“Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate your code of conduct or rules regarding bullying and harassment?”
This is the question that was asked of the presidents of the University of Pennsylvania, MIT and Harvard on Tuesday in Congress..
Not one president simply answered, “Yes.”
High school seniors have a lot on their minds. Beyond the regular trials and tribulations of an American teenager, upperclassmen in high schools across America spend much of their time deciding which college they should attend. The options are vast. The American post-secondary education system is robust and options are aplenty.
But for American Jewish high school students, the question they suddenly need to ask is whether they will be safe on the college campus of their choosing. Unfortunately, the answer at many of our nation’s top universities is unequivocally “No.”
This is where we are as a society in America today. The data is as stark as the anecdotal evidence. Even before the outburst of overt and aggressive anti-Semitism on campuses that came after Hamas’ atrocious, inhumane terror attacks on Israeli civilians on October 7, Jewish college students were not feeling safe on college campuses across the country.
The trouble was that before October 7 no one seemed to believe them.
In the school year prior to the October 7 attacks, almost 75% of Jewish college students in American directly experienced anti-Semitism. Anti-Jewish hate crimes led the FBI’s statistics of hate crimes against a religious group by a large margin, even before this school year’s explosion of anti-Semitism. The anti-Semites in and around college campuses often yelled foul when being charged with being anti-Semites and instead often retorted that they were simply anti-Israel, anti-colonialism, or anti-Netanyahu.
In desperate need of finding a cover for their Jew-hatred, college students and professors that engaged in obvious anti-Semitism grasped at proverbial straws to hide behind other supposed social justice issues of the day. Categorizing Israel and the Jewish people as part of the “oppressor class,” they reasoned, allowed them to justify, defend, and even celebrate the mass rape and slaughter of over 1,400 Israeli civilians on October 7.
This asinine and dangerous position is expressed at rally after rally, in opinion pieces published in school papers, in lectures by professors, and on social media. This is the fallacious lens through which so many in academia have decided to view the world. Their faux-intellectualism and moral ineptitude has been exposed since October 7. Since then, professors and college students alike simply call for the end of the Jewish people and/or the Jewish state. They call for slitting the throats of Jews or for a global intifada. Students are harassed and assaulted while walking through campus. Universities, for the most part, allow this all to happen and advise the Jewish students that they should go in through the back door or hide in the library until it is over.
Gone are the days of intellectual debates on college campuses, where viewpoints are expressed and debated. After years of telling professors and students alike that language can be violent, microaggressions are to be challenged, safe spaces must be created for marginalized groups, and equity offices must be established to protect all students, it turns out that none of those platitudes apply to the Jewish community. When it comes to Jews, students and professors seem to have carte blanche to call for their murder, celebrate their mass rape, and to harass and intimidate Jewish students across the country.
Today, many college campuses are more reminiscent of the 1930s Germany, where the Nazis pushed their ideologies, than the American university system that educated so many for the past several decades.
The American people heard three university presidents testifying before Congress about the rise of anti-Semitism on their campuses on Tuesday. The hearing was jaw-dropping. For the most part, these elite university presidents at UPenn, MIT and Harvard, refused to clearly condemn anti-Semitism and seemed almost smug in their responses about calls for genocide of Jewish students on campus. Hiding behind the First Amendment was a convenient, yet legally deficient space to bury their condoning of Jew-hatred.
In short, you may have a constitutionally protected right to say something, but you don’t have a constitutional right to go to these universities. Moreover, there are limits to our constitutional rights. The Second Amendment provides Americans the right to carry a weapon, yet individuals aren’t permitted to carry a weapon on college campuses in almost half the states in our country. Similarly, the First Amendment has well established limitations, including incitement of violence, intimidation and harassment. These limitations are well-established at these universities; they would surely (and justly) expel, fire or discipline students or faculty calling for the mass murder of blacks, gays, or any other group of people.
The university presidents, however, were not making legal arguments; they were simply looking for a place to hide their anti-Semitic policies. Rest assured that these three University presidents are not alone.
American Jewish college students are being subjected to overt hatred, harassment and intimidation in many universities across our nation. The anti-Semitic conduct is coming not only from students, but from staff and faculty, all while being protected by their administrations.
Of course, there are exceptions. Not every school is a hotbed for anti-Semitism in our nation, but that is the point. Jewish high school students today are forced to decide which college is right for them not on the basis of the best academic programs for them, but instead whether the university they want to attend will even be safe for them.
Our tolerance for anti-Semitism in our nation’s institutions, including our universities, must be zero. University boards must hold their presidents and deans accountable. The temperature has risen to intolerable levels for Jews across our great nation, and no place is this more evident than in our nation’s top universities.
Remember, the students of today are our political and social leaders of tomorrow. It is the responsibility of all Americans to make it clear — in no unequivocal terms — that anti-Semitism will no longer be accepted in our institutions. While ending the world’s oldest and most pervasive form of hatred — Jew-hatred — will not be achievable, insuring that our universities protect Jewish students and dispose of rabid antisemitic students, faculty and administrators is a good start.