Monday, May 27, 2024

Pro-Palestinian Campus Protests Reach a Turning Point

 

As openly antisemitic and often violent pro-Palestinian student protests on college campuses surged in recent weeks, some universities belatedly responded by imposing severe consequences on the perpetrators such as suspensions from classes, expulsions from the school, and criminal arrests by police.

By staging unauthorized protests and maintaining encampments that disrupt campus life, the demonstrators have been infringing on the rights of their fellow students, especially those who are Jewish. As a result, the protesters are being charged, on the lowest level, with violating university quality of life and safety policies, and criminal violations in some cases involving the destruction of property or vandalism.

We are witnessing the largest surge of student protests since the demonstrations against the apartheid policies in South Africa during the 1980s and the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations in the 1960s and early ’70s. As a result, police have arrested more than 2,200 people at pro-Palestinian protests on American college campuses during the past three weeks

In recent years, college administrators have usually been able to peacefully resolve student protests by reaching an agreement on their demands. For example, in 2017, Yale agreed to student demands that it drop the name of a former U.S. vice president and senator, John Calhoun, from a campus building because he was an avid proponent of slavery. In 2021, Harvard agreed to end its investments in fossil fuels in response to a protest by student climate-change activists which included the occupation of campus buildings.

The main differences between those previous protests and today’s protests against Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza are the fact that many students support Israel’s war as justified by the Hamas attack on October 7, and the fact that many of the pro-Palestinian protesters have crossed the line with their blatantly antisemitic slogans and violent acts.

GROWING PRESSURE ON COLLEGES TO RESPOND TO ANTISEMITISM

College administrations have finally reacted to the growing pressure from parents, alumni, and major contributors due to public complaints by Jewish students who say the pro-Palestinian protests make them feel scared, unwelcome, or unsafe on their own college campus.

The high-profile accusations of antisemitism on college campuses also led to two public hearings by the House Education Committee which led to the forced resignations of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania for failing to adequately condemn the nature of the protests, followed by a strong statement against antisemitism on her campus by the president of Columbia University who understood that it was the only way that she would be able to keep her job.

In a few cases, college administrations have bowed to pressure from the pro-Palestinian protesters by agreeing to their demands to cut their financial and academic ties to Israel.

But even that does not necessarily solve their problem. Northwestern University, for example, has announced an agreement with protesters to divest from its financial interests in Israel, provide support for two visiting Palestinian faculty members and full scholarships for five Palestinian students, and provide a designated house on campus for Muslim and Middle Eastern students. But the school is now being sued by three of its Jewish students because they were subjected to antisemitic harassment during the pro-Palestinian protest on the Northwestern campus, in clear violation of the school’s policies.

On most other college campuses, the demonstrations have continued, either because the negotiations for such an agreement broke down, or school administrators decided they could no longer tolerate the disruption and defiance, and are now using discipline and the police, if necessary, to restore their authority and a safe, normal lifestyle for all of their students on campus.

For example, this week, Harvard University announced that its students who continue to participate in an unauthorized campus encampment would be placed on “involuntary leave” which means that they will be barred from taking exams, living in Harvard housing, or being on campus.

Earlier, the University of Georgia, George Washington University, and Tulane separately announced that they would be suspending students living in tent encampments on their campuses. Other prominent schools including Yale, Barnard, New York University, Columbia, and UCLA have all threatened to punish student protesters violating campus rules with suspensions or expulsions.

Many of the student protesters have responded to threats of serious disciplinary action by their schools with defiance. At Fordham University in New York City, for example, some students wrote “Free Palestine” on their suspension notices.

In early April, Vanderbilt expelled three students who helped lead a 21-hour sit-in at a main campus building calling for the divestment of the university’s financial ties from Israel, as well as a written warning from the school’s provost that, “student choices and decisions can lead to serious and costly consequences,” such as losing their college credits for an entire semester of classes which they have already paid for.

However, the administration at Cornell issued a statement offering to let its suspended students receive incomplete grades in their courses and later finish the spring term if they agreed to “not facilitate, engage in, participate or assist in any other violations of university policy.”

PROTESTS ARE BEING ORGANIZED BY PROFESSIONAL AGITATORS

While anti-Israel protests have often been portrayed in the mainstream media as spontaneous uprisings of student indignation against the deaths of thousands of civilians in Gaza, there is now ample evidence that there is a well-organized and leftist-funded organization of professional outside agitators behind the demonstrations. They have misled the young idealists by feeding them lies about the Gaza war, the Islamic-terrorist nature of Hamas, and the history of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Their strategy is to deliberately spread disorder and violence in order to defy school administrators and to resist the police to achieve their radical goals.

The highly effective tactics being used during these demonstrations are the result of months of training, planning, and encouragement by longtime activists and left-wing groups who are professional agitators with no direct connection to the schools where they are fomenting violence, chaos, and hatred.

