Before I get to the main part of my column, I want to give an update as to how my guinea pigs, Squirrel and Squeaky, are getting along. Before Chol HaMoed Sukkos, I tried to put them together in the same cage. It didn’t work the first time since Squeaky was attacking Squirrel. But my wife wanted the second cage gone ASAP (read: before Simchas Torah) so I tried a new tactic during Chol HaMoed when I put them together again and it worked. Although they have their moments, they are getting along.
Now to my main column. It is unfortunate that it took a tragedy to show the rest of the world what many Jews already knew. There are many examples. Rashida Tlaib and others talked about Palestinian rights and mistreatment by Israel. Many thought that all they wanted was a two-state solution or better treatment. Their justification of the attack by Hamas and the call for a free Palestine from the river to the sea shows what they really want: the destruction of the State of Israel and the elimination of Jews from Israel.
Tlaib went so far as to publicize Hamas’s version as to who caused the deaths by the hospital in Gaza and did not believe her own government’s determination of what occurred.
For years, universities have become bastions of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic actions and beliefs. As I have written, at the past two commencements at CUNY law school, the student speakers engaged in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic tropes. Anti-Israel voices were prevalent while pro-Israel opinions were not allowed on campus. Jewish students were subject to harassment. When the alarm was raised, the response was muted. I think people could not believe that it could happen on college campuses.
The Hamas attack showed otherwise. Right after the attack, many universities, including Ivy League schools such as Harvard, Yale, and the University of Pennsylvania, had students or student groups defending the attacks. At first it appeared to be business as usual. The first high-profile person to attack the school’s inaction was former treasury secretary and former Harvard President Larry Summers.
That opened the floodgates. Not only have more individuals criticizing universities, but there has been real tangible action. Some big donors have told the universities that because of what is going on at the school or because of their lack of a forceful response, they will stop giving them money. I believe the first one was Jon Huntsman at the University of Pennsylvania.
There have also been students who have found out that there are real-world effects for their words. The offer to the editor of the NYU Law School journal to join a large law firm was rescinded. Another firm reneged on offers to three students from Harvard who signed the statement justifying Hamas’s attack. A CEO of a tech company was forced to resign because of his comments. The irony is that those on the left whose pressure forced people who made comments against the LGBTQ community to lose their jobs are now complaining that it is being done to those who make comments supporting Hamas. I guess for them, cancel culture is a one-way street.
Some professors who have attacked Israel and engaged in anti-Semitic attacks with impunity have now been subjected to criticism for their statements. Whether anything concrete will be done to them is uncertain. However, the fact that it is being talked about is a good thing. At a minimum, it may force them to tone down their rhetoric or will result in hiring pro-Israel professors.
The State Department has had a history of being anti-Semitic. During the Holocaust, they repeatedly told President Roosevelt not to help those being subjected to extermination. The State Department was not very supportive of the creation of the State of Israel. The only major US official to resign was Josh Paul, a member of the State Department who criticized America’s policy as being one-sided toward Israel.
Comedian Dave Chappelle, in his SNL monologue, talked about Jews controlling the entertainment industry. Then at a show in Boston on October 19, he felt the need to attack Israel, accusing it of war crimes. If anyone else had done it, they would have been long gone. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of the end of his career.
Although the media is supposed to be unbiased, the reality is that they are no different than any individual. Also, there is a demand for quick answers. This was shown in the reporting of the hospital incident in Gaza. It was first reported that it was an attack on the hospital by Israel with at least 500 dead. Then it came out that it was in the parking lot, and it was an Islamic Jihad rocket that misfired, and they had no idea of the exact number of dead. It could have been significantly lower. Of course, people believe what they want to believe. When the media gets it wrong, a correction has little to no effect because the damage is done, and many will not believe the retraction.
The response to what happened was an eye-opener for many. We have to make sure that people do not forget and fall back into old patterns and go back to business as usual. When I was riding home from the Tour de Bronx on Sunday, I went a different way and saw a pro-Palestinian rally. Newsday mentioned one on Long Island. They will now try to change the narrative. We need to remind people what happened to Israel and what the reaction was by those who now claim that they are solely criticizing Israel because they fear for the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza. A protest is one good way to do it. One and done is not good enough. Also, those who use social media should post comments supporting Israel.