How, how, how did this come to pass? There is no evil like the academic who provides the ideological foundation for the extermination of a people, and insists that you call that program “virtue.”
Four days in, after explicit images of the slaughter had been blasting around the internet nonstop for days, my college administration, and my faculty colleagues, had remained silent. In contrast, when a single Black man died by a police officer far away a few years ago the place had exploded for days. When an administrator more recently scheduled an event at a venue that 40 years earlier had racist admissions policies there were weeks of outrage, the canceling of classes and then of the administrator. The misuse of pronouns here can get you disciplined on a bias charge, in this age of microaggressions and in the name of promoting inclusion.
But when (now) 1400+ Jews are slaughtered in cold blood, live on camera, there is—silence.
And not just slaughtered: bloodthirsty murderers going house to house, murdering entire families, children, grandparents, medics and first responders, raping women and little girls, abusing corpses, burning down houses with their families inside like in medieval times, paragliding into a music festival with automatic weapons gunning down 260 young adults (same age as our students), not to mention taking 200+ hostages (women, children, elderly) whom they have threatened to execute publicly (assuming they are still alive) —no different from the Nazi Einsatzgruppen, except that the Nazis didn’t have the ability to also livestream their atrocities—
There was silence.
Actually worse: business as usual. Chatter about upcoming events, department business, the usual weekly newsletters, announcements re upcoming meetings. Nothing to talk about, folks, it’s just Jews being slaughtered on the largest scale since the Holocaust.
“We must take care of our students”—a wonderful rallying cry that fills up our airwaves whenever any identity group is perceived to have received a harm, however abstract that harm is, however removed that harm might be from them directly and personally.
Except for Jews—whose family members, friends, and acquaintances were literally just gunned down, raped, burned alive, decapitated, all livestreamed. (They used one grandmother’s phone to film their execution of her, then posted the video to her own Facebook account so everyone she knew could witness it—which is how her family learned of her fate.)
How would they feel if that were their grandmother?
If they watched her be executed with their own eyes?
Did this community truly have no care or concern for its Jewish members?
I didn’t want to believe it.
But this isn’t just about my institution. Apart from a small handful of university presidents who responded appropriately (such as at the University of Florida), most were either silent like mine or (eventually) expressed tepid, neutral, general words of dismay without truly acknowledging what had just happened before our very eyes. Although admittedly these responses were at least marginally better than what happened and continues to happen on many other campuses: active, large, loud rallies where students and faculty and at least the occasional administrator openly endorsed and called for the deaths of Jews.
But only marginally: the silence, and the tepidness, convey the same message, if slightly less explicitly.
The problem is nearly—everywhere.
Other people saw the problem earlier, but for me it was around 2014 that I began to understand that nearly everyone not merely at my institution but at these very many institutions, including the best institutions, really—hated—the Jews. But since I first saw it I’ve also seen it getting worse, and now it is shockingly unambiguous. I no longer have the occasional worry that my concerns are maybe a little paranoid, apocalyptic, overly emotional.
It is now clear.
Many, many people in our universities don’t merely really hate the Jews, but actually—want them dead.
In 2023 America, not to mention around the globe.
Take a look at the rallies the first week after the massacre at Harvard, at Yale, at Princeton, at Columbia, at Georgetown, and at the University of North Carolina where one very excited young woman screamed exuberantly, “We are all of us Hamas!”
Hamas, which openly calls for, and acts to bring about, the death of every Jew on the planet.
At the University of Washington rally “for Palestine” a young woman Jewish student was filmed sobbing in front of a seemingly indifferent administrator, “Why are you allowing this to happen here? They want us dead!”
How, how, how did this come to pass?
Know this to start: Israel is home to half the world’s Jews, and the majority of the other half are closely connected to it, identify with it, support it, have family, friends, acquaintances there. It is safe to assume that most Jewish persons on your campus either know someone who was just murdered in their homes or taken hostage and perhaps soon to be executed publicly, or knows someone who does. That means not only that most Jews on your campus have just suffered an incalculable concrete personal loss, but that anyone who wants Israeli Jews dead must also want these Jews dead—because these Jews mostly support those Jews, and may even be related to them.
There is no comfort in imagining, well maybe they want to kill the Jews there, but here, in the US of A, in 2023, I am safe.
Do not forget that point.
This may be the US of A in 2023, but what we’re seeing is an old story, dressed up fresh for the 21st century Western world.
