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When safetyism leads

  • 07 June 2024
  The protracted drama of ‘Gaza solidarity’ encampments at universities across the West this past month got me thinking about my steep learning curve since October 7. In the immediate aftermath of the darkest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust, academics and students at Harvard, Melbourne University et-al were signing open letters that either erased the Hamas atrocities from the historical record or asserted Israel had it coming. These were acts, I decided, of ‘Hamas apologists,’ of people ‘making common cause with jihadists.’ Sure, there was the odd professor openly celebrating the attack as ‘exhilarating’, the odd student protestor declaiming ‘all of us are Hamas.’ Sure, the phrase ‘GLORY TO THE MARTYRS’ was projected in full glory onto the campus library at George Washington University— so … okay, I should have grasped back then that things were really that bad. Eight months into the Gaza war and in the wake of anarchic campus protests, I’ve moved beyond lamentations about ‘apologists’ or ‘making common cause.’ 

I’m not accusing all of the student protestors and their staff allies of shilling for the terror group; basic intuition tells me many were merely incensed at the loss of civilian life in Gaza. But at every Australian university we found students unselfconsciously expressing support for Hamas. The jihadist group deserves ‘unconditional support’ said a protestor at ANU; the October 7 attacks were ‘magnificent’ gushed an encampment leader at Adelaide University. ‘As socialists,’ declared a group at Sydney University, ‘we unconditionally support Hamas’s right to resist Israel’s occupation by any means necessary.’ Socialists supporting brutal terror — we’ve seen it before, I guess.

With the steadfast refusal to repudiate Hamas, or, worse, the frank celebration thereof, came disinhibited anti-Semitism on campus. One invariably follows from the other. After all, the Hamas terrorist didn’t brag to his parents on October 7 about killing ‘Zionists,’ simply ‘Jews.’

Sure, no-one to date has echoed the leader of Columbia University’s encampment that we ought to be ‘grateful’ he wasn’t just going out and murdering Jews, oops ‘Zionists.’ We should be grateful no-one echoed that view. Thus far, Jewish students in Australia have only endured, among other things, a (redundant) warning on social media that ‘Zionists aren’t welcome,’ a Nazi gesture during a Zoom meeting, activists invading lecture theatres to demand a show of hands against Israel and photographing the response. My gratitude journal is bursting.

Far worse than the intimidation from students was the