Basic morality seems to have gone from the world — or at least the university campus.
In the aftermath of the horrific and awful attacks on Oct. 7, Shmini Atzeres, the response of most people was to express shock and outrage at the atrocities committed by Hamas. According to an SSRS poll conducted for CNN, only four percent of respondents feel no sympathy for the Israeli people, and only eight percent think that the Israeli military response was not at all justified. When combined with strong statements — such as world leaders standing unquestioningly with Israel, President Biden’s powerfully pro-Israel speech and subsequent trip to Israel and the general push from nearly the whole world to stand with Israel — the response from the world at large has been about as supportive as anyone could have asked for.
Enter the modern elite American university, the home of the future leaders of society. Within days of Hamas’s attack, a large number of campus organizations from various universities across the country issued statements blaming the massacre of Israeli citizens and foreign nationals on Israel. To quote the open letter signed by over 30 Harvard organizations, “We … hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.” And the trend continued: Large numbers of clubs from various universities issued similar statements. Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups from around the country issued statements to the effect of this quote from Lehman College’s SJP: “Long live the resistance, long live the move to a liberated Palestine, and long live our Marty[r]s.” (sic) The CCNY SJP praised “Palestinian resistance fighters” who “are justifiably prompted in their attacks,” and while mourning lost life “hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible.” The national SJP referred to it as “a historic win” and said, “This is what it means to Free Palestine.” That is a direct quote.
This insanity among students does not arise in a vacuum; these students have learned from their teachers. Faculty from Northwestern’s Asian American studies program released a statement defending Hamas, denying the atrocities that Hamas committed had occurred, and decrying comparisons between Hamas and ISIS. Over 130 (at the time of writing) NYU faculty members signed a statement in “solidarity with our students, at an urgent moment of U.S.-backed state violence against a colonized, dispossessed and brutalized population.” CUNY faculty did the same, as did many others.
It’s no wonder that the students in these institutions have followed in the footsteps of their educators. The development of students who support terrorism is, apparently, a feature rather than a bug.
But formal statements in support of terrorism are, in the modern world, relatively tame. Campuses erupted in massive protests explicitly supporting Hamas, with violence breaking out on many. UW Madison students chanted “Glory to the martyrs!” “The martyrs,” in this case, is a reference to the 3,000 terrorists who murdered 1,200 Israelis and foreign nationals ranging from innocent children in their beds to participants in a music festival. Dozens of other institutions have had massive protests in support of Hamas. Tens of thousands of students at the most elite institutions in the West have stood up loudly for the explicit purpose of supporting terrorism. Some of these students are truly antisemitic. Some are merely so disconnected from reality and focused on combating exaggerated evils that they learned about last semester that they can completely miss a true atrocity happening in front of their eyes.
(A warning that the websites linked in the next two sentences contain incredibly disturbing content.) The people being cheered on and supported by the moral idiots who hope to be leaders of industry, politics and the intellectual world are those who raped, mutilated, burned, beheaded, brutalized, executed and tortured young women, children and babies. There are currently at least 200 Israelis who are captives in Gaza, including small children and babies. It must be made clear that those who today march in support of Hamas and denounce Israel are marching in support of that.
The absolute immorality of Hamas must be called out. Immorality must be met with absolute moral clarity. It must be explicitly stated by every decent person, as YU’s student organizations and president have done, along with many others. The level of antisemitism and hatred of the State of Israel present on college campuses, extended to the point of people justifying atrocities perpetrated by a terrorist organization, cannot be forgotten. These institutions are full of people who do not understand the difference between good and evil. These people cannot be looked to for moral guidance after the full depth of their immorality has been laid so bare for us all to see.
This article was originally published in the YU Commentator, the official campus paper at Yeshiva University.