Dr. Richard L. Cravatts
Dr. Richard L. CravattsPhoto: PR

In their zeal to create “safe” campus environments, universities have attempted to create an educational environment where students from approved victim groups are coddled, nurtured, and shielded from any criticism or intellectual or emotional challenges.

So-called hate speech—which now includes any expression that contradicts the prevailing progressive orthodoxy on campuses—is said to be harmful, even violent, by those forced to listen to others’ ideas.

Not content with simply acknowledging disparities between races, the orthodoxy on campuses now forces everyone to confront racism—including their own—with talk of implicit bias, invisible racism, “white privilege,” and microaggressions, together with a consequential battery of programs and initiatives to protect minority students from this alleged bigotry: mandatory sensitivity training for all faculty and students, publicly announced, school-wide solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and campus-wide initiatives to increase the recruitment of minority students and faculty.

Anyone who questions or challenges these sweeping, unproved allegations of systemic racism can be accused of white supremacy and the promotion of injurious hate speech which further marginalizes and harms a victim group.

Conservative speakers or faculty who challenge issues such as illegal immigration, abortion, gay rights, race-based admissions quotas, or even radical Islam can find themselves vilified, shouted down at lectures, censured and denounced by their academic departments or the university administration, or even purged from campus—all as a result of the belief that chosen student victim groups—LGBTQs, Hispanics, Muslims, blacks—have to be shielded from any critique and that anyone who “harms” these groups with alleged hate speech is unwelcome at the university.

There is, however, one victim group that is rarely protected from vilification and ideological assault, namely, Jewish students who are supporters of Israel.

Progressive students have decided, from within their own moral self-righteousness, that the Palestinian Arab campaign for self-determination is such a sacred cause that anyone who defends Israel is a moral retrograde. To support Israel is to risk being deemed a racist, an imperialist, a tacit supporter of apartheid, or even a white supremacist now that Jews are considered to enjoy white privilege.

Groups such as the virulent Students for Justice in Palestinian (SJP) have waged an unrelenting cognitive war against Israel and its campus supporters and Jewish students are confronted with active hatred, rhetoric, and condemnation that, were it aimed at any other minority group, would be immediately and forcefully denounced, not only by fellow students but by university officials as well—just as they do when a racist, homophobic, or other incident against a victim group takes place.

BDS resolutions are pushed through student governments in which Israel is maligned as a racist, apartheid regime, existing on stolen Arab land, and chronically oppressing the human and civil rights of Palestinians. Yearly Israeli Apartheid Weeks reinforce this false narrative with mock apartheid walls constructed in university quads and guest speakers who parrot calumnies against the Jewish state while falsely accusing its supporters of racism, ethnic cleansing, and genocide.

Often heard at these campus anti-Israel hate-fests is the grotesque chant, “Intifada, intifada, long live intifada,” referring, of course, to an uprising in which Israeli civilians, not soldiers, are murdered randomly by psychopathic Arabs. Anti-Israel activists regularly support “resistance” on behalf of the ever-aggrieved Palestinian Arabs, resistance being a comfortable euphemism for terrorism against Jews.

On campuses where misgendering someone is now considered an act of “violence,” it is very telling that when there is rhetoric calling for the murder of Jews, there is a shocking silence on campus, made even more ironic by the fact that those same activists most likely think of themselves as woke, tolerant, and compassionate for the plight of the underdog.

On August 15th, for example, the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU) tabled an anti-Israel motion that included the expected slanders against the Jewish state, including the allegation that Zionism is racist and colonial, that Palestine is occupied by Israel, and that ethnic cleansing is part of that situation.

Most inflammatory, though, was the language in the motion that “UMSU supports the self-determination of the Palestine people and their right to engage in self-defence [sic] against their occupiers,” that self-defense, of course, being the assumed right of the Palestinian Arabs (including the terrorist thugs of Hamas) to indiscriminately lob lethal rockets and mortars into southern Israeli towns from Gaza with the express intent to murder Jewish civilians in their sleep.

