In a truly saddening but by no means unpredictable development, the AMCHA Initiative, which is a watchdog organization dedicated to investigating and combating anti-Semitism on university campuses across America, reported this week a 70% rise over the past year in anti-Semitic incidents directed against pro-Israel students on college campuses. As reported by Adam Kredo of The Washington Free Beacon, AMCHA noted a drop in “classical” white supremacist-inspired Jew-hatred targeted against Jews on university campuses, but a huge spike in Israel-related acts of harassment against Jews and other non-Jewish Zionists who stand in solidarity with the Jewish state.
The trend is hardly new, and The Daily Wire has extensively covered the years-long development of escalating anti-Semitic incidents on the American campus. Indeed, the problem has been so bad that a group wholly distinct from AMCHA but similarly dedicated to combating on-campus anti-Semitism was founded in 2015: Maccabee Task Force. The question now facing the American Jewish and pro-Israel communities is simple: How can we begin to shift the on-campus narrative away from anti-Semitism and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and back toward a pro-Jewish, pro-Israel stance?
I have personally observed this ongoing fight across numerous college campuses and have been a part of more than one pro-Israel university event that was protested and/or forcibly shouted down by the Jew-hating miscreants of the misnamed hate group “Students for Justice in Palestine.” I have seen the vicious faces of those who yell “Nakba!” and the genocidal eliminationist phrase, “from the river to the sea, ‘Palestine’ shall be free.” (One must wonder whether these people feel similarly about liberating other legally fictitious locales, such as Mordor or Narnia.) I also have seen many Israeli flag-wielding students push back with hapless pleas for “peace!,” “tolerance!,” and (unfortunately) “two states!”
Do my fellow proud Zionists see the problem here? The Palestinian-Arab side of the argument may be genocidal and jihad-loving, but at least they present a morally framed narrative (no matter how grossly immoral that narrative actually is). The pro-Jewish/pro-Israel side, by contrast, tends toward an overly defensive, AIPAC-inspired defensive posture that relies on a non-substantive, purely procedural narrative.
Interestingly, then, the fight against Israel-inspired Jew-hatred on the university campus can actually learn much from the ongoing conservative dialogue between the New York Post’s Sohrab Ahmari and National Review’s David French. Procedure-based arguments, especially when confronted with a substance-based argumentative opposition, are unlikely to be sufficient; the only way to truly make a dialectic dent is to argue on the substantive merits of an issue and argue in overtly moral terms. I wrote as much in June: “Advocates for Israel on the American university campus must transition away from pleas for ‘peace’ and ‘tolerance’ and toward arguments grounded in the inherent, biblically derived morality of a Jewish state existing between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.”
This simply must be the path forward for Jewish and pro-Israel students on campus who are invested in helping to turn back the tide of rising on-campus anti-Semitism. Jewish and Zionist students must make the moral, historically informed case that Zionism — which is simply the Jewish right to self-determination in the Jews’ biblical, ancestral homeland — is an inherently beautiful phenomenon. These courageous students must argue that the culmination of Herzl’s Zionist vision, the establishment in 1948 of a sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael for the very first time in millennia, represents one of the most profoundly beautiful developments in human civilization over the course of the last century. These students must advance direct, overt, morally based arguments that defend the beauty of that Zionism. These students must also advance historically and legally informed arguments that rebut the utter mendacity that is “Nakba” and other purported Palestinian-Arab “national” humiliations.
Appeasement and unilateral disarmament — here, in terms of the use of overt moral terminology — never work. The students who take the lead on this initiative will necessarily be bold. They will be valiant. And they will face mighty resistance from the leftist/Islamist alliance all across the nation. But these students will have the benefit of standing for truth, morality, and, fundamentally, justice. It’s time to get the ball rolling and begin to defeat on-campus Jew-hatred in America.