The professional troublemakers have also encouraged student protesters to hide their identities. As one of the professional troublemakers who was involved in the protests on the Columbia University campus put it, “To the extent to which the [school] administration cannot distinguish between the student body as a whole and the protesters, everyone involved is safer.”

NEW YORK CITY MAYOR ADAMS CALLS OUT THE TROUBLEMAKERS

To his credit, New York Mayor Eric Adams was one of the first local Democrat elected officials in the country to call out the “outside agitators” who have neither the students’ nor the university’s best interests at heart.

Of the nearly 300 protestors who were arrested for violently disrupting student life on the campuses of Columbia University and City College of New York, NYPD officials said that nearly half of them weren’t students.

Mayor Adams declared that these “were individuals on the campus who should not have been there,” and that those who took over Columbia University’s Hamilton Hall, one of the school’s classroom buildings, were “led by individuals not affiliated with the university,” some of whom were “professionals” whose goal was to “radicalize young people.”

Adams also said that the provocateurs stirring up the campus riots were not only antisemitic but also anti-American. He called them “despicable” for replacing American flags with Palestinian ones. When Mayor Adams’ blunt statements prompted jeers and catcalls from his liberal audience, he responded by saying, “So blame me for being proud to be an American. … We are not surrendering our way of life to anyone.”

Meanwhile, a Wall Street Journal editorial said that “schools are doing the right thing when they call the police to reestablish order over unruly mobs. A robust free-speech policy doesn’t conflict with requiring students to follow campus policies or face consequences for actions that threaten Jewish classmates.

“The pattern will continue until those in authority put it down, and the schools’ disciplinary process is more important here than any trespassing charges against students. Those joining the mob on the quad may cover their faces with keffiyehs to hide their identity from potential employers, but violating rules after a warning warrants expulsion, not merely slap-on-the-wrist suspensions.

“The key,” the editorial notes, “is having lines that are clear from the beginning and then enforcing them. Clear principles are critical because the protests aren’t likely to end soon. Protest networks are building and looking forward to a summer of love heading into the Democratic convention in Chicago in August.”

THE LEFTIST STRATEGY BEHIND THE DISORDER AND CHAOS

It is now clear that the pro-Palestinian protests aren’t what they pretend to be, namely, spontaneous bursts of student moral concern about Gaza. They are part of a larger radical leftist nationwide strategy of spreading disorder to force colleges and U.S. policy to bend to the left’s will and demands. The events are being guided by professional agitators hired by leftist groups to exploit students in order to foment chaos and are ultimately trying to intimidate President Biden into abandoning his support for Israel in its war of self-defense against Hamas.

At Columbia University, months before police took down encampments at the uptown Manhattan campus and forcibly removed the demonstrators occupying Hamilton Hall, student organizers began consulting with groups such as the National Students for Justice in Palestine, veterans of campus protests, and former Black Panthers.

They researched past student protests at Columbia over its expansion into Harlem and the gentrification of its Morningside Heights community and applied the lessons learned to its tactics in its current pro-Palestinian protests. They also attended a “teach-in” by several former Black Panthers activists, who taught them about the importance of maintaining discipline over internal disputes within their movement.

“We took notes from our elders, engaged in dialogue with them, and analyzed how the university responded to previous protests,” Sueda Polat, a Columbia graduate student and protest organizer told the Wall Street Journal.

NATIONWIDE PRO-PALESTINIAN SUPPORT GROUPS

In organizing their encampments and building occupations, the student protest leaders were under the guidance of longstanding far-left groups, such as the National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP), which has founded more than 300 chapters across the U.S. over the past two decades. Its social media pages feature instructional videos encouraging protesting students to set up encampments on college campuses around the world and advise protesters to wear comfortable clothes and running shoes and bring water, an energy bar, and a bandanna to keep them from being identified by campus surveillance cameras.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, NSJIP is supported in part by Wespac, a nonprofit based in the New York City suburb of Westchester County with a long history of propagating antisemitism.

In March, an openly pro-Hamas organization known as the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network, which was banned by the German government last November for its support for terrorism and antisemitism, held a “Resistance 101” training event for Columbia University students. When university officials twice banned the event because of the known violent, terrorist backgrounds of the featured speakers, the Columbia student organizers went ahead with it anyway as a virtual event, which resulted in some of them being suspended by Columbia President Minouche Shafik.

On April 29, the NSJIP announced a new tactical goal for the protesters, threatening to disrupt upcoming graduation ceremonies unless college officials submit to their pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli demands.

PRO-PALESTINIAN FACULTY MEMBERS TAKING LEAD ROLES

In addition, the campus protests are being led by senior faculty members, many of whom are in their 60s and 70s and who first became radicalized during the era of Vietnam War protests. They are issuing calls for votes of no-confidence in university administrations, spearheading classroom walkouts, and showing up at protest encampments to serve as human shields to protect students from campus security and police.

In recent weeks, police have arrested professors during pro-Palestinian demonstrations at Washington University in St. Louis, Emory University in Atlanta, and the UCLA campus in Los Angeles.

Saree Makdisi, a UCLA English professor and member of the school’s chapter of Faculty for Justice in Palestine, told the Wall Street Journal that the faculty group helped to organize and train the “self-defense” teams of protesters who did hand-to-hand battle last week on the UCLA campus with pro-Israel counter-demonstrators, forcing college administrators to call in the local police to halt the violence. Makdisi also said that the current pro-Palestinian protests are much more organized and disciplined than they were when he was a student participant back in the 1980s.

The CrimethInc.com website has also become a resource for antisemitic anarchists, Antifa activists, and radical leftists by anonymously publishing lessons learned from various campus protests, and revealing the systematic methods behind the mayhem and violence the protesters use to get away with breaking the law.

The anonymous analysis of protests on the campus of Cal Poly Humboldt states that “it’s clear that in order for this crisis to develop further, student occupations should take buildings whenever possible.”

An analysis of the protests at California Polytech State University in Humboldt says “The pro-Palestinian movement must be a movement against the police.” It also cites a lesson learned from “the George Floyd Uprising” that “it is best to come to all demonstrations with goggles, gas masks, laser pointers, and shields. You never know what a casual sleepover might become.”

The website also provides student protesters with a list of useful protest materials that often can be scavenged from the typical campus environment. They include, “plywood, insulation board, lumber, scrap wood, metal sheeting, garbage cans, and water barrels [that] can all be used as raw materials, and some can even be sourced from campus dumpsters.”

WHY NEGOTIATING WITH CAMPUS PROTESTERS IS FUTILE

A CrimethInc.com report on the protests at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign notes that “encampment is escalation. Putting tents up on campus is against almost every campus policy. Refusing to take them down means refusing to listen to a ‘lawful command.’” The basic premise of the encampment is already an escalation that the cops will meet with force, [so] “organizers should not concern themselves with de-escalation or ‘remaining peaceful.’”

A Wall Street Journal editorial points to this statement as evidence of the futility of attempts to negotiate with protest organizers whose goal is to foment as much chaos and violence as possible, and then try to blame it on the police and university administrators. On the contrary, all attempts to halt the law-breaking and violence through appeasement, by giving into their demands, will only encourage more of it.

Veteran Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said that fomenting violence on campus is a deliberate tactic designed to “give the authorities no choice but to come after you. . . The perpetrators of mayhem transform themselves into camera-ready victims of ‘state violence.’”

As explained by Allysa Finley in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece, the insatiable appetite for more concessions by these protesters is illustrated in the popular children’s book, If You Give . . ., by Laura Joffe Numeroff.

In her essay entitled, “If You Give a College Student a Cookie. . .” Finley explains that once liberal college administrators give in to their first request, the progression becomes inevitable.

“If college students ask for safe spaces, you might give affinity groups their own centers. Then they’ll want to feel safe in classrooms and will ask for trigger warnings to protect them from ideas they don’t like. When you agree that certain ideas can be dangerous, students will occupy buildings and demand that speakers be canceled.

“When you apologize and disinvite speakers, students ask you to excuse tardy and incomplete assignments because they were busy protesting. When you give them an A for no effort, they will graduate with honors and think they don’t have to work hard to succeed,” Finley concludes.

Finley also observes that the same principle applies to the many other aspects of current American culture and society now dominated by the same type of “woke” liberal entitlement thinking, such as the Biden administration’s demands for forgiveness of student loans at taxpayer expense; unreasonable, lavish government subsidies for the purchase of electric vehicles that consumers don’t want, and which America’s current national power grid can’t support; as well as the admission and lavish taxpayer support of millions of potentially dangerous illegal immigrants, largely at the expense of existing poor and homeless American citizens who are being denied the same level of government aid. The list goes on. . .

TRAINING THE NEXT GENERATION OF RADICAL LEFTIST ACTIVISTS

The Wall Street Journal editorial board also notes that “the goal of these [professional protesters] is to spread their knowledge to recruit and train another generation.”

It cites the CrimethInc.com report by “one experienced participant” at the Columbia protests who describes looking fondly at the young students with “that manic, electric, slightly dazed look that I associate with participating for the first time in some sort of revolutionary upheaval.” It brought back memories of “our first protests and occupations” including [the] “Occupy Wall Street [encampment protests in 2011 and] the George Floyd Rebellion [in 2020].”

In her column, Noonan also analyzes the key similarities and differences between the current pro-Palestinian campus protests, and the Vietnam War-era and George Floyd insurrections.

She observes that the Vietnam demonstrations of the late 1960s and early 1970s “came to a country at relative peace with itself and said: Wake up!” By contrast, “the Hamas demonstrations come to a country that hasn’t been at peace with itself in a long time.”

