College Campuses and the Absurdity of Antisemitism
As the UN Security Council once more turns to its obsession with bashing Israel (as US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley recently pointed out ), the Israelis have unveiled their newest medical miracle: the use of sound frequencies to control the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease.
The recently appointed head of Hamas, Yahya Sinwar, had his life saved from a brain tumor in an Israeli hospital. To show his appreciation, he now threatens to kill Jews. You can save the life of a fundamentalist Muslim, but you cannot save him from his theologically spawned hatred.
When it comes to Jews, you can have your choice of antisemitism. If you think capitalism is evil, you can focus on the “international banking conspiracy” led by the Rothschilds. If collectivism offends you, there is always Karl Marx, not to mention the Soviet revolution led by such “Jews” as Lenin and Stalin.
The Arab-Israeli dispute is not about land, settlements, green lines or roadmaps. It is about Jews.
When Jordan’s King Hussein occupied the West Bank, no one spoke of occupation or the need to create a democratic, secular state of Palestine. If the Israelis were Muslims, the world would no more care about what they did than it cares about Iran’s control of Sunni Arabs, China’s occupation of Mongolia or Turkey’s partition of Cyprus.
The idea that a better hasbara campaign (a positive portrayal of Jews and their history) or a more active role by Israeli public affairs specialists will change things is questionable — especially on college campuses in Western countries, where antisemitism is infused in the liberal arts curriculum with the same intensity as is the assault on so-called “white privilege.”
In the classroom, the Israelis are portrayed as European colonizers, although at least half of all Israelis are descendants of Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) Jews. The Palestinians, in this narrative, are an oppressed people, and the Jews are intruders, even those who were forcibly expelled from their ancient homes in the Middle East by Muslims.
In student government bodies, identity politics are paramount. Alliances are forged on the basis of the identities of the “oppressed.” Jews are seen not only as white, but also as privileged and successful whites. Since student groups are organized and funded on the basis of identity, it is possible to have a Muslim student group, an Arab student group, and a Palestinian student group. When it comes to Israel, and too often to Jews, these groups are united in their hatred.
Campus politics makes for the strangest of bedfellows. Many of these Arab groups form alliances with pro-gay groups, even though they abhor homosexuals.
When looking at posters proclaiming “LGBTs for Palestine,” I cannot help but wonder how these demonstrators would fare in Ramallah, or better yet in Hamas-controlled Gaza City. Hangings and stonings would end these rallies rather quickly.
No amount of hasbara will overcome this hatred, which views Jews as the beneficiaries of bourgeois, white culture, and Israel as a state comprised of European colonizers. In one academic department that I know of, Israel was portrayed as the last bastion of British imperialism, an allegation that’s absurd for anyone who understands world history.
Outside of mathematics, the sciences and engineering, college campuses are turning into an intellectual wasteland, polluted by ideology, and populated by second- and third-rate minds that could not function in the real world.
It is not the place to win hearts and minds. Those battles are best fought elsewhere.
Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati, and a distinguished fellow with the Haym Salomon Center. Follow him @salomoncenter. A version of this article was originally published by The Spectator.