The horrific 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas has generated an unprecedented wave of global antisemitism. Campuses and the BDs movement are at the epicenter of a burgeoning wave that a put hundreds of thousands into the streets including in the US. Like the BDS movement, the call is not for a two state solution but rather to destroy Israel. The idea that ‘colonized peoples’ have the right to ‘resist’ by ‘any means necessary’ is coupled with denial that Hamas had committed atrocities and the allegation that Israel is committing ‘genocide’ in its efforts to recover hostages and end the threat from Hamas. These ideas have propagated from campus to politics to the streets, putting Israel and Jews worldwide at grave risk.
BDS activities in October were dominated by the horrific Hamas attack on southern Israel on the morning of 7 October, the Jewish holiday of Simhat Torah. The murderous onslaught that killed over 1400 Israelis, over 200 soldiers, and kidnapped hundreds more. Countless cases of rape, torture, and mutilation were documented, including on body cameras carried by Hamas terrorists.
This extended analysis reviews the impacts of the Hamas attack, specifically the political-economic background of the global and US protests movements and the responses on US campuses from students, faculty, and administrations.
Protests and Funding
The initial Hamas attack was praised by the BDS movement and other Hamas supporters as “resistance,” “armed struggle,” and “decolonization,” while the Israeli counterattack was condemned as “genocide.” Countless protests took place globally which included calls to “Gas the Jews,” “globalize the intifada,” “there is only one solution,” and “Allahu Akbar.” Massive upswings in antisemitic violence around the world were recorded, with synagogues and schools, Jewish owned businesses, and individuals targeted.
Enormous protests in London, New York, Berlin, and other cities turned out thousands of Hamas supporters and featured a variety of symbols including Hamas and ISIS flags, as well as the usual slogans such as “From the River to the Sea, Palestine Will be Free.” Support for a two state solution was conspicuously absent while calls to oppose “75 years of occupation” and thus the existence of Israel were common. Many protestors accused Israel of ‘genocide’ in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas attack and later denied that Hamas had committed its self-documented atrocities.
The US street protests are comprised of primarily far left and Muslim groups, including BDS groups such as ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ and ‘IfNotNow,’ along with numerous Antifa and BLM linked organizations.
Dark money networks and left wing foundations in the US and have been instrumental in generating the ‘intersectional’ street protests against Israel. Among these are the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Soros network funding of ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ and ‘IfNotNow,’ (which organized Capitol Hill protests) and the ‘Arab Resource Organizing Center,’ (which backed Bay Area high school walkouts), and Tides Foundation and Omidyar Network funding of other BDS groups such as the Adalah Justice Project. Research also demonstrated Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s fundraising connections to the Hamas-linked PAC-USA (Palestinian American Congress-USA), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine linked ‘Blacks4Palestine,’ and individuals linked to the Holy Land Foundation case.
Another key funder is the progressive dark money operation Arabella Advisors, which funds BDS activist Linda Sarsour’s MPower Change and other anti-Israel groups including Alliance for Global Justice and Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Arabella Advisors also funds Grassroots for Global Justice which in turn is a major funder of the ‘Palestine Youth Movement.’ These and other groups participated in the October protests.
Analyses also showed that in Britain a sophisticated Iranian and Hamas network helped mobilize massive antisemitic street demonstrations which threatened state security. These protests are facilitated by mass migration from Muslim countries which has changed demographics and politics in Europe and now the US.
Manipulation by pro-Hamas supporters of key social media platforms especially TikTok has also been noted. Social media amplifies the anti-Israel and antisemitic themes that are deeply embedded in K-12 and university education through the hiring of anti-Israel activists, ‘ethnic studies,’ ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion,’ and ‘critical race theory’ programming. Tens of billion of dollars in Qatari funding to US universities and think tanks has also helped change the atmosphere of campuses. The absolute identification of Israel as a ‘white’ ‘oppressor’ ‘colonizer’ gives license to radical violence in the name of combating ‘settler colonialism’ and ‘decolonization.’
Campus reactions to Hamas were swift and telling. On numerous campuses Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapters celebrated the attacks as a “historic win for the Palestinian resistance,”cries of “resistance is justified,” “intifada intifada, “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free,” “globalize the intifada,” and “there is only one solution intifada revolution.” “Vigils for the martyrs” – that is, dead Hamas terrorists – were also held at many campuses.