Noonan also notes that while most of the Vietnam-era student protesters knew very well what they were protesting against, and did so openly in an attempt to win over the hearts and minds of the rest of the American people, today’s student protesters are “covering their faces,” in a “sinister” effort to hide their identities, in contrast to “the 1968 antiwar protesters [who] didn’t hide who they were, [and] didn’t wear masks.”

Noonan writes, “I also think they do it to confer an air of menace, and because they are cowardly. They won’t stand where they stand and pay the price. But half of life is standing where you stand and paying the price.”

She quotes, “a friend who counsels students at Columbia. He said many students who’d sought him out the past few weeks had mixed or unsure feelings about Israel and were trying to think it through.”

But, Noonan notes, “the demonstrators weren’t [trying to think it through]. Those students don’t believe the terrorist organization Hamas was unjustified in its actions on October 7.” Instead, Noonan’s friend said, the pro-Hamas protesters are “totally on board with neo-Marxist oppressor-oppressed ideology.” They don’t have compassion for Gaza and its people “any more than they’ve had compassion for Ukraine.”

Noonan concludes that the current protests “are driven by an anti-Israeli animus that is also and inextricably an anti-American animus,” driven by social media, in much the same way as that the George Floyd protests were “spread almost instantaneously to hundreds of U.S. cities, just as the so-called Gaza solidarity encampments sprouted on many campuses. It isn’t spontaneous.”

THE IGNORANCE OF PRO-PALESTINIAN PROTESTERS

Noonan also observes that many of the student participants in today’s anti-Israel protests are almost entirely ignorant of the complicated history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, and are therefore unable and unwilling to engage in an intelligent conversation about the issues involved.

For example, most of today’s anti-Israel student protesters are unaware of the fact that most of Israel’s Jews today trace their ancestry to countries in North Africa and the Middle East rather than pre-World War II Europe, and have a much stronger documented historical claim to the land of Israel, going back more than 3000 years, than the Arabs. The students also don’t know that the so-called “Palestinian national identity” narrative was largely invented by Yasser Arafat and the KGB during the Cold War as a tool for Soviet mischief-making in the Middle East. They are also unaware that the Palestinians’ unique perpetual refugee status has been artificially preserved by the U.N. for more than 75 years as an excuse for some Arab states and Iran to pursue an endless war of annihilation against Israel, and that Arab and Palestinian leaders have consistently rejected offers in 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2007 to end the dispute over the land peacefully with the creation of an independent, self-governing Palestinian state alongside Israel.

As a result, Noonan notes, “Almost every time a pro-Gaza student gets access to a media microphone, one hears a bland commitment to nothing more than easing the suffering of Palestinian women and children. It sounds rote, almost scripted. What seems to be going on here is a conscious strategy to establish an equivalence of sincerity. . . between the pro-Palestinian students and the Jewish students resisting antisemitism on these campuses.”

Noonan also points out that the origins of the current anti-Israel hostility on American college campuses long predate the October 7 attack and can be traced to the anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement which emerged around 2005 and sought to demonize and silence anyone who dared to show their support for Israel on the liberal-dominated college campuses across the country.

Since the Occupy Wall Street protests began 13 years ago, leftist Democrats and their anarchist and Marxist fellow travelers have orchestrated what their supporters in the mainstream media like to call “mostly peaceful riots” to keep their voter base riled up and actively involved in the protests.

The protests are a unifying social experience against the demonized Republican adversaries of the Democrats, and all supporters of Donald Trump, regardless of their reasons, and/or against the police, regardless of their color, who are universally characterized as agents of America’s irredeemably white-racist culture.

THE PERFECT COMBINATION OF ARROGANCE AND IGNORANCE

According to conservative radio talk show host Derek Hunter, writing in an opinion piece for The Hill, the pro-Palestinian public protests on campus “are the perfect combination of arrogance and ignorance. The [protesters are confident that] they know everything, which means no one is going to tell them anything, especially what they don’t know.”

The demonstrations also give these shockingly mis-educated university students without children, strong religious beliefs, or pride in the American heritage, the sense of purpose they are missing in their lives and otherwise cannot find. Hunter believes “that makes these protests against Israel personal to [the] participants. It’s likely the closest thing to kinship that many of them have felt in a long time, if ever.”

These isolated, closed-minded, and lonely young people are living proof that an academic life dominated by superficial social media contacts and fictitious politicized narratives is no substitute for real scholarship, the open debate of ideas, and a willingness to seriously consider other points of view.

They are the product of a failed, liberal Democrat-dominated education system more interested in the racial and gender identity indoctrination of American kids than giving them the basic knowledge sets and learning skills that they will need to succeed as adults in an increasingly technologically driven economy.

Today’s “woke” Democrat public school and college curriculums are teaching these kids that they are automatically entitled to success without having to work to achieve it, by virtue of their self-identification as members or supporters of some liberal-ordained “oppressed” minority. They are also being taught that they are permitted to use riots and violence to achieve their desired goals.

