A couple of weeks ago, on the occasion of the Dearborn al-Quds Day hatefest, I noted that America was experiencing a regular bout of Charlottesvilles—the 2017 white supremacist race-war rally known as Unite the Right. That characterization has very quickly become common, and not a moment too soon. You cannot defeat the ideas you don’t understand, and you cannot understand the pro-Hamas protest movement without recognizing that their entire guiding philosophy is the one strain of blood-and-soil nationalism that survived the 20th century unscathed.

“Jews will not replace us” was the favored chant in Charlottesville. At the progressive campus rallies and beyond, “From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab” has made quite the comeback. In the past, the second half of that line was often “Palestine will be free,” a slightly more politically savvy version of the slogan that calls for the murder and enslavement of all Jews in the land of Israel. “Palestine is Arab” is even more openly violent than “Jews will not replace us,” a white nationalist chant that seeks to hide its bloodlust behind anti-immigration euphemisms. (It does not hide it well; a man radicalized by these theories massacred Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.)

“From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab” establishes as its baseline a Nazi-like racial hierarchy. What that means is that regardless of political or governmental structures and constitutions, that racial hierarchy is baked into society: Jews would be treated this way even if they no longer had a state, just as they were treated this way in the 20th century before Israeli sovereignty was established. Put simply, ethnic cleansing of the Jews would be the goal in a one-state solution as well.

Because this racial hierarchy is fundamental to its proponents’ worldview, opposition to coexistence with Jews is global. The skinheads in Charlottesville weren’t deterred from their version of this ideology just because they live outside of Germany. Similarly, those who chant “Palestine is Arab” subscribe to this racial hierarchy wherever they are. That this chant was delivered outside the White House, for example, is not a protest of Israeli policy but rather a challenge to the foundational ideas and values of the United States.

Although the expression of this worldview isn’t limited to college campuses, those campuses are the main reason we are now witnessing three Charlottesvilles a day. After all, it means students are paying attention in class.

“From the river to the sea, Palestine is Arab” is a direct application of the popular academic theory of the day, “decolonization.” The idea of Jewish self-determination in Israel being a settler-colonialist project might be a flat-earth level of historical crankery, but it is all the rage—and I do mean rage—in the classrooms of our esteemed institutions of higher learning. Teaching young minds that Jews must be supplanted from their homes because they represent a race that belongs elsewhere has a long history of inspiring those students to carry out what they’ve been taught. It is no surprise that Jews at Columbia over the weekend were told to “go back to Poland.” The racial ideology at the heart of decolonization theory demands nothing less. As a now-infamous Twitter/X post, amplified by a writer and editor at the Washington Post among others, asked in celebration of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre and sexual torture spree: “What did y’all think decolonization meant? vibes? papers? essays? losers.”

And that helps us understand the look of absolute despondency on Columbia President Minouche Shafik’s face throughout her congressional hearing this week. She, and many of her peers at other institutions, are facing two problems. The first is the violence and harassment targeting visibly Jewish students. Contrary to various media figures’ attempts to spin recent events, this is absolutely taking place on campus and these violations absolutely are being committed by students. They are also, however, taking place outside of campus as part of the same demonstrations a few feet away. It’s not either/or. The campus-organized protests are spreading and so is the violence they incite.

The second problem is the ideological fuel for the violence, which is being pumped from the colleges themselves. It is much easier to increase the police presence on campus than it is to change a culture cultivated purposely and with great enthusiasm over the course of decades. These schools are churning out people who have extraordinarily sick and violent beliefs toward Jews. Those sick and violent beliefs earned them good grades at these same schools.

There has not yet been a solution proffered by any of these campus administrators that would fix the broken, anti-Semitic culture of these schools, just as figures throughout history have struggled to convince the sun not to shine.

+ A A -
You may also like
Share via
Copy link