Ben Clerkin

The truth about the US campus protests is that the authorities agree with their students

The protestors have been radicalised by academia


Pro-Palestinian protesters' encampment on the campus of Columbia University (Photo by LEONARDO MUNOZ/AFP via Getty Images)

April 28, 2024 07:35

Donald Trump’s shocking handshake with a white supremacist at a right-wing hate march has thrown his election campaign into serious jeopardy.

Trump lauded the “bravery” of the avowed racist - who said “black people don’t deserve to live” - at a violent gathering of white supremacists, where black people were beaten and chased.

America and the world are enraged.

Except, of course, they aren’t; because it wasn’t Trump who shook hands with a racist. It was Democrat Ilhan Omar. The radical politician slipped into the rabid Columbia University protest and shook the hand of student leader Khymani James, who was filmed saying “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

Hot on her heels, fellow progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, arrived and called James and other protest leaders “just so fantastic”.

But in the blink of an eye, the warm embrace between senior politicians and a virulent antisemite was forgotten by the media, if it ever even registered.

Contrast that muted reaction, or non-reaction, with the response to Trump when he said there were some "very fine people on both sides" after clashes at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.

Clearly neither Omar nor AOC is as important as a sitting president; nevertheless the usual news equation of senior politician + murderous racist = media coverage, did not apply.

This is how normalised antisemitism has become in America and left-wing politics.

Unlike Trump in 2017, neither Omar nor AOC have released a statement admitting there are “some very bad people” in amongst the rest. There are no serious calls for them to apologise, let alone to stand down.

It’s the same sad story with the Columbia leadership. James issued the death threat to Zionists during a disciplinary meeting with the university in January over threats he made on social media.

“The existence of them [Zionists] and the projects they have built i.e. Israel, it’s all antithetical to peace. So yes I feel very comfortable - very comfortable - calling for those people to die,” he said on the video.

When a Columbia administrator asked him “Do you see why that is problematic in any way?” he replied, “No.”

So proud of himself and certain he would face no serious sanction, James filmed the encounter and put it on social media.

Fast forward four months and, far from being kicked out, he was negotiating with the self-same college administration as a leader of the free state of Palestine declared on campus.

Columbia was finally shamed into action when his video resurfaced and banned him from campus. It is unclear if he will be thrown out for unashamedly encouraging the murder of his fellow students.

There is no real desire to tackle antisemitism at Columbia, or at any of the similarly inflamed campuses across the US. The administrations’ sympathy seems to be with the protestors: students who have, in part, been radicalised by staff.

It is campuses, where the vigorous exchange of ideas used to be encouraged, not social media that are now the worst modern echo chambers.

A new bipartisan bill aims to make colleges take antisemitism seriously. Called the COLUMBIA Act, it would force colleges that get federal funding to allow antisemitism monitors on campus. If colleges allow hatred towards Jews to flourish, their government funds could be turned off.

Clear-sighted Democrat Ritchie Torres, co-sponsor of the bill, said: “This past week’s crisis at Columbia is not an isolated incident - it is the straw that has broken the camel’s back - and I am prepared to do something about it.”

In the week of Passover, this rampant antisemitism has led to the planning of another Jewish exodus: Israeli universities have opened their doors to Jewish college students in the US. One, The Technion, Israel’s leading technological university, wrote: “We extend an invitation to all faculty and students who are facing these distressing circumstances to join us for study, teaching and research at our Haifa campuses.”

Joe Biden has been vocal in his support of Jewish students, but to date light on action. In relation to Columbia, he said: “This blatant antisemitism is reprehensible and dangerous.” He pointed towards his National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism, which was established after October 7 but has, so far, come up with zero concrete plans.

The NYPD Chief of Patrol was more direct. Chief John Chell said: “No more suspensions, let’s try expulsion of these entitled hateful students . Pack your belongings and get out! Let’s remove faculty and staff who have replaced their educational licenses for a license of hate - you’re fired!”

Chief Chell pointed out that his officers can’t remove the Columbia hate protest unless the college invites them to.

The students know this. And so the case for federal intervention is growing. Colleges are not self-correcting, their antisemitism is only burning brighter and hotter.

It is giving encouragement to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, who posted a photo on X of the Hezbollah flag being hoisted in Wall Street. The world’ biggest funder of terror wrote that while “Western governments say the Resistance Front is terrorism,” the “people of the world,” support it “because they are against oppression.”

Clearly the war on campuses is about much more than antisemitism. It’s a fight for American values. And the people with the power to stand up for America and its Jewish students are either simply shrugging and looking the other way or, worse, inciting the hatred.

April 28, 2024 07:35

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