Campus protests must be branded ‘Academic Intifada’

Worldwide, small cells of well-organized, well-funded haters demean academia, reducing a complex conflict to hate-filled slogans.

When I lived in Cambridge, Harvard’s Commencement Day was magical. Scholars streamed toward Harvard Yard. Freshly minted PhDs and their teachers wore magnificent pinkish robes, evoking the original, now-faded, crimson gown.

This pink, smarty-pants sea, punctuated by three black velvet stripes on each arm – for their bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees – was rousing. It symbolized our collective commitment to scholarly excellence, open-mindedness, critical thought, rigor, liberal ideals, harmonizing with America’s meritocratic commitment to equality and success.

Harvardians respected the 1892 Class Day Committee rule barring “ribbons, badges or medals of any description on the gown.” Yet, last week, many students defiled those robes, wrapping themselves in keffiyehs representing terrorism and totalitarianism, anti-intellectualism and anti-Americanism.

It’s appalling how hostile many elite universities are to Jews – unless they’re un-Jewish, Israel-bashing turncoats.

Clearly, most American students don’t hate Jews or think much about Gaza. But October 7 unleashed thousands of rampaging snowflakes hooked on Jew-hatred, spurred by propagandizing professors and sniveling administrators, amid the silence of tenured lambs and student ostriches, with their heads buried in beer mugs.

Label this mania “the Academic Intifada.” Worldwide, small cells of well-organized, well-funded haters crying “Globalize the intifada” demean academia, reducing a complex conflict to hate-filled slogans.

You can’t defeat a phantom – which is why we must name and shame the enemy.

For years, our enemies proved elusive. When we called anti-Zionists “antisemitic,” they insisted: “We don’t hate Jews, we only hate Israel.” This sidestep had Jews wringing their hands – “how can we prove that anti-Zionism is truly antisemitism?”

Never forget. The burden of proof is on the haters, not the hated. Since October, anyone deluded before sees how Zionophobia feeds Judaeophobia in an ever-escalating bile spiral. Today, those who “only” hate Israel or Zionism bark at Jews “we know where you live” – as anti-Jewish violence spikes.

Others still claim, “We’re not anti-Jewish, we’re ‘anti-war’ and ‘pro-human rights.’” But even if you refrain from robotically intoning “Hamas, we love you; we support your rockets, too,” crying “We are Hamas” and “Long Live Hamas” is not peaceful. Nor is championing “intifada,” a word popularized in the early 2000s when Palestinian terrorists slaughtered over 1,000 innocents.

Similarly, delegitimizing Israel as a “settler colonial state” and an “apartheid regime” crossbreeds historical ignorance with callous insensitivity to Jews’ human rights. Jews, too, have rights. We can define our identity on our terms as synthesizing religion and nationhood, renew our indigenous roots in our homeland, and establish a state there. Affirming Palestinian rights by negating Jewish rights makes the conflict zero-sum and insoluble, unless you support Hamas’s “final solution” – killing nine million Israelis, “from the river to the sea.”

Many of these pugnacious peaceniks snarl at Jews: “Go Back to Poland” and “Go Back to Germany.” These slogans require more historical deciphering than “Burn, burn Tel Aviv.” They essentially mean, go back to Auschwitz, or let Hitler’s successors finish the job.

Most slippery has been the intellectual gaslighting whenever experts analyzed this heavy-handed hatefest’s underlying academic lies. As academics worshiped Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and other bards of deconstruction, they called themselves “postmodernists.” When some of us objected to postmodernism’s assault on liberalism, linear narratives, objective truth, and other Enlightenment pearls, these intellectual hacks called us “anti-intellectuals.” Nonacademics simply said “huh?” shrugging their shoulders at this nerd-clash.

Then, especially after the “1619 Project” distorted American history by rejecting the soaring inspiration of 1776, some of us criticized “woke academics.” But when Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis declared “war on woke,” liberals who had critiqued this movement went mute. After all, in today’s polarized partisan political environment, anything Trump dislikes must be defended.

Similarly, anyone who questioned anything about “critical race theory” or any part of “anti-racism’s” blinding orthodoxy was demonized. We who warned that extreme racialists, imposing DEI quotas – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion – hijacked the civil rights movement, repudiating Martin Luther King Jr.’s patriotic, colorblind teachings, were called “racists.” This small, elite group of black radicals claimed that disagreeing at all betrayed the entire civil rights movement.

A pro-Hamas protest encampment on the campus of Columbia University in New York City, April 22, 2024. Credit: Lev Radin/Shutterstock

Talk about appropriation!

And when Black Lives Matter activists let no one say “All Lives Matter” or “Jewish Lives Matter,” but bellowed “Palestinian Lives Matter,” few dared call out their hypocrisy or the absurdity of linking George Floyd’s unfortunate death with Gaza or IDF anti-terrorism training.

As the enemy kept dodging yet entrenching, while outshouted Zionist voices kept scrambling, supposedly responsible leaders fell asleep at the wheel. The intellectual rot just penetrated deeper and deeper.

At least we now have clarity. In the nation’s capital, pro-Palestinian hoodlums projected onto one George Washington University building images of an American flag burning and slogans such as “Long Live the Student Intifada.”

It’s not just a student intifada. Fomented by some professors, all too tolerated by others, it sits on a putrid foundation of these flawed doctrines. Their fanaticism proves that the worst ideas come from taking good insights too far, going all accelerator, no brakes.

So, let’s call out the Academic Intifada. Run advertising campaigns showing them burning American flags, bullying Jews, sullying America’s intellectual sanctums, among other assaults on American icons and values. Then ask, “Is this what you want our universities to look like? Is that what you want America to look like?”

Once again, our enemies prove: Jew-hatred is the sickness of the Jew-hater, not the Jew. We’re not just fighting for Israel’s existence, Zionism’s legitimacy, and Jewish safety. We’re fighting for America – and to save Western democracy from pro-Palestinian bullies, bigots, and despots.

Published by Jerusalem Post