That is why so many Democrat elected officials, as well as the monopoly of liberal-minded university administrators and faculty members, refuse to condemn the lawless mobs they have created when they take over the campuses, chanting threatening racist, antisemitic, and anti-American mantras. Most mainstream Democrat liberals have also remained guiltily silent as the threatening rhetoric of these mobs has morphed into blatant hate speech, inciting these “mostly peaceful protesters” to commit overt acts of physical as well as verbal violence and wanton destruction.

THE COMPROMISED DEMOCRAT REACTION TO GROWING PUBLIC OUTRAGE

Only now, when the impact of the violence and chaos on America’s leading college campuses is beginning to have a negative impact on their poll numbers, are Democrat candidates across the country running in the November election, from Joe Biden down, beginning to issue calls for order to be restored.

Democrats are so afraid of alienating the American Muslim and pro-Hamas vote that whenever they criticize the outbreak of antisemitism it is immediately paired with an equally vehement condemnation of Islamophobia, despite the lack of any evidence of a surge in that form of discrimination since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

While the mobs of progressive protester activists have been easy for the professional leftist agitators to create, now that they have been unleashed, it is proving to be much more difficult for Democrat elected officials to distance themselves from the protesters. It is clear from recent opinion polling that a substantial majority of the American public disagrees with the pro-Palestinian protesters.

A CAPS/Harris survey found that 80% of Americans side with Israel against Hamas. That includes 78 percent who say that Hamas must not be allowed to continue to rule Gaza and 67% who recognize that Israel has been trying to avoid civilian casualties.

Another segment of voters that has been angered by the disruptive campus protests are the parents and grandparents of college students who feel that their children are now being robbed of the high-level classes, final exams, and graduation ceremonies, for which they have been charged exorbitant tuition rates and fees.

Biden’s presidential campaign has been worried about losing the youth vote, with which he was already in trouble over the issue of his age before the war in Gaza broke out on October 7. To regain their support, Biden has resorted to a blatant attempt to buy their votes through his student-loan forgiveness efforts, despite the ruling by the Supreme Court that, under the Constitution, he does not have the power to grant them without the approval of Congress. The additional anger generated among radicalized young liberals over Biden’s continued support for Israel is likely to cost him even more of their electoral support.

BIDEN’S GAZA WAR POLITICAL DILEMMA

The Gaza war continues to confront the Biden camp with a serious political dilemma. It cannot afford to risk alienating the pro-Palestinian progressive liberals who are his campaign’s most effective activists, or the Muslim and Arab-American vote, which is critical to Democrat hopes to win the battleground state of Michigan in November. Yet at the same time, Biden and his fellow Democrats also know that they are unlikely to win without the massive amount of support they have received from their Jewish backers in previous elections.

Former New York Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin issued a statement to Fox News Digital on Biden’s remarks observing that, “To have any chance of winning Michigan in November, Joe Biden has made the political calculation that he needs to equivocate on Israel, equivocate on defending American Jews and equivocate on protecting Jewish students at universities.

“Hamas sympathizers have taken over college campuses across this country calling for the death of Jews.” In response, Zeldin notes with disappointment, “Weak leadership is the play call at the White House, demonstrating an incredible lack of moral clarity and courage. This is a time to singularly, emphatically, and powerfully condemn antisemitism.”

Beyond the Middle East policy issues and the tolerance for blatant statements and acts of antisemitism, the lawless campus protests are a serious embarrassment for all Democrats who have been campaigning on a platform touting their support for democratic government. Even the notorious race-baiter, Al Sharpton, has claimed to be horrified by the campus upheavals by asking, “How do the Democrats — how do all of us on that side — say January 6th was wrong if you can have the same pictures going on, on college campuses?”

As the antisemitic violence on college campuses continued to escalate, President Biden finally summoned the moral courage last week to denounce the campus “chaos.”

BIDEN’S COMPROMISED RESPONSE TO BLATANT CAMPUS ANTISEMITISM

“There should be no place on any campus, no place in America for antisemitism or threats of violence against Jewish students,” Biden said. “There is no place for hate speech or violence of any kind, whether it’s antisemitism, Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab-Americans or Palestinian-Americans. It’s simply wrong. There’s no place for racism in America. It’s all wrong. It’s un-American.”

“We are not an authoritarian nation where we silence people or squash dissent. The American people are heard,” Biden declared. “Peaceful protest is the best tradition of how Americans respond to consequential issues. But neither are we a lawless country. We’re a civil society and order must prevail. . .

“Throughout our history, we’ve often faced moments like this because we are a big, diverse, free-thinking and freedom-loving nation. And moments like this there are always those who rush in to score political points.

“But this isn’t a moment for politics. It’s a moment for clarity, so let me be clear,” Biden declared. “Violent protest is not protected. Peaceful protest is. It’s against the law when violence occurs. Destroying property is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law. Vandalism. Trespassing. Breaking windows. Shutting down campuses. Forcing the cancellation of classes and graduations. None of this is a peaceful protest. Threatening people. Intimidating people. Instilling fear in people is not a peaceful protest. It’s against the law.”

