Riot at American college
Riot at American collegeV. Sharpe

Gary Willigis a veteran member of the Arutz Sheva news staff.

Ever since the eruption of anti-Israel protests began in the immediate aftermath of the massacre Hamas committed on October 7, I have wrestled with the question of whether those who have joined these protests out of ignorance and parrot the antisemitic claims of the protest leaders should themselves be considered antisemitic. If someone honestly believes that by protesting Israel, they are working to stop a genocide, is there not something noble in that, misguided as it may be?

This question troubled me again with the encampments that arose on American college campuses in recent months, starting at Columbia University and spreading to so-called ‘elite’ schools across the country.

The young people who have been indoctrinated by hateful professors, those who chant ‘From the River to the Sea’ without having any idea what river and what sea they are even talking about, those who think they oppose all forms of racism and bigotry while standing shoulder-to-shoulder with people calling for a second Holocaust. Does the adage ‘never attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity’ absolve them of the antisemitism inherent in the movement they have joined?

Or to put it another way, can one make the patently false claim that Israel is engaged in genocide and not be antisemitic?

A look at the history of antisemitic lies would suggest not.

Throughout the last millennium, all sorts of lies have been believed about the Jews, and these who believed those lies or acted upon them also believed they were serving a noble cause.

Those who believed the blood libels honestly thought they were protecting Christian children. Those who believed Jews poisoned wells honestly thought they were saving their villages. These supposedly noble intentions did not change the fact that those beliefs were inherently antisemitic or that thousands upon thousands of innocent people were massacred because of them.

In modern times, if someone is duped into believing the conspiracy theories promulgated by the Protocols of the Elders of Ziyon forgery, that person is an antisemite no matter how noble his or her intentions may be. Many Nazis honestly thought they were saving the German people and even the human race by exterminating Jewish babies because they swallowed their leaders’ lies about race purity and Jewish perfidy.

The accusation that Israel is committing genocide is just as much a lie as the blood libels, well poisoning, and world domination accusations were. In theory, perhaps one could believe this lie and not be an antisemite, just as in theory, one could be an opponent of Zionism and not hate Jews. But in practice, both are impossible.

If it is antisemitic to believe that Jews murder gentile children to bake matzah with or that Jews have a secret cabal that controls the world, then it is antisemitic to believe that Israel is currently committing genocide.

Any factual examination of the war between Israel and Hamas would quickly and definitively show that Israel is not fighting to exterminate the residents of Gaza and is going to great lengths to keep civilians safe. Israel has given up enormous military advantages in order to warn civilians to leave before combat starts, most recently evacuating about a million people from Rafah before launching an operation to crush the last Hamas stronghold. Israel has allowed tens of thousands of trucks carrying food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid into Gaza over the course of the war and has worked with other countries and humanitarian organizations to increase the amount of aid that goes in.

And despite Hamas’s strategy of deliberately using human shields to protect its weapons and its fighters, Israel has achieved a civilian to combat death ratio of 1:1.5, possibly even 1.1, a historic achievement in the protection of civilians in modern warfare, where on average nine civilians are killed for every combatant death.

Not only is the genocide accusation an easily disproved lie, but those who created it are in fact projecting their own genocidal desires onto Israel. The purpose of the accusation has never been to protect civilians, but to protect Hamas and provide to support for Hamas’s openly genocidal goals.

It is no coincidence that at these antisemitic demonstrations where Israel is accused of genocide there is so much support for Hamas and even praise for the massacre of 1,200 people.

It is no surprise at all that these supposedly anti-genocide protests so often feature open calls for genocide, including “From the River to the Sea Palestine will be Free,” signs calling for a “Final Solution,” and threats of “10,000” October 7s, to name just a tiny fraction of the threats of mass murder that dominate these demonstrations.

The goal is to leave Israel defenseless so Hamas can continue to massacre its population with impunity into all the Jews are dead and gone. This is also the goal of South Africa’s attempt to charge Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice, to protect the South African government’s friends in Hamas so they can be free to murder again.

There is nothing noble about these protests or South Africa’s legal case, whatever sheen of respectability the media attempts to give them. They are displays of hate masquerading as humanitarianism, and their leaders would cheer an actual genocide, like the Columbia student protest leader who said “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

This week, law professor Alan Dershowitz called the anti-Israel student protesters “Hitler youth.” It is an apt comparison, given the goals of the Nazi and anti-Israel movements are so identical.

The history of antisemitism shows that hate based on ignorance is still hate. For students at Ivy League and elite universities, there is no excuse for such ignorance.

When you join with Nazi-like, pro-genocide marches and causes, you are an antisemite. There is no grey area, because whether it is the year 1144, 1944, or 2024, those who believe and act on antisemitic lies are antisemites through and through.