Ignoring a World of Human Rights Abuses, Student Protesters Reserve Their Anger for Israel

The hatred of Israel is so passionate, so deep and so one-sided that it is clear that something more is at stake here than the merits.

AP/Yuki Iwamura
Palestinian supporters gather for a protest at Columbia University at New York. AP/Yuki Iwamura

In a world of rampant human rights abuses, only one country engenders the kind of protests we are seeing at university campuses today. Where are the protests against the Chinese government’s mistreatment of the Uyghurs? Or against Iran’s murderous attacks on gays and women? Or against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine? Or the gassing of Syrian opponents of the Assad regime? Only Israel generates such widespread protests.

Moreover, the hatred of Israel is so passionate, so deep and so one-sided that it is clear that something more is at stake here than the merits. This is not only about Israel’s self-defense against Hamas. This war may have been the immediate stimulus for the current demonstrations, but similar protests against Israel’s right to exist have been common on university campuses for years. Indeed these protests began immediately after the Hamas barbarisms of October 7, before Israeli troops entered Gaza. Why?

It is not because Israel is a “colonial, settler, white supremacist state,” as protesters falsely claim. Even if it were, why not also protest against New Zealand, which was in fact a colonial nation settled by Europeans with no connection to the land of the Maoris? Jews are indigenous to Israel and were exiled from it over the millennia.

There was a time when much of the left, including the hard-left and radical students, were among Israel’s best friends. That was back in the day when Stalin’s Soviet Union supported Israel at the United Nations, and when its vassal Czechoslovakia provided it with necessary weapons. Once the Soviet Union switched sides, though, and decided to encourage relationships with Egypt and other Arab states, American radicals switched sides as well.

It started with the Communist Party, which became anti-Israel, and then it migrated to hard-left academics and radicals. Now it has become a — if not the — primary target of the radical left. There is no rational basis for the left hating Israel with such passion. Israel’s record on human rights, civil rights and civil liberties is among the best in the world despite being in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods and the need to fight against the slaughters of October 7, the pervasive terrorism and the wars that have been imposed on it.

The opposition to Israel is not about what it does but rather what it is — a Jewish nation. But every Muslim and Arab country is ethnically defined, many with fewer rights given to other citizens – if they’re even allowed to become citizens.

In early 20th-century Poland, there was an expression: “If anything in the world is bad, it must be the fault of the Jews.” Nazi Germany blamed its loss in World War I and the resulting depression on the Jews. Karl Marx blamed capitalism on rich Jews, while other antisemites blamed poverty on poor Jews. Rich, poor — It doesn’t matter. As long as they’re Jews.

The same attitude runs through the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion bureaucracies that now dominate many campuses. DEI, and its intellectual godfather intersectionality, divide the world into mutually exclusive groups: the oppressors and the oppressed. Jews are always among the oppressors regardless of how poor or unprivileged they may be. Arabs and Muslims are among the oppressed no matter how rich or privileged they may be. This provides a justification for antisemitism, now often disguised as anti-Zionism.

Students — who have now become cult-like followers of their radical professors — probably have no idea that they are participating in a bigotry that goes back 2,000 years and is surely among the most lethal in world history. They are on the wrong side of morality. Nor can they be excused because of their age.

There are good and decent professors at many of the universities at which these know-nothing protests are being conducted. But for the most part these professors lack the courage to stand up in public against student bigots. Some oppose them in private. I know because they call to tell me.

As Edwin Burke observed, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” That was also the lesson of the world’s collective silence during the Holocaust. Harken “good” professors — do something now.


The New York Sun

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