Politics & Policy

Stanford Student Threatens Violence against Pro-Israel Students

Stanford University campus (Noah Berger/Reuters)
Universities must oppose the immoral and dangerous BDS movement.

In mid July, Hamzeh Daoud, a student at Stanford University, publicly posted on Facebook: “I’m gonna physically fight Zionists on campus next year.” If his meaning wasn’t clear enough, Hamzeh continued, “And after I abolish your ass I’ll go ahead and work every day for the rest of my life to abolish your petty ass ethno-supremacist, settler-colonial state.” While not reflective of Stanford’s values, the sentiment of this hateful post reveals the state of contemporary life on campuses. Daoud’s post is particularly telling, and its damage outlasts his reactive retraction.

A thought experiment: Replace the word “Zionist” with “LGBT” or “supporters of #BlackLivesMatter” in Daoud’s post. Almost certainly, the outcry would be universal and deafening. Yet, for some reason, when it comes to threatening physical violence against fellow students who support Israel, the response is indifference or, worse still, support. Somehow, the target of hate becomes the villain and the aggressor becomes the victim. How has this come to pass?

Let me answer by way of illustration. Among the most striking and powerful museums in the world is the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. But at first glance, it contains a structural oddity.

The exhibit fills three floors. The top floor covers the rescue of the survivors and the aftermath. The middle floor portrays the Holocaust itself. But the entire first floor — which can take hours to go through — consists of the Holocaust’s prelude: the propaganda of the 1930s and the relentless Nazi campaign to dehumanize the Jewish people.

One might wonder: Why is the prelude to the Holocaust given as much space as the events of the Holocaust itself? The answer is simple: Crimes against the Jews have not emerged out of thin air. Rather, they have been preceded by lies, dehumanization, vilification, and slander. Before Jews have been attacked, they have been made pariahs. In order to be attacked, they have to be put beyond the pale.

It would be wrong to overstate the comparison: This is not the 1930s. Nevertheless, it is necessary, now, to remind ourselves how the seeds of violence are sown, and the tacit indifference that allows them to grow. The threat of violence at Stanford is a symptom of a larger assault, spearheaded by groups like Students for Justice in Palestine, of which Daoud was an active member. This broader movement’s Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel betrays a prejudicial and sinister logic. It is tempting to dismiss BDS and its allied efforts as mere hot air, far-left radicals frolicking in their playpen of demagoguery. But that misses the point.

The overriding objective of BDS is to brand one country and one people as uniquely evil. The whole point of the BDS campaign is to delegitimize the planet’s single Jewish state — and thus turn a new generation of future American leaders against Israel. It aims to put Israel outside of the global community of shared humanity and solidarity.

It’s time for universities across the country and all those committed to common decency to join together in opposing the immoral and dangerous BDS movement. 

Of course, it is absurd that Israel, the country that brought democracy, free press, independent judiciary, academic freedom, and women’s rights to the Middle East, is the one that stands vilified and accused. But just because the accusation is Orwellian does not diminish its danger.

It is worth remembering that Daoud does not retract portraying Israel as a colonial state. And not just colonial, but ethno-supremacist. Everyone agrees ethno-supremacism and colonialism are evil and their eradication is a positive good. To place Israel in that category is to make the destruction of Israel and harm to its supporters an act of righteous justice. Violence is not only threatened. It is legitimized.

Daoud’s post is a demonstration of how insidious the BDS campaign and its rhetorical tropes against Israel have been. This is not hot air. This is a vicious movement to demonize Israel and to establish the psychological basis for hatred and violence against Jewish students.

It’s time for universities across the country and all those committed to common decency to join together in opposing the immoral and dangerous BDS movement. Punches in the face may start with the Jews, but they never end with them. If we do not act now, it is our most cherished values and ideals that will come under assault. The news from Stanford is that they already have.

Dov Greenberg — Rabbi Dov Greenberg is the executive director of the Rohr Chabad House, a Jewish Center at Stanford University.

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Origins of Progressive Agony

What has transformed the Democratic party into an anguished progressive movement that incorporates the tactics of the street, embraces maenadism, reverts to Sixties carnival barking, and is radicalized by a new young socialist movement? Even party chairman Tom Perez concedes that there are “no moderate ... Read More
Elections

How Will the Senate Races Break?

How will the Senate races break? We have less public polling to go on than in recent years, so answering that question is harder than ever. But the news is more optimistic for Republicans than it was a month ago.   Waves and Breakers Four years ago, I projected in mid September that if “historical ... Read More
PC Culture

Warren Is a Fraud

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has been telling a story for years. It’s a deeply romantic story about her parents and their young love, fraught with the familial bigotry of an earlier time. Here’s how she told it this week in a video she released in preparation for her 2020 run: My daddy always said he ... Read More
U.S.

Two Minnesota Republican Candidates Assaulted

Two Republican candidates for state office in Minnesota have been physically assaulted in recent days, leading prominent Republican lawmakers to caution their Democratic colleagues against employing inflammatory rhetoric. Republican state representative Sarah Anderson was punched in the arm last week after ... Read More
Law & the Courts

A Christian Man Receives Justice

A good man’s legal ordeal is at an end. Yesterday, my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom announced that former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran had reached a $1.2 million settlement, ending a case he brought after the city fired him for writing -- and distributing to a select few ... Read More