The breathtaking denial of anti-Semitism at Columbia

Liberals and leftists are refusing to see the Jew hatred that’s flourishing on campus.

Cory Franklin

Topics Free Speech USA

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Just four months into 2024, the Guardian published a leading candidate for most preposterous column of the year. Veteran Democratic operative Robert Reich has well earned this nomination for his article claiming that the ongoing protests at Columbia University in New York are ‘not expressing anti-Semitism’, ‘not engaging in hate speech’ and ‘not endangering Jewish students’ (his emphasis).

Where to begin? Put aside for a moment that even President Joe Biden, an experienced ‘both sides now’ waffler when it comes to the Israel-Hamas conflict, has called some of what the Columbia protesters have done ‘blatant’ anti-Semitism. And forget that protesters punched an Israeli-Arab in the face when he tried to convince them that cheering on vicious terrorists might not be an avenue toward reconciliation.

You merely need to look at the things protesters have been chanting and screaming to see what’s really going on. These include ‘Go back to Poland’ (by which they presumably Auschwitz) and ‘Never forget 7 October… 7 October is about to be every fucking day for you. You ready?’ Then there was that charming young student who held a sign that read ‘Al-Qasam’s [sic] next targets’ with an arrow pointing at pro-Israel counter-protesters standing nearby waving Israeli and American flags. Al-Qassam, the military wing of Hamas, is responsible for the carnage on 7 October.

Before 7 October, the anti-Semites among the ‘pro-Palestine’ crowd displayed a modicum of discretion by employing deliberately ambiguous phrases like ‘From the River to the Sea’, which were veiled calls to eliminate the state of Israel. Now their protests leave little to the imagination. They call for the elimination of Jews and the Jewish State. Yet Robert Reich, who is Jewish, can’t see the obvious.

Like all good social-justice warriors of a certain age, Reich harkens back to the romantic 1960s, recalling the campus protests against segregationist governors George Wallace and Ross Barnett, and against the Vietnam War. Reich writes: ‘If Columbia or any other university now roiled by student protests were doing what it should be doing, it would be a hotbed of debate about the war. Disagreement would be welcome; demonstrations accepted; argument invited; differences examined.’ Ah, those halcyon days of campus kumbaya.

Maybe Reich hasn’t noticed, but today’s protesters have no desire to debate or examine differences. This is not about two-state solutions or how to arrive there. Read the placards or listen to the chants and you will see that this is all about a world without Israel and eradicating the Jews. As Brendan O’Neill pointed out recently on spiked: ‘Their longing for Israel’s erasure was made clear… “We don’t want no two states / We want ’48!” That is, 1948, a time when the modern state of Israel didn’t yet exist.’ I challenge Reich – or indeed anyone – to find one poster in all those photographs of the Columbia protests calling for peace, negotiations or an acknowledgment of Israel’s right to exist. Just one.

Much of what Reich writes is fantastical. ‘The atrocities committed by both sides’, he writes, ‘illustrate the capacities of human beings for inhumanity and show the vile consequences of hate. For these reasons, it presents an opportunity for students to re-examine their preconceptions and learn from one another.’ Yes, perhaps a morning teach-in on the campus green, where everyone can share their thoughts on anti-Semitism. After lunch, calls for the extermination of the Jews.

To be fair to Reich, he is merely a conspicuous representative of America’s elite academic class. There are plenty out there who are as clueless as he is. Some are active participants in the hate. Others are fellow travellers in the Palestine cause who do nothing to speak against the anti-Semitism in their movement. For decades, they have been marinating in the social-justice language of the left: whiteness, colonialism, systemic racism and so on. And now, they are so thoroughly immersed in so-called progressive ideology that they are oblivious to their surroundings. Like the honchos at National Public Radio, who deny their woke bias even when their employees point out obvious examples, these leftists and liberals have become disconnected from the reality around them.

Protesters at Columbia have been chanting: ‘Remember 7 October? That will happen not one more time, not five more times… but 10,000 more times.’ Yet still Reich claims that this does not express anti-Semitism. You couldn’t find a better illustration of George Orwell’s observation on the ignorance of intellectuals: ‘One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.’

Cory Franklin’s new book, The Covid Diaries 2020-2024: Anatomy of a Contagion As It Happened, is now available on Amazon in Kindle and book form.

Picture by: Getty.

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Topics Free Speech USA


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