Why Israel is the one thing you can’t protest against in Western universities — RT World News

A crackdown on pro-Palestine protests on campus may make college students hate the institution again

It seems that the American university masses did not care much when the country was implementing authoritarian green policies under the elusive pretext of reducing the temperature of the planet. Or when universities banned right-wing speakers. Or when everyone was forced to comply with their “revolution” over the use of personal pronouns. Or when fellow unvaccinated students were banned from campus during the COVID-19 crisis. But now that the Western establishment, from North America to Europe, is cracking down on campus protesters demonstrating against Israel's ongoing bombing of civilians in Gaza, they are suddenly wondering where all their rights have gone.

If those who now resent campus crackdowns took the trouble to help expand the Overton window—that is, the scope of acceptable speech and debate—when others who disagreed with them were trying to open it as wide as possible, they would reap the benefits of true freedom of expression. now. Instead, the institution has enjoyed a culture of impunity, enabled by its woke mobilization and its constant demands for safe spaces. Now the government and universities have unilaterally decided that Israel is the one that needs a safe space and protection from university students.

To this end, the US Congress has just passed a new law invoice Expanding the definition of anti-Semitism on campuses to include “Targeting the State of Israel, which is perceived as a Jewish group.” What about another law that prohibits criticism of Iran because it is a group of Muslims? Or from Russia because it is a gathering of Orthodox Christians? Or from China because it is a collective of Buddhists? This cannot be had, because it would enable the state in question to act with carte blanche with impunity by intimidating critics into silence.

Not only is the establishment using force to suppress protesters, it is now enacting formal legislation against dissent, although… 55% of Americans oppose Israel's actions in Gaza, according to a March Gallup poll. Not even the Israeli establishment Going The suppression of dissent reached this point when, just a few days ago, thousands of Israelis rallied across the country in opposition to the government's handling of the crisis and in favor of a ceasefire. Are they just a bunch of anti-Semites too?

The Western establishment's continued reduction to absurdity, which conflates pro-ceasefire activism with anti-genocide and anti-Semitism, is precisely the kind of thing the Western establishment has been doing for years to undermine its own agenda. Don't like blowing cash on Ukraine? So you are carrying out the Kremlin's orders. Do you oppose carbon taxes? You are a science denier. Haven't you bought into the ever-changing Covid narrative? You are a danger to society.

While the American establishment pretends to be scandalized by the pioneering concept of college students vigorously protesting injustice, much of the focus in Europe has been on one particular campus – Sciences Po – where I taught in the master's program for seven years. It's basically the French equivalent of Harvard.

Initially, the students confronted French riot police and refused to budge when authorities repeatedly threatened to use force if the students did not act as they blocked off the campus with a sit-in to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. Some students ended up facing disciplinary action as a result. the students She was also demanding The university severed all ties with entities associated with the State of Israel, which the administration refused to do. There was no campus Uprisings Against Russia amid the conflict in Ukraine, yet these same universities, including Sciences Po, did not hesitate to sever their ties with Russian universities. So why not be with Israel? Because this is simply not the establishment's position, unlike what happened in Russia. The lofty values ​​of these institutions “Universalism, humanity and tolerance” As the director of the Strasbourg Institute of Science said, it appears to be imposed selectively. Kind of like free speech on college campuses these days.

Even as the Political Science Foundation dropped disciplinary measures against protesting students in exchange for students agreeing to attend a formal debate on campus to air grievances on all sides, at least one member of the center-right establishment emerged, former Vice President Nikola. Sarkozy's party, the Republicans, were furious at the mere thought of this possibility. “We cannot fund a school that has become a place of entry, a mixture of leftism and Islamism, that legitimizes anti-Semitic statements and acts of violence.” François-Xavier Bellamy He said. Bellamy's fellow Republican, Valérie Pécresse, president of the Greater Paris region, has directly suspended her funding of the university.

The end result of this institutional oversight is to provide a safe space that protects the institution's speech and ideas from criticism. We are talking here about the best university for educating future political elites in France, so you might think it would be a good idea for students to be battle-hardened in the arena of debate and contentious political conflict. Instead, these soft-scholastic elites want to protect their narrative at the expense of the most important kind of diversity—critical thought.

Even French President Emmanuel Macron recently did so Repeat Students' concerns in denouncing Israeli actions. “Deep indignation at the images reaching us from Gaza where Israeli soldiers target civilians.” Macron said on X (formerly Twitter). He added: “I express my strong rejection of these footage and demand truth, justice and respect for international law.”

Earlier this year, Macron said that a two-state solution that recognizes a Palestinian state is not taboo for France. Not that he actually took any actual leadership action on this front. Sciences Po is not the only French university that has sparked controversy over this issue. Police cleared a pro-Palestinian camp this week at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Why couldn't they pretend they were one of the migrant camps along the Seine that have plagued other parts of the city for years on end? These immigrants are certainly not big fans of Israel either. So why do they stay and close the city?

When the conference of the leader of the left-wing France Insoumise party, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, on Palestine at the University of Lille was canceled last month, he compared the university president to the Nazi Adolf Eichmann, who became famous He said He was just following orders. The French Minister of Education said that she would file a criminal complaint for public harm in support of the university president and on behalf of the government. A way to prove Mélenchon wrong and dispel any notion of a heavy state in his reference to Eichmann.

The Western establishment supports free speech and democratic values ​​– as long as you find yourself on the same side as those who have the power to redefine these values ​​at any moment to suit their agenda on any given issue. The real revolution will be when this is no longer the case. Until then, episodes like the current chaos on campus will only offer glimpses of this hypocritical reality with the facade of freedom temporarily cracked.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of RT.

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