First they came for the Jews, and almost everyone on campus celebrated.
The rest—were silent.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
—Martin Luther King, Jr.
No need here to rehearse the details of the brutal, sadistic, terrorist slaughter perpetrated by Hamas against 1,200 mostly Jewish civilians, though every decent person owes it to humanity to study the footage out there, to understand the depth of the depravity and the brutality of the barbarity, and to bear witness.
Incredibly, the massacre was still ongoing when the coalition of three dozen Harvard student groups posted their heinous justification of it, hence rightly deserve their privileged place of opprobrium. But they were soon joined by hundreds of organizations across many dozens of campuses. The National Review has kept an ongoing log of many of these, including Columbia, Northwestern, University of Michigan, Swarthmore, NYU, Georgetown, George Washington University, ad nauseum. Many statements have been signed by coalitions of dozens of campus groups, not just Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim and Arab groups but all the “progressive” groups, the ethnic studies groups, the radical left-wing political groups. Black Lives Matter went all in with the murderers and rapists, one chapter even illustrating its “I Stand With Palestine” with an image of a homicidal hang glider. Women’s and Gender Studies Departments sided with those who rape elderly women and girls, cut off their breasts, and cut open a pregnant woman’s belly, stabbed her baby, then shot the woman. Something called the “Sex Workers Union” came out for the murderers as a stand “against violence,” even though they would be subject to plenty were they in Gaza, and let’s not even start with the lesbians and “Queers for Palestine” who might well be murdered by the people they were proud to stand with.
It felt (and feels) like almost everyone is on board.
Lest anyone think that this is all about “free speech,” what we have now seen are endless open justifications of a mass terror attack, and worse, celebration of it, jubilation, a bacchanalian bloodlust. In fact even worse still: National SJP immediately proclaimed that “decolonization is a call to … actions that go beyond … rhetoric,” including “resistance … in all forms,” including “armed struggle,” and that they “are PART of this movement, not [merely] in solidarity”—part of the movement, that is, that guns down unarmed dancing teenagers. They did this in a social media campaign to “bring the resistance” to every campus they could, in order to “dismantle” Zionism on every campus. Lovely words—except when “resistance” openly means “slaughter every Jew,” when “dismantling Zionism” means removing, “by any means necessary,” anyone who believes that Jews have human rights too, and when they illustrate their campaign with a celebratory image of the hang glider armed with automatic weapons about to embark on gunning down every unarmed dancing teenager in his sight.
This is not “free speech.” It is open endorsement of, and incitement to, mass homicidal violence—occurring on, and directed toward, not only Israel and Israelis but our very campuses.
And apparently an awful lot of campus members agree. Just look at the rallies the first week after the massacre at Harvard, at Yale, at Princeton, at Columbia, at Georgetown, and at the University of North Carolina, where one very excited young woman screamed exuberantly, “We are all of us Hamas!”
Hamas, which openly calls for, and acts to bring about, the death of every Jew on the planet.
Hamas, and these folks who are or are “part of” Hamas, are an evil that have no place on any campus. But one thing to their “credit,” I suppose: they at least tell you who they are, they are open about it, so you know at least who you are dealing with.
For this essay I want to focus on the rest, the silent ones.
Four days in, after explicit images of the slaughter had been blasting around the Internet nonstop for days, my college administration, the DEI office (like most others), and my faculty colleagues had remained entirely silent. In contrast, this past spring when the school president scheduled an event at a venue that 40 years earlier had racist admissions policies there were weeks of outrage, departmental statements of condemnation, the canceling of classes, and then of the president who was forced to resign.
But when 1,200 mostly Jews were slaughtered in cold blood, live on camera, there was—silence.
Actually worse: business as usual. Chatter about upcoming events, department business, the usual weekly newsletters, announcements of upcoming meetings. Nothing to talk about, folks, it’s just Jews being slaughtered on the largest scale since the Holocaust.
“We must take care of our students”—a wonderful rallying cry that fills up our airwaves whenever any identity group is perceived to have received a harm, however abstract that harm is, however removed that harm might be from them directly and personally.
