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The Roots of Campus Hatred

Why have noxious ideas flourished at U.S. colleges? We have some answers.

Where did all of this hatred come from?

We keep coming back to this question as we’ve tried to make sense of the world since October 7. We’ve asked it in relation to Hamas’s nihilistic worldview as well as in relation to the group’s apologists in the West. The answers we’ve offered so far involve ideology, geopolitics, education, technology, and much more

In many ways, the epicenter of so much of the hatred directed against Israel and Jews in the last month has been the college campus. Every day brings another example of this dispiriting trend. Today in The Free Press, two pieces untangle the roots of the alarming rise of campus antisemitism. 

Campus extremists need no encouragement from outside forces. But today Bari writes about a new report by the Network Contagion Research Institute, which offers a look at the actors far outside of the university campus who have poured fuel on the ideological fire. Among the report’s shocking findings is that “at least 200 American colleges and universities illegally withheld information on approximately $13 billion in undisclosed contributions from foreign regimes, many of which are authoritarian.” 

Read the full investigation and report here: 

In our second piece today, Rachel Fish delivers a reminder that Jew-hate on campus is nothing new. Her first day of orientation at Harvard Divinity School was September 11, 2001. As a student there, she exposed the fact that the university had accepted a gift from an antisemitic sheik—and campaigned for Harvard to return the money. When Harvard and the sheik cut ties, it “was celebrated in the pages of newspapers across the country as a watershed moment,” she writes. But Gulf money had already corrupted the system: “Alas, the flood had already been unleashed.” 

Rachel explains: “For decades, this money has been swirling around the Ivy League and other elite schools. While the funding in and of itself did not originate antisemitism on campus, these countries rightly understood that the campuses were a powerful vessel through which to launch into the mainstream an anti-Western worldview that was once confined to the fringe.”

Read Rachel’s piece here:

If you’re somehow still in doubt about whether what happens on campus actually matters out here in the real world, read Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott’s excellent essay on how cancel culture was born at American universities in the 1960s, bubbled up, and decades on, spilled over into our everyday lives. (And if you want more on this subject, do check out their new book, from which their piece was excerpted, The Canceling of the American Mind.)

And finally, for a much needed palate cleanser, read this brilliant piece by teenager Ben Samuels about Deep Springs College—the anti-Harvard—where, in lieu of orientation, he received a handbook with a copy of the student bylaws and instructions for treating snakebites.

On our radar . . .

→ Killed for waving an Israeli flag? Paul Kessler, a 69-year-old Jewish man, has died after sustaining injuries in an altercation at a pro-Palestinian rally in Westlake Village, near Los Angeles, according to Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. According to KABC, “the nature of the altercation remains under investigation but some reports indicate that before he fell, Kessler was struck in the head with a megaphone by an individual with the pro-Palestinian event.”

→ Is the Ukraine war at a stalemate?: Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has disputed one of his own general’s characterization of the war with Russia reaching a stalemate. Last week, General Valerii Zaluzhnyi told The Economist that “Just like in the first world war, we have reached the level of technology that puts us into a stalemate.” He added: “There will most likely be no deep and beautiful breakthrough.” 

Zelensky pushed back over the weekend. “Time has passed, people are tired. . . but this is not a stalemate,” he said. 

The stalemate talk comes at a very difficult time for Ukraine, with its counteroffensive not having yielded the results Kyiv had hoped for, and with the conflict in Israel meaning Ukraine’s allies have other priorities to weigh. Meanwhile, NBC cites senior U.S. officials as sources in a story claiming Western governments have “begun quietly talking to the Ukrainian government about what possible peace negotiations with Russia might entail to end the war.”

→ The economic consequences of the war: Will disorder in the Middle East undo the gains we’ve made in the war on inflation? Free Press–approved historian Niall Ferguson answers that question in his latest Bloomberg column. Niall argues that policymakers and markets aren’t taking the economic risks of this conflict seriously enough. And when it comes to the intersection of war and economics, Niall is worth listening to

→ Anne Frank sent back into hiding: Let’s check in on Germany, where the Anne Frank daycare center in Saxony-Anhalt wants to change its name in order to “visibly mark” a “fundamental new beginning” for the kindergarten. According to The Jerusalem Post, a think tank report on the proposal notes that “parents with migrant backgrounds feel uncertain about the name and find it challenging to explain to their children.” The report claims the change was suggested because Frank is no longer aligned with “the new focus on diversity.” 

→ Swifties gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake: Taylor Swift’s fans keep finding fresh ways of demonstrating their cultural supremacy. First it was keeping the economy afloat over the summer, then it was a hostile takeover of the NFL. Now it’s ruining the moviegoing experience for anyone unlucky enough to be in a theater next door to one showing the Eras Tour movie. 

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