Years of lies, fertilizing the soil, all deliberately designed to delegitimize and dehumanize the Jew, to label the Jew as inhuman, demonic, pure evil. Once you are convinced that the Jew represents evil, then killing Jews becomes not only acceptable but even obligatory. If the Jew is evil, then you in turn must be a very good person in killing him. The Christians did this for centuries, portraying the Jew as literally the fleshly embodiment of evil in their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The Germans and the Nazis did this for decades in racial terms, inspired by the antisemitic conspiracy-theory forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even developing a whole academic discipline to document and thus demonstrate the evils of the Jews. After some decades of this program, killing Jews isn’t merely easier but becomes an act of virtue.
The newer lies, now also several decades old, are merely superficial variations on the older lies, aiming to better reflect the specific evils of today. The charges of “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “settler colonialism,” “apartheid,” and more recently “Jewish supremacy,” not to mention probably every single thing most people believe about Gaza—you may be sure that all of these are lies, in fact easily documentable and demonstrable lies for anyone who takes a few minutes to honestly evaluate them. (Maybe people don’t know that rather unlike most “open air prisons” or “concentration camps” Gaza has four-star hotels and restaurants, luxury cars, ritzy malls, affluent neighborhoods, fancy beach resorts, and an obesity problem, not to mention a massive military infrastructure.) These charges don’t have to be true, they just have to be widely circulated, widely repeated, and widely believed, so that the Jew becomes the embodiment of whatever is considered most evil today.
And this is what the “pro-Palestinian” movement, along with its numerous “progressive” allies, has successfully accomplished.
After twenty years of the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel, orchestrated on campus by the now more than 200 chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), their short-term goal, that of damaging Israel economically, was a bust; but the long-term goal, the real goal, has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Whether or not a particular BDS resolution passes or fails on a given campus, the campaign itself soaks the campus in all the lies above for weeks on end, year after year. Most students don’t really follow the details, but come away thinking, man, those Jews with their genocide, apartheid, and supremacy, must really be pretty evil.
And now in 2023 no one blinks an eye when SJP asserts boldly, baldly, as if factually, on their recent social media celebrating the slaughter of 1400 Jews, that every single Israeli Jew is a “settler.” In today’s campus vernacular the slur “settler” rivals in evilness the slur “Nazi,” which they also sling against Israelis. If every Israeli Jew is a settler, then every Israeli Jew is evil, and therefore legitimately murdered. That includes the babies, and the grandmothers, and the unarmed dancing teenagers, and by the way it also justifies torturing them and raping the women before you murder them, which also occurred on a significant scale. (The first report to the Red Cross on the hostages noted that many suffered from “severe injuries due to rape.”)
Every Israeli Jew is guilty. And if every Israeli Jew is guilty, is evil, then so is every other Jew who supports them and may even be related to them.
There are no innocent Jews.
The actual Nazis couldn’t have orchestrated it better.
Those administrators, those faculty members, those students who say nothing while 1400 Jews are slaughtered—and livestreamed, with the most horrific recordings circulating the globe getting millions of views and shares and likes and celebratory comments—Do they remain silent because they too believe these Jews actually—deserve this?
One liberated kibbutz included the bodies of 40 babies.
Are there no innocent Jews, who don’t deserve this fate?
Babies, grandmothers, dancing peaceniks, living in their ancestral homeland, in an internationally recognized UN member state, in territory that is not disputed except by those who believe that no Jew is innocent?
If they can’t condemn this—if they remain silent—then they must believe these Jews deserve it. I can draw no other conclusion. Is it possible that these academic colleagues, sophisticated, educated, refined, “experts” in values—for do they not daily proclaim their expertise in values, in their anti-racism, their anti-hate, their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?—is it possible that the people we work with, share offices with, who teach our children, share the belief and value system of the ancient and medieval Christians, the modern Nazis?
And of the contemporary Islamic Resistance Movement, otherwise known as Hamas?
Hamas has made no secrets of its views. From its founding charter—which literally openly endorses the murder of every Jew on earth, and quotes repeatedly, and “factually,” from the antisemitic Nazi-worshipped forgery Protocols in order to support its view that every Jew deserves to be murdered—to literally every action, every behavior, and every statement in the 40 years since, it has been telling you exactly what it thinks.
They tell us this openly, and have been telling us this openly for decades. A week after the massacre their leaders called on every Muslim on earth to bring the jihad to everywhere on earth, which prompted attacks in several European countries and had the FBI on alert here.
