Several incidents involving swastikas, harmful antisemitic libels, and images of the burning Israeli flag have taken place on Ohio State’s campus in the weeks leading up to the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the start of violence against Jews in Nazi Germany.
One would hope that OSU administrators and students would come together to resist this unprecedented and abhorrent increase in antisemitism on campus.
Albeit, these hopes were crushed by the invitation of a speaker to campus who spews the same libels as these stickers.
On November 9th, the OSU Palestinian Women’s Association hosted Rutgers University Professor Dr. Noura Erakat spoke to Ohio State students over Zoom to discuss her new book, “Justice for Some: Law and the Occupation of Palestine.”
Although she is hailed by her university and many anti-Zionist activists as an expert in international law, fallacies in her book can be found early as the introduction, where Erakat claims, “Zionist militias established Israel by force, without regard to the Partition Plan’s stipulated borders.”
This falsehood negates the indisputable fact that most Jews accepted United Nations Resolution 181, which partitioned the British Mandate of Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. Arabs, on the other hand, vehemently rejected the proposal. Israel’s current borders are defined by land acquired by military victories against neighboring Arab countries who invaded Israel following the rejection of the partition in 1948 and again in 1967.
Even the Palestinian Authority’s current President, Mahmoud Abbas, said that this rejection was “our mistake.”
Despite having received degrees in national security and legal education, that has not stopped Erakat from speaking on issues of race and religion for communities she does not belong to—namely, the Jewish community.
Erakat participated in a webinar in January 2022 for Nonviolence International, an anti-Israel group founded by American University professor Mubarak Awad, who justified violence such as stone throwing as a form of “civil disobedience” and “armed struggle.” During the webinar, Erakat boldly proclaimed, “The greatest threat in anti-Semitism is not Palestinian; it’s white supremacy.”
Erakat asserted at the January webinar that “Palestinians will not attack Jews because they are Jewish” but merely “because they are their military occupiers and oppressors.” Never mind that a week after the webinar, a Palestinian teenager went on a stabbing and car-ramming spree in the town of Ariel, killing Tamir Avichai and Michael Ladigin, both fathers of two children, and Moti Ashkenazi, a father of three with two grandchildren.
By justifying attacks against Jews under the pretense that they are perceived as oppressors, Erakat incites violence against Jews and equates the actions of individual Jews and those of Israel with being one and the same. Despite these bigoted claims, this did not stop Erakat from being warmly welcomed to The Ohio State University’s campus under the title of “activist” and “human rights professor.”
Erakat also had no hesitation in spreading such falsehoods during the November 9th webinar while either fabricating or omitting crucial contextual evidence. For instance, on the topic of the Israel Defense Force (IDF)’s strikes against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) militants in August, Erakat asserted that “Israeli targeted strikes against innocent Palestinians are nothing new,” and alluded to Chapter 5 of her book, which discusses Israel’s policy of pre-emptive strikes against Palestinians who Erakat likewise considers innocent.
Who does Erakat use to illustrate this point? Israel’s missile strike in November of 2000 against Palestinian Fatah Commander Hussein Abayat, who oversaw and carried out attacks against Israeli soldiers and acts of violence in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo. Not to mention, Erakat’s original case is debunked by the fact that several of those killed in Israel’s missile strikes in August 2022 were confirmed to be PIJ militants.
Nevertheless, for Erakat, who claimed that “Zionism is a bedfellow of Nazism and Antisemitism” in a webinar in April sponsored by the University of Illinois’s Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. Erakat’s presentation at the webinar titled “‘Unfinished Business: Zionism as Racism and Racial Discrimination,’ further established her reputation as one of academia’s leading bigots,” the Algemeiner reports. With this quote, not only is Erakat criticizing the Jewish people’s right to self-determination, but she also specifically uses “Nazism” to criticize a Jewish ideology. To use rhetoric referring to one of the worst tragedies in Jewish history is insensitive, to say the least, and only further disgraces Erakat’s reputation as a supposed “expert” in critical race theory.
Yet still, Erakat ignorantly motivated attendees of the November 9th event to “continue the good fight,” adding that “you will be marked as antisemites just for supporting Palestine, even though Palestine past and present has admired Judaism as a religion.” This claim reduces Judaism to only a religion rather than an ethnicity and sense of peoplehood; it also whitewashes a longstanding history of Palestinian violence against Jews.
Does the 1929 Hebron Massacre of 67 innocent Jews by Palestinians who incited false rumors of Jews planning to take over the Dome of the Rock qualify as “admiration” of Judaism? Or, perhaps 20th-century Palestinian Leader and Nazi collaborator Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who regularly compared Jews to bacteria and incited Arab violence against Jews?
At a university where swastikas and antisemitic slurs have been found graffitied in school buildings, is Erakat an ideal speaker to host at Ohio State as President Kristina Johnson works with her administration to build a “safe and welcoming campus?” The invitation of Erakat to campus only makes Jewish students feel more vulnerable amid the hateful incidents. As figures like Erakat seek to speak on behalf of the Jewish community while diminishing Jewish and Zionist voices, Jewish students on campus must strive for inclusive dialogue in which they can speak for themselves.
A slightly different version of this article was published in the Algemeiner.