The New York Times has published an extensive article documenting the fear felt by many Jewish students on American college campuses because of the large, well-funded, and aggressive anti-Israel movement.
As we have reported here at Breitbart California, the Golden State has some of the most hostile campuses, and some of the hostility is not just anti-Israel, but blatantly antisemitic and even pro-Islamist. In other states, Jewish students have even faced physical attack.
Recently, at the spring leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, I had a chance to speak to many of the students on the front lines of campus battles against divestment efforts. They were exasperated.
At Stanford University, pro-Israel students successfully defeated a divestment vote requiring a two-thirds majority–then the student council quietly re-voted and the motion passed.
In these debates, facts, rules, and free speech do not matter. Hate is on the march. The fear is real.
And what is most telling of all is how the anti-Israel hordes are using the twisted norms of left-liberal academia to press their case.
“Check your privilege,” says an Egyptian-American student, quoted by the Times, to her pro-Israel opponents–never mind the extreme privilege she enjoys relative to most Egyptian women, who are illiterate and often forcibly mutilated. Such rules, meant to defend “victims,” have become the means of victimizing Jewish students.
I know how frustrating this situation can be. I was a student myself not long ago.
I tried every method that pro-Israel students are trying now–organizing interfaith meetings, inviting moderate Israeli speakers, and showing that the pro-Israel side was committed to peace and open to criticism.
Nothing worked, because the other side is not interested in solving the problem. Arab and Muslim students often simply hate Israel, and fellow-travelers want to side with “victims.”
There is only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to move beyond the comfortable illusion of what a liberal arts education is meant to be. With all due respect to the Jewish students who feel fear on campus, if they were living in Israel at the age of 18 they would be handed a rifle and trained to stare death in the face.
Without giving up on the liberal arts ideal, it is time to put campus battles in perspective–and to put Israel itself in proper perspective, namely by celebrating it.
Israel is one of the most spectacularly successful societies in the world. It has a growing economy, a rising birthrate, a liberal democracy and an addictive popular culture. These are things to share, regardless of who tries to oppose them.
Those who hate Israel have nothing similar to offer. They are obsessed with death and destruction. Their political activism is often mere sublimated envy–particularly for gay Palestinians, who are brutally repressed everywhere in the region except Israel.
As unfair as it may seem, given that every other group on campus seems entitled to a sheltered existence for four years, it is time for Jewish students to stop being “triggered” and to start presenting their point of view without compromise.
When I, as a first-year law student, approached Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz about my fears about an anti-Israel course, his advice was simple: more speech, not less. Don’t complain about stupidity and hate: fight back with enlightenment.
You will never convince the majority of anti-Israel students, any more than Israel will ever convince the majority of Arabs or Muslims to accept its existence. But you will convince a few of the more thoughtful ones, and that really matters.
Most of all, you will strengthen the solidarity and commitment among Jewish and pro-Israel students. Though a minority, that is all that has ever been required to ensure Israel’s safety and success.
Set fear aside and remember what the goal really is.