The chairman of the largest Holocaust museum and institution in the world has some choice words for the college administrators who’re tolerating antisemitism on their campuses.
Meet Dani Dayan, the chair of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. The center boasts the largest collection of artwork produced by victims of the Holocaust.
According to an exclusive report by Fox News, this week Dayan toured the U.S. and met with the presidents, provosts, and deans of various East Coast colleges, including Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, New York University, and Queens College.
FYI, some of his previous-year visits to U.S. universities inspired antisemitic protests from pro-Palestinian activists:
We stand in solidarity with @WaterPalestine and the walkout they organized for an event called “The Legal Strategy for Israeli Settlements” by Israeli ambassador Dani Dayan. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law & we demand justice for the Palestinian community. pic.twitter.com/JS6kz0hkiR
— Harvard College YDSA (@HCYDSA) November 13, 2019
Speaking with Fox News about these visits, Dayan slammed the university leaders he met for using the First Amendment to defend their inaction in the face of so much antisemitism from their students.
“I am the last person to try to impair anyone’s, anybody’s freedom of speech, even though the freedom of speech of pro-Israel students is being greatly endangered. But I do wonder what would happen if a sociology professor or a philosophy professor developed a pseudo-academic theory justifying ‘blackface’ or a pseudo-intellectual theory that would ostracize LGBTQ people. Would it also be placed under the protection of the First Amendment?” he said.
“We all know that if any professor published such theories, he or she would be fired the following day and rightly so. On the other hand, when a professor at Columbia or Harvard or Princeton publishes a pseudo-scientific call for the elimination of Israel, there is a good chance that he or she will be promoted,” he added.
He mentioned the notion of “pseudo-academic” and “pseudo-intellectual” theories because many college professors have been spewing exactly this about Israel.
“In Ivy League colleges across the U.S. … there are groups of academics, not all of them, but important academics, especially in the humanities and social sciences, that are meticulously, stone-by-stone and step-by-step, building pseudo-academic, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-intellectual theories justifying the elimination of the Jewish state,” Dayan explained.
“Violent demonstrations with students calling ‘from the river to the sea’ or for a ‘global Intifada’ are, of course, extremely disturbing. But in some sense, these are just a symptom. With all those academic buzzwords about the ‘ethnic-nationalistic,’ ‘settler colonial,’ ‘colonization of Palestine’ and ‘apartheid,’ they are building slowly yet constantly, a pseudo-scientific truth of academic theories,” he continued.
“First it’s the demonization of Israel and then justification. After that, they are actively advocating for the elimination of the Jewish state, and that is terrible,” he concluded.
Pro-Palestinian students attending Harvard University on Wednesday walked out of a lecture by Dani Dayan, the Consul General of Israel in New York, holding signs that read “Settlements are a war crime.”#GroupPalestine#قروب_فلسطيني pic.twitter.com/RpUnM6fI2N
— Marwa Lahouimel (@MarwaLahouimel) November 14, 2019
Moving forward, Dayan hopes that university leaders/administrators can learn from the past by not repeating the mistakes of, say, the University of Heidelberg.
“The University of Heidelberg in Germany in the 1930s was no less prestigious than Harvard or Columbia. That university, together with other German institutions of higher learning, developed far-fetched, horrific and barbaric academic theories of racial inferiority of the Jews and racial supremacy,” he said.
“Universities and intellectuals are not immune from developing terrible theories to justify and advocate for atrocities … the mob that burned books written by Jews in Berlin in the 1930s were not the ignorant masses, they were the professors and the students of the elite universities of those days,” he continued.
That said, he appreciates the efforts some schools have made — namely the schools in Florida, where a radical anti-Israel group was recently banned for promoting Hamas propaganda. But he argues that these just aren’t quite enough, and that, furthermore, they aren’t being motivated by the right reason.
“They have taken measures for the wrong reasons … because of pressure from donors, but that’s not the reason why the president of a prestigious Ivy League university should take a stand against antisemitism. Such a stand should come from his inner beliefs,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, I don’t see college administrators understanding this. They only respond to provocations, and they don’t take a principled stand, rejecting antisemitism from their innermost convictions,” he added.
In a separate interview with the Jewish Insider, Dayan did have some good news to share about some of the “amazing, amazing group of young Jewish students and young Jewish leaders” he’d met on his recent visit to college campuses.
— Jewish Insider (@J_Insider) November 27, 2023
“If this is the next generation of American Jewish leadership, then we have a reason to be optimistic. But that is where I conclude the good news,” he said.
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