Except for Jews—whose family members, friends, and acquaintances were literally just gunned down, raped, burned alive, decapitated, all livestreamed.
Did this community truly have no care or concern for its Jewish members?
I didn’t want to believe it.
But this isn’t just about my institution. Apart from a small handful of university presidents who responded appropriately, most were either silent like mine or (eventually) expressed tepid general words of dismay without truly acknowledging what had just happened before our very eyes. That’s obviously better than joining the campus mobs openly calling for Jewish blood, but only marginally so: the silence, and the tepidness, convey the same message, if less explicitly.
The problem is nearly—everywhere.
And it is now clear.
Many, many people in our universities don’t merely really hate the Jews, but actually—want them dead.
In 2023 America, not to mention around the globe.
“We are all Hamas!” the young woman screamed.
At the University of Washington rally “for Palestine,” a young Jewish student was filmed sobbing in front of a seemingly indifferent administrator, “Why are you allowing this to happen here? They want us dead!”
How, how, how did this come to pass?
This may be the United States of America in 2023, but what we’re seeing is an old story, dressed up fresh for the 21st century Western world.
Years of lies, fertilizing the soil, all deliberately designed to delegitimize and dehumanize the Jew, to label the Jew as inhuman, demonic, pure evil. Once you are convinced that the Jew represents evil, then killing Jews becomes not only acceptable but even obligatory. If the Jew is evil, then you in turn must be a very good person in killing him. The Christians did this for centuries, portraying the Jew as the fleshly embodiment of evil in their rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The Germans and the Nazis did this for decades in racial terms, inspired by the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory forgery Protocols of the Elders of Zion, even developing a whole academic discipline to document and thus demonstrate the evils of the Jews. After some decades of this program, killing Jews isn’t merely easier but becomes an act of virtue.
The newer lies, now also several decades old, are merely superficial variations on the older lies, aiming to better reflect the specific evils of today. The charges of “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” “settler colonialism,” “apartheid,” and more recently “Jewish supremacy,” not to mention probably every single thing most people believe about Gaza—all of these are lies, in fact easily documentable and demonstrable lies for anyone who takes a few minutes to honestly evaluate them. (Maybe people don’t know that rather unlike most “open air prisons” or “concentration camps” Gaza has four-star hotels and restaurants, luxury cars, ritzy malls, mansions and affluent neighborhoods, fancy beach resorts, and an obesity problem, not to mention a massive military infrastructure.) These charges don’t have to be true; they just have to be widely circulated, widely repeated, and widely believed, so that the Jew becomes the embodiment of whatever is considered most evil today.
And this is what the “pro-Palestinian” movement, along with its numerous “progressive” allies, has successfully accomplished.
After twenty years of the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” (BDS) movement against Israel, orchestrated on campus by the now more than 200 chapters of SJP, their short-term goal, that of damaging Israel economically, was a bust; but the long-term goal, the real goal, has succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Whether or not a particular BDS resolution passes or fails on a given campus, the campaign itself soaks the campus in all the lies above for weeks on end, year after year. Most students don’t really follow the details, but come away thinking, man, those Jews with their genocide, apartheid, and supremacy, must really be pretty evil.
And now in 2023 no one blinks an eye when SJP asserts boldly, baldly, as if factually, on their recent social media celebrating the slaughter of 1,400 Jews, that every single Israeli Jew is a “settler.” In today’s campus vernacular, the slur “settler” rivals in evilness the slur “Nazi,” which they also sling against Israelis. If every Israeli Jew is a settler, then every Israeli Jew is evil, and therefore legitimately murdered. That includes the babies, and the grandmothers, and the unarmed dancing teenagers, and by the way it also justifies torturing them and raping the women before you murder them.
Every Israeli Jew is guilty. And if every Israeli Jew is guilty, is evil, then so is every other Jew in the world—almost all of whom support Israeli Jews and may even be related to them.
Even the wee ones. The latest outrage spreading across cities is no longer ripping down the posters of the 225+ hostages but replacing the large word “Kidnapped” with the word “Occupier.” Put that above the face of a sweet three year old and you might as well just put a target on her.
There are no innocent Jews.
