Harvard University (illustrative)
Harvard University (illustrative)iStock

Since Hamas’s bloody October 7th terror attack on Israeli civilians, American college campuses have erupted in demonstrations where students without any sense of decency or history chant antisemitic slogans that in past generations could have come from the mouths of Church Fathers, Crusaders, Cossacks, or Nazis. In a display of progressivism run amok, college students glorify Hamas and justify the murder of Jewish civilians, beheading of babies, and rape of women and girls as natural consequences of an “occupation” that exists only in their addled minds. Remember: Israel left Gaza in 2005.

And they have been brought to this moment by woke professors who teach antisemitic conspiracy theories as history and administrators who provide safe spaces for every real or imagined identity group but refuse to protect their Jewish students. Indeed, it is often considered a microaggression to assert one’s Jewishness or express support for Israel on campus.

Without embarrassment or shame, student demonstrators – many at Ivy League schools – are shown on social media chanting repugnant anti-Jewish slurs, while professors teach revisionist Palestinian Arab mythology and belittle Jewish students without fear of discipline. Such behavior is acceptable – even fashionable.

Some Democrats are now speaking out against the vitriol spewed by their progressive colleagues, though it took Hamas’s orgy of murder, rape, and torture to finally loosen their tongues. But given the antisemitism permeating their progressive constituencies, their denunciations are too little, too late. Where was their concern the last few years when Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and other members of the Democratic “Squad” were spouting anti-Israel or antisemitic rhetoric? Or during the 2020 presidential primary season, when most major candidates for the party’s nomination had anti-Israel progressives or BDS supporters on their campaign staffs?

Those who now claim to be moderate did nothing as leftist rancor dragged Israel’s approval rating among Democrats down to 38% according to a recent Gallup Poll. And contrary to their recent pleas for moderation, party leadership treated the Squad’s members like rock stars, despite the group’s penchant for derogatory comments regarding Jews and Israel. The question Democrats must ask themselves is why they tolerated antisemitism from party progressives for years without rebuke.

Politicians with reprehensible beliefs are frequently elected and sent to Washington with their biases fully formed. In contrast, students arriving at college are blank slates looking for mentors to guide their intellectual growth.

Too often they are indoctrinated by professors who teach propaganda as truth. Once known as the marketplace of ideas, universities have become noxious echo chambers of hate, where “diversity, equity, and inclusion” is taught as the sine qua non for academic excellence. Core disciplines like history, comparative literature, classics, and the sciences are deemphasized in favor of radicalism and identity politics. Students are no longer taught to interpret facts and draw conclusions, but to regurgitate radical agitprop that reflects their professors’ biases – and they are often punished when they deviate.

This is not higher education; it’s academic fraud and abuse.

As an undergraduate professor of criminal justice, law and ethics, I’ve seen firsthand how text materials can be used to indoctrinate rather than teach. The most common tactic is to state political theories as postulates requiring no proof, though they may be debatable or false. Presenting ideology as axiom is intended to portray partisan opinion as immutable truth and prevent students from reasoning logically or engaging in independent thought. Students who hold alternative views are berated or penalized for doing so.

This is apparent in the study of terrorism. Though terrorism should be a subject unto itself, it is included in criminal justice textbooks to suggest it is just another form of illegal conduct that can be understood through the same analytical prism as murder, rape, arson, or theft. Progressives hold this view to contextualize and often justify terrorism and its perpetrators. However, terrorism is not criminality to which constitutional protections apply, and it should be deemed outside the scope of the criminal justice system.

Popular textbooks and class materials tend to divide terrorism into multiple categories, including: (a) “revolutionary,” which is the use of terror to force governmental change; (b) “political,” which targets those with opposing ideologies; (c) “nationalist,” which is motivated by ethnic or national chauvinism; (d) “retributive,” which uses terror against those believed to have abused the perpetrators’ kith and kin; (e) “state-sponsored,” by which dictatorial regimes quash dissent and persecute minorities; and (f) “cultic,” wherein followers target the enemies of charismatic leaders.

The premise underlying these categorizations is that although terrorists’ tactics may be similar, their motivations and goals are diverse. The problem is that these designations define terrorism by the goals of its perpetrators, not the impact on its victims, whose deaths are rendered incidental. They are also used to justify terrorism, sympathize with causes deemed righteous, and mitigate terrorists’ barbarity by denigrating their victims.

This progressive view was the impetus behind past efforts to treat terrorists as common criminals entitled to Constitutional protections. The Obama administration, for example, advocated prosecuting them as domestic criminals or enemy combatants captured on the battlefield. The Third Geneva Convention (Article 4), however, clearly defines “lawful combatants” as:

“Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory…[who] fulfill (sic) the following conditions: (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.

Terrorists are excluded by the next clause, which specifically bars: “Hostile parties who fail to conform to the foregoing recognized standards of wartime conduct.”

American law holds similarly, as articulated in Ex parte Quinn (1942), where the Supreme Court defined unlawful combatants as those who “without uniform come secretly through the lines for the purpose of waging war.” The Court specifically held:

“[T]he law of war draws a distinction between…lawful and unlawful combatants. Lawful combatants are subject to capture and detention as prisoners of war by opposing military forces. Unlawful combatants are likewise subject to capture and detention, but in addition they are subject to trial and punishment by military tribunals for acts which render their belligerency unlawful. Consequently, terrorists who target civilians, who traffic in hidden and concealed weaponry, who fail to wear uniforms, who use artifice and subterfuge to inflict casualties and who flout the established conventions of war are unlawful combatants not entitled to the protections of civilian courts.”

Thus, terrorism has a distinct definition under both American and international law.

Categorizing terrorism as college textbooks do, or treating it as simple criminality, gives undue deference to the motivations and goals of terrorists instead of the horror and pain they inflict on others. Such analyses are often used to humanize terrorists, justify their goals, and absolve them of evil intent.

Not surprisingly, today’s pro-Hamas student demonstrators justify terrorism against Israel as revolutionary, political, or retributive, and anoint with virtue those monsters who attack Jewish civilians, incinerate their families, and decapitate their children. And their justification is that Israel is a colonial enterprise built on the ruins of a subjugated indigenous society, though it most certainly is not.

It doesn’t matter to these useful idiots that the Jews are historically indigenous, that there was never a country called Palestine, or that Palestinian Arab national identity has no historical, archeological, or literary basis. If Palestinian-Arabs were truly indigenous and displaced, it seems curious that they never demanded statehood when the territories they now claim as ancestral were occupied by Arab nations from 1948 to 1967.

The non-historicity Palestinian claims, however, is entirely irrelevant to student protestors who are suborning mayhem and genocide.

The question is what drives them (and much of the world) to accept revisionist Palestinian Arab myth; and the answer is not the veracity of apocryphal Palestinian Arab claims, but the ancient and pervasive hatred of Jews. What else besides blind hatred (stoked by antisemitic professors who teach vile stereotypes and revisionist history) could motivate college students to chant classical antisemitic slogans or defend those who kill civilians, torture captives, and rape women and children?

Institutions that created the environments where such antisemitism is now on vicious display must be held accountable by their donors and alumni. Students who condone heinous atrocities and lobby in favor of genocide should be ostracized in shame from civilized society and penalized in the professional marketplace.

Matthew M. Hausmanis a trial attorney and writer who lives and works in Connecticut. A former journalist, Mr. Hausman continues to write on a variety of topics, including science, health and medicine, Jewish issues and foreign affairs, and has been a legal affairs columnist for a number of publications.