A Hamas declared “Day of Rage” was held on 13 October, with SJP and aligned groups participating, that forced the closure of countless Jewish institutions such as schools. This was followed on 25 October with “National Walk-Out Day” which featured additional protests and harassment.
Over100 antisemitic incidents have been recorded on campus since the initial Hamas attack. These included the barricading of Jewish students into a library at Cooper Union before their rescue by campus security. At UCLA a crowd chanting “Israel, Israel you can’t hide, we want a Jewish genocide!” marched across campus. At New York University the crowd chanted “We don’t want a Jewish state, we want all of it.” A student with an Israeli flag was assaulted by pro-Hamas demonstrators at Tulane University while pro-Hamas demonstrators occupied an administrative building at the University of Massachusetts. At Cornell University postings on a Greek life message board aimed specific threats of violence against the Jewish residence house. While the university president condemned the threats, local police surrounded the house and some Jewish students left campus.
Immediately after the 7 October attack many campuses pro-Israel rallies were held, often resulting in harassment and several incidents of violence. Notably, most SJP statements came swiftly after the 7 October Hamas attacks and before any Israeli counteroffensive.
- At Harvard University a collective of 30 student groups wrote that they ‘‘hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.’’ The letter was ignored by the university administration but was quickly condemned by former Harvard president Lawrence Summer, who described it as “morally reprehensible.” A variety of groups soon withdrew their endorsement claiming they were unaware of the letter’s contents. An admiring profile of individuals involved with the letter was later published in The New Yorker.
- Students at the Ohio State University praised ‘‘our heroic resistance in Gaza who have shown the world yet again that the spirit of the Palestinian people cannot and will not be trampled, and that our resistance to Zionism and Western imperialism remains strong.”
- The University of North Carolina chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine claimed ‘‘it is our moral obligation to be in solidarity with the dispossessed, no matter the pathway to liberation they choose to take. This includes violence…’’
- The University of Virginia chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine declared that the mass murder of civilians “by any means necessary” was ‘‘an unprecedented feat for the 21st century’’ and ‘‘a step towards a free Palestine.”
- The Swarthmore SJP issued a statement celebrating how “Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have confronted the imperial apparatus that has constricted their livelihoods for the past seventy-five years. In an unprecedented violation of Zionist intelligence and military rule, the resistance broke its people out of the open-air prison.” The statement noted further that the “Zionist regime’s murderous occupation has rendered a Palestinian response inevitable.”
- The student government at Michigan State University passed a resolution condemning Israel for the violence directed against it stating “Hamas should never be condoned and all civilian casualties should be condemned, however the ongoing war is not unprovoked and stems from centuries of oppression and violence under the Israeli regime.”
Numerous other campus affinity groups celebrated the massacres and signed statements. Some retracted their signatures later after exposure, claiming they were unaware of what they had signed or that signatures had been attached without their permission.
After the massacres the National SJP umbrella group declared a “National Day of Resistance” stating “Today, we witness a historic win for the Palestinian resistance: across land, air, and sea, our people have broken down the artificial barriers of the Zionist entity, taking with it the facade of an impenetrable settler colony and reminding each of us that total return and liberation to Palestine is near.” Publicity for the events featured a motorized hang glider of the sort used by Hamas in the 7 October attacks.
The SJP protests featured such inflammatory language and threats of violence that several were condemned by university administrations. The resolute unwillingness of SJP chapters to even acknowledge Hamas’ atrocities, or the distinction between civilians and military personnel, was finally recognized in the press.
Pro-Hamas protests also featured guerrilla theater. Among the most notable was an incident at George Washington University where students projected slogans including “Glory to our martyrs” and “Divest from Zionist genocide now” on the wall of the main library. The students refused to cease until ordered to do so by the administration.
The university initially released a vague statement, but a letter from seven members of the House of Representatives stated that “The glorification of Hamas terrorists and calls for the destruction of Israel is vile and antisemitic.” The university president then stated that the slogans “included antisemitic phrases that have caused fear and anxiety for many members of our Jewish and broader GW community, and we wholly denounce this type of conduct.”
In response 30 Jewish groups issued a statement calling on universities to remove recognition and defund SJP chapters, and demanded “moral accountability and official punishment for SJP and its chapters for their campaign to glorify the Hamas attacks on Israel of October 7.”
More substantively, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered that the state defund SJP chapters at specific universities on the grounds that they provided material support for terrorism by means of printed guides which state “Palestinian students in exile are PART of this movement, not in solidarity with this movement.” The order threatens administrators with suspension if funding is not halted.
