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The summer of 2020 is officially over. It will always be remembered as the summer of COVID-19 and of a painful period of national introspection about race. I certainly can claim no expertise on the issue of race. However, after years of arduous study and advocacy on the issue of anti-Semitism and of bias in our nation’s school systems, I have to reach the unfortunate conclusion that there does exist systemic anti-Semitism throughout the United States, particularly in our nation’s universities.


For decades now, behind the ivory covered towers of our universities, there has been a well-documented bias against Israel and the United States, particularly in our nation’s Middle East Studies Programs, as is well documented in Martin Kramer’s seminal book, “Ivory Towers on Sand.” This has led to one-sided politicization of an entire discipline, where paltry propaganda has been substituted (at the taxpayer’s expense), for a good, well-rounded education.

This tendency has become even more pronounced, as of late, because of the phenomena of “cancel culture,” where there is an implicit rigid orthodoxy of “acceptable thought.” Our students are the real losers here. Today’s university experience is a far cry from John Stuart Mill’s description as “the marketplace of ideas.”

This will ultimately be to America’s detriment. Our society is already showing the pernicious effects of this as our citizens have been taught to value “group think” and group conformity over independent inquiry, rigorous analysis and debate. A recent poll shows that 62% of Americans are afraid to express their political views. This anticipatory self-censorship portends an appeasement to the tyranny of one societally-accepted point of view.

And as the case so often is in history, the Jews are the proverbial “canary in the coal mine.” Looking back, we see that which starts with the Jews never ends with the Jews; and that whenever anti-Semitism exists, it presages a deeper corrosion within our society.

Despite the fact that President Trump had issued an Executive Order (E.O.) last December, which prohibits discrimination based on anti-Semitism, we see that anti-Semitic professors and speakers are welcomed onto our college campuses with total impunity.

If this is acceptable to you, I invite you to try this thought experiment. Just substitute the word “racist” for the word “anti-Semite.” Would you be comfortable allowing you son or daughter to be influenced in the classroom by such notoriously racist figures as Dylann Roof who murdered nine black people in a Charleston church, or David Duke?

And particularly in a class or a program when there is virtually no diversity of viewpoint or balance of ideas.

The E.O. used as a definition of anti-Semitism the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, which includes among its examples, “…denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g. claiming that the State of Israel is a racist endeavor.”

Would one then label a person who has called the random stabbing acts of Israeli citizens by Palestinian terrorists “self-defense” as an anti-Semite? Would one label a person who has declared that Prime Minister Netanyahu is “a war criminal that’s not worth the bullet it would take to shoot him” as an anti-Semite? Would one call a person who erroneously declares “Israel is deliberately infecting Palestinians with coronavirus,” an anti-Semite?

Yet, the prestigious Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University just offered a position to the person who uttered these outrageous claims: the Secretary General of the PLO, Saeb Erekat.

What is even more outrageous is that Saeb Erekat is going to be a fellow at Harvard’s “Future Diplomacy Project.” This is the very same person who has counseled Yassir Arafat to reject the exceedingly generous offer made to him by Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000.

Diplomacy is supposed to be the art of compromise. The only lesson that these students will be learning from Mr. Erekat is the art of rejectionism and incitement towards terrorism.

But Harvard is hardly alone here.

On September 23rd, San Francisco State University’s Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora Studies hosted a known terrorist, Leila Khaled. Ms. Khaled was one of two terrorists from the Popular Front of the Liberation of Palestine who rose to fame on August 29, 1969, by the notorious hijacking of TWA Flight 840. Then on September 6, 1970, Ms. Khaled continued her notorious career by participating in the hijacking of El-Al flight 219, in which she is quoted as saying, “I have two hand grenades. If you do not open up the cockpit door, I will blow up the plane.”

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed credit for many of the terrorist attacks and suicide bombings during the Second Intifada, from 2000 to 2005. The number of victims of these terrorist acts in Israel were over 1,000.

For this sort of egeregious behavior, she is being offered a place at the table at a respected academic symposium.

Fortunately, because of a combined effort by a diverse number of pro-Israel groups, Facebook and Zoom decided not to run it. You Tube however did, but when Ms. Khaled started bragging about her terrorist activities, they shut it down, and one can no longer find the link on You Tube.

So one can conclude that our social media companies, when confronted with such an obvious case of extolling the virtues of terrorism,  know when we have arrived at a line too far.  Our First Amendment Freedoms, as everyone knows, draws the line at “Yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

However, our academics and intellectuals seem to lack that  much common sense, which brings to mind George Orwell’s quote that “There are ideas so absurd only an intellectual can believe them.”

One of those absurd ideas is holding up a terrorist who lacks any academic credentials as an intellectual to speak at an academic forum.

I would like to say that these two recent examples are exceptions. My organization, EMET, has been conducting a detailed and thorough analysis of what has been going on within the halls of academia for many years, and the sad reality is that anti-Semitism, as defined by the U.S. government, is a virus that is alive and well and metastasizing in the minds of students throughout the United States. And it is being given a tacit seal of approval by the university administrators who allow such invitations to terrorists and their enablers, to be issued.

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About the Author

Sarah Stern
Sarah Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET).

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