Palestinian Awareness Week, UC Irvine, May 2008
Last summer I wrote a cover story about the quiet war being waged against Israel at American colleges and universities. The article was praised by some and panned by others, who thought it rehashed old fears and was based on nothing new. Whatever the case, hawks and doves agree today that anti-Zionism on campuses, and in many cases abject anti-Semitism, have reached a frightening level.
The January symposium at UCLA that was filled with anti-Israel hatred is one recent example; so too were flare-ups at York, NYU and San Jose State.
But most telling is a recent report from Khaled abu Toameh, the fearless Palestinian affairs reporter for the Jerusalem Post. His article for Hudson New York was titled “On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians’ Real Agenda” and included a statement that I pray is not prophetic: “We should not be surprised,” abu Toameh wrote, “if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.”
Yikes. He continued by detailing his experiences on recent visits to American college campuses:
I was told, for instance, that Israel has no right to exist, that Israel’s “apartheid system” is worse than the one that existed in South Africa and that Operation Cast Lead was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.
I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Furthermore, I was told that all the talk about financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority was “Zionist propaganda” and that Yasser Arafat had done wonderful things for his people, including the establishment of schools, hospitals and universities.
The good news is that these remarks were made only by a minority of people on the campuses who describe themselves as “pro-Palestinian,” although the overwhelming majority of them are not Palestinians or even Arabs or Muslims.
The bad news is that these groups of hard-line activists/thugs are trying to intimidate anyone who dares to say something that they don’t like to hear.
What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the “occupation” as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.