Ron Unz on shutting down the Gaza protests

Ron Unz on the unprecedented attempts to shut down the Gaza protests:

Israel/Gaza: The Masks Come Off in American Society,

Three years earlier, a lifelong career criminal named George Floyd had died of a drug overdose while in police custody, and a single, highly-misleading video of his last moments had provoked the greatest wave of American public protests since the late 1960s. So it was hardly surprising that the widespread dissemination of hundreds or thousands of videos showing dead and mutilated Gazan children inspired a powerful protest movement. But this time, instead of being praised for their humanitarian commitment, those students—and the university administrators who allowed their protests—were ferociously attacked and punished as I described at the time:

With graphic images of devastated Gaza neighborhoods and dead Palestinian children so widespread on Twitter and other social media outlets, polls have revealed that a majority of younger Americans now favor Hamas and the Palestinians in their ongoing struggle with Israel. This is a shocking reversal from the views of their parents, which had been shaped by generations of overwhelmingly pro-Israel material across broadcast television, films, and print publications, and such trends are only likely to continue now that Israel is being prosecuted in the International Court of Justice by South Africa and 22 other nations, accused of committing genocide in Gaza.

As a consequence of these strong youthful sentiments, anti-Israel demonstrations have erupted at many of our universities, outraging numerous pro-Israel billionaire donors. Almost immediately, some of the latter launched a harsh retaliatory campaign, with many corporate leaders declaring that they would permanently blacklist from future employment opportunities any college students publicly supporting the Palestinian cause, underscoring these threats with a widespread “doxxing” campaign at Harvard and other elite colleges.

A few weeks ago, our uniformly pro-Israel elected officials entered the fray, calling the presidents of several of our most elite colleges—Harvard, Penn, and MIT—to testify before them regarding alleged “antisemitism” on their campuses. Members of Congress severely brow-beat these officials for permitting anti-Israel activities, even ignorantly and absurdly accusing them of allowing public calls for “Jewish genocide” on their campuses.

The responses of these college leaders emphasized their support for freedom of political speech but were deemed so unsatisfactory by pro-Israel donors and their mainstream media allies that enormous pressure was exerted to remove them. Within days, the Penn president and her supportive Board chairman had been forced to resign, and soon afterward Harvard’s first black president suffered the same fate, as pro-Israel groups released evidence of her widespread academic plagiarism to drive her from office.

I am unaware of any previous case in which the president of an elite American college had been so rapidly removed from office for ideological reasons and two successive examples within just a few weeks seems an absolutely unprecedented development, having enormous implications for academic freedom.

I’d think that most of these students were absolutely stunned at such reactions. For decades, they and their predecessors had freely protested on a wide range of political causes without ever encountering even a sliver of such vicious retaliation, let alone an organized campaign that quickly forced the resignation of two of the Ivy League presidents who had allowed their protests. Some of their student organizations were immediately banned and the future careers of the protesters were harshly threatened, but the horrifying images from Gaza continued to reach their smartphones. As Jonathan Greenblatt of the ADL had previously explained in a leaked phone call, “We have a major TikTok problem.”

Indeed, the Israelis continued to generate an avalanche of gripping content for those videos. Mobs of Israeli activists regularly blocked the passage of food-trucks, and within a few weeks, senior UN officials declared that more than a million Gazans were on the verge of a deadly famine. When the desperate, starving Gazans swarmed one of those few food delivery convoys allowed through, the Israeli military shot and killed more than 100 of them in the “Flour Massacre” and this was later repeated. All these horrific scenes of death and deliberate starvation were broadcast worldwide on social media, with some of the worst examples coming from the accounts of gleeful Israeli soldiers, such as their video of the corpse of a Palestinian child being eaten by a starving dog. Another image showed the remains of a bound Palestinian prisoner who had been crushed flat while still alive by an Israeli tank. According to a European human rights organization, the Israelis had regularly used bulldozers to bury alive large numbers of Palestinians. UN officials reported finding mass graves near several hospitals, with the victims found bound and stripped, shot execution-style. As Internet provocateur Andrew Anglin has pointed out, the behavior of the Israeli Jews does not seem merely evil but “cartoonishly evil,” with all their blatant crimes seeming to be based upon the script of some over-the-top propaganda-film but instead actually taking place in real life.

Although the official Gazan death-toll reported in our media has remained relatively constant in recent weeks, this is almost certainly an illusion. [See May 7, 2024 Mondoweiss: “Hundreds of Palestinian bodies recovered from mass graves in Gaza.”] During the first month or two of the massive Israeli attack, the Gazan Public Health Ministry had maintained very detailed rosters of the dead, including the names, ages, and ID codes of the victims, and regularly released updates of the total, so those numbers seemed absolutely solid. But the Israeli assault soon targeted all of Gaza’s government offices and hospitals, and by early December, the Gazan officials responsible for tabulating the dead had themselves been killed or gone missing, so the count naturally tended to stagnate, even as conditions horrifically worsened for the surviving Gazans.

After less than three months of the Israeli slaughter, some 22,000 Gazans had officially been reported dead, but now after more than seven months of starvation and continuing attacks, including the destruction of all of Gaza’s hospitals and medical facilities, the official body-count reported in our media has only increased to around 34,000, which seems highly implausible. In early March, progressive icon Ralph Nader focused attention on that point, noting that Gazan fatalities must surely be massively under-reported, and he speculated that the true number of fatalities might have already reached 200,000. Although that total seemed quite high to me at the time, Nader’s figure usefully emphasized the absurdly low numbers regularly quoted in the media.

A recent front-page story in the New York Times reported the tragic case of a particular Palestinian-American pharmacist living in New Jersey, who had personally lost 200 relatives killed in Gaza, including his parents and siblings. That single datapoint indicated the magnitude of the possible media under-count after seven months of horror, and Prof. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia suggested something similar in a recent interview. Although solid estimates are impossible, I’d think a civilian death toll of 100,000 or even something considerably higher seems perfectly plausible at this date.

These grim developments have naturally sparked a continuing wave of student protests condemning Israel for committing these monstrous crimes and our own Biden Administration for enabling them with money and munitions. Prof. John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago is one of our highest-ranking mainstream academics, a very sober-minded scholar of the Realist School, and in an interview last week he expressed little surprise at these matters. After all, he pointed out, Israel was obviously an Apartheid-state currently committing a genocide before the eyes of the entire world so political protests on college campuses were only to be expected.

Throughout these last few months, pro-Israel partisans have regularly denounced the anti-Zionism of their opponents as antisemitic and insisted that it be suppressed. Back in February I had noted the ironic implications of their position:

This is certainly an odd situation, warranting careful analysis and explanation. The word “antisemitism” merely means criticizing or disliking Jews, and in recent years, Israel’s partisans have demanded with some success that the term should be extended to encompass anti-Zionism as well, namely hostility to the Jewish state.

But let us suppose that we concede the latter point and agree with pro-Israel activists that “anti-Zionism” is indeed a form of “antisemitism.” Over the last few months, the Israeli government has brutally slaughtered tens of thousands of helpless civilians in Gaza, committing the greatest televised massacre in the history of the world, with its top leaders using explicitly genocidal language to describe their plans for the Palestinians. Indeed, the South African government submitted a 91-page legal brief to the International Court of Justice cataloging those Israeli statements, prompting a near-unanimous ruling by the jurists that millions of Palestinians faced the prospect of genocide at Israeli hands.

These days most Westerners claim to regard genocide in a decidedly negative light. So does this not syllogistically require them to embrace and endorse “antisemitism”? Surely a visitor from Mars would be very puzzled by this strange dilemma and the philosophical and psychological contortions it seems to require.

It is rather surprising that the extremely “politically correct” ruling elites of America and the rest of the Western world are loudly cheering on the racially-exclusivist State of Israel even as it kills enormous numbers of women and children and works very hard to starve to death some two million civilians in its unprecedented genocidal rampage. After all, the far milder and more circumspect regime of Apartheid South Africa was universally condemned, boycotted, and sanctioned for merely the tiniest sliver of such misdeeds.

An important turning point may have come on April 17th when Columbia University President Minouche Shafik, herself of Egyptian origins, was raked over the coals by a Congressional Committee for permitting anti-Israel protests on her campus. Her interrogators claimed that these were “antisemitic” acts and caused some of Columbia’s Jewish students to “feel unsafe,” a dire situation that seemingly trumped both freedom of speech and academic freedom.

Shafik may or may not have agreed with those arguments, but she surely remembered that just a few months earlier her counterparts at Harvard and Penn had both been summarily purged for giving the wrong answers, and she hardly wished to share their fate. So she firmly promised to root out all such public antisemitism at her university and soon afterward 100 helmeted NYC riot police were invited onto the campus to crush the demonstrations and arrest the protesters, mostly charging the latter with “trespassing,” a rather strange accusation given that they were enrolled students on the grounds of their own campus.

This sort of harsh and immediate police crackdown seems almost unprecedented in the modern history of college political protests. Back in the 1960s, there were a few scattered cases of police being called in to arrest militant protesters who had seized and occupied administrative offices at Harvard, paraded around with firearms at Cornell, or burned down a campus building at Stanford. But I have never heard of peaceful political protesters being arrested on the grounds of their own college merely for the content of their political speech.

Although the crackdown at Columbia demanded by those members of Congress was obviously intended to quell American campus protests, it predictably had the opposite effect. Scenes of burly, helmeted riot police arresting peaceful college students on their own campus went viral on social media, inspiring a wave of similar protests at numerous other colleges across the nation, with police arrests quickly following in most locations. By latest count, some 2,300 students have now been arrested at dozens of universities.

The actions by the Georgia State Police at Emory University seemed particularly outrageous, and a Tweet containing a clip of one of those incidents has already been viewed some 1.5 million times. A 57-year-old tenured professor of Economics named Carolyn Frohlin was concerned at seeing one of her own students being wrestled to the pavement and walked towards him only to find herself brutally thrown to the ground, hogtied, and arrested by a couple of hulking officers led by a sergeant. CNN anchor Jim Acosta was utterly shocked when he reported this story.

Even worse scenes took place at UCLA as an encampment of peaceful protesters was violently attacked and beaten by a mob of pro-Israel thugs having no university connection but armed with bars, clubs, and fireworks, resulting in some serious injuries. A professor of History described her outrage as the nearby police stood aside and did nothing while UCLA students were attacked by outsiders, then arrested some 200 of the former. According to local journalists, the violent mob had been organized and paid by pro-Israel billionaire Bill Ackman.

I have never previously heard of organized mobs of outside thugs being allowed to violently assault peaceful American student protesters on their own campus, something that seems far more reminiscent of turbulent Latin American dictatorships. The closest example that comes to mind might be the notorious 1970 “Hard Hat Riot” in New York City in which hundreds of pro-Nixon construction workers battled similar numbers of anti-war protesters on the streets of lower Manhattan, an incident so infamous that it has an extensive Wikipedia page of its own.

However, a somewhat different but much closer and more recent analogy may exist. After Donald Trump launched his unexpectedly successful presidential campaign, right-wing, pro-Trump speakers invited to college campuses were regularly harassed and assaulted along with their audiences by mobs of violent antifa, with many of the latter apparently recruited and paid for the purpose.

This sort of very physical “deplatforming” was intended to ensure that their threatening ideas never reached impressionable college students and led conservatives to begin organizing their own groups such as the Proud Boys to provide physical protection. Violent clashes occurred at Berkeley and some other colleges, while similar antifa riots in DC disrupted Trump’s inauguration. From what I remember, most of the organizers and financial backers of these violent antifa groups seemed to be Jewish, so perhaps it’s not surprising that other Jewish leaders have now begun employing very similar tactics to suppress different political movements that they regard as distasteful.

Some years ago a former senior AIPAC official once boasted to a friendly journalist that if he wrote anything on a simple napkin, within 24 hours he could get signatures of 70 Senators to endorse it, and the political power of the ADL is equally formidable. Therefore it was hardly surprising that last week an overwhelming bipartisan 320-91 majority in the House passed a bill broadening the meaning of anti-Zionism and antisemitism in the anti-discrimination policies of the Department of Education by codifying the definitions used in our Civil Rights laws to classify those ideas as discriminatory.

Although I haven’t tried to read the text, the obvious intent it to force colleges to expunge such noxious activities as anti-Israel protests from their campus community or face loss of federal funds. This represents a striking attack against academic freedom as well as America’s traditional freedom of speech and thought, and may also pressure other private organizations to adopt similar policies. In a particularly ironic twist, the definition of antisemitism used in the bill clearly covers portions of the Christian Bible, so the ignorant and compromised Republican legislators have now wholeheartedly endorsed banning the Bible in a country in which 95% of the population has Christian roots.

While I doubt that we will see any arrests that would survive legal challenge, once controversial ideas are increasingly banned from all respectable venues, much of the public, perhaps even including some confused law enforcement officers, may vaguely begin to assume that they have actually become illegal.

Although it received very little media coverage, the implications of this proposed legislation are certainly dramatic. Put simply, “antisemitism” is the dislike or criticism of Jews and “Anti-Zionism” is the same thing with regard to the State of Israel. So potentially banning any criticism of Jews or Israel would certainly represent a remarkable legal development in our society.

5 replies
  1. Gerbils
    Gerbils says:

    I think I would grant Ron Unz honorary citizenship in any future post-pogrom state. Mearsheimer, Sachs and Finkelstein all screwed the pooch in my opinion.

  2. Heinrich
    Heinrich says:

    Society for “German” language announces most popular baby names.

    Berlin: 1st place Mohammed (unchanged)
    Bremen: 1st place Mohammed (moved up from 2nd place)
    Hamburg: 1st place Mohammed (moved up from 5th place)
    Hesse: 2nd place Mohammed (moved up from 3rd place)
    North Rhine-Westphalia: 2nd place Mohammed (moved up from 10th place)

    There are practically no Germanic names left on any of the lists, only those of “biblical” (i.e. Hebrew) origin.

    Politics: “A population exchange and/or Islamization is not taking place, but is a right-wing extremist conspiracy theory.”

  3. Kino of Prussia
    Kino of Prussia says:

    The Jews opened the gates to Toledo for the Moors, according to, The Sentencia-Estatuto of 1449, posted on May 9th, 2024.
    Today, the greatest danger to the world is the Jew proxy-occupation of America (to say nothing of the other formerly White nations they proxy control).
    Moreover, whatever Jews give a voice to, not only in the analog, but now digital media, should immediately be suspected of being a distraction or complimenting some other nefarious deeds they are perpetrating.
    Instead of arguing about whom we should be supporting or disavowing between Islamics or Jews, either way Whites are paying the price.
    Political refugees from the region will get a sympathetic ear from Western governments.
    This ensures White replacement and depopulation of their remaining Jew occupied lands.
    The real protests on campus should be about Jew genocide of Whites.
    Take the Jews out of the West and all the global chaos will immediately come to a halt.

  4. peter mcloughlin
    peter mcloughlin says:

    Different wars begin in different ways, future wars prognosticated in the way the protagonists wish. International events are moving towards another world war. But there is one certainty from history. It comes down to a simple syllogism: every empire eventually faces the conflict it is trying to avoid; everyone wants to avoid WWIII; therefore, that is the fate that awaits. Paradoxically, the only chance of avoiding that fate is to accept it.
    I explore this theme in my e-pamphlet, The Doomsday Syllogism.

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