Op-ed: Day 201 of the warThe rhetoric of mass murder

The goal of the campus Jew-haters: To render Israel indefensible, in both senses of the word

The aggression against Israel and Jews would not be tolerated if aimed at any other minority; its defenders are unforgivably prioritizing free speech above the intended deadly consequences

David Horovitz

David Horovitz is the founding editor of The Times of Israel. He is the author of "Still Life with Bombers" (2004) and "A Little Too Close to God" (2000), and co-author of "Shalom Friend: The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin" (1996). He previously edited The Jerusalem Post (2004-2011) and The Jerusalem Report (1998-2004).

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters carry a sign implying a desire to eradicate the Jewish state during a march against Israel outside Columbia University in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Kena Betancur/AFP)
Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters carry a sign implying a desire to eradicate the Jewish state during a march against Israel outside Columbia University in New York City on April 18, 2024. (Kena Betancur/AFP)

This Editor’s Note was sent out earlier Wednesday in ToI’s weekly update email to members of the Times of Israel Community. To receive these Editor’s Notes as they’re released, join the ToI Community here

While Jews have been celebrating the first days of Passover, the ancient festival of freedom, antisemites and their useful idiot collaborators on a swelling number of American university campuses have been rallying and issuing murderous threats in a strategic effort to end Jewish freedom, in the here and now, by destroying the world’s only Jewish majority state.

The underlying goal of the encampments and marches at Columbia, Yale, NYU and the other campuses is to render Israel indefensible — in both senses of the word.

The strategy:

First, to misrepresent what Israel has been subjected to and how it has responded since Hamas invaded our country on October 7, slaughtered 1,200 people, abducted 253 hostages, and then hid behind and beneath Gaza’s civilians in a bid to survive and do it all again.

Second, to falsely brand Israel as a brutal and indifferent aggressor, solely responsible for a soaring Gaza death toll that would, in fact, total precisely zero were it not for Hamas’s genocidal ambitions for the Jews and indifference to the lives of Gazan civilians.

Pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel protesters gather outside of Columbia University in New York on April 23, 2024. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

Third, to build pressure for divestment from Israel, for an end to military aid, and ultimately for the severing of Israel’s vital alliance with the United States.

And, finally, to thus deprive Israel of the diplomatic and military means to survive the ongoing effort at its destruction, as effected by Iran and its allies and proxies.

Activists demonstrate outside the US Capitol in Washington, April 20, 2024, as the House prepares to vote on approval of $95 billion in foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and other US allies. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

At the root of this strategy is, of course, the oldest of hatreds.

The antisemitism is stirred in this case by Muslim extremists, racists, ignoramuses and self-hating Jews; “inspired” on social media, and partly funded openly and covertly by states seeking Israel’s demise.

And it is being tolerated in an environment that seems to prioritize limitless free speech over the violent consequences of the abuse of that freedom.

Columbia University professors rally in solidarity with their students’ rights to protest free from arrest, at Columbia University campus in New York on April 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Stefan Jeremiah)

To the university administrations and faculty members defending, enabling and even rallying in support of the activists’ ostensible rights to viciously denounce Israel and Jews with calls to burn Tel Aviv, kill soldiers and threaten Jewish students with murder by Hamas, one must put the question: Is the right to free speech unlimited, to be upheld even when the goal and likely potential consequence is deadly?

As the British-Palestinian writer John Aziz has noted, this is “the rhetoric of mass murder”:

Were this level of hatred and aggression directed at any other minority group, it is hard to imagine that it would be indulged and tolerated, even at the price of limiting free speech:

But targeting the planet’s only Jewish majority state — and extending the hostility to Jews on campus and beyond — is evidently considered an exception, forgivable, even admirable.

That again, all you ostensibly ultra-humane and decent people who support these protests, is antisemitism.

Students at Emerson College display anti-Israel slogans at a protest encampment in an alley off of Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts on April 22, 2024. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP)

The initial goal of this inexcusably tolerated murderous hostility is to aid in Israel’s demise — by establishing our country as a pariah state, and rendering it untenable to be associated with, defended or protected. Protected, that is, from the amoral, rapacious, misogynistic, homophobic, and potent enemies who, as I write, are firing rockets from the north (Hezbollah), trying to do so from the south (Hamas), and advancing toward obtaining nuclear weapons in the east (Iran).

But if those enemy states, terrorist armies and their facilitators get done with Israel, they’ll be coming for Jews everywhere (and, no, membership in Jewish Voice for Peace won’t help), and, for that matter, for every other minority deemed unacceptable (sorry, Queers for Palestine).

Pro-Palestinian protesters gather during a demonstration against Israel near US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s home in Brooklyn, New York City, April 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

At our family Seder night this year, I understood properly for the first time how it was that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon, studying the story of the Exodus in Bnei Brak almost 2,000 years ago with their own urgent preoccupations, would, of course, have been talking all night, until their students came to remind them it was time for morning prayer.

And I thought at length for the first time — forgive me — of what it must have been like for Jews three or so generations ago to read the Haggadah during the Holocaust, trying to celebrate ancient deliverance while seeking to escape contemporaneous genocide.

Pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrators face off in front of the entrance of Columbia University, which is occupied by pro-Palestinian protesters in New York on April 22, 2024. One of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators is holding up a poster of Zakaria Zubeidi, a notorious Fatah commander convicted of masterminding terror attacks during the Second Intifada. (Charly Triballeau/AFP)

With 133 Israelis absent from the Seder, held in captivity by the monstrous Hamas, in a nation still coming to terms with October 7 — with our loss, vulnerability and the surging global hostility to the very fact of our existence — passage after passage took on immediate and extreme relevance.

How could it not?

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