By Antony Gordon for the Times of Israel – 26 December 2023
If any one of us were to hear multiple warnings on The Weather Chanel of an impending thunderstorm, nobody would be shocked if we walked in the door drenched by a sudden down pour for refusing to take heed of these warnings. By the same logic, we should not be totally shocked by the sudden groundswell of antisemitism on American university campuses. The difference, I believe is, firstly the fact that the warnings were less obvious than visible dark clouds in the sky, and secondly it was not one single factor but rather the ‘perfect storm,’ the convergence of four major factors at just the right ‘ominous time.’
Briefly stated, the so-called “Four-Legged Stool” is the culmination of careful planning by activists, the rise of a US social justice movement focused on race and other markers of identity, which framed the world’s conflicts as a simple battle between two sides – the oppressors and the oppressed.
To develop a prudent response to the “Four-Legged Stool,” it is important to first have a basic understanding of each of the four legs that make up the “Four-Legged Stool” which I have outlined below:
LEG # 1– THE INDOCTRINATION AND BRAINWASHING OF A GENERATION
The multifaceted left leaning ideological Rubik’s Cube which has spread like a sinister disease throughout American universities is the culmination of several concepts that have been taken out of context by academic ideologs for self-serving, albeit destructive purposes.
It was Frantz Fanon, the brainchild behind the concept “Settler Colonialists” in the 1960s when African nations were gaining independence from their European colonizers who noted that “resistance must be violent because it is the only ‘language’ the colonizer speaks.” In 1989, Kristian Davis Bailey, coined the term “intersectionality” as a legal theory to describe how people experience discrimination in unique ways depending on race, gender, class, and other identities, but has since been adopted by activists to lump together the oppression of various groups.
It took only a few years for Postcolonial Studies to gain traction on campuses coupled with an insidious lie that Israel was a “Settler Colonial” state seeking to boot out the Palestinian population.
LEG # 2– THE CONFLATION OF WOKE IDEOLOGIES TO DEMONIZE ISRAEL
The first obvious signs of how woke ideologies were beginning to be utilized to demonize Israel became apparent in 1993 when Hatem Bazian founded the first chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine, which had three criteria for membership:
- Prospective members must support ending Israeli ‘occupation’ of the ‘Palestinian territories;’
- Prospective members must support eliminating US aid to Israel; and
- Prospective members must support allowing ‘Palestinians’ to return to the homes they had lost when Israel became a state in 1948.
Notwithstanding the complete disengagement by Israel in 2005, claims of Israel’s ‘occupation’ of Gaza increasingly earned comparisons to the subjugation of the Black majority during apartheid-era South Africa. It was no difficult feat for the spin experts in woke ideology who had assumed leadership positions on many campuses across the county to push the party line of Israel being the oppressor and the Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank as the victims.
By 2014 the Palestinian struggle and the fight against racism in America had become so intertwined that the killing of a Black man, Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, triggered nationwide protests, with the rally cry “from Gaza to Ferguson” that linked a generation of Black and Palestinian activists.
The ingredients for antisemitism were simple and clear on universities campuses led by the Ivy League Schools, the bastions of arrogant intellectual parochialism. Students were schooled through post-colonial dogma to believe that Israel had somehow violently occupied lands where Arabs once peacefully resided, making the so-called Palestinians, victims worthy of being aligned to other victims – i.e. – intersectionality at a stretch, and being that Israel was depicted as the big aggressive White man (Critical Race Theory 101), the plight of Black people in America and the so-called Palestinian cause was complete in earnest.
In other words, pro-Palestinian movements on American college campus, through the Islamic nexus, had developed a conceptual link with the themes of racial injustice, colonial racism, and the persecution of Black people and women throughout history.
The final logical conclusion to incite the minds of malleable students, whose deep desire to fit in and belong superseded the need to question these ideologies was the final jump made that it is not only Israel, but all Jews that need to be depicted as manipulative white oppressor or masculinist.
In short, intersectionality – which aimed at realizing human rights for all – has emerged as a dangerous weapon – selectively applied to delegitimize Israel and to spread antisemitic ideologies.
LEG # 3 – FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS FROM ANTI-ISRAEL REGIMES
The Network Contagion Research Institute (“NCRI”) found that over two hundred American colleges and universities received $13 billion in previously undisclosed contributions from anti-Israel foreign regimes. The NCRI found that from 2015–2020, institutions that accepted money from Middle Eastern donors had, on average, 300% more antisemitic incidents than those institutions that did not.
The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (“ISGAP”) recently released a report focusing on Qatar, whose ruling family established a foundation in 2006 that has funneled close to $3 billion to more than forty elite universities. Lest we forget, the leaders of Hamas currently reside in Qatar.
If you think that universities are granted tens of millions of dollars without strings attached or without agreeing to certain academicians receiving professorships, I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn!
LEG # 4 – MANIPULATION OF SOCIAL MEDIA
The Economist magazine studied over a million social media posts on Instagram, X, and YouTube between October 7 and October 20 related to Israel and Hamas:
On October 7, the two sides had equal shares of support. By October 19th pro-Palestinian posts were 3.9 times more common than pro-Israel ones.
100’s of thousands of bots (fake accounts) have been set up since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel.
According to Rafi Mendelsohn, Vice President of Cyabra, one of the leading Social Threat Intelligence Companies, misinformation about the Israel-Hamas war “is being seen by hundreds of millions of people around the world and is impacting the war in a way that is probably just as effective as any other tactic on the ground.”
THE PERFECT STORM
By October 7th, the ideologies of Colonialism, Intersectionality and Critical Race Theory had been the subject of courses for sufficient time to seep deep into the fiber of most of the leading universities, including ensuring that the people spearheading so-called ‘Student Affairs’ and overseeing the embrace of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (“DEI”) were sympathetic to these ideologies.
By October 7th, universities had been recipients of hundreds of millions of dollars from sovereign nations deeply hostile to both Israel and the basic tenants underscored by the Founding Fathers of America.
By October 7th, social media platforms had become the leading sources of news and content for most individuals between the ages of 18-27.
The “Four Legs” working in tandem with sufficient time for their seeds to germinate, certainly goes a long way to explaining the mushrooming of antisemitic protests on many college campuses throughout America.
The possible solutions to weather this perfect storm is beyond the scope of this article, but the ‘silver lining’ for those who think that the cement has already dried, is the fact that in several field studies conducted by interviewing a statistically significant sample of protesters on many of these campuses, the vast majority of those protesting were more familiar with Michael Jordan than the Jordan River!
If indeed most of those protesting are sheep-like ignoramuses, with the appropriate education, given the opportunity to dispel the erroneous myths many of these students have embraced, and allowing scholastic excellence based on merit to reign once again supreme, perhaps the Ivy Leagues may not be completely poisoned!
Antony Gordon is a Fulbright Scholar, Sir Abe Bailey Fellow, and Wexner Heritage Fellow.