Sheldon Kirshner

Universities Have Been Receptive to Hamas

The current war in and around the Gaza Strip has brought out morally repugnant reactions from Palestinian students, their fellow travellers and academics on university campuses across Canada and the United States.

In the wake of Hamas’ murderous rampage in southern Israel on October 7, which has so far claimed the lives of some 1,400 Israelis and foreigners and forced Israel to launch a massive offensive against Hamas, Palestinian students and their non-Palestinian friends and sympathizers have released a flood of disgusting and historically erroneous statements misconstruing Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians and, worst of all, glorifying and justifying unbridled violence.

In doing so, they have effectively aligned themselves with the most reactionary elements in the Middle East — Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and Iran, all of which espouse social and political policies that are the antithesis of progressivism.

They have chosen sides, supporting an extremist strand of Palestinian nationalism synonymous with the late Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini, a pawn of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

They are truly useful idiots.

At McGill University in Montreal, an outfit called Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill, issued the following statement: “The resistance in Gaza led a heroic attack against the occupation and has taken over … hostages … Their march toward liberation is as monumental as their rockets. The resistance will free the (Palestinian) prisoners (in Israel) who have been facing a fascist attack by the occupation and liberate our land from the fangs of the enemy.”

Palestinian Human Rights McGill added that “the resistance has set a new precedent for the Palestinian struggle — our right to resist the occupation, to defend the land, and to free our prisoners are the utmost priorities.”

The seriously misguided and misinformed students who released this amoral statement have explicitly condoned mass murder and portrayed Hamas — a terrorist organization that has foisted misery on Gaza and exploits ordinary Palestinians as human shields — in glorious hues.

Shame on them!

Much to its credit, McGill denounced Palestinian Human Rights McGill, branding “the celebration of acts of terror and violence as completely antithetical to McGill’s fundamental values.”

At York University in Toronto, three student organizations — York University Graduate Students’ Association, York Federation of Students and Glendon College Student Unions — posted a letter offering limitless support to the Palestinians. In a “Statement of Solidarity With Palestine,” they endorsed the Palestinian peoples’ “fight against settler colonialism, apartheid and genocide.”

And in a reference to the current Gaza war, they described Hamas’ attack on Israeli towns, kibbutzim and army bases as “a strong act of resistance” without even bothering to reference, much less condemn, the mass murder of mostly defenceless men, women and children and the killing of babies.

Apart from the Israelis who have been killed, 203 or so have fallen into captivity, and upwards of 200 are still missing.

This is of no concern to York University students, who have hailed Hamas’ attack. Proceeding in this vile vein, they have lauded the terrorists’ success in tearing down and crossing “the illegitimate border fence erected by the settler-colonial apartheid state of so-called Israel.”

It is abundantly clear that they fundamentally reject Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, in line with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, and that they support Hamas, an antisemitic and retrogressive Islamic fundamentalist organization whose foremost goal is to create an authoritarian and theocratic Muslim state stretching from “the river to the sea,” or from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Recognizing the students’ position as morally bankrupt and untenable, York University “unequivocally” condemned their statement as “inflammatory.” The university added, “Freedom of expression has limits and comes with responsibilities. It must never reach into promoting or justifying violence against unarmed civilians.”

Ontario’s Minister of Universities and Colleges Jill Dunlop blasted these students without mincing words: “Their joint statement … supporting a … terrorist organization and promoting and glorifying violence against innocent Israeli civilians is unacceptable and must not be tolerated. These groups need to apologize and rescind their statement. Otherwise, I expect York University to hold (them) accountable for their actions.”

At Harvard University, in a letter titled “Joint Statement by Harvard Palestine Solidarity Groups on the Situation in Palestine,” Palestinian students hewed to the same sickening narrative, holding “the Israel regime entirely responsible for all the unfolding violence,” notwithstanding the fact that Hamas has launched tens of thousands of rockets and mortars at Israel for the past two decades. One of these rockets accidentally struck a Palestinian hospital, killing hundreds of Palestinians. And in a stunning reflection of their myopia, they cavalierly ignored Hamas’ murderous rampage in southern Israel.

It was a dark day for Harvard.

Its new president, Claudine Gay, and 17 senior officials somewhat belatedly released a statement condemning Hamas’ attack, but the damage already had been done. As Lawrence Summers, its former president, confessed, “I have never been as disillusioned and alienated as I am today.”

At Yale University, another Ivy League institution, Zareena Grewal, an associate professor of American studies, ethnicity, race, migration and religious studies, issued an outrageous tweet. “Settlers are not civilians,” she claimed in an allusion to the Israelis murdered by Hamas terrorists.

Grewal myopically equates Israelis within Israel’s internationally recognized borders as “settlers” because she has not reconciled herself to Israel’s existence as an independent member state of the United Nations. In her heart of hearts, Israel is an illegitimate entity, a latter-day Crusader state, that has usurped the national rights of the Palestinians.

She has no regard whatsoever for the Jewish people’s undeniable and inalienable historic connection and attachment to Israel, which precedes the rise of Islam. In the twisted spirit of woke, she has bought into Hamas’ false, fanciful and cynical narrative.

At Stanford University, an unnamed instructor asked Jewish and Israeli students in his undergraduate class in “civil, liberal and global education” to identify themselves and take their belongings into a corner. He then said, “How many people died in the Holocaust?” When a student replied, “Six million,” he retorted, “Colonizers killed more than six million. Israel is a colonizer.”

As might have been expected, this dim-witted individual, who had behaved like a Nazi ideologue, was summarily dismissed.  Stanford President Richard Salter and Provost Jenny Martinez both said he had no right to “call out” students “based on their backgrounds and identities.”

Yet the story does not end there.

In an op-ed piece in Stanford’s student newspaper, the Daily, Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine blandly called Hamas’ deadly attacks “part of the protracted struggle against settler-colonial oppression.”

This characterization of Hamas’ monstrous assault is a clear-cut endorsement of the Palestinian school of rejectionism, which dismisses a two-state solution and demands Israel’s destruction.

Judging by these disturbing incidents, one can only conclude that some students, particularly those of Palestinian descent, are exploiting academic freedom on university campuses for their own nefarious ends.

They should know they do not have a licence to endorse mass murder or glorify and fetishize genocidal violence. Such students have no place in a university. They must be called to account and suffer the consequences.

These malicious bigots claim to be sensitive souls who are working for a better, more humane world. In truth, they are barbarians who have crossed red lines of decency and created a hostile environment for Jewish university students who support or sympathize with Israel. Their offensive statements and confrontational demonstrations could well lead to acts of harassment against Jewish students and organizations.

University administrations should be under no illusions as to what is happening right under their noses.

Palestinian students of this ilk and their accomplices have drastically lowered the level of debate on Israel’s complex and confounding conflict with the Palestinians and abused their right to free speech. They have had a chilling and demoralizing effect on Jewish students, who must be free to express pro-Israel views without the threat of intimidation.

These foot soldiers of cancel culture are totalitarians who are taking advantage of their privileged position and debasing the universities they attend.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,
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