But unfortunately, Biden has still failed to make the moral case to the American people that justifies continued U.S. support for Israel in its war of self-defense against the Hamas terrorists who launched the October 7 attack, and whose leaders pledge to continue attacking Israel until it is destroyed, chas v’shalom.

BIDEN LEAVES DEMOCRATS DIVIDED OVER GAZA

Ever since Biden became president, congressional Democrats have dutifully fallen into line behind his public positions. But because of the deliberately mixed messages coming out of the Biden White House, there is now an open division within Democrat ranks over both the continued U.S. support for Israel in the war against Hamas and the antisemitic outbreaks and violent demonstrations on college campuses across the country. Biden’s policies are being openly contradicted by some of the most prominent liberals who have set the policy agenda for his administration. They include New York Democrat congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), who condemned the police intervention to end the occupation of Hamilton Hall on the Columbia University campus as a “nightmare in the making,” and by Vermont’s socialist senator, Bernie Sanders, who has doubled down on his public condemnation of Israel by accusing it of trying to perpetrate the “ethnic cleansing” of Gaza’s civilian population.

While some Democrat governors and mayors have summoned the political courage to order police to clear the protest encampments and disruptive protests on local campuses, most other Democrat elected officials across the country have stood aside and watched the openly antisemitic protests in the areas under their jurisdiction unfold in silent approval.

President Biden’s reluctance to continue giving Israel his full and unequivocal public support while continuing to send it American weapons has wound up alienating both sides. The Biden administration’s public criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his policies has prompted Israel’s friends to accuse the president of seeking to undermine Israel’s national unity government in a time of war, while Israel’s enemies continue to disrupt Biden’s presidential campaign events with chanting protesters calling him “Genocide Joe.”

As the presidential campaign continues, the pro-Palestinian activists are stepping up their pressure on Biden to abandon his support for Israel by threatening to disrupt the Democrat national convention this August in Chicago with violent protests, as they did in 1968. The nationally televised riots in the streets of Chicago in protest against Vice President Hubert Humphrey’s support of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War were a major factor in his defeat in that November’s presidential election by Richard Nixon. If the antisemitic protests continue and mar this year’s Democrat convention as well, it will be Joe Biden whom the voters will be likely to hold responsible for the chaos.

Meanwhile, the sharp divide in Democrat ranks over the antisemitic protests on college campuses was vividly illustrated by a letter that was signed by 21 congressional Democrats, including former Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. They demanded that Columbia University disband its protest encampment because it was a “breeding ground for antisemitic attacks.” But the letter also raises a troubling question. Does the fact that only 21 House Democrats agreed to sign the letter mean that the almost 200 other House Democrats support the antisemitic campus protests?

DEMOCRATS ALSO DISAGREE WITH THE DEFINITION OF ANTISEMITISM

Similarly, the House of Representatives recently voted by 320-91 to approve the Antisemitism Awareness Act, a bill that adopts the definition of antisemitism accepted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance for use by the Education Department in determining whether to withhold federal funding from universities over their support for antisemitism.

The bill was introduced by New York Republican Congressman Mike Lawler, who argued in a floor speech before the House vote that, “in every generation, the Jewish people have been scapegoated, harassed, evicted from their homeland and murdered. The Jewish people need our support now.”

The International Holocaust Alliance’s definition of antisemitism includes a “certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews,” “rhetorical and physical manifestations” of antisemitism including such things as calling for the killing or harming of Jews, or the holding of Jews collectively responsible for actions taken by Israel. Also included in the definition of antisemitism was “denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

While Lawler’s bill passed by a more than 3-1 majority, it faced opposition from 70 progressive Democrats, who called the bill’s definition of antisemitism “overbroad,” and raised highly ironic concerns that it might “stifle First Amendment rights to free speech and free assembly” on college campuses.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who chairs the House Progressive Caucus, accused House Republicans of using the definition “to weaponize antisemitism and. . . use it as a political ploy.” She, too, could not bear to “speak out against antisemitism” without immediately pairing it with intolerance for “Islamophobia or any of the other hatreds and discriminations that are out there.”

Conservative members of Congress Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Matt Gaetz of Florida were among the 21 Republicans who also voted against the bill because it includes in the definition of antisemitism the false recurring historical accusations that Jews or Israelis are guilty of “blood libels” or deicide.

The Biden administration has taken no position on the antisemitism definition bill so far. However, if the president does want to demonstrate his position against antisemitic protests on college campuses, a good way to do so would be by urging the Democrats who control the Senate to vote to approve the measure and send it to him for signature into law.

BIDEN HAS LEFT BOTH SIDES ANGRY OVER HIS GAZA POLICIES

As columnist Liz Peek noted in her recent op-ed piece in The Hill, in his desperate attempts to please both sides over Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, President Biden has ultimately offended everyone, as illustrated at a recent protest at the University of Alabama, where both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli supporters joined in a rare moment of unity by chanting slogans that cursed the president with foul language.

