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David Horowitz, whose Freedom Center is the publisher of Cravatts’ book, was perfectly correct when he described the
“dirty little secret of American higher education: on campuses across the country pro-terror groups stage political demonstrations that have the tone and content of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies every single day. Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred are not only tolerated in our universities, they are in vogue. The campus environment today recalls that of Germany in the 1930s when Hitler was laying the groundwork for the Holocaust…Muslim students are allowed to intimidate Jewish students. They are allowed to bring Islamist preachers of hate onto campuses with the most unapologetically vile messages.” (email correspondence).
And they will, of course, heckle, disrupt and threaten pro-Israel or conservative speakers, such as Horowitz himself, or more recently the director of Former Muslims United and founder of Arabs for Israel, Nonie Darwish, whose lecture at the University of Mexico on February 23 of this year was shouted down by a pack of Arab students. Darwish, who has praised “the good will and decency of Israel,” commented, aptly: “Welcome to the West Bank and Gaza culture on our university campuses.”
Reluctant to intervene and prevent the creation of an atmosphere of intimidation against their Jewish students, university officials have contributed to the establishment of a hostile milieu—one that may well infringe on civil rights law. This must change or the sequel does not bear considering. But it will be an uphill battle that requires vigilance, courage and staying power. One must see that a gluttonous and possibly insatiable appetite for Jew-hatred has come over the modern academy. The spectacle it exhibits of unabashed relish, if not voracity, in gorging on lies and calumnies at Israel’s expense is enough to turn one’s stomach and put one off higher education entirely, at least as it is practiced in the socioliberal departments of our compromised universities. Professing to be disinterested and impartial, they feed on demonizing Israel and its supporters, rewriting history, benumbing their wards, legitimizing the consumption of misinformation, and making Israel-and-Jew hatred respectable. “The danger of [these] seemingly respectable works of scholarship,” Cravatts warns, “is that their views and ideology are thereby more likely to help shape future views of students and other opinion leaders.”
Thus, camouflaged as nonpartisan political criticism and protected by the slogan of “academic freedom,” the same old “themes of Jew-hatred are now conveniently channeled through the Jew of nations, Israel.” The rallying cry of academic freedom has gradually become a serviceable sobriquet for an academic inquisition. At the same time, the Israel-haters, employing “academic freedom” to “proclaim whatever slander and accusation they wish against the Jewish state,” do not, as we have seen, grant the same privilege or right of “academic freedom” to their opponents, whom they accuse of stifling free speech when it is used in rebuttal or dissent. “The habit is convenient because it means that…history and facts can be overlooked” without having “to engage in dialogue.” The intent of the anti-Zionist Left—administrators, faculty and students—is to turn an open discussion into a closed monologue.
“What were once well-intentioned and vital components of the university system,” Cravatts continues, “such as an emphasis on academic freedom… and an embracing multiculturalism, have become twisted and sometimes barely recognizable versions of their former selves.” This has led to the sedimenting of a baneful ideology which, he reiterates, has embraced the false narrative of the Palestinians as a contemporary version of black South Africans under apartheid rule and Israel as a “Nazi-like, genocidal and racist” state, a fraud that has “resonated in the halls of academe” and is nothing other than “a complete inversion of fact.” It is also a “moral inversion” that has “stifled and retarded” unfettered inquiry, “sacrificing one of the core values for which the university exists.” He notes the total absence of “moral self-examination of these Islamic voices calling for the suppression of free speech and a contempt for religious and civil rights in the rest of the world” while they themselves call for “jihad, beheadings and deaths” for citizens in the West, particularly Israelis, who offend their sensitivities.
Cravatts is not calling for a repudiation of the academy, but merely for fair debate, for candor and scrupulousness, and for the belated recognition that faculties central to our humanity—faculties both mental and administrative—will be seriously jeopardized by the coarse and arrogant hospitality for anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli compulsions. The desolation that has demonstrably befallen the academic world—the “moral dead zones where faculty do little more than indulge their basest political biases” (to quote author Michael Ross), the rupture in the fabric of memory, the intellectual disarray and pedagogic fecklessness that typify its current state of being—can be countered and repaired only by candid discussion and the recovery, hope against hope, of the spirit of integrity in individual teachers sprinkled here and there across the contemporary academic moonscape. For the university Left, Cravatts writes, has violated two “fundamental principles of higher education: academic responsibility and a fervent commitment to actual scholarship… With great regularity, academic imbecility and fraudulent scholarship has been substituted for reasoned inquiry.”
A maxim suggests itself: The liberal university’s attitude to Israel constitutes nothing less than the litmus test of its viability as a potentially noble and transmissive institution. Its relation to Israel functions either as a stepping stone or a stumbling block regarding academic reputability—regrettably, the latter is largely the case. “The embrace of the cause of Israel’s destruction by so many celebrity professors today,” writes political columnist and Harvard graduate Caroline Glick, one of Cravatts’ sources, “is part and parcel of the destruction of the US higher education system.” Cravatts patently agrees, concluding that the university narrative about Israel must be “reframed.” Failing such rehabilitation, our universities will become no less epistemologically suspect than their counterparts in the Islamic world, as Harvard, Georgetown and Yale aspire to the condition of Al-Azhar in Cairo, Al-Quds in Abu Dis and Benadir University in Mogadishu.
It always comes as a relief to read a writer who is morally honorable, whose claims are backed by discernible evidence, whose prose is both accessible and limpid, and whose methodology is rational, coherent and conscientious. Richard Cravatts is one of this rare breed of scholars who must be taken seriously and who are thankfully not yet extinct. Genocidal Liberalism: The University’s Jihad Against Israel & Jews makes for indispensable reading. It shows how the so-called “liberal” university has become the Ground Zero of intellectual ruination, its professoriate invidiously programming its students with a left-wing, statist agenda, a misplaced tolerance for radical Islamic thought and practice and an unseemly eagerness for its natural correlate, anti-Jewish and anti-Israel execration. Far from being the bulwark and harbinger of liberal civilization, the university seems more than willing to compromise its central purpose which, in the words of Matthew Arnold from Culture and Anarchy, is “getting to know, on all the matters which most concern us, the best which has been thought and said in the world; and through this knowledge, turning a stream of fresh and free thought upon our stock notions and habits.” But in our sluices of learning, the “stream of fresh and free thought” has turned into a river of sludge and sewage.
Cravatts’ concluding recommendations all make perfect sense, but it will be a Herculean task to get them implemented—whether exposing the cult of “Palestinianism” for the conceptual sham that it is, differentiating between legitimate criticism of Israel and thinly-disguised antisemitism, holding craven college administrators to a firm moral stand, preventing the abuse of academic freedom, cleaning up the Augean stables of Middle East Studies programs, and other such sensible requisites. He acknowledges that reclamation will be difficult, “fraught with challenges and requiring constant efforts to change long-held beliefs and deep-set emotional attitudes, but it is imperative that the task be undertaken.” For it would be “morally dangerous” to permit the present situation to fester. The university must be made “accountable for its teaching and programs which deal with the Middle East, and Israel particularly.” It should not be allowed to continue vilifying a nation “for no other reason than it happens to be lived in by Jews.”
And it cannot be allowed to pursue its trajectory back into the 1930s.
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