Demonstrators gather outside Columbia University to support the students’ “Gaza Solidarity Encampment.” (Fatih via Getty Images)

They Were Assaulted on Campus for Being Jews

At Yale, Sahar Tartak was stabbed in the eye. At Columbia, Jonathan Lederer’s Israeli flag was burned and he was hit in the face.

For a second, imagine that black students at Columbia were taunted: Go back to Africa. Or imagine that a gay student was surrounded by homophobic protesters and hit with a stick at Yale University. Or imagine if a campus imam told Muslim students that they ought to head home for Ramadan because campus public safety could not guarantee their security.

There would be relentless fury from our media and condemnation from our politicians.

Just remember the righteous—and rightful—outrage over the white supremacist “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, where neo-Nazis chanted “The Jews will not replace us.” 

This weekend at Columbia and Yale, student demonstrators did all of the above—only it was directed at Jews. They told Columbia students to “go back to Poland.” A Jewish woman at Yale was assaulted with a Palestinian flag. And an Orthodox rabbi at Columbia told students to go home for their safety.

Demonstrators on these campuses shouted more chic versions of “Jews will not replace us.” At Columbia they screamed: “Say it loud and say it clear, we don’t want no Zionists here.” At Yale they blasted bad rap with the following lyrics: 

Fuck Israel, Israel a bitch / Bitch we out here mobbin’ on some Palestine shit / Free Palestine bitch, Israel gon’ die bitch / Nigga it’s they land why you out here tryna rob it / Bullshit prophets, y’all just want the profit

These campus activists are not simply “pro-Palestine” protesters. They are people who are openly celebrating Hamas and physically intimidating identifiably Jewish students who came near. We are publishing the accounts of two of those students—Sahar Tartak and Jonathan Lederer—today.

Students—all of us—have a right to protest. We have a right to protest for dumb causes and horrible causes. At The Free Press, we will always defend that right. (See here and here, for example.)

It is not, however, a First Amendment right to physically attack another person. It is not a First Amendment right to detain another person as part of your protest. And while Americans are constitutionally protected when they say vile things, like wishing upon Jews a thousand October 7s, we are certainly free to criticize those who say them. We are also free to condemn institutions dedicated to the pursuit of truth who have abandoned that mission, and who stand by and do nothing meaningful to stop scenes like the ones of the past 48 hours.

The students who support terror have given in to madness. Refusing to condemn them is madness.

There are courageous students who see that madness clearly. Please read these essays by Jonathan Lederer and Sahar Tartak.

We’ll continue to follow this unfolding story. If you believe in the kind of journalism we do, become a paid subscriber today. — BW

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