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Jewish Professors Fight for Israel and Against Far Left Fascists in Colleges

For months, Jewish students have been targeted by those opposed to the Jewish people. These individuals have been allowed, and even encouraged, to express their support for Hamas and their desire to see the State of Israel destroyed. In response to this surge of anti-Jewish sentiment, college administrators have promised to strengthen their efforts to ensure campuses are safe for Jews to pray, celebrate, and learn together.

At the University of California, Berkeley, and the Free University of Berlin, we’ve seen how empty these promises can be.

Last week, Ran Bar-Yoshafat, a member of the Israeli military who frequently speaks on behalf of Israel on college campuses, had his Berkeley appearance canceled. Bar-Yoshafat is used to being bullied at his events. Still, the Berkeley mob, as he put it, was given a prize for their violence since the security provided by the University was too respectful and too small in size to matter.

Those hoping to hear Bar-Yoshafat speak instead were confronted with pro-Palestinian protesters who were shouting “dirty Jews,” Nazis,” and “pigs.”

Students were spat on, windows were broken, and videos circulated widely on social media. These videos showed protesters outside, wearing keffiyehs and masks, yelling, “You can’t run! You can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!” among other anti-Israel chants and banging on the glass door until it shattered.

Chancellor Carol Christ and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Benjamin Hermalin described the incident as an attack on the “fundamental values of the university, which are also essential for maintaining and nurturing open inquiry and an inclusive civil society, the bedrock of a genuinely democratic nation.” However, no mention was made of the motives or the anti-Jewish intimidation by the mob,

Recently, at the Free University of Berlin, the grandson of an Israeli wrestler murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics was assaulted by another student for being Jewish. Initially, the university claimed there was nothing it could do to prevent the assailant from returning to campus. Later, it somehow found a way to do so.

If the targets of such attacks were Black or Palestinian, these same administrations would be strongly condemning racism and Islamophobia and summarily removing perpetrators of hate from campus.  Why is the instinct to defend Jews missing?

 The fact is, the progressive vision of an inclusive civil society requires Jew hatred because eliminating Zionism and supporters of Israel is essential to achieving such a result.

As Yoram Hazony wrote in Public Discourse, “American universities have revealed themselves to be the driving force behind the resurgence of open anti-Semitism in America. Across the country, university faculty and graduate students have led teach-ins and demonstrations justifying Hamas’s atrocities, including massacres, dismemberments, rapes, burnings alive, and hostage-takings of more than a thousand Israeli civilians, as well as its explicit threats to all Jews everywhere.”

The assault on Jewish students, especially on college campuses, is critical to what the far Left — which includes many anti-Zionist Jewish professors — calls the decolonization of education. Decolonization was not always a dirty word.  Israel’s founding was an act of decolonlization.  Now, in the hands of anti-Zionists and far left fascists, decolonization demands, above all, the purging of any curriculum, professors, and students who support Israel. As a University of California, Riverside professor stated, “Zionism has politically toxified our schools and curricula. It prevents us from teaching historical material about entire populations. This must not continue.”

Indeed, as I noted in a previous column about the spread of Jew hatred in K-12 curriculum, portraying Israel — and its supporters — as oppressors is central to the belief held by the Far Left that “From the moment our children go to kindergarten, they are educated about the world of a very small subset of humanity: namely, those who have dominated, oppressed, and colonized the rest of us.”

Simon Sebag Montefiore similarly notes,  “The decolonization narrative has dehumanized Israelis to such an extent that otherwise rational people excuse, deny, or support barbarity. It posits Israel as an ‘imperialist-colonialist’ force, Israelis as ‘settler-colonialists,’ and Palestinians as having the right to eliminate their oppressors. It categorizes Israelis as ‘white’ or ‘white-adjacent’ and Palestinians as ‘people of color.’”

The goal is to degrade and dehumanize us in order to strip us of our dignity as Jews, first by isolation, then by intimidation, and ultimately through violence. Our enemies see every opportunity for Jews to gather — to pray, to eat, to study, and learn — as a chance to rape Jews of their dignity and honor.

Simply doubling down on freedom of speech, though deeply felt and well-intentioned, is not enough. The anti-Zionist mob uses broad protections of speech not just to spread their views but to conquer and transform academic institutions from kindergarten to graduate school, promoting Jew hatred and revolution.

Universities could take immediate action, such as enhancing security for Jewish students and suspending any group or individual involved in acts of intimidation, property destruction, threats, or violence against Jews, whether as a group or as individuals. They could also take steps to prevent the hijacking of the educational system by taking affirmative actions to ensure there is a diversity of viewpoints among professors and students.

But that only goes so far and that is far into the future if it even happens. It is up to Jewish faculty members and Jewish students to defend the dignity of the Jewish people and it is up to us to invest the time and money to make it possible.   Survival of Jewish well-being hangs in the balance.  Menachem Begin told a group of Jewish businessmen that one of the lessons of the Holocaust was: “Jewish dignity and honor must be protected in all circumstances. The seeds of Jewish destruction lie in passively enabling the enemy to humiliate us. Only when the enemy succeeds in turning the spirit of the Jew into dust and ashes in life, can he turn the Jew into dust and ashes in death.”

The fact is, there are Jewish professors who have made it their mission to defend Jewish honour and dignity. Jarrod Tanny, Charles and Hannah Block Distinguished Scholar in Jewish History at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington has set up the Jewish Studies Zionist Network, an association for Jewish studies scholars who are pushing back against the demonization of Israel and its supporters who have, in the name of decolonisation, hijacked such programs.

And mostly recently Cary Nelson, Professor emeritus of English and Jubilee Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as president of the American Association of University Professors between 2006 and 2012, and Brett Kaufman, an archaeology professor in the UIUC Classics department are calling for the formation of campus chapters of a new initiative, Faculty for Academic Freedom and Against Antisemitism. It would encourage fact-based political discussion and work to counter the threats to academic freedom posed by the Faculty for Justice in Palestine, a faculty group that is being supported by the same groups funding the pro-Hamas Students for Justice in Palestine on campus entities.

The  FJP is a fascist movement with a manifesto to match. It calls for nothing less than a complete polarization of faculty members’ interactions with one another, and explicitly rejects “democratic values”. Nelson and Kaufman write in the journal Fathom that the FJP wants to end collegial relations with pro-Israel professors and the manifesto calls upon decolonizers to have nothing to do with Jewish colleagues whot are not actively opposing Israel, to openly discriminate against Zionists: “The level of personal and rhetorical aggression is such that it only stops short of actual violence. We are left with the sense that actual violence would be the only further tactic available.”

They note that over the past several months, in the wake of the Hamas massacre, “scores of chapters had organized on American campuses, among them Harvard, NYU, Princeton, Rutgers, and ten University of California campuses. We expect chapters to form in other countries as well.”

The UIUC FJP seeks to harass and intimidate opponents of comprehensive academic boycotts of Israeli universities (that would therefore target  both Jews and Arabs.: “Reluctance to boycott is no longer acceptable. It is the baseline of political decency. Anybody who continues to oppose or dissemble about academic boycott should be regarded as untrustworthy on everything else.”

Of course, such actions violate federal civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination based on religious background. But the FJP thinks democratic values such as free expression and civil discourse are “bullshit.”  Sections 11 and 12 of the UIUC manifesto declare:

  • Stop Pandering to Customs of Civility: You don’t need to condemn ‘Hamas.’ You don’t need to ‘affirm Israel’s right to exist.’ You don’t need to bang on about ‘democratic values.’ You don’t need to be ‘nuanced.’ You need to defend the people suffering a genocide. Not a single one of them is asking for anything else. (‘Who is my audience?’ keep asking yourself. If the answer is anything other than ‘the dispossessed,’ then recalibrate your ethics and try again.)
  • Shun the Genocidaires: Those rationalizing or cheering on the genocide are personae non grata from here on out. No co-authoring articles with them. No sitting together on conference panels. No buddy-buddy bullshit on the networking circuit. Sure, sometimes circumstance will force you onto the same committee or whatever, but, if the association is voluntary, then decline the opportunity and find colleagues who don’t celebrate mass murder.

They are calling for the creation of local chapters of the FAFAA because they believe that “faculty sympathetic to Israel and the principles of academic freedom and democracy need to organize locally and nationally for the long haul” must stand up to fascism today just as Jewish professors took the lead in opposing its well funded supporters in the 1930s.

The goal is not to try to sway enemies of the Jewish people.   Nor do they believe that university sponsored committees to investigate anti-Semitism as currently constructed will do anything since many of these committees are staffed by faculty aligned with SJP and FJP.  That is like inviting the KKK to join a committee investigating the impact of racism on people of color. Rather, they insist that if Jewish faculty don’t lead publicly to consistently demand for accountability, security, and for free speech and dignity on college campuses, no one else will.

Most important, Nelson and Kaufman want to create the opportunity to teach Jewish students about how the State of Israel is an exemplar of Western liberal democracy, to fully explore, without apology, why Jews cannot live as a free people — or live at all — without a Jewish state in the land of Israel.

Jewish philanthropies and organizations will spend billions over the next decade on this initiative or that conference dealing with anti-Semitism.  Decolonization is just another form of fascism organized around the belief that eliminating the ideas and dehumanizing the supporters of Jewish nationhood will liberate the oppressed. If we fail to support courageous academics such as Tanny, Nelson and Kaufman in fighting new fascist threat to the Jewish people and liberal democracy we will surely forfeit our freedom and our heritage.

About the Author
Robert Goldberg has written extensively about Zionism and Israel for several years. His articles have been featured in prominent publications such as Tablet, The Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, National Review, Algemeiner, and the American Spectator. Additionally, he is writing a book on lessons from the Haggadah about responding to anti-Zionist Jews. As Vice President of The Center for Medicine in the Public Interest, he writes about healthcare issues.