The actual Nazis couldn’t have orchestrated it better.
Those administrators, those faculty members, those students who say nothing while 1,400 Jews are slaughtered—livestreamed, with the most horrific recordings circulating the globe getting millions of views and shares and likes and celebratory comments—do they remain silent because they too believe these Jews actually deserve this?
One liberated kibbutz included the bodies of 40 babies.
Are there no innocent Jews, who don’t deserve this fate?
If they can’t condemn this—if they remain silent—then they must believe these Jews deserve it. I can draw no other conclusion. Is it possible that these academic colleagues, sophisticated, educated, refined, “experts” in values—for do they not daily proclaim their expertise in values, in their anti-racism, their anti-hate, their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion?—is it possible that the people we work with, share offices with, who teach our children, share the belief and value system of the ancient and medieval Christians, the modern Nazis?
And of the contemporary Islamic Resistance Movement, otherwise known as Hamas?
Hamas has made no secrets of its views. From its founding charter—which literally openly endorses the murder of every Jew on earth, and quotes repeatedly, and “factually,” from the anti-Semitic Nazi-worshipped forgery Protocols in order to support its view that every Jew deserves to be murdered—to literally every action, every behavior, and every statement in the 40 years since, it has been telling you exactly what it thinks.
They tell us this openly, and have been telling us this openly for decades. A week after the massacre their leaders called on every Muslim on earth to bring the jihad to everywhere on earth, which prompted attacks in several European countries and had the FBI on alert here.
This isn’t hard to figure out. This movement is not about peace, about negotiation, not about “two states,” not about “justice,” not about Palestinian self-determination, not even about bettering the lives of Palestinians, all the things that should rightly matter to genuine progressives.
It is about murdering every Jew on earth, starting with the ones in Israel. (They also are interested in removing Christians, for the record, but the Jews are the first priority.)
That the animus is not restricted to Israeli Jews is also clear by the global reaction. Mass rallies in major cities around the globe, celebrating the slaughter and attacking local Jews and Jewish institutions. And back to campuses: SJP is all in, “part of” of the program, yes that program, in bringing the “resistance” to campuses.
“We are all Hamas!” the young woman in North Carolina screamed.
When an openly genocidal Jew-hating group declares, and then perpetrates, their intention to slaughter Jews, is it not advisable to #BelieveThem?
And when a campus group does the same?
Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to celebrate their mass slaughter, and campaign to bring that slaughter to your campus? What exactly are all those diversity and inclusion administrators paid to do, if not to prevent this?
Or at least condemn it?
But silence is what we got on my campus and on many campuses. Is that because people—our administrators, our colleagues, our students—agree? That every Jew is guilty, that every Jew is evil, that every Jew must be eliminated?
Is that what they are thinking, when they look at their Jewish colleagues, students—at you—even if they are good enough not to say it aloud?
That the answer is yes is supported by what, of course, predictably, happened next.
Jews began to defend themselves. And the world, including campuses, promptly erupted and continues to erupt in outrage at every single measure Jews take in so doing. There isn’t a single nation on earth that wouldn’t respond massively to such an attack, but when Jews do it, every measure is labeled an aggression, an atrocity, a war crime, there will be international tribunals, etc. That is because in their eyes Jews do not have the right to defend themselves, the right that all other human beings have—because after a generation of the program academics and their students now apparently believe that Jews are so demonic they are not even endowed with the “human rights” championed by all the anti-Israel “human rights” NGOs, whose condemnations of Israeli self-defense are as loud as anyone else’s.
One other thing also happened next. The more decent did have some words of concern about the massacre but couldn’t resist even a nanosecond before appending to those words their “explanations,” their “context,” the “nuance,” the “what choice did they have” rhetoric—invoking, after all, the “blockade,” the “occupation,” the “apartheid,” etc. The lies, the damned lies, doing all the work, obscuring the fact that the Palestinians, even Hamas, did and do have many other choices available besides slaughtering Jews, including that of actually making peace with Israel.
