The Student Demonstrators Are Ignorant of History

The Student Demonstrators Are Ignorant of History


Leonard Zwelling

There’s a new idea in the zeitgeist. It is that the student demonstrators promoting a Middle East strategy that is characterized by the concept that the Arabs should control the land “from the river to the sea” are really ahead of the rest of us in promoting an Arab takeover of Israel. Apparently some adults think the students have their finger on the pulse of the American culture.

To say this idea is ludicrous is to give it too much credit.

The demonstrators and their supporters  need a history lesson badly.

The current conflict in the area known as Palestine (it’s never been a country) began after WWI when the British won control of the area from the Ottoman Turks. At that time, there were more Arabs on the land than Jews, but there were some Jews. Going back a few thousand years there were many Jews there, but since the Second Temple fell in 70 CE the Jews have been dispersed across the globe even as a rebellion against Rome shortly after the Temple fell was unsuccessful. Even so, Jews have been in the land for about 3500 years.

The game changed after WWI. As early as the 1936 Arab Rebellion (you never heard of that, have you?) the British offered land to the Arabs for their own country. That offer was rejected. Many offers over the years, one as recent as 2000, have been rejected by the Palestinian Arabs. In essence, if the Arabs cannot have all the land and evict the Jews from Israel (the goal of Hamas), they will not negotiate.

As Tom Freidman points out, between every Middle East war, during the lull, the Jews grew their land and the Arabs did nothing. If they built anything, it was tunnels and weapons. Israel used the peace to flourish. The Arabs used the peace to fester.

It is one of the Arab products of this behavior, Hamas, that these demonstrators are supporting. They set up tents in the middle of a college campus. They intimidate Jewish students. They have stopped the normal functioning of the universities and ended classes. One commencement, at USC, has been cancelled. More cancellations are likely. So, the high school class of 2020, that had no graduation ceremonies due to Covid, may be denied ceremonies again by the Hamas-loving protestors.

Now what do these demonstrators really want?

It seems they want the universities to divest any funds that have been invested in firms with connections to Israel. Where does it say that transient members of the university community (students) get to decide the financial decisions of the leadership?

It also seems that these students are being egged on by faculty members who promote pro-Palestinian ideas in their classrooms.

Finally, there is some question as to whether the students are getting aid and comfort from outside parties with no connections to the universities.

So here is an idea.

Ask the students and other demonstrators to move their protests outside the gates of the school because the business of the school is education not demonstrations. They are trespassing and interfering with normal operations. The demonstrations have sufficiently cowed Jewish students and have disrupted university life for everyone. That way classes, final exams and commencements can proceed as planned.

Next, if faculty members want to teach politics that are not on the curriculum, encourage them in the strongest terms to do so at another school if they are able to find employment. I understand tenure. I had it myself once. Tenure cannot be a license to foment radicalism.

Then, if the students and faculty won’t leave after abundant warnings, use whatever force is necessary to remove them and clear the quad for the students who want to learn.

Students should be arrested and booked for trespassing and disorderly conduct. Each should pay a fine and be notified that they can either return to class or be arrested again. If the latter occurs, they will be expelled.

This leniency should only apply to demonstrators with student ID cards. If anyone is arrested without a faculty or student ID, he or she should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Arrested faculty also should be given another chance after an arrest record has been created. If they do it again, fire them. If they have tenure, send them home. Revoke their privileges to be on campus and take away their parking and library cards.

A university is supposed to be preparing the next generation of successful Americans. Protesting for a murderous group of thugs from Gaza is not a part of the curriculum.

There can always be a debate about what happened after October 7 and whether or not the Israelis could have conducted themselves with less violence. But remember how you felt about Al Qaeda after 9/11. That’s how Israeli’s felt about Hamas after 10/7. We went to war. They went to war. Who are we to judge them when 1200 of their people were murdered and over 200 kidnapped and still not all accounted for.

These demonstrators do not have their eyes on the future. They know nothing of Middle East history or the history of the Jewish people. In essence, they are ignorant and they have disrupted the education of many of their fellow students who want to go to class.

I agree with the Republicans in the House who are calling for the resignation of the Columbia president. Get control of your campus. Get back to educating and doing research. Besides, at least in the 1960s the cause of the protests was just—civil rights or stopping American involvement in Vietnam. This cause is not.

The country already thinks that academia is egg-headed, left wing, and privileged. The country may be right. If these institutions of higher learning want the continued support of the American people let alone their outrageous tuition prices, they better be model places of learning. As of now, Columbia, Yale, UT Austin and others are anything but.

Get back to doing what you’re good at and politics isn’t it.

If you want to know why Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton, look no farther than the quad at Columbia.

4 thoughts on “The Student Demonstrators Are Ignorant of History”

  1. Thanks for such a clear history reminder and also such a clear demand that universities get back to education and get politics OFF the campuses. The 1960s taught us that campus riots, demonstrations and bombings often hurt or kill the innocent. We need to get order and get back to learning what the next generation will need to work and lead.

    1. Leonard Zwelling

      I fear that this generation of college presidents are like Mr. Loopner, Gilda Radner’s father on the SNL skit. Born without a spine. Duke seems to be doing pretty well so far. Let’s hope it holds.

      At Columbia the Pres gave the demonstrators a 2 PM deadline to clear the quad. They didn’t. Nothing happened. If you cannot make good on your threats, resign.

  2. Andrew Zwelling

    Gen-Z should be embarrassed for themselves. This is just shameful in every way possible. As a wise man once told me…”every Jewish holiday is the same…they tried to kill us, we won…LET’s EAT!”

    We will be feasting soon for our victory against this anti-sematic oppression.

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