The Jerusalem Post
The useful idiots on American campuses
An open letter to US university presidents: On October 7, Israel suffered the largest terrorist attack since its inception and one of the most horrific terrorist acts in human history. Approximately 3,000 terrorists belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad – proxies of Iran – infiltrated Israel in the early morning hours of Simchat Torah. Armed to the teeth, they burst into civilians’ homes and dragged men, women, children, and babies from their beds.
They brutally raped, abused, burned, mutilated, murdered, and kidnapped some 1,500 people. After several days, IDF forces penetrated the Gaza Strip in order to destroy the infrastructure of Hamas and rescue the hostages. Hamas continuously launched hundreds of rockets a day from Gaza toward the Israeli home front, and were joined by other terrorist organizations – Hezbollah from Lebanon, Shi’ite militias from Syria, and the Houthis from Yemen – all mobilized and coordinated by the terrorist state of Iran.
The terrorist organizations fled underground to the maze of fortified tunnels they had spent years constructing throughout the Gaza Strip, under civilian neighborhoods. They forced the Israeli hostages underground and the Palestinian citizens above ground to act as human shields in order to deter Israel from attacking their headquarters, leaders, and rocket launchers.
Even before a single Israeli soldier set foot in Gaza, many around the world, and particularly in American academia, began a campaign of defamation and incitement against Israel while ignoring, and sometimes even denying, the massacre of Israeli civilians by Hamas. For example, on October 18, members of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Syracuse University published a statement of solidarity “with the Palestinian people in their struggle against Israeli settler colonialism and occupation”
which “is over 75 years old.”
These self-proclaimed feminists did not see fit to condemn the barbaric acts of rape committed by Hamas against Israeli women during the mass slaughter, or perhaps issue an expression of solidarity with the young Israeli mothers who were burned alive while holding their infants and young children.
At Harvard University, 34 pro-Palestinian student organizations published an open letter declaring that they held Israel “entirely responsible” for the massacre. A few days later, about 20 pro-Palestinian student groups at Columbia University signed a letter of solidarity that called to view “the actions of Palestinian fighters” in the context of what they called “the inhumane siege” imposed on them for 16 years.” At George Washington University, messages such as “Glory to our martyrs,” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea,” were projected onto the
walls of the campus.
At Northwestern University, members of Students for Justice in Palestine issued a statement asserting that Israel has no right to claim that it was the victim of a massacre, since the attack was the result of the Palestinian “quest for self-determination.” The University of Virginia branch of SJP added that they support the right of Palestinians to “resist the occupation of their land by whatever means they deem necessary.” And these are but a few instances of what has transpired over the last month at esteemed American universities.
THE PERVASIVE surge of hostility that swiftly engulfed university campuses is a stark manifestation of modern antisemitism directed toward Israel, and Jews in general. These overt attacks should not be misconstrued as legitimate criticism of Israeli policies or actions, but rather as a blatant attempt to undermine the State of Israel’s
right to exist as a Jewish state.
To make matters worse, in the majority of cases, the response of university presidents to these antisemitic expressions within their institutions was, at best, feeble and tainted by political correctness, supposedly expressing solidarity with the suffering of both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.
Antisemites in general, and on US campuses in particular, can be categorized into three groups: the classic antisemites, the modern antisemites, and the ignorant “useful idiots.” The classic antisemites are those who have inherited a deep-seated hatred of Jews. Often, these are individuals who have never encountered a Jew in their lives, yet they’ve been raised and educated on a foundation of blood libels and tales of horror passed down through their parents and teachers, who impart narratives based on holy scriptures.
The majority of modern antisemites are Arabs and Muslims
who are instinctively and vehemently opposed to the existence of the State of Israel, irrespective of its size within the historical Land of Israel. Their burning hatred for the Jewish state has evolved into a pervasive hatred for Jews.
However, the largest and most significant group is the third one, comprising what can only be termed “useful idiots” (a reference to naive individuals susceptible to manipulation, historically associated with communist activists operating in Western countries). These useful idiots are often compassionate people who champion the cause of those they perceive as exploited, or oppressed – the underdogs. The problem is that many among them lack a comprehensive understanding of the overarching agenda they unwittingly serve and remain unaware of the manipulation influencing their beliefs and actions.
Many of the useful idiots on American campuses suffer from “white-guilt” syndrome, characterized by a collective sense of culpability for the human suffering of various population groups all over the world due to alleged racist behavior and colonialist policies. On this ambiguous platform, antisemitic manipulation thrives, promoting the notion that Zionism, and by extension, the State of Israel, embodies colonialist ideals purportedly to rob the native inhabitants – the Palestinians – of their land.
This perspective, of course, disregards historical context, both ancient and modern, and ignores the continued physical presence of the Jewish people in their homeland, and their indigenous right to the land.
The prevailing issue on US campuses today revolves around the ignorance of useful idiots who align themselves with both modern and classic antisemites. The animosity toward Israel and the Zionist idea has transcended into a widespread hatred of Jews, and has become de rigueur among progressive, liberal circles, primarily in the US but also in other Western countries.
This trend is further fueled by demographic shifts and the rapid growth of the Muslim population in European countries, which is reflected in voting patterns, and exacerbates the polarization between the radical Left and extreme Right, the latter often holding anti-immigration (and anti-Jewish) views.
THE PROBLEM of modern antisemitism, and especially that propagated by useful idiots, will not go away as long as there is a large number of academics around the world who insist on fueling the incitement and promoting the anti-Zionist and anti-Israeli narrative. These professors act deliberately to brainwash and inflame their students with lies and half-truths, without explaining the overall picture, or at least presenting the Israeli narrative.
Many make no effort to hide their agendas; the Syracuse University signatories stated “As feminist teachers, we are committed to creating classroom environments that foster critical and anti-racist thinking... To you, our students, we pledge to continue to teach what is elsewhere unteachable.”
The leaders of universities around the world, and especially in the US, must prevent the abuse of academic platforms for systemic indoctrination that may lead to terrorism and antisemitic hate crimes. False claims of freedom of expression and academic freedom cannot justify such conduct.
This commitment by university presidents is not for the sake of Israel, the Jews, or historical justice, but rather for the sake of their students. They must fulfill the important role of any institution of higher education: the pursuit of truth and the imparting of knowledge devoid of political, ideological, or other biases to students.