One colleague at another institution actually said the following to me. The reason he was silent to that point wasn’t that he hated Jews, but that he was trying to understand the conflict from multiple sides because it is after all extremely complicated. When this person was confronted with the mass sadistic slaughter of 1,400 mostly civilian Jews including babies, in other words, his response was “I need to hear more perspectives.” Imagine saying on a campus today that you were suspending judgment on the George Floyd case, and on the general phenomenon of anti-black racism, and while you’re at it on slavery too because the situation is “complicated” and there are other “sides,” including the side that held that all blacks are evil and deserve to be enslaved or eliminated.
Is there any other identity group about which it would be acceptable to justify their mass slaughter by providing “context,” insisting on “nuance,” wanting to see the “other side”?
Academics are supposed to be in the subtlety and nuance business, and indeed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, but that is not what’s going on here. The issue at hand really is simple: either those raped and murdered babies and families and grandmothers deserved that fate, or they did not. Any “but,” any “explanation,” any “context,” any “complication,” any “both sides,” any “all lives matter” (as many of those tepid university statements exhibited) blames the victim for their slaughter and amounts to saying they deserved it—because, in the end, because no other explanation is possible, they must believe that every Jew is evil, and that the medieval Christians and modern Nazis and contemporary Hamasniks have it right.
Anything less than outright unqualified condemnation of this act is a signal to your Jewish colleagues, peers, and students, that in fact their lives do not matter. The tepidity and the silence may be marginally better than the “Intifada!” and “Resistance by any means necessary!” and “Death to the Jews!” chants heard on all too many campuses, but they signify exactly the same thing.
Here is one other neat trick, pointing again to the same conclusion. Many instantly responded to the onset of the Israeli response by calling for de-escalation and ceasefire, by condemning genocide. Beautiful, but here’s the problem. Wasn’t Hamas’s mass sadistic slaughter just a little bit of an escalation? And part of an explicit campaign of genocide? How does one come out for de-escalation and ceasefire only after the Jew-slaughterers have finished their slaughter, and without even acknowledging that slaughter? How does one come out against genocide only after the openly genocidal group has finished its round of genocidal activity, and do so without even acknowledging that genocidal activity? Think about the message that sends to Jewish community members: we have no objection when you are attacked, but we condemn you when you respond. Or maybe: genocide is dreadful, except when it’s perpetrated against Jews.
Not to mention that there is a whole other mode of de-escalation and genocide prevention that these folks entirely overlook. They could demand that Hamas return all the hostages immediately and surrender, and then the war is over, instantly.
Make that condemnation of the Hamas slaughter, full stop, unconditional—anything else and the conclusion is inescapable: they just want Jews dead.
Hamas and their fans, I obviously believe, are profoundly evil, but again they at least tell you who they are. But the academics—the professors, the administrators, now a full generation of students and young alumni—the people who justify that violence, who create entire ideologies that fertilize the ground by painting the victim as the evil one, deserving of this extermination, are at least equally evil. They may not pull the trigger but they create the conditions that make the trigger pulling justifiable and therefore feasible, and do so in a massively deceptive way. The entire “Anti-Zionism” campaign of the past two decades was just that, a wolf in sheep’s clothing: take the eternal hatred of the Jew and wrap it up as “political critique,” or “human rights activism,” so that it will be allowed to enter the academic arena, where it will seep into the brains of unsuspecting students. In the past decade the “wokeness” and “diversity” program added fuel to this fire, turning Western Jews into privileged white supremacist oppressors of people of color while their Israeli Jewish siblings oppress the Palestinians of color, so that in the name of all the higher virtues it became acceptable and then obligatory to hate the Jews, all of the Jews, who now represent the ultimate evil in their 21st-century eyes. That is precisely what the medieval Christians and the modern Nazis did, and what those academic “progressives” and “Anti-Zionists” who have been propagating these vicious lies for many years under their various jargony names have been doing.
There is no evil like the academic who provides the ideological foundation for the extermination of a people and insists that you call that program “virtue.”
“Death to the Jews!” at least has the decency to be explicit.
But the tepidity, and the silence from administration, from the diversity administrators, from the faculty, on so many other campuses—says the same thing.
They really want us dead.
This is a heavily revised version of an article that originally appeared here.