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June 9, 2022 10:35 am

Israel’s Destruction Is Championed at the University of Chicago

avatar by Cole Knie


Cobb Hall at the University of Chicago. Photo: Dion J. Pierre.

In March, I detailed Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)’s campaign against academic freedom at the University of Chicago. Since then, the situation has only deteriorated.

SJP’s initial anti-Israel boycott targeted courses about Israel that “legitimize” the Jewish state through so-called “propaganda.” Later, SJP expanded its boycott by demanding that the student newspaper remove pro-Israel op-eds, and apologize for publishing them. Unfortunately, this worked.

On April 2, the University of Chicago newspaper, The Chicago Maroon, capitulated to SJP’s anti-free speech demands and removed an op-ed titled “We Must Condemn the SJP’s Online Anti-Semitism.” The paper apologized for publishing it because it enabled the support of “Zionist and racist sentiments.”

This is especially alarming, because it characterizes Zionism, the self-determination of the Jewish people, as socially unacceptable — even though the vast majority of the Jewish community identifies as Zionist. By succumbing to SJP’s witch-hunt, the Maroon is responsible for effectively silencing the Jewish community and enabling authoritarian tendencies to flourish on campus.

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In their piece, the authors of the since-removed pro-Israel op-ed noted that “UChicago prides itself on its free speech policy” and that SJP’s boycott discourages educational freedom. Ironically, SJP’s demand to have the op-ed removed proved the pro-Israel authors right.

In their apology, the paper’s Opinions editors Kelly Hui and Elizabeth Winkler claim that the pro-Israel op-ed harmed the UChicago community because it was “used to delegitimize and undermine SJP UChicago’s campaign.” This is an overtly political stand on a contentious issue on campus, and implies that it is immoral to criticize SJP’s dangerous crusade against both Israel and academic freedom.

They even admit that removing the op-ed “may affect Jewish students on campus,” as their actions “could be seen as stifling Jewish voices,” but justified their actions in the name of “diligent fact-checking.”

Hui and Winkler evidently do not believe that Jewish students deserve the same protections as other minorities: The Maroon recently published a hateful and factually inaccurate op-ed titled “We Should Join SJP’s Boycott of Zionist Classes,” and clearly holds Jewish students to a biased double standard.

The piece, authored by Rawan Abbas, peddles anti-Israel propaganda and twists the definition of Zionism into something unrecognizable and detached from reality. Abbas claims “Zionism is an imperialist ideology based on settler colonialism,” without factual evidence supporting this serious accusation. The Maroon editors echoed this antisemitic sentiment in their apology, and equated Zionism with racism.

Contrary to these accusations, Zionism is the self-determination of the Jewish people in the land of Israel, where they have had a continuous presence since Biblical times. Zionism is not expansionist in nature, nor is it defined as harming Palestinians. By definition, anti-Zionism is an ideology that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state.

Not only is the Maroon silencing pro-Israel students, but the paper is spreading both hatred and lies. The Abbas op-ed contains categorically false statements and hateful rhetoric.

Instead of equally supporting pro-Israel and anti-Israel students, the Maroon has shamefully taken a stand against Zionism, silenced pro-Israel, often Jewish students, and has given an unanswered platform to anti-Zionist narratives.

The paper’s attacks on free-speech principles further endanger Jewish students and make it clear that the paper is complicit in fostering antisemitism in a climate that is already hostile to Jewish students.

Cole Knie is a 2021-2022 CAMERA Fellow at The George Washington University.

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