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Too cowardly to stand by expressions of hate

Far-Left Activists Chant in Farsi “Death to Israel!” “Death to America!”, published on social media on April 15 2024 (Photo: Screenshot).

It’s so hard to get away with lying these days because there’s always a post, video clip, smartphone or some other form of documentation to expose the truth in just a matter of seconds.

Take the case of Columbia University President, Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, who, when asked by N.Y. Congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, if she wanted to stand behind her original statement that there have been no anti-Jewish protests on campus, given that slurs and chants, “Death to Jews” “Death to the Zionist State” and “Jews Out,” all of which have been heard at Columbia, was forced to recant. 

Also faced with the testimony of three professors, all of whom disagreed with Shafik’s contention that there have been no anti-Jewish sentiments expressed by students and other professors, with one witness stating a specific incident concerning antisemitic rhetoric, the president had no alternative but to come clean, albeit with great hesitation and discomfort.

Attempting to explain that the protests were “not labeled as anti-Jewish” events, she was immediately met with Stefanik’s strong response, reminding her that was not the question she asked. In the end, she capitulated, stating that “Anti-Jewish things were said,” constituting a change to her original testimony.

After being asked if there were antisemitic professors on Columbia’s campus, Shafik’s answer was, “I certainly hope not,” although when further pressed on the issue, she did relent that there had been evidence of such sentiments by professors. In fact, Shafik was forced to admit that there had been five cases of antisemitic professors who had either been taken out of their classrooms or dismissed.

Stefanik continued to hammer away at the obvious discrepancies in Shafik’s representations that one particular professor, Mohamed Abdou, hired on October 11th, who taught a course called, “Decolonial-Queerness and Abolition,” posted, “I’m with Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, as well as decrying reports accusing Hamas of decapitations and rapes during the October 7th massacre.

Rather than confronting Stefanik’s question as to whether or not she’d been aware of Professor Abdou’s remarks prior to hiring him, she, instead, stated her own repugnancy of his comments. Yet, when asked, Shafik squirmed a bit as she said Abdou would never work at Columbia again and had been terminated. However, when the Congresswoman tried to confirm that he was no longer working there, the president stated that he was still grading students’ papers.

Another question was posed by Michigan Congressman Tim Walberg of tenured professor, Joseph Massad, also at the center of the Columbia controversy, who described the October 7th massacre as a “resistance offensive,” calling the attack a “stunning victory,” to which Shafik responded that “he had been spoken to.” Massad, who had been serving as chair of the academic review committee, is slated to be removed.

 Shafik, originally declined to testify before Congress in December, claiming she had “scheduling conflicts.” But it’s no wonder that Columbia is presently being sued by five Jewish students, one of whom stated that she was “underwhelmed by Shafik’s testimony.” After having bulletin boards vandalized and feeling the threats accompanied by the usual “river to the sea” and “Free Palestine” chants, these students have experienced a harrowing six months as pro-Palestinian on-campus groups continue to intimidate and harass these students. 

 Just a few days ago, Squad member, Rashida Tlaib, when asked by Fox reporter Hillary Vaugn if she condemned voices in her district which cried out, “Death to America,” Tlaib skirted the question by saying that she does not talk to Fox News. Yet again, when questioning California Democratic Congresswoman, Katie Porter if she condemns the “Death to America” chant or if she’s okay with the burning of American flags, Porter, likewise, refused to respond.

In all of these cases, the individuals asked are unwilling to stand by their hiring decisions or defend the antisemitic statements or chants of those with whom they are associated, either through having employed them or through the representation of their districts. 

What is jaw-dropping, in these instances, is their inability to express any moral position or clarity as it relates to standing up for the country in which they live, work and possess citizenship. There doesn’t seem to be the least bit of allegiance or heartfelt sentiment for the American flag or the values that are shared by most who feel privileged to have been born in the U.S.A. 

Rather than show some remorse or readily admit that these statements and actions are indefensible, these academic and political leaders tend to be less than forthcoming with their answers, as in the case of President Shafik who was able to say that no anti-Jewish protests had occurred on Columbia’s campus, simply because they had not been labeled as such. What could be more dishonest?

In the case of Tlaib and Porter, their choice of handling the very direct questions of “Death to America” chants was not to respond at all. N.Y. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, better known as AOC, hid behind the statement that she was not privy to such reports. Does she really believe that anyone is buying that answer?

Silence or attempting to camouflage hatred and contempt for one’s country is not going to exempt these people from being viewed as accomplices to the betrayal of America or its Jewish community. On the contrary, their cowardice is on full display for all to watch, as we witness their complete lack of integrity, honesty and courage of conviction. Why not just admit their disdain for all things American as well as their racist hatred towards the Jewish people, if that’s truly how they feel?

But they cannot, because once they do, they will be marked with the stain of “traitor” as it becomes an out-in-the-open matter of fact. Instead, in their spineless and cowering fashion, they hope to cast ambiguity so long as they don’t cop to agreeing with the hateful words, but they are not fooling anyone.

By hoping to score points with their constituency, be they fellow academics, radical students or progressive Woke voters, they are paying a heavy price in the loss of respect and decency that they should have earned as America’s leaders. Their error is believing we haven’t noticed their deep deficiencies and lack of any moral compass. But we have, because it takes a lot of camouflage to cover up that kind of hate.

And in these cases, the very thin layer of coverage is quite transparent to just about everyone who can see through the dangerous and dishonest game of silence that they are playing.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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