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Colleges’ Inexcusable Cowardice on Hamas

Posted on Friday, October 20, 2023
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by Outside Contributor
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Sarah Lawrence College Logo on Green Background
Amid an incredibly hostile climate toward Israel and intense anti-Semitism present on campus, it took five agonizing days of silence for the president of Sarah Lawrence College to comment on the tragedy unfolding in Israel when Hamas suddenly attacked, killed, and kidnapped thousands of Israelis and committed acts so violent that they were reminiscent of the Holocaust. Jewish students felt threatened and scared and needed the school to offer support; there was no reasonable reason for a five-day delay in offering some compassion. The college president or various administrative offices regularly make political statements about issues including Stop Asian Hate and Black Lives Matters or issue statements about safety during weather events and even offered support during a hurricane. The notable silence around the Jewish community and its worst day since the Holocaust was a choice and sent a powerful message. After numerous actors demanded that the college president issue some statement and I publicly criticized the college’s disgraceful behavior, the president did issue a statement that, “there is not, nor can there be, any place for antisemitism or hate speech of any kind on our campus.” This comment was far too little and too late. Former Senator Ben Sasse, the president of the University of Florida, promptly wrote after the Hamas attacks in a public letter that, “I will not tiptoe around this simple fact: What Hamas did is evil and there is no defense for terrorism. This shouldn’t be hard.” Sasse is absolutely right. Although Sarah Lawrence’s statement can be found on the school’s news page, it is notably absent from the landing page, which is still home to a political post, “A Statement from Sarah Lawrence College on the Supreme Court’s Decision to Ban Affirmative Action Policies in College Admissions,” dating back to June 29. Sarah Lawrence is again making a political choice in how it presents information on its homepage. In the few days since the president declared that the college is no place for anti-Semitism, the school is not even following its own positions. There is a planned “solidarity vigil” this week in the Remy Theater—the school’s most prominent outdoor space—organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine group, a group which has already been cited as anti-Semitic. The group is now inviting  students to “join us to honor all civilians lost to senseless colonial violence not just this past week but those who have been martyred by said violence over the past 75 years.” By using the word “colonial,” the announcement and statement is anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish. Rather than hosting a collaborative event to honor all lives lost, the group is deliberately employing language used to dehumanize people and justify their murder. This vigil is political and one that is hostile, threatening, dangerous, and incredibly upsetting to Jewish students. The college not only did not stop the event, it offered a very central, public location to send a message about its values and thoughts about Jews on campus. Sarah Lawrence College is certainly not unique here. Far too many colleges and universities have made disingenuous statements about Hamas and Israel, and donors and numerous groups are now appropriately holding schools accountable for this disgusting, illiberal behavior. It took Harvard days to respond to the Israel crisis and the president and deans offered a slew of weak and ever-changing statements to accommodate understandable outrage. Like with Sarah Lawrence, Harvard made its position clear in saying little—an astounding failure of moral leadership. Unsurprisingly, donors and alumni are furious. The Wexner Foundation, for instance, just announced that it is pulling its support by proclaiming that, “We are stunned and sickened at the dismal failure of Harvard’s leadership to take an unequivocal stand against the barbaric murder of innocent Israeli civilians by terrorist.” At the University of Pennsylvania, Marc Rowan—a major donor—rightly noted that Penn and so many other schools now “embrace of antisemitism and other forms of discrimination” and in doing so, these institutions, “legitimize and reinforce hate, racism and, ultimately, violence.” As such, Rowan called for the leaders of the University of Pennsylvania to resign and donors to close their checkbooks. Far too many collegiate leaders inexcusably refused to swiftly condemn the unimaginable cruelty and actions taken by Hamas against innocent Israelis. It is time for these administrators and presidents to step down; they have no business leading institutions that exist to promote discovery, curiosity, and truth when they are unable to honestly confront difficult realities. While all non-religious colleges and universities should follow the University of Chicago’s Kalven Report and hold a strong and unambiguous line of institutional neutrality on political and social issues, most schools comment on socio-political issues regularly. Thus, the silence of so many schools is both a moral failure and one that refuses to confront the actual truth and this is academic malpractice. Higher education must do better. Samuel J. Abrams is a nonresident senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on questions of related civic and political culture and American ideologies. He is concurrently a professor of politics and social science at Sarah Lawrence College, and a faculty fellow with New York University’s Center for Advanced Social Science Research. Reprinted with Permission from AEI.org – By Samuel J. Abrams
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anna hubert
anna hubert
7 months ago

Will the empty headed pathetics ever realize they are being used and also cutting the very branch they are sitting on

dac
dac
7 months ago

Just because a school president SAYS that a school group (or 30 groups in Harvard’s case) doesn’t speak for the school does not mean that it is true. The very fact that the school produces student groups that ignorantly defend hamas speaks volumes.

jim
jim
7 months ago

We have 2nd and 3rd generation college graduates instructing with little experience in the real world. They have always existed in a academic world and truth and reality have not necessarily been a part of their lives.

Susan Elizabeth Edwards
Susan Elizabeth Edwards
7 months ago

This is very sad since our country and many colleges were founded on Judeo-Christian ideas.

David Millikan
David Millikan
7 months ago

Colleges and universities are pathetic. They even have currently 3 so-called elite law schools encouraging law graduates to support and go to work for TERRORIST. NO BS.
This is what you’re wasting your money on for sending your kids to college.
So they can work for TERRORIST.
All compliments of the Dept of DUHMACATION ran by democrats.
Also goes for medical graduate student’s to sign pledge that they will support LOSER WOKE policies before being allowed to get their medical license. NO BS.
So good luck on having a doctor that practices medicine instead of politics.

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