The Culture That Allows Anti-Jewish Hate to Fester at Universities Must End
In the days after Hamas’s murderous pogrom, it became clear that sympathy for Israel’s victims, although robustly demonstrated by heads of government, was far from the norm in the streets, especially on university campuses where jubilant support for Hamas ran high.
On Oct. 11, the conservative satirical publication, Babylon Bee, slammed Harvard University, the alleged jewel in the crown of American higher education, with a savagely mocking piece titled “Harvard Student Leaves Lecture On Microaggressions To Attend ‘Kill The Jews’ Rally.”
The grimly hilarious faux-article neatly captures what the tragedy has illuminated: namely, the depraved hypocrisy governing campus culture, according to which failure to use someone’s preferred pronoun is considered “violence,” but endorsement of actual violence against Jews is well tolerated. Just one of the parody’s paragraph sums up the world of contradictions Jewish students have been forced to navigate for decades:
“The University happily hosted the rally for mass murder and rape after being assured that no one would be misgendered. ‘Hate speech has no place here at Harvard,’ assured President Claudine Gay. ‘We affirm everyone's right, regardless of gender, to feel safe to express their deep hatred and longing to kill Jewish people. That's why Harvard is more than a school - it's a family.’”
Harvard deserves this smackdown.
The river of blood in Israel had not yet cooled before a declaration, authored by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestine Solidarity Committee, was published on Instagram (later withdrawn by Meta). Originally co-signed by 33 “Palestine Solidarity Groups,” the statement endorsed Hamas’s proto-genocide as an act of “resistance” and held “the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” For the slaughter of 1,200 Israelis, “The apartheid regime is the only one to blame.”
There was blowback. Former Harvard president Larry Summers expressed surprise on social media that the university could not “find anything approaching the moral clarity of Harvard statements after George Floyd’s death or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.” Billionaire Bill Ackman called for an employment blacklist of Harvard grads who were signatories to the letter, adding a pep talk on X (formerly Twitter) to students and businesspeople alike in living their convictions through disassociation with terror-supporters.
Under pressure, on Oct. 9, 18 Harvard administrators issued a mealy-mouthed statement titled “War in the Middle East,” which affirmed their own denunciation of Hamas, but did not mention, let alone condemn, the student groups endorsing Hamas’s carnage. On Oct 10, Harvard’s president Claudine Gay did condemn Hamas’s “terrorist atrocities,” but refused to judge the student groups, only noting they did not speak for Harvard U or its leadership.
Gay emphasized the value of maintaining “one Harvard community,” a sentimental and vapid metaphor, considering that one enclave in the Harvard community has the community leader’s blessing to publicly enthuse over a terrorist group’s hateful blow to another enclave—who just happen to be Jewish.
So The Babylon Bee’s satire was spot on, but in truth their job was made easy on this file: sneering at the depraved hypocrisy of universities, where the “safety” of every minority but Jews is sacrosanct, is shooting ducks in a barrel.
On Oct. 11, in response to the Oct. 9 statement, the president and deans of Harvard received a witheringly contemptuous letter from Asher Cohen, president of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also signed by a rector and former rector. Following an enumeration of Hamas war crimes, Cohen wrote: “One does not have to be an international law expert to realize the extreme immorality of this crime of genocide. All that is needed is basic common sense and minimum integrity.”
Harvard was hardly alone in its lack of “basic common sense and minimum integrity.” The same can be said of other terror-supportive or morally equivocal statements, or even of pusillanimous statement-avoidance by student groups or presidents of Cornell, Northwestern, Stanford, Columbia, the University of Virginia, and Dartmouth.
I am pleased to say that in Canada, where support for Hamas’s pogrom is high in “the street,” Concordia University put out a short but unequivocal denunciation of terror. And McGill University denounced the “abhorrent” social media posts celebrating Hamas violence by McGill’s chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights. But Toronto’s York University, among Canada’s most militantly Israel-hostile, is facing calls to decertify a major student union over a public statement that called Hamas’s attacks in Israel “justified and necessary.”
A reckoning is long overdue for our benighted intellectuals and administrative elites on the left, who have consistently backed the wrong revolutionary horses for decades. Their campuses are recruitment centres for pro-Palestine activism, and in the process their campuses became petri-dishes for antisemitism in the guise of anti-Zionism. In their student newspapers, pro-Israel writing is verboten, and their student unions are preoccupied with attempts to pass boycott resolutions. Even their arts “festivals” are infected with the virus.
Just a few weeks ago, for example, the University of Pennsylvania mounted a “Palestine Writes Literary Festival.” Presaging the Hamas pogrom, speakers advocated for the ethnic cleansing of Jews and repeated assorted blood libels. UPenn president Elizabeth Magill and board chair Scott Bok failed to condemn its hateful content. The only good news to arise from that travesty is that it galvanized Marc Rowan, CEO of Apollo Global Management and chair of the Board of Overseers of UPenn’s Wharton School of Business, into action.
In “before” days—that is, before the pogrom—he might have said nothing. But in “after” days, he found his voice. On Oct. 11, Rowan published a charged piece in Bari Weiss’s Free Press titled “University Donors, Close Your Checkbooks.” Rowan called on all UPenn alumni and supporters “who believe we are heading in the wrong direction” to put a moratorium on donations until the president and chair resign. Their failure to condemn its calls for violence against Jews was “not a matter of free speech, but University-sponsored hate speech,” he wrote.
Rowan blames himself as one of many alumni leaders and trustees who sat quietly by “as the [university’s] pursuit of truth … was traded for a poorly organized pursuit of social justice and political correctness.” Staying quiet has “allowed for calls of violence and slaughter against a minority group across campuses. We can accept that no longer.” Ultimately, he writes, “we must change the culture that allows this to take place, a culture that does not deserve our financial support.”
This is a rallying cry I have hoped to hear for many years. When “minimum integrity” balks, money talks. May Rowan’s tribe increase across the West. The pathological altruism that breeds antisemitism in the universities must end.