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How the Growing Rot of Academia Has Made Jews Enemy #1

This hollowing out of academia’s ideals-- such as excellence, meritocracy, diversity of views and the search for truth— has hit the Jews especially hard.
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December 26, 2023
Columbia students participate in a rally in support of Palestine at the university on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

The explosion of Jew-hatred that has been unleashed across the nation and on college campuses was a long time coming. It is the culmination of forces that started with critical race theory (CRT) in the early 1980s and have reached a peak with the Gaza War.

William Jacobson, clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School and founder of The Legal Insurrection Foundation, was there when CRT started brewing.

“All those racialized ideologies were in their formative stages at Harvard Law School,” he said recently on the Mark Reardon Show. “And nobody really paid attention to them then. But what they were doing is they were beginning, even back then, to cast the Israeli Arab dispute in very racial terms, that they would build coalitions of non-white student groups against Israel.”

We’re seeing both the nightmare and the explanation for the nightmare unfold in real time.

Jacobson says that “now everything in colleges is about race… every dispute is now in terms of white oppressor versus non-white oppressed. And that is how the Israeli Arab dispute or Israeli-Palestinian dispute is portrayed relentlessly on campuses.”

It’s not that hard to connect the dots. Critical race theory put race on top of the intellectual food chain, which empowered intersectionality as race permeates all causes, which nurtured a victim culture around group identity (with Palestinian victimhood at its heart), which led to the giant, pervasive bureaucracy of DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) that became the coup de grace in rotting academia.

This hollowing out of academia’s ideals– such as excellence, meritocracy, diversity of views and the search for truth— has hit the Jews especially hard.

Jews are now squeezed from both sides. On one side, they’re lumped into a static “white oppressor” group that gives them no wiggle room, no protection and undermines the cherished Jewish value of personal growth; and on the other side, because Israel has become the ultimate “white oppressor-colonialist” nation, Jewish students have become juicy targets simply for being supporters of Israel.

The war in Gaza lit the fuse. The cause of the war—1200 Israelis brutally massacred on October 7—is long forgotten. Now it’s open season to demonize the Jewish nation, even if the “oppressed” are represented by terrorists. As Jonah Goldberg tweeted recently, “the pro-Palestinian narrative would make 1,000 percent more sense if the main Palestinian movement dominating the discourse was modeled on MLK or Gandhi, and not a bunch of barbaric rapists, terrorists and medieval fanatics.”

The tragic irony is that the groupthink culture of DEI is the precise reason why academia is ill-equipped to dissect and fix the problem.

As this ugly hatefest is unfolding, so is the rot of academia that is behind it. The high-profile congressional testimony of Ivy League presidents who couldn’t protect Jewish students, followed by the plagiarizing scandal of Harvard President Claudine Gay, has exposed the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of DEI.

It’s as if the television screen shows rioters yelling their hateful anti-Jewish slogans, while a chyron below explains how CRT, intersectionality and DEI have cast the Israeli Arab dispute in racial terms and made Jews enemy #1.

In other words, we’re seeing both the nightmare and the explanation for the nightmare unfold in real time. Neither is dissipating anytime soon.

The pro-Hamas rioters have actually escalated their protests, as we saw this week when they went after Christmas, blocked airports and are now targeting the homes of government officials.

Meanwhile, the farce of DEI is finally being exposed. The fear of being called “racist” just for criticizing DEI is gone. Just as it is open season on the Jews and Israel, it is also open season on DEI.

The ongoing Gay scandal at Harvard is keeping DEI in the national spotlight. Every day that she stays on the job reinforces the case that DEI is an elitist, power-hungry partisan operation that pretends to be righteous.

If there is one feature of DEI that deserves maximum exposure, it is the shameful absence of diversity of views—or, said another way, the shameful indoctrination of leftist groupthink.

“A lot of people are aware that conservatives are not hired at universities or if they are hired, they’re eventually driven out,” Jacobson says. “Same is true for pro-Israel professors. It’s very hard to find… Talk to any professor, or any PhD student who’s looking to go into academia. They hide any pro-Israel activity they’ve ever had because they know they won’t get hired.”

The result of this DEI-fueled groupthink is a one-sided portrayal of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict driven by blatantly biased faculty who dehumanize both Jews and Israel.

Add it all up, throw in the war in Gaza, and it shouldn’t surprise us that Jews have become enemy #1. As long as Israel defends itself from its vicious enemies, Jews will be trapped in a defensive position. This is how DEI works: your status never changes. The oppressor group is always guilty; the oppressed group never is.

The tragic irony is that the groupthink culture of DEI is the precise reason why academia is ill-equipped to dissect and fix the problem. The good news is that the poison is being exposed; the bad news is that it will be difficult to dislodge. Given the hysterical Jew-hatred that has been unleashed, the sooner we start the better.

The burden, once again, will fall on courageous voices who still believe in the fearless pursuit of truth—a pursuit that has always been good for the Jews and for America.

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