Even when university campuses worked diligently in the 1980s to dismantle South African apartheid, no one called for blacks to murder their white oppressors; no one yearned for the complete destruction of the South African state and its replacement with a new, black-run sovereignty. But in the fictitious narrative about Palestine, illegal occupation, and Israeli oppression of an "indigenous" people, these students make it clear that terrorism and the murder of Jews are not only condoned but celebrated.

The pro-Palestinian movement has always devalued Jewish lives, assuming that the murder of Israelis was justified because of the alleged systemic racism and oppression inherent in Zionism and the very existence of the Jewish state. So the language in the UMSU motion calling for and justifying terrorism against Israel is not uncommon, despite its ghoulish lethality and indifference to Jewish suffering.

Lately, that genocidal support for Palestinian Arab terrorism has become even more extreme, suggesting that, if anything, the toxic activism against Israel and its Jewish supporters on campus has grown more sinister and morally debased.

At Ohio State University, for example, the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter just hosted a vigil to honor terrorist Ibrahim Nabulsi, who was killed in a joint operation by Israeli counter-terrorism forces. “Come out for our emergency protest and candlelight vigil for the recent tragedies happening in Palestine,” the group’s Instagram post read. “We will be honoring our martyrs Ibrahim Nabulsi, Hussein Taha, Islam Soboh, and Momen Jaber. Please join us as we continue to fight and stand for justice in Palestine,” justice presumably meaning the continued murder of Israelis in the name of Palestinian Arab self-determination.

One of those so-called “martyrs,” Ibrahim Nabulsi, also known as the “Lion of Nablus,” was not a random terrorist but a key member of Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. He was responsible, before being neutralized on August 9th, for multiple shootings against Israeli civilians and the IDF.

Unsurprisingly, when OSU officials were queried about the event being held by one of the university’s student groups, they fecklessly sidestepped the issue, claiming that the university is committed to free speech and disingenuously refusing to condemn the event by suggesting it was not an official university event since it was being held off campus.

In Canada, two student organizations, Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill and Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights Concordia, co-sponsored a similar grotesque vigil for the murderous terrorists slain by Israel, “Glory to Our Martyrs.”

“Over the past few days,” the McGill Facebook post read, “Zionist aggression has escalated . . . Despite the ruthless attempts to break Palestinians’ collective spirit, the latest war has been named ‘The Unity of All Fronts.’ It is in this spirit of unity that we call on the Montreal community to march against Zionist aggression and honour [sic] our martyrs. Until full liberation and return, the struggle continues.”

The “full liberation” of and “return” to Palestine is mentioned here carelessly but it assumes that such an event would result in the completely “liberated Palestine” that SJP, BDS supporters, and their fellow travelers actually seek, namely, a Palestine which includes, and subsumes, present-day Israel—achieved through the use, if necessary, of terrorism and the murder of Jews.

That university students around the world, professing to speak on behalf of the oppressed, marginalized, and victimized, can in the same breath honor and valorize terrorists, encouraging them to murder more Jews as a justifiable tactic of achieving statehood, indicates how debased the social justice efforts on campus have become.

It should come as no surprise, then, that Jewish students on these campuses, whether or not they actively support Israel or are animated by Zionism, could be, and are, maligned by this aggressive activism against the Jewish state, and are made to pay the price for the alleged and mendacious predations of Israel simply by virtue of being Jewish.

That anti-Israel radicals have hijacked the narrative about the Israeli/Palestinian Arab conflict and have cast Israel—and its supporters—as malignant and irredeemable racists and the Palestinian Arabs as innocent victims who justifiably may kill Jews is a continuing tragedy in which Jewish students continue to be targets of the world’s oldest hatred.

Anti-Semitism, disguised as anti-Zionism, is still Jew-hatred.

Richard L. Cravatts,Ph.D., a Freedom Center Journalism Fellow in Academic Free Speech and President Emeritus of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, is the author of the forthcoming book, The Slow Death of the University: How Radicalism, Israel Hatred, and Race Obsession are Destroying Academia.