“The president has brought this on himself,” Peek notes, by “displaying no moral certitude but instead caving to raw political necessity. In his address, he finally spoke out against violent protests and criticized the antisemitism that has marked the pro-Palestinian demonstrations. But he also felt compelled to couple that admonishment with equally strident condemnation of ‘Islamophobia, or discrimination against Arab-Americans or Palestinian-Americans’ despite the total lack of any evidence, according to law enforcement sources cited by Fox News, that these issues are anywhere near as serious a problem as the current nationwide outbreak of antisemitism.”

Peek calls President Biden’s compromised response to the current antisemitic outbreaks “a disgusting example of naked political interest overwhelming moral certitude. Biden is terrified that his backing of Israel will cost him critical swing states including Michigan, after more than 101,000 residents of that state voted “uncommitted” in the March Democratic primary. . .

“Joe Biden needs to forcefully address not just antisemitism in the abstract but the vile anti-Jew symbols and language that have wracked our campuses for weeks. He needs to call out those funding and organizing the anti-American flag-burning protests, as New York City Mayor Eric Adams has done.”

Similarly, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz asks in a post on X, “Why can’t President Biden simply denounce antisemitism without pandering to Muslims and Arabs? Why won’t he just condemn Jew hatred?”

COMPARING BIDEN TO A WEAK COLLEGE PRESIDENT

In answer to Dershowitz’s question, Rich Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), says, “What people need to understand is that the Biden administration itself is like one of these college campuses. You have a protest movement inside the government with leaks, anonymous letters, [protesters] outside the White House wearing masks, resignations, threats of resignation, shouting, staffers at town hall meetings, and more. And Biden is sort of like that weak college president who is afraid of the Hamasniks on his campus. So, when he condemns antisemitism, he makes sure to balance it out, so his own Hamas encampment doesn’t get agitated.”

Conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt has also called Biden out in a social media post for watering down his condemnation of campus antisemitism by giving Islamophobia equal weight.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Hewitt acknowledged that Islamophobia “is real and a cause for concern” as is hate speech of all sorts, but he then emphasized that, “Jew hatred is the ancient evil, and it’s on dozens of campuses right now. That should be the president’s exclusive focus today, tomorrow, and for as long as antisemitism is sweeping the country, and [it] would be if he wasn’t concerned with his re-election.”

Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas also blasted the president on social media for “a complete lack of leadership. . . President Biden still won’t forcefully condemn the Hamas mobs on campuses. He’s terrified of them.”

THE FBI’S BROKEN PROMISE TO FIGHT HATE CRIMES

President Biden is not the only senior administration official to come under criticism for their failure to respond to the current outbreak of antisemitism. Former FBI Special Agent and Fox News contributor Nicole Parker has also condemned the “deafening silence from Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Wray in the face of what appears to be rampant violations of federal civil rights and hate crimes across college campuses nationwide in the last couple of weeks.” Parker also noted that the failure by federal law enforcement to investigate those violations was inconsistent with the public pledge by the FBI’s leadership in June 2021 that hate crimes would be “the highest priority of the FBI’s civil rights program,” as well as their the FBI’s vow “to use their full resources to reduce the hate crime threats and protect all Americans.”

Meanwhile, all of the optimistic media reports of progress in the indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas on another truce and hostage swap deal have proven to be misleading. As a result, the political pressure on the Biden administration to achieve a cease-fire breakthrough on Gaza continues to increase, as the threat grows that the pro-Palestinian protests could disrupt the Democrat national convention in August, and with it, ultimately, Biden’s re-election campaign.

That is why supporters of Israel are so concerned, not only about the physical safety of Jewish students on American college campuses, but also about the long-term damage being done to the critical alliance between Israel and the United States as Israel seems determined to finish the job of destroying Hamas by attacking Rafah, with or without a hostage-truce deal in place, or the permission of President Biden.

 

*****

Biden’s Crucial Early Gaza Policy Mistake

A serious policy mistake made by President Biden and the rest of the international community at the beginning of the war in Gaza, by immediately endorsing Egypt’s refusal to provide a temporary safe haven for Gaza’s 2.2 million civilians, has enabled Hamas to continue using them as captive human shields. It has also vastly complicated what has become Israel’s task of providing an adequate quantity of humanitarian aid to keep the civilians alive, and delayed indefinitely the Israeli army’s plans to end the war by defeating Hamas once and for all, in a fight to the finish in the southern Gaza city of Rafah along the Egyptian border.

As pointed out in an op-ed by Elliot Kaufman, the Wall Street Journal’s letters editor, Egypt could have easily accommodated all of Gaza’s civilian refugees in a portion of the largely empty Sinai peninsula, which is immediately adjacent to the Gaza border where they could be easily and safely supported by deliveries of humanitarian aid outside of the reach of Hamas. But instead, “No forcible displacement” became an integral part of Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s “absurd mantra as Gazans were massing at the border and begging to be allowed out.”