This isn’t hard to figure out. This movement is not about peace, about negotiation, not about “two states,” not about “justice,” not about Palestinian self-determination, not even about bettering the lives of Palestinians, all the things that should rightly matter to genuine progressives.
It is about murdering every Jew on earth, starting with the ones in Israel. (They also are interested in removing Christians, for the record, but the Jews are the first priority.)
That the animus is not restricted to Israeli Jews is also clear by the global reaction. Mass rallies in major cities around the globe, celebrating the slaughter and attacking local Jews and Jewish institutions. And back to campuses: SJP immediately launched a social media campaign celebrating this mass slaughter of Jews (which they call “resistance”), and then launched a campaign to “bring the resistance” to every campus they could, in order to “dismantle” Zionism on every campus. Lovely words—except when “resistance” openly means “slaughter every Jew,” when “dismantling Zionism” means removing, “by any means necessary,” anyone on campus who believes that Jews have human rights too, and when they illustrate their campaign with a celebratory image of the paraglider armed with automatic weapons about to embark on gunning down every unarmed dancing teenager in his sight.
This is open endorsement of, and incitement to, mass homicidal violence—occurring on, and directed towards, not only Israel and Israelis but our very campuses.
They don’t even hide it. They’re proud about it.
They were exulting in it.
“We are all Hamas!” the young woman in North Carolina screamed. Can you imagine if she were your roommate, your classmate, your student?
Hamas, SJP, have never hid their intentions. “Resistance,” and “By any means necessary,” even “decolonization,” are the sanitized way they like to put it, but as you see them chuckle in glee, in ecstasy, over this mass slaughter, giving those snuff videos millions of views and likes and glowing reviews, it looks a lot less sanitary.
When an openly genocidal Jew-hating group declares, and then perpetrates, their intention to slaughter Jews, is it not advisable to #BelieveThem?
And when a campus group does the same?
Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to celebrate their mass slaughter, and campaign to bring that slaughter to your campus? What exactly are all those diversity and inclusion administrators paid to do, if not to prevent this?
Or at least condemn it?
But silence is what we got on my campus, and on many campuses.
Is that because people—our administrators, our colleagues, our students—agree? That every Jew is guilty, that every Jew is evil, that every Jew must be eliminated?
Is that what they are thinking, when they look at their Jewish colleagues, students—at you—even if they are good enough not to say it aloud?
That the answer is yes is supported by what, of course, predictably, happened next.
Jews began to defend themselves. And the world, including campuses, promptly erupted and continues to erupt in outrage at every single measure Jews take in so doing. There isn’t a single nation on earth that wouldn’t respond massively to such an attack, but when Jews do it, every measure is instantly labeled an aggression, an atrocity, a war crime, there will be international tribunals, etc. That is because in their eyes Jews do not have the right to defend themselves, the right that all other human beings have—because after a generation of the program academics and their students now apparently believe that Jews are so demonic they are not even endowed with the “human rights” championed by all the anti-Israel “human rights” NGOs, whose condemnations of Israeli self-defense are as loud as anyone else’s.
One other thing also happened next. The more decent among the academy did have some words of concern about the massacre but couldn’t resist even a nanosecond before appending to those words their “explanations,” their “context,” the “nuance,” the “what choice did they have” rhetoric—invoking, after all, the “blockade,” the “occupation,” the “apartheid,” etc. The lies, the damned lies, doing all the work, obscuring the fact that the Palestinians, even Hamas, did and do have many other choices available besides slaughtering Jews, including that of actually making peace with Israel.
One academic actually said the following to me. The reason she was silent to that point wasn’t that she hated Jews, she said, but that she was trying to understand the conflict from multiple sides, because it is after all extremely complicated. When this person was confronted with the mass sadistic slaughter of 1400 mostly civilian Jews including babies, in other words, her response was “I need to hear more perspectives.” Imagine saying on a campus today that you were suspending judgment on the George Floyd case, and on the general phenomenon of anti-Black racism, and while you’re at it on slavery too because the situation is “complicated” and there are other “sides,” including the side that held that all Blacks are evil and deserve to be enslaved or eliminated.
Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to justify their mass slaughter by providing “context,” insisting on “nuance,” wanting to see the “other side”?
Academics are supposed to be in the subtlety and nuanced business, and indeed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, and there is lots of room for reasonable debates about many aspects of it.
But that is not what’s going on here.
The issue at hand really is extraordinarily simple: either those raped and murdered and abused and burned and decapitated babies and families and grandmothers deserved that fate, or they did not. Any “but,” any “explanation,” any “context,” any “complication,” any “both sides,” any “all lives matter” (as many of those tepid university statements exhibited) blames the victim for their slaughter and comes down as a vote that they deserved it—because, in the end, because no other explanation is possible, they must believe that every Jew is evil, and that the medieval Christians and modern Nazis and contemporary Hamasniks have it right.
Anything less than outright unqualified condemnation of this act is a signal to your Jewish colleagues, peers, and students, that their very existence on this planet is an aggressive provocation to you. The tepidity and the silence may be marginally better than the “Intifada!” and “Resistance by any means necessary!” and “Death to the Jews!” chants heard on all too many campuses this past week, but they signify exactly the same thing.
Here is one other neat trick, pointing again to the same conclusion. Many instantly responded to the onset of the Israeli response by calling for de-escalation, by condemning genocide. Beautiful: who could be against de-escalation, and for genocide? But here’s the problem. Wasn’t Hamas’s mass sadistic slaughter of some 1400 mostly civilians just a little bit of a, you know, escalation? And part of an explicit campaign of, you know, genocide? How does one come out for de-escalation only after the Jew-slaughterers have finished their slaughter, and without even acknowledging that slaughter? How does one come out against genocide only after the openly genocidal group has finished its round of genocidal activity, and do so without even acknowledging that genocidal activity? Think about the message that sends to Jewish community members: we have no objection when you are attacked, but we condemn you when you respond. Or maybe: genocide is dreadful, except when it’s perpetrated against Jews.
Not to mention that there is a whole other mode of de-escalation, and genocide prevention, that these folks entirely overlook. They could demand that Hamas return all the hostages immediately and surrender, and then the war is over, instantly. You don’t get more de-escalating and anti-genocidal than that. Yet somehow that is not the mode they are calling for.
Make that condemnation of the Hamas slaughter, full stop, unconditional—and then perhaps we can have reasonable discussions about many things, including about the scope and nature of the Israeli response.
Anything else and the conclusion is inescapable: they just want Jews dead.
For the record, it is possible to be “pro-Palestinian” yet also condemn this massacre, full stop. That really isn’t so hard to work out. And yet finding a person or two on a campus taking that position will keep you busy for a pretty long time.
Even as I write this I cannot fully believe it, but it really is past denying. As that young woman at the University of Washington sobbed, “They want us dead.”
It is Hamas, I obviously believe, that is profoundly evil. But one thing to their “credit,” I suppose: they at least tell you who they are, they are open about it, they may be violent religious extremist fanatics but at least you know who you are dealing with.
But the academics—the professors, the administrators, now a full generation of students and young alumni—the people who justify that violence, who create entire ideologies that fertilize the ground by painting the victim as the evil one, as the one who deserves this extermination, are at least equally evil. They may not pull the trigger but they create the conditions that make the trigger pulling justifiable and therefore feasible, and do so in a massively deceptive way. The entire “Anti-Zionism” campaign of the past two decades was just that, a wolf in sheep’s clothing: take the eternal hatred of the Jew and wrap it up as “political critique,” or “human rights,” so that it will be allowed to enter the academic arena, where it will seep into the brains of unsuspecting students. In the past decade the “wokeness” and “diversity” program added fuel to this fire, prettying up that sheep, turning Western Jews into privileged white supremacist oppressors of people of color while their Israeli Jewish siblings oppress the Palestinians of color, so that in the name of all the higher virtues it became acceptable and then obligatory to start hating the Jews, all of the Jews, who now represent the ultimate evil in their 21st-century eyes. That is precisely what the medieval Christians and the modern Nazis did, and what those academic “progressives” and “Anti-Zionists” who have been propagating these vicious lies for many years under their various jargony names have been doing.
There is no evil like the academic who provides the ideological foundation for the extermination of a people, and insists that you call that program “virtue.”
“Death to the Jews!” at least has the decency to be explicit.
But the tepidity, and the silence from administration, from the diversity administrators, from the faculty, on so many other campuses—says the same thing.
They really want us dead.
[Featured Image: Pro-Hamas protest at University of Wisconsin (“Glory to the martyrs, glory to the murders”), via Twitter]
Andrew Pessin is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Studies at Connecticut College, and Campus Bureau Editor of the Algemeiner. Among other works he is co-editor of Anti-Zionism on Campus: The University, Free Speech, and BDS. More information about him and his work may be found at www.andrewpessin.com.DONATE
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