Where the student intifada goes very wrong

“We are Hamas!”

You hear it on campuses and elsewhere, but mostly on campus, and it is 2024’s version of “Defund the police!” That backfired on the protesters and their movement .

Student takeover of the Columbia quad (Phot: CNN)


Let’s be clear: Americans have a right to protest anything.


Former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, acting all macho and putting on his Che beret in support of George Floyd protests that had turned violent, trying to justify the violence, said, “show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”

That wasn’t much of a challenge. Here is the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which I have helpfully highlighted: 

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

So that’s assembly. It’s lawful if peaceful, unlawful if it is not. Intifada is not. And Hamas is the worst of the worst.

Now, let’s turn to free speech.

It is free. It is not absolute.

You’ve probably heard you are not free to shout “fire!” In a crowded theater if there is no fire. You are not permitted to willfully slander, libel or defame others. You are not free to incite violence. This can lead to close calls.

Does some of the students’ speech incite violence?

When they chant “Death to Israel,” do they mean death to the 2 million Arab Israelis? Of course not. They mean death to the 7 million Jewish Israelis. And that would be genocide because the definition of genocide includes actions to wipe out an entire class of people — perhaps an ethnicity, such as when the Hutu majority tried to eliminate the Tutsi minority in Rwanda in 1994. That was genocide.

Eliminating a religious group is genocide. Hamas does that, Israel does not.

“Death to America!” is something we should not tolerate.

When the pro-Hamas supporters chant,  “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” do they know what it means?

Since Israel is located between the river (the Jordan), and the sea (the Mediterranean, the chant calls for the elimination of the Jewish state. 

And that is genocide.

When they say, “We are Hamas,” they are announcing solidarity with an organization the second paragraph of whose charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas has been condemned as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government since Oct. 8, 1997.

Its purpose is not to “free Gaza,” since Gaza has been free since Israel walked out of the seaside sliver and allowed Gaza to run itself. The first thing it did in 2006 was to elect Hamas to run Gaza, and Hamas quickly destroyed the competing Fatah party. There has not been an election since that time in Gaza. Hamas has never denounced violence and attacked Israel with rockets and missiles regularly since 2006.

No thinking person should remain passive when confronting this evil. 

Various truces and ceasefires between Israel and Hamas were signed, included the one broken by the horrific butchery of men, women, children, and even babies on Oct. 7 that resulted in what Hamas wanted — an overpowering assault to bring the murderers to justice. Hamas knew the massacre would lead to massive civilian casualties.

It wanted the casualties to give Israel a publicity black eye, and it has succeeded.

Is Hamas popular with Gazans and Palestinians on the West Bank, the proper name of which is Judea and Samaria, its Biblical names, used by the U.N.?

The answer is yes.

And  yes.

But also no.

Because of all the deaths, American support for Israel has dropped. 

When it started, most Americans believed Israel had cause to go to war, but once the bodies began piling up, Americans turned their faces away. 

A week later, a majority of Americans were against the war.

And then came the campus protests, focusing on Hamas’s lies about genocide and European colonial occupation — standard Marxist clap trap — with the hostages all but completely forgotten, along with what lit the fuse to start the war — the Oct. 7 massacre.

Many protesters cross the line from condemning actions of the Israeli government, which millions of Israelis oppose, to wider attacks on Zionism, and Israeli and American citizens. They become Palestinazis.

Zionism is the term that means the Jewish people — like almost every other group — is entitled to a national homeland, and in the place where it was first founded, almost 3,000 years ago. Jews have had an unbroken presence there from before the birth of Jesus until now. Zionism means a Jewish homeland, nothing more. (A Jewish homeland that welcomes Christian and Muslim citizens.)

American Jews are being threatened, as if they can control the actions of Israel. Many protesters cross the line between criticizing Israeli policy to attacking Jews, whether in Israel or America.

At that point the attacks turn into the anti-Semitism of threatening American Jews, who have nothing to do with Israeli political policy.

Nor do Jewish-owned businesses in the States, yet boycotts were called in Philadelphia here and here. Pure anti-Semitism.

How would you feel about attacking Iranian Americans because Iran is an enemy?

Would you be comfortable shouting “Death to Muslims”?

I doubt it. 

If the campus mobs were targeting gays, or Blacks, I can’t imagine college administrations negotiating with them. Can you? 

Jews seem to be the one minority that is treated like a majority, although on a map with Arab countries, Israel can barely be seen. Mideast Arabs outnumber Jews by 456 million to 7 million; 22 states to 1 state, yet Israel is imagined as the Goliath.

In fact, Israel’s military is the strongest in the region. It has to be, to counter the threats from its neighbors it has lived under for the  75 years it has been independent. Israel’s military prevents another Holocaust.

These are the facts most student protesters don’t know, because they have been seduced to attack a fellow liberal democracy by the deaths and destruction that made Hamas’ death wish come true.

When words turn into threats, and threats turn into violence, there is no choice but for us to turn to the police.

21 thoughts on “Where the student intifada goes very wrong”

  1. Stu – I think that this is one of your finest explanative pieces yet regarding this situation. Not that enough people will read it. It just distresses me that people don’t engage their brains before engaging their mouths or fists. The ability to think through the facts, or even research them, seems to be a lost art. They get “instant gratification” by reading or listening to some quick schlock by an “activist” on campus or elsewhere. But then again, Jews have been easy pickings for 1000’s of years. A habit is a terrible thing to waste – just ask any antisemite protestor.

  2. BTW, I think I’ll invent a new term to describe your article above and the use of the term “AI.” It will hereby forthwith be known as “Artificial Ignorance.” As in “AI” on the part of those willing to ignore or distort the First Amendment and other proven historical facts and figures. I would love to tell those that you’ve written about above: “You’re suffering from AI.”

  3. I am becoming convinced that Netanyahu used the Hamas attacks as an excuse to literally bomb the crap out of Gaza. More surgical strikes would have taken longer (as we did with ISIS in Mosul), been a bit costlier in terms of IDF soldiers, but ultimately, more effective in rooting out Hamas then the bombardment from aircraft which he initially sent in, thus turning a sympathetic world against Israel by the deaths of tens of thousands of Gaza residents. Of course they share some the blame, as you correctly point out, but not to the order of magnitude that the Netanyahu government responded.

    1. I am on record as saying Israel’s response was too heavy-handed (if somewhat understandable after the atrocity of Oct. 7) and it has cost Israel dearly in the court of public opinion, which is not too favorable to Jews, anyway.

  4. Words matter, when someone acts on those words in a violent manner. Which has not happened. Mr. Bykofsky has made previous statements about how people who are involved with these protests should be treated as terrorists in a manner that would bring a return to the Communist witch-hunts of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Even though he lived through that era he has learned nothing from it.

    He is correct that if these protests had been about a racial minority instead of Jews the universities would have handled this differently. On the other hand they are facing Federal investigations and major donors like Robert Kraft and others are stopping their donations.

    As an American Jew I find these protests disturbing and I know that they will fade away. What terrifies me is Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Christian Nationalist Movement. Trump has a history of antisemitism, including a recent statement as to how American Jews are disloyal if they don’t vote Republican. The Christian Nationalist Movement wants to turn America into a Christian nation by any means necessary. A threat to everyone who does not follow their version of Christianity. Fox News openly and gleefully promoted Pizzagate, a retelling of the highly inflammatory and highly antisemitic Jewish Blood Libel myth. It wasn’t until a heavily armed man went to Pizza Comet to free the children did they stop. These are things that Mr. Bykofksy should be afraid of.

  5. Excellent analysis that hits at the core of the problem. As many on here know, I am a staunch liberal and have been all my life. But as such, I understand the difference between right and wrong. Israel is surrounded by people who want to destroy it. That’s a fact of life. If you look at a map of the region, you will see just how tiny Israel is in comparison to the other nations that dwarf it. I will always stand with the Israeli people, but this does not mean that I stand with it’s government and the actions thereof. Netanyahoo is vilified, deservedly, by a TON of Jews both in Israel and in America. That does not make them Jew-haters, obviously. You are allowed to support both the Jewish people and innocent Palestinians while still hating Hamas and what those evil bastards stand for.

