Campus Free Speech

Skewing the Debate

Some violent expressions against Jews occurred during the campus demonstrations that criticized U.S. policy of fortifying Israel’s post-October 7 attacks in Gaza. These expressions came from obvious identification of Jews with Israel’s violent attacks; after all, Israel claims to be a Jewish state and a great number of Jews in the United States support what credible observers consider genocide of the Palestinian people. Compared to the numbers protesting U.S. policy, the few people who originated violent messages against Jews did not determine the nature of the protests and their activities were not related to the protests.

The impact of the protests ─ increased sympathy with the Palestinian cause ─ propelled pro-Israel groups to solicit the U.S. Congress to skew the debate from the reality of U.S. support of genocide of the Palestinian people to specious campus activity of anti-Semitism ─ diminish the importance that several hundred innocent Palestinians are murdered each day by Israeli forces; more important is that reckless persons voiced severely hostile opinions of Jewish students.

Posters that appeared on a Cornell University message board with a prompt to the school’s president to alert the FBI. “If you see a Jewish ‘person’ on campus follow them home and slit their throats,” and another that threatened to “bring an assault rifle to campus and shoot all you pig Jews,” exhibited hatred that needs investigation. More to it. Flying under the radar are other serious charges that also need investigation.

Demanding an end to U.S. foreign policy that militarily and morally aids Israel in its destruction of the Palestinian people was the issue of the campus protest. The protests of U.S. foreign policy proceeded from a logical view that the U.S. has no reason to be involved in the battle between Israel and Hamas and gains no benefit from aiding and abetting an Israeli response that many certify as an excuse for genocide. Just the opposite is requested — a democratic U.S. that claims to be the protector of human rights should be prominent in obtaining a cease-fire and protecting Gazan civilians.

The counter-protestors, who wrapped themselves in Israeli flags and walked around colleges while tagging posts with #standwithIsrael, exhibited a serious lack of citizenship and a convoluted attitude toward genocide. They did not contend the protestors’ arguments with U.S. foreign policy, which defies contention; they supported a foreign nation before the interests of their nation and defended genocide. They were not attacked because they were Jews; they were attacked as dubious Americans who had an uncalled-for presence in the campus protests. This is not different than if the U.S. aided and abetted the Myanmar government in its genocide of the Rohingya people and a group of Americans walked around with the Myanmar flag and placed posters that say #standwithMyanmmar as a counter to those who protested against a U.S. policy of helping Myanmar in its genocide.

The campus protestors had one mission ─ change a U.S. foreign policy that credible commentators observe as aiding and abetting Israel in its destruction of the Palestinian people. The counter-protestors, who acted more by formula than thought, created an intra-campus debate between those who want to prevent genocide and those who support it. Israel’s supporters steered the debate to have the protests become an example of anti-Semitism and, for that reason, should be stifled. This led to wealthy alumni, who recognized they owed much to their university education and made huge donations to the universities, showing they learned that when you have financial power, use it for your personal interests, even if it harms those who helped you gain it. As one example, a Penn University donor threatened to rescind a $100 million gift if the university did not discharge the current president whose testimony before a congressional committee he did not approve.

The congressional inquiry into campus anti-Semitism, which never depicted any instances of anti-Semitism (Oh yes, Congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, mentioned that conspirators were urging another Intifada, implying that Intifada meant extermination of all Jews), got what it wanted with one loaded question, “Would calls on campus for the genocide of Jews violate the school’s conduct policy?”

Indeed, the university presidents did not answer the question properly. However, it is not believable they would condone the words and not seek action. Never having faced the violation, each was unaware of the procedures. Perfectly logical. Why torment them for an acceptable confusion? All those watching and participating should have been asking, “Why is there a congressional committee investigating a hypothetical; why aren’t there congressional committees investigating the actual?

From my knowledge, and I invite correction, the actual is that no serious physical violence against Jews in America has occurred after October 7. There may have been unplanned altercations between demonstrators but no Jewish person has suffered a planned physical violence. In contrast, several Muslims have been deliberately attacked and two have been killed. Why is there no congressional committee investigating the severe attacks on the Muslim community?

As mentioned previously, the campus protests highlighted the appearance of a group favoring genocide, not genocide of Jews but genocide of the Palestinians. Why didn’t the congressional committee ask the university presidents if they were taking action against that group?


The campus protests have been a good example of university education put into action. Israel’s supporters tie every attack on Israel to being an attack on Jews. Why are they complaining when others equate Israel with Jews and use the word Jew instead of Israel in the same manner that Zionists normally do? The few examples of anti-Jewish sentiment that occurred during the protests were superfluous to the protests and should be investigated. They should not lead to curbs on the protests, which arose from purposeful misinformation and are unwarranted.

Those against the protests did not exhibit valid reasons for their attitude. They placed themselves in the category of supporting genocide of the Palestinian people, a position that has no place in normal discourse and deserves investigation. That investigation should not be influenced by wealthy donors who use their wealth to dictate university policy. Universities should listen to alumni and trustees and reject threats that tie donations to steering policies.

Dan Lieberman publishes commentaries on foreign policy, economics, and politics at  He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name, David L. McWellan). Read other articles by Dan.