June 7, 2024
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The Fight of Our Lives Does Not ‘Depend on the Context’

The blessing, if we can call it that, came in the aftermath of the October 7 attack by Hamas.

It is the shared clarity and comprehension that virtually every Jew possesses. It’s likely part of our DNA, ingrained in our shared personal histories of being children or grandchildren of survivors, meeting survivors and watching Holocaust films in school. We know what genocide is, and genocide is not wartime bombings. Genocide is the systematic murder of a people with forethought and organization, preceded by propaganda and blood libel.

We understand now that if people call for Intifada, we should accept them at their word and make preparations to defend our words and deeds. We understand that “From the river to the sea” coupled with “by any means necessary” includes but is not limited to murder. We do not “contextualize” murder, or other acts of barbarism that are quite literally unspeakable and unmentionable in a family paper. The word “contextualize” is a dog whistle for pardoning, excusing or backhandedly condoning murder. In America, as in most other countries, murder does not come with contextualization; it comes with jail time, life sentences and in some states the death penalty.

The asinine testimony by three university presidents last week should make every Jew very afraid for their children to be associated with anyone involved with these formerly vaunted places of learning, and for any alumni of these institutions to not only cease giving to them but to be in touch and advocate for the Jewish people and all who care about the rule of law and personal safety. The “depends on the context” answer was provided matter-of-factly by the leaders of Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, in response to the question, “Does calling for the genocide of Jews constitute bullying according to your school’s code of conduct?”

“If that speech turns to action, yes,” said President of Harvard Claudine Gay.

So calling for murder might not even constitute “bullying”? So in Gay’s view, only if a complete genocide of the Jews on Harvard’s campus were perpetrated, only then it would constitute a violation of the school’s code of conduct.

That would mean that in order for Free Palestine advocates to be punished for having violated the student code of conduct, these individuals would actually have to commit murder. Doesn’t that sort of invalidate the point of a school code of conduct, if the laws of the school are more forgiving than that of state and federal laws? Aren’t prestigious universities supposed to teach people things? Aren’t students who matriculate from such places supposed to have some kind of professional or academic advantage of being in the company of others with high intellects, high standards and high achievements?

For those like me without a legal background, I hypothesize that a university under the tutelage of President Gay in 2023 actually means that Jewish students on the Harvard campus are less safe than they are in a public school, least of all one that charges close to $60,000 a year for tuition.

Let’s try to be clear: Calling for murder is not legal in America; it is in fact hate speech. Premeditated murder in this country does not “depend on the context” and is punishable by law. (Last I checked, Harvard’s campus is located in America.) If genocide is organized, targeted murder and Intifada and “From the river to the sea” are calls for genocide of the Jews, what has happened at Harvard? Does it, like the rest of these previously prestigious universities, simply exist in a separate reality from its home country, a parallel universe perhaps?

If the United States still has laws on the books, Harvard University, as well as the rest of the collegiate system, are the only places in America where unchecked calls for genocide of the Jews are absolutely, entirely permissible.

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