The moral bankruptcy of the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) were finally on full display during their Congressional testimony on Tuesday, Dec 5th. The three Presidents are hardly alone: leadership at many other universities has proved equally offensive, if not worse. When asked whether a student’s public calls for genocide of the Jewish People violates university codes of conduct, the three Presidents equivocated: “It depends on context.”
I am reminded of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre on June 17th 2015, in which Dylann Roof, a white supremacist, had been warmly welcomed by the congregants of a bible study group at a historic African Methodist Episcopal (AME) church. The AME congregants had brought him into their fellowship, as an act of generosity. Then he opened fire on them. Not merely murder, but also betrayal. Disgusting.
Afterwards, Mr. Roof reportedly told investigators that he almost did not complete his planned murders because members of the church group had been so nice to him. The kindness of those congregants is a Christian virtue with deep Jewish origins.
How would those universities—and Temple University where I work in Philadelphia—have responded if student groups had celebrated the Charleston AME church massacre? I presume that the universities would have done the right thing: expel the groups along with many of the students.
And yet, look what these universities have done in the aftermath of the massacres of Oct 7th.
Many of the Jews whom Hamas—and “ordinary” Gazans—targeted on Oct 7th were leftwing idealists who had embraced a mission of kindness and co-existence alongside what they had mistakenly believed to be their Arab brothers and sisters. We should not forget the Jewish villagers’ grace, warmth, and generosity towards the Arabs of Gaza.
But these Jews were targeted preciselybecause they had reached out to get work permits for Gazan Arabs to come into their communities in southern Israel, to employ them, to improve their economic status, to work beside them, and to get to know them—all in an effort to foster peaceful coexistence.
It’s just as the gracious AME congregants in 2015 had tragically welcomed a bigot.
As we now know, many of those Gazan workers whom the Jewish villagers had hired reported back to Hamas—to tell the Jew-hating terrorists where the entrances were, where the weapons were stored, where all the protections were in place in those communities. Hamas and “ordinary” Gazans used all of that intelligence to facilitate their massacre of the very people who had wanted simply to live beside them in peace.
If you can stand it, here’s a specific example: Gazan Arabs abducted Ms. Na’ama Levy, a 19-year-old peace activist, dragged her from the trunk of a car, “her hands tied behind her back and her grey tracksuit covered in blood on the bottom” [presumably indicating genital bleeding owing to injuries from multiple gang-rapes], while other Gazan Arabs looked on and cheered. The video of these horrors went viral.
Not merely murder, gang-rape, beheadings, mutilations, kidnappings, and torture, but also betrayal of people eager to be their friends. Disgusting.
Yet a part of our universities celebrates the depravity of Oct 7th, and university authorities have largely looked the other way. Below is a representative screen-shot from the social media channel of a Philadelphia chapter of the misleadingly named “Students for Justice in Palestine” (SJP), which is still an official student organization at Temple, my university. Their images celebrate the pogrom of Oct 7th – almost instantly after it had happened.
“Let’s keep the momentum going,” it states, right after video documentation of baby killings and gang rapes of Jewish women and girls.
Screenshot of Instagram Post
Some universities, such as Brandeis, Columbia, and George Washington University, have revoked or suspended SJP’s status on campus, and the Florida public university system has been exploring its legal options. Genuine threats and harassment, as well as providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, can move the SJP’s activities from protected free speech, into conduct that is beyond our First Amendment protections.
A broad coalition—including Ari Berman, President of Yeshiva University; Shirley Hoogstra, President of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; and Michael L. Lomax, President of the United Negro College Fund—has called upon universities to state clearly, without dilution, that “We stand together with Israel against Hamas.”
In contrast, the statements of moral equivalency from those three university presidents have no place. Lumping Jew-hatred with other forms of bigotry—the go-to choice at universities now is Islamophobia—is a deliberate strategy to distract from the horrors of Oct 7th and beyond.
If you come across a pro-Hamas, anti-Jewish demonstration, blink your eyes twice and see what’s really going on: a celebration that supports betrayal and murder by literally thousands of Dylann Roofs. The demonstrators are reveling in lynchings—and they want more.
Photo by Ted Eytan — Wikipedia