  6. Excellent and factual article, Stu. I don’t blame Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for anything,

    1. I agree with you on the article. On the other hand, I, and, according to polls, the majority of Israeli’s blame Netanyahu for everything. Last I read, 70% want an early election, before his term ends. He should have resigned after 10/7 for his egregious security failures.

      Now, he has an incentive to prolong the war, because that keeps him in office. He wants to stay in office, because otherwise he is on his way to jail. (He’s been indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery).

      Yes, most Israeli’s are in favor of the war, but, at the same time, believe Bibi is making war decisions for political instead of security reasons.

  7. Tom, speaking for myself payback is a bitch, but for Hamas long overdue regardless the politics.

    1. Heh. Payback for Netanyahu and Hamas (not that they are at all equivalents) is not mutually exclusive.

  8. What goes on there and what goes on here are entirely different. I do not support Hamas in any way shape or form, nor do I agree with the protests of the students here that are robbing not only the Jewish students trying to get an education, and graduate, but endager the rest of the universities that have to bring in Police to protect the people In our own Country. Take off the masks! Be photographed, at least when there was a war in Vietnam they had the intestinal fortitude to show up, not to hide behind garb that has nothing to do with them. If you get locked up for something that you know nothing about, you are a sheep, you will be in the system, and we will be forced to deal with you for the rest of your life. So do everybody a favor, drop out, go overseas, preferably Palestine, and get in their system. Their Politics, their way of life, is what you want, go for it. Stay here until you student loans are worked off though,(what a concept) then get off of the continent.

  9. I was sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, where the TV was set to CBS news (local). Under the picture of the protestors in tents on the U of P campus was this headline: “Penn campus protestors of Israel’s war in Gaza.” Israel’s war? These subtle (and some not-so-subtle) aspersions against Israel are being stage-managed by some really clever haters of the Jews. Very, VERY scary where this anti-Semitism seems to be heading.

    1. Hey Vince, let’s keep our powder dry, and our charges of antisemitism certain. The phrase “Israel’s war in Gaza” is kinda nutty (as opposed to someone else’s war?) and unnecessary. “War in Gaza” would suffice–“Israel-Hamas” war would be fine. It does suggest fault on Israel’s part, but we shouldn’t start trying to be too subtle and start criticizing “microaggressions” even if they are. I don’t think we should dilute the criticism of blatant antisemitism with cases of “plausible deniability.” Unfortunately, we don’t have to go looking for examples of the blatant.

      There are plenty of folks who are against Israel politically (basically on the flawed colonialism theory, and sometimes out of pure sympathy for the real hardships under which many Palestinians live), but who do not fall into the category of antisemites. Their expression of their political beliefs–which are anti-Israel–are not, in fairness, antisemitic. See, for example, Bernie Sanders’ support for a cease fire. In other words, “Israel’s war in Gaza” could easily simply be the bias of one of these folks, as opposed to your real antisemites.

      In other words, we should not make the Woke mistake of calling every policy on Israel that we disagree with “antisemitic” as they have done with “racism.” It takes the power out of the charge, and softens it even when it is most legitimate.

      We should, as Stu says, wait for them to “cross the line between criticizing Israeli policy to attacking Jews.”

  10. Has there been any sympathy for the civilian deaths of all the wars the world has seen up to now including those in Russia with this current war with Ukraine? When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, we went back at them with all our might and hundreds of thousands of civilians perished. It’s WAR……unfortunately civilians are ‘collateral damage’. Israel has done more than any nation to NOT kill civilians…to get them out of harm’s way. But none of the surrounding countries wanted any part of taking in the “Palestinians” because they’re as militant and as terroristic as the Hamas they’ve elected to represent them.

    The most cogent analogy I’ve heard since this all began was by Douglas Murray….”You can’t put out 3/4 of a fire”.

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