While free speech groups expressed opposition, along with the BDS movement, some observers believe the order could survive legal challenges if it is applied evenly to all groups. Legal groups also sent letters to some 200 university presidents demanding universities investigate SJP chapters “vocal and potentially material support to Hamas, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization.” DeSantis and Republican lawmakers also called for the visas of foreign born Hamas supporters to be revoked, a move the White House rejected saying it would infringe on the right to free speech.
The firestorm of criticism also resulted in efforts to identify and shame individual students who had participated in pro-Hamas protests directly or through group statements. As students who had signed statements were identified, a number of law firms rescinded employment offers.
One notable example was New York University law student Ryna Workman, who had posted on the NYU Student Bar Association’s online news letter that Israel bear “full responsibility” for Hamas’ attack. The firm Winston & Strawn rescinded its employment offer stating “Winston stands in solidarity with Israel’s right to exist in peace and condemns Hamas and the violence and destruction it has ignited in the strongest terms possible,” Workman defended her remarks as did the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) Meanwhile, NYU’s ‘Black Allied Law Students Association’ and the ‘Women of Color Collective’ called the rescinding of Workman’s offer “systemic, concentrated violence.”
To highlight the racism and radicalism of campus Hamas supporters, several groups used trucks displaying faces of students who had signed statements. This publicity stunt was widely condemned as “doxxing” including by Harvard faculty members who declared the effort threatened the safety of students.
In response the university created a task force and pledged support services “to repel this repugnant assault on our community.” After additional pressure, Jewish students were promised an advisory group to “identify all the places where we can intervene to disrupt and dismantle this ideology” and educate how to “recognize and confront antisemitism.”
More substantively, a growing number of university alums and trustees announced they were halting contributions and would refuse to employ students who had participated in pro-Hamas demonstrations or statements.
At the University of Pennsylvania donor Mark Rowan, CEO of Apollo Global Management and board chair of UJA-Federation of New York noted that the university had hosted the “Palestine Writes” ‘festival,’ which featured a slew of antisemitic speakers and statements directed as ‘Israeli settler colonialism,’ and drew a direct line to the Hamas attacks. He alleged that the university board and president had attempted to purge the board of critics, stated that he would no longer donate, and called on others to join him and for the president to resign. He was joined in his boycott of Penn by a number of other major donors including Jon Huntsman, Jr., former governor of Utah, investor David Magerman, and billionaire Ronald Lauder.
University of Pennsylvania faculty responded with a statement condemning the ‘intimidation’ “by individuals outside of the University who are surveilling both faculty and students in an effort to intimidate them and inhibit their academic freedom.”
At Harvard University Yossi Sagol, a Business School graduate and donor, threatened to withhold his funds, while billionaire Idan and Batia Ofer quit the board of the Kennedy School of Government. Sagol noted that after the Russian invasion of Ukraine the university immediately issued a statement of condemnation but that it had refrained from doing so when Hamas attacked Israel.
The hostility of campus environments, especially at elite or selective institutions, towards Jews is now indisputable. A Harris poll taken on 19 October 2023 showed that American voters viewed Israel favorably by a large margin and regarded Hamas as a terrorist organization. Shockingly, however, 51% of 18-24 year olds regarded the killing of Israelis as justified while at the same time 62% saw the killings as genocidal. In contrast, a much smaller Generation Lab poll indicated that 52% of students blamed Hamas with only 11% blaming Israel.
The role of burgeoning ‘diversity, equity, and inclusion’ (DEI) bureaucracies in fomenting antisemitism on the basis that Jews are the epitome of ‘white oppressors’ and ‘settler colonialists’ has been repeatedly pointed out. Many observers have pointed to the dramatic antisemitic outpouring as the inevitable outcome of years of ‘social justice,’ ‘ethnic studies,’ and ‘critical race theory’ indoctrination which establishes hierarchies of ‘oppressors’ and oppressed.’ Jews top the list of oppressors while Palestinians are the leading oppressed group. The religious sacralization of Palestinians in these racist frameworks, including core ‘human rights’ paradigms, has been discussed repeatedly.
Little discussion has yet been given to deradicalization or the downstream political and cultural impacts of antisemitic communities in the US, although the implications for Democratic Party politics have begun to be discussed. In contrast, massive antisemitic street demonstrations in Europe have led to political leaders such as French president Emmanuel Macron calling for mass deportation of radicals.
A Congressional response to the rapidly deteriorating campus scene was proposed by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) in a resolution condemning antisemitic campus groups and pro-Hamas protests. The resolution was blocked by Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) who stated that while many of the statements were “repugnant” “What this resolution does is attempt to smear students — many of whom engaged in antisemitic remarks —but many who did not.”
The result of unprecedented campus agitation and hatred were a number of incidents of harassment and violence, including an assault on a Columbia University student, an arson attempt directed at a Drexel University student’s dorm room, and the vandalizing of various Jewish campus facilities, such as a fraternity house at the University of Pennsylvania. A number of Jewish campus institutions now report that extra security has been added.
After immense pressure, and bizarre missteps as White House press secretary (and former anti-Israel activist) Karin Jean-Pierre condemned ‘Islamophobia’ when asked about antisemitic incidents, Biden Administration finally issued a statement on campus incidents, saying: “Amidst the rise in poisonous, antisemitic rhetoric and hate crimes that President Biden has fought against for years, there is an extremely disturbing pattern of antisemitic messages being conveyed on college campuses… Just over the past week, we’ve seen protests and statements on college campuses that call for the annihilation of the state of Israel; for genocide against the Jewish people. Jewish students have even had to barricade themselves inside buildings. These grotesque sentiments and actions shock the conscience and turn the stomach. They also recall our commitment that can’t be forgotten: ‘never again.’”
Pressure is also increasing on the Department of Education from Congress and Jewish groups to take action on rapidly escalating campus antisemitism situation. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona stated on social media that “When Jews are targeted because of their beliefs or their identities in schools, on college campuses or anywhere else, that is antisemitism. And that is unacceptable,” but no concrete policy changes have been announced.
A large number of faculty members spoke out in support of Hamas and its murderous onslaught, or stating that it was a legitimate form of “resistance,” and decrying “Israeli genocidal violence.” Only a few examples may be presented here.
At the University of Michigan some 1000 faculty members signed a letter blaming the “decades-long Israeli occupation of Palestine and the structural apartheid Palestinians residing both within Israel and the Occupied Territories endure on a daily basis” for the violence, condemning the university president’s statement to the violence, especially the implication “that only Israelis have been wounded, traumatized, or killed in the ongoing violence,” and the “university administration’s continued erasure of our campuses’ Palestinian communities.”
At the City University of New York the faculty union sent emails to its 23,000 members decrying the “Zionist genocidal campaign” and encouraging members “to channel your grief and rage over the nearly 1,000 Palestinians martyred, including nearly 300 children, into upcoming rallies across CUNY campuses and New York City.”
At New York University “Faculty for Justice in Palestine” issued a statement condemning “the brutal killing of civilians that occurred in Israel on October 7th, which constitutes a war crime,” and then excoriating Israel for “occupation, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and the denial to the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza of the most basic human and civil rights,” and “colonial racial violence.” The statement also accused the university of bending to “immense pressure from trustees, alumni and donors to be perceived as “pro-Israel,” even at the cost of tolerating or promoting violations of academic freedom and free speech rights.”
Some 130 Columbia University faculty issued a statement “contextualizing” the Hamas massacres as “a military response by a people who had endured crushing and unrelenting state violence from an occupying power over many years” and condemning the university for not supporting pro-Hamas students. They also demanded the university sever relations with Israel in all ways.
At Oxford University the University and College Union issued a statement claiming the war was “a direct consequence of decades of violent oppression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli state,”and that “only a mass uprising on both sides of the green line and across the Middle East can free the Palestinian people”.and calling for “a Socialist Federation of the Middle East” and “intifada until victory.”
These themes were amplified by the “Association for Middle East Women’s Studies” statement which expressed “full and unconditional solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza and demands an immediate cessation of Israeli genocidal violence. If the impending catastrophe is not stopped.” The Asian American Studies Program at Northwestern University issued a statement condemning “silence about the loss of life in Palestine, concern for the safety and wellbeing of Palestinian Americans in the NU community, and the visible Islamophobia expressed in pro-Israel posters on NU’s campus falsely claiming that “Hamas is ISIS.” The statement claimed that as “Ethnic Studies scholars, we are pro-Palestine and against antisemitism because we understand that all systems of oppression reinforce one another, and none can be fought in isolation. Islamophobia and antisemitism must both be eradicated if we are to live without violence.”
Similar statements were made by students and alums from the University of Chicago and elsewhere. This included “Writers in Solidarity with Palestine,”which stated they “unequivocally stand with Palestine and its fight for liberation against the illegal occupation of “Israel”and the violent settler colonial apartheid state.” The ‘writers’ lionized the massacres saying “the resistance bulldozed part of the fence around Gaza and some Gazans set foot outside the boundaries of their besiegement for a moment” and called for support of BDS and “unwavering public stance in solidarity with Palestinian liberation in your workplace and online.” Puzzlingly, the statement called for boycott of “awards, magazines, and support of the following Zionist literary institutions: Best American Poetry, the 92NY Discovery Prize, PEN America, the Frankfurt Book Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar.”
Countless individual faculty members also spoke out against Israel, particularly via social media, in response to the Hamas attack, as well as for the alleged attack on a Gaza hospital that was actually damaged by a failed Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket launch. One notable example was well-known BDS supporter Joseph Massad of Columbia University, who published a long piece which described the massacre as “awesome” and the terrorists who para-glided into a music festival in Israel to murder and rape the young people there as “the air force of the Palestinian resistance.”
More egregious examples of harassment and threats were also common. At Stanford University lecturer Ameer Hasan Loggins was suspended after asking Jewish and Israeli students to identify themselves and stand in a corner saying ‘This is what Israel does to the Palestinians. Loggins also stated “How many people died in the Holocaust?” and in response to “Six million,” said, “Colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer.”
At the University of California at Davis and assistant professor of American studies, Jemma Decristo, tweeted “One group of people we have easy access to in the US is all these Zionist journalists who spread propaganda & misinformation. They have houses with addresses, kids in school. They can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” Accompanying the tweet were images of a cleaver, an ax, and drops of blood. The university later condemned the statement and deleted Decristo’s web page who remains employed.
Another faculty member was Cornell University professor Russell Rickford, who stated at a Hamas rally on campus that “they were able to breathe for the first time in years. It was exhilarating. It was energizing. And if they weren’t exhilarated by this challenge to the monopoly of violence, by this shifting of the balance of power, then they would not be human. I was exhilarated.”
Rickford later defended those remarks and commented he did not support violence. University President Martha Pollack condemned Rickford indirectly saying “I am sickened by statements glorifying the evilness of Hamas terrorism. Any members of our community who have made such statements do not speak for Cornell; in fact, they speak in direct opposition to all we stand for at Cornell.” Only after extensive media coverage did Rickford backtrack saying “I recognize that some of the language I used was reprehensible and did not reflect my values.” Later reports indicated Rickford has taken a leave of absence.
Bilal Ware of the University of California at Santa Barbara stated that “Zionism is white supremacy” and that “Black folks don’t have a carceral state problem. Brown people don’t have an immigration problem. First nations don’t have a genocide problem. We all have a white supremacy problem.” He also stated that Israel was “the beast” that needs to be “stabbed in the heart.”
Other examples of faculty support for Hamas included classes at the University of California at Berkeley which offered extra credit for attending student walkouts.
These and other statements praising Hamas and condemning Israel, such as that signed by over 1800 sociologists, most of them graduate students, suggest that the next generation of Western intellectuals and faculty members will be hopelessly hostile toward Israel.
Reactions to massacres in Israel and campus protests from university administrations ranged widely. Only a small sample is presented here:
At Northwestern University president Michael Schill issued a personal statement saying that, in the interest of free speech and diversity of opinions, the school would not comment on the “political, geopolitical or social issues that do not directly impact the core mission of our University,” but adding that he was “deeply repulsed, sickened and disappointed by what Hamas has done.” Later, after dozens of faculty members including deans condemned Hamas, Schill stated that “The abhorrent and horrific actions of Hamas on Saturday are clearly antithetical to Northwestern’s values — as well as my own. Whatever we might feel about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, our shared humanity should lead us all to condemn these barbaric acts.”
At Harvard University president Claudine Gay offered a weak statement on 9 October to which she added the next day “let there be no doubt that I condemn the terrorist atrocities perpetrated by Hamas. Such inhumanity is abhorrent, whatever one’s individual views of the origins of longstanding conflicts in the region.” At the same time, she responded to the appalling statement from 30 Harvard groups in support of Hamas that “Let me also state, on this matter as on others, that while our students have the right to speak for themselves, no student group — not even 30 student groups — speaks for Harvard University or its leadership.”
After additional pressure Gay later glossed this statement saying “Our University rejects terrorism – that includes the barbaric atrocities perpetrated by Hamas. Our University rejects hate—hate of Jews, hate of Muslims, hate of any group of people based on their faith, their national origin, or any aspect of their identity. Our University rejects the harassment or intimidation of individuals based on their beliefs.” She thus responded 1) weakly, 2) condemned Hamas, and 3) added a predictable condemnation of ‘all hatreds’ that undercut the already secondary focus on Hamas.
Responding to the weak Harvard answer to the SJP, former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan withdrew from two fellowships saying “Harvard’s failure to immediately and forcefully denounce the antisemitic vitriol from these students is in my opinion a moral stain on the university and that “There is no ‘both sides’ when it comes to the murder, rape, and kidnapping of innocent women and children. I believe very strongly that in this matter there is no room for justification or equivocation.”
At Tufts University the administration condemned the SJP chapter’s praise of the “creativity” of the Hamas attack on Israel. The university stated that it condemned “the terrorism and atrocities that Hamas has carried out against Israel,” and that it “strongly disagree with and denounce SJP’s statement and want to make clear that no student group speaks for the university.” The university president also stated in a message that “The attackers made no distinction between young and old, military and civilian, healthy and infirm. Hostages were taken and many still remain unaccounted for…I denounce these heinous acts in no uncertain terms.”
In response, the “Tufts Revolutionary Marxist Students” condemned the university president, praised the SJP chapter, “holds responsible the illegitimate Israeli state for all unfolding violence,” and expressed support for the “Palestinian mass-led overthrow of the colonial Zionist Israeli apartheid state. There can be no liberation if not carried out through the struggle of the oppressed masses, organized and politically conscious.”
Controversially, University of Pennsylvania president M. Elizabeth Magill’s first statement on the events noted “We are devastated by the horrific assault on Israel by Hamas that targeted civilians and the taking of hostages over the weekend. These abhorrent attacks have resulted in the tragic loss of life and escalating violence and unrest in the region.” This was revised on 10 October
Responding to enormous anger from the Penn community, including from trustees and donors, the chair of the trustees issued a statement on 16 October noting the board had “discussed the terrorist attacks by Hamas in Israel, condemning the horrific atrocities and expressing solidarity with the Jewish community”and then reaffirmed “that President Magill and her existing University leadership team are the right group to take the University forward.”
Finally, on 18 October she issued her her most decisive statement, saying “I want to leave no doubt about where I stand. I, and this University, are horrified by and condemn Hamas’s terrorist assault on Israel and their violent atrocities against civilians. There is no justification—none—for these heinous attacks, which have consumed the region and are inciting violence in other parts of the world.”
The most forthright condemnation came from University of Florida president Ben Sasse, who stated “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. Sadly, too many people in elite academia have been so weakened by their moral confusion that, when they see videos of raped women, hear of a beheaded baby, or learn of a grandmother murdered in her home, the first reaction of some is to ‘provide context’ and try to blame the raped women, beheaded baby, or the murdered grandmother.”
At Columbia University president Minouche Shafik stated she was “disheartened” by “abhorrent rhetoric” claiming that “some are using this moment to spread anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, bigotry against Palestinians and Israelis, and various other forms of hate.” In response, Columbia faculty member Shai Davidai condemned Minouche for refusing to condemn pro-Hamas student groups and told a crowd of protestors and also on YouTube that he would never send his daughter to Columbia.
Reflecting the failure of colleagues to speak out against Hamas, the heads of all Israeli universities issued a statement calling on universities worldwide recognize “an act of barbaric violence that demands universal condemnation.” In contrast, a variety of observers suggested that, unlike topics such as ‘climate change,’ it is now the time for university presidents to stop issuing statements due to their divisive nature.
Numerous cases of students and employees removing posters depicting kidnapped Israelis were documented. Other examples of repeating Hamas ideology at the most basic level is a letter from a Wellesley College resident hall president lamenting not the Hamas attack but that “As of October 18th, 2023, the Palestinian-Israeli war has cost the lives of some 3,478 Palestinians and wounded 12,000. Israel’s apartheid against Palestinians, characterized by the displacement of 600,000 individuals, the dissemination of genocidal rhetoric by the Israeli government, and the illegal occupation of native Palestinian lands, have left our hearts heavy.”
