The leafy quads and collegiate student gatherings of the current fall semester hide deep ties between American universities and the new war being waged on Jews by Hamas and Iran. Anti-Israel protests by college students and weak excuses for anti-Semitism by university administrations are nothing new. Affection for terrorism and the Iranian theocracy runs deep through the heart of academia—American universities are notorious for funding the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement and bestowing elite professorships on former Iranian officials.
As Palestinian rockets recently began wreaking havoc in Israel during the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah, Hamas terrorists conducted a coordinated murder and kidnapping spree of Israeli civilians across southern Israel. To the east, Iran celebrated the terrorist group’s “proud operation.” (Some Iranians dismissed the blatant propaganda during a football match, telling the government to “shove that Palestinian flag up your a**!) Almost as old as Iran’s support for Palestinian terrorism and Iran’s mullahs, is the support enjoyed by both in U.S. higher education.
Disregarding the fact that the Jewish people are indigenous to what is now modern Israel, American universities through the BDS movement portray Israel through the Marxist narrative that frames it as an illegitimate “neo-colonial” project. In the early 2000s, professors formed the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI). Linked to U.S. academics through its American affiliate, the U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI), the two organizations form the nexus of the anti-Israel BDS movement. The BDS movement is tied to terrorist groups like Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad through collaborative organizations like the BDS National Committee, and the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine (PNIF).
American professors who run cover for Palestinian terrorism are not part of an academic fringe, but the mainstream. By the BDS movement’s own records, 350 different academic departments and over 24,000 professors and researchers have officially signed on to the routine demonization of Israel. America’s Ivy League campuses are among the most vocal, as signatories from Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Brown University are counted among the BDS movement’s ranks.
Last year, the anti-Semitism watchdog, StopAntisemitism, ranked Columbia University and New York University as among the most anti-Semitic campuses in the country due to the popularity of BDS. In 2020, when Columbia passed its own student resolution in support of BDS, groups endorsing it included the “Asian Political Collective,” the “Chicanx Caucus,” the “Columbia Divest for Climate Justice,” and the “Barnard Columbia Socialists.” When Columbia University announced plans to open a new addition to its global academic centers in Tel Aviv earlier this year nearly 100 professors condemned the move.
The BDS movement’s demonization of the world’s only Jewish state makes denials of anti-Semitism hollow. In academia, anti-Semitism and Israel hate are in vogue. The anti-Semitism on today’s college campuses is not coming from imaginary white supremacists on campus, but rather the political left. For example, over 120 gender studies groups have signed on in support of BDS. Gender studies is joined by the American Anthropological Association in condemning Israel while turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorist groups like Hamas. The recent blanket condemnation of Israel by Harvard students is but the latest in an unfortunate track record.
The recent war started by Hamas is supported by Iran. Like the left’s own anti-Semitism, Tehran has its well-positioned admirers in U.S. universities. Often, this comes in the form of elite professorships given to scholars with ties or backgrounds linked to the Iranian regime. Just recently, the Biden administration abruptly dismissed its own Iran envoy, Robert Malley, over security concerns—academia quickly scooped him up. Princeton’s School of Public and International Affairs made him a lecturer, in addition to Yale University, which gave him a position at its prestigious Jackson School. Malley appears to have helped the Iranian government with funding and intelligence-gathering. Only the anti-Semitism and anti-Western bigotry at America’s top universities explain the eagerness for ties with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.
Malley is not alone. Also at Princeton is Sayed Hossein Moussavian, a professor at the Center for Science and Global Security. He was Foreign Policy Advisor to the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council from 2005-2007, and served as the “Head of the Foreign Relations Committee for Iran’s National Security Council” from 1997 to 2005. The Ivy League’s interest in promoting apparatchiks for Iran’s theocrats can only be explained by academia’s anti-Israel hatred and its hostility toward the West in general.
The antipathy for Israel in higher education is lamentably deep, but is also becoming passé. What makes the Hamas attacks on Israel so jarring is its desperation. The Middle East is moving on from hating Israel. The Abraham Accords of 2020 normalized ties between Israel and the Arab world’s most advanced economies. In recent weeks Israel and Saudi Arabia moved to normalize ties and usher in a new economic boom in the region. With the new Middle East looking like science fiction becoming reality for the better, the shared anti-Semitism of Hamas, Iran, and academia is looking both desperate and near its expiration date. Until universities change their approach to Israel, they should be forced to explain their tacit support for terrorism.
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