June 11, 2024
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Israel-Hamas War Extends to US Battle Against Antisemitism

As the world comes to terms with the horrors of Hamas’s October 7 massacre, it is time the world makes clear that calling for the destruction of Israel and death of Jews has no legitimacy.

With the refusal of Hamas to extend the cease-fire, this week the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces expanded their ground operations in the north and south of the Gaza Strip, forging on in their efforts to eradicate the threat posed by Hamas while continuing the search for the hostages held there.

For the first time, as Hamas’s grip continues to weaken under military pressure, we are hearing growing voices of Palestinians coming out against Hamas and laying the blame for the tragedy that is Gaza today squarely at the doorstep of the extremist terrorists.

In a show of symbolism and hope, IDF soldiers lit Hanukkah candles in the Gaza darkness along the Strip, fulfilling their mission to expel the darkness, hatred, murder, barbarism and cruelty we experienced two months ago.

 

Exposing the Dark Antisemitic Underbelly of Ivy League Universities

In the United States this week, more darkness was being expelled, notably with the broad daylight being shone on the rotting underbelly of America’s most prestigious Ivy League academic institutions.

What began with a hearing by the Congressional Education Committee, led by Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, about the policies of three leading universities—Harvard, MIT and Penn—has snowballed into a political bipartisan storm in America. It has brought into the fray the American economic elite along with massive media pressure.

We have all seen what was, quite frankly, harrowing footage. When asked if calls for the genocide of Jews contravened their universities’ codes of conduct, the best these heads of America’s leading institutions could collectively manage to answer was: “It depends on the context.” Apologies ensued, but it was too little, too late. Calls for their removal have already resulted in the head of Penn stepping down, though she remains a tenured member of the law faculty.

The boards of directors of these prestigious universities understand that this environment is an existential threat to their institutions.

Last week, businessman Ross Stevens threatened to withdraw a $100 million donation from Penn University if President Magill did not resign. Longtime donors joined him in declaring that they would stop giving as long as there was any tacit acceptance of antisemitism on campus. Leading the economic and intellectual campaign is Harvard graduate and businessman Bill Ackman, a billionaire Jewish investor and director of the New York hedge fund Pershing Square. He made it clear that there was no context when it came to calls for genocide and urged the three presidents to resign.

Ackman may be the most prominent businessman, but he is not alone; other donors withdrew their contributions from Harvard and even resigned from the executive committee. More than 1,600 Jewish Harvard graduates have announced that they will freeze donations to the institution until the administration takes immediate steps against the manifestations of antisemitism on campus. A series of top law firms have informed the universities that they will not employ their graduates who take part in antisemitic activities. They were joined by a series of financial companies, including JP Morgan and Bank of America, which earlier stated that they too would not hire students participating in demonstrations against Israel. “Hate supporters will have no place in our organizations or in our community,” they declared.

More than 70 American lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle added their disgust and called on the boards of directors of the universities to dismiss the presidents. Moreover, the university heads’ poor moral showing at the hearing has landed these institutions in the firing line of an official investigation and a long process of public shaming and reputational damage, as well as an overall decrease in value, including the possibility of termination of government funds.

When it came to this fight against anti-Jewish hatred, we saw how in America the adage “money talks” has remained true. Without the economic pressure on the institutions and its potential escalation, we would not have seen the universities take responsibility. The climate would have remained unchecked, and the actions of vitriolic antisemitic groups and individuals would have continued to receive a hall pass. After all, nothing has happened in the last few weeks that hasn’t happened in the last 20 years. The calls for the destruction of Israel are a legitimate pro-Palestinian anthem at universities, and displays of hatred against the Jewish state during “Israel Apartheid Week” are commonplace, as is a threatening atmosphere towards Jews in general and supporters of Israel on campuses in particular.

What has changed is indeed the “context.” As the world comes to terms with the horrors of the Hamas attack on October 7, it is time, once and for all, for the world to make it clear that calling for the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jews has no legitimacy. Supporting or justifying murder, rape, beheading, and harming children is not legitimate. Calling to globalize the intifada and calling for days of rage on campuses after October 7 is no longer legitimate.

A few days ago, a pro-Palestinian student was suspended from New York University after taking down posters on the campus of the Israeli hostages. She was suspended, her study scholarship was revoked, and she will be expelled from the student dormitories.

This is another signal that from the sea to shining sea, academia must be antisemitism-free.


The author is deputy director-general of the International March of the Living, senior adviser to the Combat Antisemitism Movement, and a former senior official in the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

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