the Palestinian people. They wrongly and smugly assumed that the Palestinian people would lie low and accept oppression as the status quo. Now that the Palestinians are fighting for justice, Western nations and Israel scream terrorism, because surely the brown people are terrorists – never a people choked beyond compare and fighting for their land and themselves till their last breath. In their tainted coverage, the mainstream media and politicians maintain that Palestinians in Gaza are not a people with a right to defend themselves. Moreover, propaganda is spewed that Palestinians are invading Israel, but how can Palestinians invade their own land?…”

This statement was signed by: Law Students for Justice in Palestine (LSJP) Black Law Student Association (BLSA), Muslim Law Student Association (MLSA), Middle Eastern and North African Law Student Association (MENALSA), National Lawyers Guild (NLG), Res Sista Loquitur: Women of Color Coalition Students Taking Action for Racial Solidarity (STARS) Executive Board.

Why have Jewish studies faculty at Harvard and Michigan not taken a stand against this celebration of Jewish mass murder?

The faculty of of U Michigan’s Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies – consisting of ninety professors and affiliates – have offered nothing but a deafening silence. We demand that the Center’s Director, Dr. Maya Barzilai, Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature and Jewish Culture, condemn the vilification of Israel and the justification of Hamas. Their silence endangers the Jewish student body at U Michigan.

Harvard’s Jewish studies’ response is considerably worse.

Hundreds of outraged faculty issued a statement condemning the student clubs “support” for the Palestinians.

“…while terrorists were still killing Israelis in their homes, 35 Harvard student organizations wrote that they hold ‘the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence,’ with not a single word denouncing the horrific acts by Hamas. In the context of the unfolding events, this statement can be seen as nothing less than condoning the mass murder of civilians based only on their nationality. We’ve heard reports of even worse instances, with Harvard students celebrating the ‘victory’ or ‘resistance’ on social media.’”

We at JSZN are thrilled with this show of support from faculty across Harvard. Unfortunately, a perusal of the list of signatories reveals that (as of October 12th 10am) only four out of twenty-four Jewish studies faculty signed this letter.

Jewish studies did not even have to draft a letter. One was drafted for them, yet they still refused to sign. We demand that the Director of Harvard’s Center for Jewish Studies, Dr. Derek Penslar, William Lee Frost Professor of Jewish History, either sign this statement or issue one on behalf of Harvard’s Jewish studies program.

Other faculty in the international community of Jewish studies have been far more brazen in their refusal to recognize Hamas’s sole culpability in genocidal mass murder.

On Facebook, Dr. Joshua Shanes of the College of Charleston wrote that “There is no words to express our horror at this moment. The losses are devastating. It’s hard to get past crying. Friends and loved ones, we are with you … you are not alone.” Words of sympathy are necessary for our community enduring their worst trauma in fifty years. But where is Dr. Shanes’s condemnation of Hamas? There isn’t one. It’s as if these Jews perished in some sort of accident.

Dr. Shaul Magid distinguished Fellow in Jewish Studies at Dartmouth, wrote on Facebook that “No one is innocent here. Although that does not mean all are equally guilty.”

Dr. Yair Wallach, SOAS University of London, posted on X – within hours of Hamas’s invasion while the massacre was still unfolding – that “Locking up 2 million people in an open air prison for 15 years is a horrendous thing, and it engenders horrendous things. It is not surprising that people with nothing to lose will sometimes do terrible things.” His words were written in response to – or rather to justify the words of Marwa Fatafta, a self-professed “Palestinian feminist” who had tweeted that “Israel has been committing unspeakable war crimes against humanity, and illegal collective punishment against Palestinians in Gaza for 15 years. Any comment that doesn’t take this fact into consideration today is hollow, immoral, and dehumanizing.” Dr. Wallach apparently concurs. One Jewish studies professor, Dr. Sasha Senderovich of the University of Washington, had the chutzpah to praise Dr. Wallach’s ongoing commentary as “nuanced.”

Finally (though there are more), Professor of History and Jewish Studies Joshua Schreier of Vassar College, wrote on Facebook that “If you don’t like violence, or Hamas’…discourse, take it up with the regime that has given Hamas its cache and role.”

All the above evidence points to a collective assault against Jewish victims of ethnic cleansing rather than a condemnation of the genocidal Palestinian terrorists who committed mass violence against women and children in their own homes.

But let us remember. This has not occurred in a vacuum. The academic assault against Israel and its supporters abroad has been growing for a decade. One cannot fully comprehend the gravity of Jewish studies’ abandonment of Israel and the diaspora Jewry to the antisemites without noting that in May 2021 over two hundred Jewish studies faculty placed all blame on Israel for its brief war against Hamas, accusing Israel of being founded on European racist principles. They published this statement while Palestinian activists were committing acts of violence against Jews in the streets of America and Europe.

And in August 2023, Jewish studies faculty authored a statement (with 2800 signatures) accusing Israel of “Jewish supremacism”, backed by “American Jewish billionaire funders.” Jewish studies saw fit to blame the proverbial rich and powerful global Jewish collective for the actions of the Israeli government. Whatever one may think of the current Israeii government, trafficking in antisemitic tropes of Nazi origin is unacceptable.

In late September, the National Students for Justice in Palestine posted a statement celebrating the Second Intifada – in which over 1000 Israelis were murdered including the notorious Passover Massacre of March 27, 2002 propagated by a Hamas suicide bomber – because it “still terrifies the Zionist entity to this day.” SJP is apparently carrying on these celebrations in public, having declared a “National Day of Resistance” for October 12 on college campuses across the country. As we write these words, Jewish students are undoubtedly experiencing fear on top of their trauma.

The collective words of SJP make it abundantly clear that violence against Zionists is not only acceptable, but desirable. And with Jewish studies remaining silent, justifying Hamas, and, finally, impugning American Jewry for funding Jewish supremacy in Israel, we Jews in the diaspora now face the prospect of increasing violence from Palestinian activists and their supporters on the militant left.

The campus community has brought the war in Israel to the American academy. And Jewish studies has given our enemies a green light.

Jewish studies is responsible for legitimizing this violence in the diaspora. They owe American Jewry and all Israelis an apology followed by decisive measures to condemn what is now a global assault against the Jews.

Jewish Studies Zionist Network, October 12, 2023

About the Author
Jarrod Tanny is an Associate Professor and Block Distinguished Scholar in Jewish History in the Department of History, University of North Carolina Wilmington. He is the author of City of Rogues and Schnorrers: Russia's Jews and the Myth of Old Odessa. He is also the founder of the Jewish Studies Zionist Network,