Don’t Rely on College Presidents to Restrain Campus Anti-Semitism

In three recent instances, the presidents of Pitzer College, Cornell University, and the University of Michigan separately stepped in to prevent, and in one case to punish, efforts by faculty and/or students to institute boycotts of Israel. While all three acted commendably, and two explicitly acknowledged the intrinsic bigotry of such boycotts, K.C. Johnson cautions against hoping their counterparts elsewhere will act similarly:

Relying on university leaders to do the right thing . . . is an inherently risky strategy. Administrators are notoriously disinclined to stand on principle. . . . In an environment where Democratic members of Congress are reviving anti-Semitic tropes or backing the movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel (BDS)—even as applied to academic exchange programs—university leaders seem unlikely to continue to check passionate BDS advocates. That’s especially so given that the internal pressure on university administrators seems likely to intensify. . .

A sounder approach is more aggressive resistance to BDS efforts from other campus constituencies, for which some models exist. . . . [Last week], San Francisco State University settled a lawsuit filed by two Jewish students who alleged religious discrimination in one of the nation’s most virulently anti-Israel campus environments. The university agreed to spend $200,000 on “educational efforts to promote viewpoint diversity (including but not limited to pro-Israel and Zionist viewpoints).” The school also released a statement reiterating “its commitment to equity and inclusion for all—including those who are Jewish,” and affirming “the values of free expression and diversity of viewpoints that are so critical on a university campus.”

The [successful faculty-led effort to combat a BDS resolution at the American Historical Association] and the experience at San Francisco State show how how faculty and students can successfully resist BDS efforts—albeit at considerable cost in terms of time and resources. But absent such efforts on behalf of the academic freedom of students and professors who want to engage with Israeli institutions, administrative opposition to BDS seems likely to give way—despite the recent, commendable trend.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Academic Boycotts, Anti-Semitism, BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israel on campus, University

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict