Philosopher Henrich Heine wrote: “Never underestimate the power of ideas. Philosophical concepts nurtured in the stillness of a professor’s study could destroy a civilization. ”
For four decades, I have been a political activist for Israel and the Jewish people, focusing most of my work on Capitol Hill. Over time, I have observed how ideas shaped in the college classroom have gradually and progressively made their way into the corridors of power.
When I first started political activism in the 1980s, the memory of the Holocaust was still fresh and members of both parties lined up to meet with the group I was affiliated with at the time.
I remember how the late Senator Daniel Inouye (D – Hawaii) spoke, his voice heavy with emotion, of what he saw as a young Army officer, when he first entered the concentration camps. That vivid memory made him a lifelong Zionist.
As Inouye spoke, a revolution was beginning to seep onto college campuses, beginning with the writings of Edward Said and his 1978 book “Orientalism” and culminating in “Critical Theory of Race,” which views Jews as privileged and “hyper-white.” “.
Today, the Middle East Studies Association publishes this statement: “The MESA Board of Directors condemns the current Israeli government attack on the Palestinian people … there can be no academic freedom and no adequate access to education, as long as there is apartheid.”
This summer, by educating people on Capitol Hill about the indoctrination and military training that Gaza students receive in Hamas summer camps, including learning how to fire a gun and jump through hoops, a A Democratic staff member said to me, “No? Isn’t that the same as we have here? I went to the Boy Scouts and we learned how to shoot a gun.”
Meanwhile, every day, the situation on college campuses grows bleaker for Jewish youth.
Last November, Rasha Anaya, a teaching assistant at John Hopkins University, posted a poll on Twitter: “Ethical dilemma, if you have to score Zionist student exams (sic), do you still give your points, even if they support your ethnic cleansing? “Despite many complaints, he still teaches at Hopkins.
At the University of North Carolina, Kylie Broderick, who teaches the only class on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, has referred to the Jews as “Zionist bastards” and refers to the establishment of Israel as “the Nakba”, programmed the first Your class quiz on Yom Kippur. , the holiest day of the Jewish year.
Jewish students deserve the same constitutional protections as any other minority group.
I’ve been trying to get members to sign a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona saying just that, and it has become increasingly difficult to get Democrats to join. Once upon a time, this type of letter would be a “no-brainer” to garner broad bipartisan support.
There is a war within the soul of the Democratic Party, which is ultimately a war of the soul of much of America, and within much of American opinion makers and opinion leaders.
Allowing or accepting anti-Semitism within a major political party spells some rot within our society.
As the late Rabbi Jonathon Sacks said, “The emergence of anti-Semitism in a culture is the first symptom of a disease, the early warning sign of a collective collapse.”
Looking back historically, we know that Rabbi Sacks was right. We have to clean up our actions within the academy, because it is causing a deep rot within our society that might not be so easy to eradicate.
Sarah N. Stern is the founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israeli and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC