NYU Students Fail to Protest Abbas or Defend the Jewish State
If you’d been driving down Bowery Avenue in New York City last Monday night, you might have noticed approximately 20 young Jewish students standing on the side of the road screaming “Shame on Cooper!” That night, Mahmoud Abbas had arrived to give a speech at the Great Hall of Cooper Union, which stands nestled within the campus of NYU.
What you might not have noticed is that the entire group was under the age of 18, and had come from the local Rambam High School. There are more than 50,000 students at NYU, and almost a third of them are Jewish. Yet, aside from me and these High School students, not one had shown up to protest the honorable platform that had been provided to the blood-soaked despot that is Mahmoud Abbas.
In the arena of pro-Israel activism, a small private high-school had outshone more than 10,000 Jewish students at NYU. Even worse, they’d done so at what we might call an NYU home-game.
In case you feel that Abbas is a partner in peace or a moderate, I’ll digress to prove that he’s not. Abbas began his career as one of the first members of Fatah, a notable terrorist group. Sure enough, the very mastermind of the Munich Olympics Massacre admitted that Abbas raised the funds for the operation. Since then, Fatah has only continued to drench its hands in Jewish blood. During the Second Intifada, Fatah terrorists plagued the Israeli civilian population with a seemingly endless string of suicide bombings — all while Abbas sat at the top of the Fatah food-chain as their Prime Minister, a position he held until 2003. When the Intifada came to an end in 2005, Abbas finally did condemn the violence — only five years and 1,000 innocent Israeli lives too late.
Since his ascension to the presidency of the PA in 2005, Abbas hasn’t gotten much better. Instead of pushing for peace and coexistence, as Nelson Mandela did, Abbas stated officially that not one Israeli would be allowed to live in Palestine. Considering that there are more than 350,000 Israelis living on the land he was referring to, one might conclude that Abbas was calling for some pretty serious ethnic cleansing.
Even when Abbas did enter peace talks in 2013, he did so only on the condition that Israel release 1,000 terrorist killers from its prisons. Of the liberated, one had beaten a sixty-seven year-old Holocaust survivor to death with an axe— and he wasn’t even the worst of them. Those who managed to come home before the breakdown of the talks were greeted with a hero’s welcome, locking arms with none other than the President himself. As for those terrorists he couldn’t bring home — the suicide bombers — Abbas made a point of naming streets and pubic squares after them.
However, it was just a few months ago that Mahmoud Abbas truly outdid himself with his announcement of a unity government with Hamas, a terror group whose very charter calls for the genocidal annihilation of the Jewish people. This all came to a head this past Friday, where Abbas accused Israel before the entire world of waging a “war of genocide” in Operation Protective Edge, and claimed that Palestinians faced a future worse then Apartheid. Apparently, this “partner-in-peace” intends to maim Israel with the most malicious blood libels, as well.
Beyond an enemy of the Jewish people, Abbas has proven himself averse to American values. After being elected in 2005, Abbas essentially dismantled whatever semblance was left of Palestinian democracy. With Abbas having scrapped two planned elections, this coming January will mark 10 years since Palestinians last hit the ballot box to elect their President.
And that, in a nutshell, is Mahmoud Abbas — a belligerent, hostile, and anti-democratic despot prancing about as a partner-in-peace.
Which brings us to the avenue surrounding Cooper Union and NYU. How could all of NYU’s Jewish organizations and Israel-advocacy groups have failed to inspire even a single student to stand in protest against a large student crowd warmly welcoming him?
The truth is, it’s not something I could pinpoint. Perhaps they’re afraid, or maybe just busy with schoolwork. Maybe they’re looking to maintain their social standing or preserve their general sense of comfort. I’m not exactly sure. However, what I do know is that we’re all failing to make the fight for Israel a priority.
And that’s especially problematic, because the groups that are fighting against Israel are making their fight a priority. They are willing to overcome their fear, push off their schoolwork, and sacrifice their comfort in their campaign to tear away any shred of legitimacy from the Jewish State. If Netanyahu were standing at that same podium, I have no doubt that their demonstrations would have numbered in the hundreds.
Having spent just one month on the NYU campus, it’s become clear to me that this can’t go on. The time has come for the Pro-Israel community to turn the tide on campuses across America. This is a struggle that requires undying attention and commitment, and it can’t be done half-heartedly. We need to expand our capabilities, and fight back in a way that is huge, creative, and even theatrical.
There is no doubt that anti-Israel groups have gained a lot of ground in universities, and the situation at any campus could be easily disheartening. Still, the facts are on our side. So long as we are willing to match their dedication, this is a fight that we can still win.
Mendy Boteach is an undergraduate at New York University. A Chabad-ordained Rabbi, he spent last year studying at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.