CAMERA’s campus advisor and online editor Zac Schildcrout

Antisemitism is a unique form of hatred. While most forms of bigotry involve hating those who are supposedly inferior, antisemitism “punches up,” deriding alleged Jewish plots to ruthlessly control and subjugate all other groups. To illustrate this, here is a quote from former Ku Klux Klan (KKK) grand wizard David Duke’s book My Awakening:

-“Jewish power is ubiquitous. Every politician is so aware of it that he knows he cannot dare mention it! Jewish organizations, Jewish media and Jewish political agents ruthlessly seek their perceived interests without remorse and without introspection.”

Consider also this gem that Duke uttered during an interview with a Syrian TV station in 2005:

-“The people who are pushing Jewish supremacism, Zionism – they are absolute evil and they are crazy. All they know is more power, and so there is a real danger.”

Now, consider these quotes from the “Harvard out of Occupied Palestine Launch” – an event hosted on Harvard University’s campus on February 20th, 2020 featuring BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti, Professor Cornel West, Palestinian artist Rami Younis, and various student activists:

-“We’re aiming to confront our morally inconsistent university and its double life as both an academic institution and a financial investor. On the one hand, a university in the US nursing the Israel-Zionist monoglossia in classrooms, and on the other, a fund manager profiting from the privatized apparatuses of force that underget [sic] the Israeli settler-colonial state” (emphasis added).

-“Academic freedom and critical inquiry is [sic] being jeopardized for the purpose of cementing the impunity of Zionism on college campuses” (emphasis added).

-“On a routine basis, this campus welcomes with open arms speakers who propagate racist, right-wing, and rabidly anti-Palestinian talking points, without facing the contestation that their heinously murderous ideologies necessitate” (emphasis added).

Even for the most ardent defenders of the “anti-Zionism isn’t antisemitism” argument, the similarities here are striking and impossible to ignore. It hardly matters that the students focus their enmity on “Zionists” instead of “Jews.” Demonization and hatred of the Jewish state is simply the latest manifestation of antisemitism, recycling the same tired tropes of conspiracies, ruthless hungering for power, and shadowy control over bureaucratic bodies, from Congress to Harvard.

Of course, to those who exude antisemitic ideology, it is irrelevant whether any of the charges they level against the Jewish people and Israel are actually true. Does Harvard truly demonstrate a blind loyalty to the “Israeli-Zionist monoglossia”? Do supporters of Israel who speak on Harvard’s campus actually preach “heinously murderous ideologies”? Are Israel’s supporters trying to destroy “academic freedom and critical inquiry for the purpose of cementing the impunity of Zionism”? The answer is no – contrary to the conspiracy theory-laden arguments made by the event’s panelists, Jewish students and Zionist communities on college campuses around the world are simply defending themselves from endless defamatory attacks and bigotry. That the event’s participants did not provide a single example to support the existence of a Zionist cabal striving for total control on campus is telling.

What the panelists did do, however, is lie spectacularly. They accused Israel of burying Palestinians in “mass graves,” of killing “551 babies in 51 days” (during Operation Protective Edge in 2014), of practicing apartheid, and of imposing “settler-colonialism” on the “indigenous” Palestinian Arabs. At one point, Omar Barghouti proclaimed that he envisions a future secular, binational state that hosts both “indigenous Palestinians” and “colonial settlers.” The slanders were uttered casually by speaker after speaker in the presence of Harvard Professor Cornel West, who has himself endorsed the baby-killing libel.

“Demonization and hatred of the Jewish state is simply the latest manifestation of antisemitism, recycling the same tired tropes of conspiracies, ruthless hungering for power, and shadowy control over bureaucratic bodies…”

CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis) is familiar with the specific propaganda claims. Some were voiced by Palestinian spokesmen who took to the airwaves in 2002 to make various lurid charges related to fighting in Jenin, including the mass graves allegation. In fact, “mass graves” were dug not by Israelis but by Palestinians to bury their dead. One Palestinian claimed preposterously that Israel hauled 500 bodies away in “refrigerator trucks.” A subsequent UN report absolved Israel of the libels.

The “551 babies” claim is equally outrageous and echoes a propaganda line from the 2014 Gaza conflict. Various analyses, including by the New York Times, of the Palestinian casualties have noted the high concentration of men of fighting age in the fatalities and the few women and children. According to the Times, “There were six infants under age 1 on the list and 82 children ages 1 to 5.”

Moreover, as attorney David French has observed, “[Hamas] uses civilian facilities for military purposes, it tries to blend in with the civilian population, and it uses civilians as human shields. This is crucial — under the law of war none of these things in any way limit Israel’s right to defend itself. So long as Israel otherwise complies with the laws of war, the resulting civilian casualties and damages to civilian structures are Hamas’s moral and legal responsibility.”

The “apartheid” canard has been debunked time and again, and utterly disintegrates upon noting that in Israel, for example, it was an Arab judge who sentenced the country’s former Jewish president Moshe Katzav to jail.

Lastly, the narrative of an alien Jewish “settler colonial” population that displaced the land’s supposedly rightful Arab owners simply does not pass historical muster. What most who subscribe to this narrative fail to disclose is that, in between 1922 and 1947, the Arab population of the region increased by 120 percent, largely due to immigration from surrounding states. Logically, this means that some Arab refugees displaced after the failed effort to exterminate Israel in 1947-1949 arrived in the land after some of the Jewish population did – after all, the first mass wave of Jewish immigration (Aliyah) from the diaspora to modern-day Israel began in 1881. These arguments could stand on their own even without mentioning the historical reality that, as CAMERA on Campus points out, Jews lived in the land “thousands of years before the advent of Islam and the Arab invasion and conquest of the region.”

Unfortunately, none of the speakers at the event in question cared about these facts. Like David Duke’s and other “traditional” antisemites’ baseless ramblings about menacing Jewish misdeeds, evil, and hegemony, anti-Israel bigots simply transfer this to the Jewish state – data and historical evidence be damned. According to the panelists who spoke at Harvard, we are supposed to accept, despite evidence to the contrary, that “Zionists” somehow control the university, that the IDF kills babies, that Israeli speakers on campus propagate “murderous” ideology, and that Jewish historical and religious connection to the land of Israel does not exist – Jews are merely “colonial settlers.” Make no mistake – this is a form of bigotry, fueled not by “radical love” (as one speaker insisted), but by the antisemitic assumption that Zionism, in and of itself, is evil and should be dismantled. 

Don’t believe me? Listen to the words of the anti-Zionist activists themselves. During the event, Rami Younis declared that his efforts are not about ending the “occupation of 1967,” but the “occupation of 1947” – that is, destroying the Jewish nation in its ancestral land.

Contributed by CAMERA’s campus advisor and online editor Zac Schildcrout.

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