Forcing the civilians to stay in Gaza has enabled Hamas to continue using them as human shields. It has also provided Biden with a convenient excuse to prevent Israel from winning the war more quickly by invading Rafah to destroy the last effective Hamas military forces operating there.

However, Egypt has also been hedging its bets on the Gaza refugee issue. As the Israeli military launched its first large-scale assaults into Rafah this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt has been building an 8-square-mile walled camp on its territory near the Gaza border that could accommodate more than 100,000 people.

As a Wall Street Journal editorial published back in early March noted, “In war, civilians [will naturally] flee to safety. Only in Gaza has the world decided that all civilians must stay trapped in the war zone, in danger and harder to reach with aid. After Egypt closed its border [with Gaza to civilian refugees] one would [have expected] Cairo to face great pressure to save lives. The opposite occurred.

“Rather than demand that Egypt follows its obligation under international law to accept refugees from the fighting next door, the U.S., United Nations, and aid organizations took up Egypt’s position. . .

“[Because] the U.S. gives Egypt $1.3 billion in aid a year, Mr. Biden [had] leverage but chose not to use it. So instead of civilians fleeing the fighting, receiving aid in freer conditions and then returning after the war, they have been kept in Gaza to serve as ‘Israel’s problem,’” the editorial noted.

Kaufman also points out that if the Biden administration had forced Egypt to provide a safe haven for civilians living in Gaza at the start of the war, far fewer would have been left in the war zone. As a result, “thousands of civilian lives could have been saved, while Hamas fighters could have been eliminated more easily.” Instead, Biden’s decision “forcing civilians to stay in Gaza has yielded a large[r] casualty count and dragged out the war. . .

“The large civilian presence has led the Biden administration to pressure Israel into using less firepower and fewer troops.”

As a result of Biden’s initial decision to trap the civilians in Gaza, Kaufman writes, “Hamas got what it wanted. The longer the war continued, the more Gazans were killed, the more international pressure mounted on Israel, and the more humanitarian aid became a challenge.”

Kaufman concludes that “Mr. Biden’s errors have made this war longer and bloodier than it had to be, increasing the suffering of Gazan civilians while keeping Israel from realizing its objectives. He has no one to blame for the political costs he bears but himself.”

 

****

A Silver Lining — Gaza Protests Exposing Long-Held Myths

According to popular conservative commentator and military historian Victor Davis Hanson, writing on the American Greatness website, “In a paradoxical fashion, the campus insanity has offered the nation some moral clarity.

“What’s surprising,” Hanson notes, “is not that the demonstrators are violent and nihilist, but that they are. . . so openly and crudely antisemitic, racist, and anti-American.”

According to Hanson, their antics “have exploded myths that were for so long foisted on the American people.”

These include:

  1. The false distinction between expressing hatred for Israel and hatred for Jews. As Hanson points out, “When pro-Hamas thugs chase Jews into libraries, block their entrances on campus, and scream ‘beat the Jew,’ they do not first ask Jews whether they support Israel — because they could care less.
  2. The pretense that being “pro-Palestine” was not [the same as being “pro-Hamas.”] As Hanson notes, “The campus and street demonstrations now make no distinction between the two. The calls for the destruction of Israel and ‘death to America’ come right out of the Hamas credo.”
  3. The term “Elite Universities” as applied to Ivy League schools, Stanford, MIT, and the various branches of the University of California has now lost its meaning, according to Hanson, because of their watered-down curriculum and their tolerance for violent, pampered and antisemitic students who have been politically indoctrinated with Bolshevism by their leftist professors rather than receiving a legitimate college education.
  4. “The Left-wing Democrat Base,” according to Hanson, has now become a synonym for “Antifa, Black Lives Matter, the (AOC-led) Squad, the Obamas, the green extremists… and the [antisemitic supporters of] Hamas/Hezbollah. Meanwhile, Hanson writes, that “[Other] Democrats would rather airbrush antisemitism with moral equivalence blather than dare suggest the pro-Palestinian movement is antisemitic.
  5. Hanson agrees that “Immigration is Our Strength,” adding that “it always has been, and can be again. But the left has misused immigration, legal and illegal, to create new constituencies that too often identify as victims, arrive with claims against their host, and see little need to quickly assimilate. [As a result] in 2024. . . nearly 15 percent of the population was not born in the U.S. perhaps over 50 million residents, illegal aliens, and citizens — a record in both percentages and numbers. . . The Biden administration has destroyed all support for open borders by welcoming in ten million illegal aliens, shrugging off 100,000 American deaths from imported Mexican fentanyl, and hosting thousands of antisemitic, racist Middle East students.” As a result, Hanson declares, “We need an immigration timeout. That would mean an end to open borders and illegal immigration.”
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