Numerous examples of pro-Hamas protests were also noted at high schools across the US. These demonstrations by ethnic and other radicalized student reflected the desired outcome of mandated ‘ethnic studies’ that have become widespread throughout the country, particularly in California, where BDS groups facilitate them directly. The “University of California Ethnic Studies Council” which includes a variety of BDS supporters involved in setting state standards for ‘ethnic studies” made its position clear in a widely condemned letter that condemned Israel for “hold the ongoing, 75-year occupation and settler colonial violence to blame for all violent struggle that is currently taking place on Palestinian lands.” A followup letter the university system for “administrative communications that distort and misrepresent the unfolding genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and thereby contribute to the racist and dehumanizing erasure of Palestinian daily reality.”
Also in contrast with previous conflicts, individuals issuing statements supporting Hamas and damning Israel, often in horrific terms, were documented, resulting in a number of dismissals from positions. Professionals such as doctors, dentists, and lawyers were prominent among those celebrating Israeli deaths.
The spread of Hamas support through the organized left was instant and profound. ‘Black Lives Matter’ in Chicago produced a poster disseminated on social media celebrating the massacre depicting a hang glide of the sort used in the attack and the slogan “I Stand with Palestine.” After immense criticism the group expressed regret for the posting but not before the image was widely reproduced.
The response by university donors reflected only a portion of the utter shock experienced by American Jews at their swift betrayal by the left. The sense of abandonment was especially profound among Jewish students, including Jews on the left from marginalized and progressive communities, including Israelis. But the latter groups, especially those in the BDS movement, quickly transferred their alleged grief into a rising chorus of condemnation against Israel’s imaginary “immanent genocide” in Gaza. This anticipation of Israeli atrocities appears to have been both psychological and political means to avoid processing the reality that Hamas had committed wholly predictable atrocities.
Statements endorsing Hamas were also widespread outside of academia. For example, the national Starbucks workers’ union’s social media postings in “Solidarity with Palestine” depicted bulldozers destroying the “Israeli occupation fence” and stated that Hamas was “literally breaking apart the Israeli-created mass prison in the Strip.” In response, Starbucks has sued the union claiming that the postings used its trademarks without permission and created reputational harm.
Local Starbucks unions also posting statements saying “We stand in solidarity with the people of Palestine and condemn the IDF for senselessly and viciously bombing, murdering and injuring innocent Palestinians, as well as for creating and funding Hamas in the 80s to discourage Palestinian solidarity.” Similar statements endorsing Hamas came from the head of the Amazon Labor Union.
In contrast to unions, dozens of companies quickly issued statements condemning Hamas and its brutal attack on Israel.
More significantly, 400 Congressional staff members issued an anonymous letter calling for a cease fire in the light of “antisemitism, anti-Muslim, and anti-Palestinian sentiment on the rise nationwide.” In the same vein, reports indicate that Secretary of State Antony Blinken held ““listening sessions” with Muslim, Arab-American and Jewish staffers amid growing internal frustration over the department’s handling of the war in Israel and Gaza.”” Other reports indicated that US diplomats are drafting a “dissent cable” to complain of the American support for Israel in the conflict. Similar meetings were held by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan with White House staffers and “focused on the “culture of fear” and to say they are supported.”
These meetings indicate lack of professionalism within the younger cadre of governmental employees, a growing anti-Israel animus within the State Department, national security apparatus, and now Congress, and above all the political problem of the administration expressing support for Israel in the context of the American Muslim community
For their part, BDS groups ‘Jewish Voice for Peace’ and ‘IfNotNow’ initially expressed shock at the scale of the Hamas massacre but then escalated their rhetoric against Israel with allegations of ‘an unfolding Israeli ‘genocide’ directed against Palestinians. This perverse inversion of reality appears to be a coping strategy to avoid admitting the scale and intent of Hamas’ atrocity. The groups compounded this obscenity with a large-scale protest in the Cannon House Office Building at which numerous members were arrested. Rep. Rashida Tlaib had goaded the protests outside the Capitol before the mob entered the building.
The solidarity with Israel felt by the vast bulk of the community, however, was expressed in unprecedented levels of financial support, protests, and political activity. More broadly, many observers have suggested that shifts are underway within the American Jewish community and beyond, rejecting ‘wokeness’ and related frameworks which have given license, if not applauded, utter savagery.