“It was surprising to some how many members of the faculties knuckled under to the Nazification of higher learning after 1933.” – William L. Shirer, from The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
After looking back at the destruction and horrors visited upon his native Germany during the Second World War, Prof. Julius Ebbinghaus reminisced (as recounted in William Shirer’s famous book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich): “The German universities failed, while there was still time, to oppose publicly with all their power the destruction of knowledge and of the democratic state. They failed to keep the beacon of freedom and right burning during the night of tyranny.”
Today the failure of Western academia to confront and rebuff what has become a shameless and overt (and sometimes violent) anti-Jewish hatred within the halls of our universities has inadvertently served as a malefic dynamic for all those who have jumped on the anti-Israel bandwagon. Publicly, loudly, denouncing Jews as evil Zionists is today a common expression of solidarity with the so-called Palestinian people. The presence of such an indecorous din within Canada’s education system reminds me of the revulsion felt by the German writer Friedrich Reck-Malleczwen while observing the Nazis destroying his country, which he described as “a smear by a malignant ape escaped from a leash.”
The lessons of the past can never be advantageous to those who forget the past. Mankind has become preoccupied with purifying the atmosphere above us, while the atmosphere around us is filling up with the poison of anti-Jewish hatred. Today it is perfectly acceptable to blame Zionism for every evil under the sun. The term “Zionism,” as it is applied today, obfuscates a broad spectrum of study on the subject, much of it directly related to the ancient history of the Jewish people as indigenous to the land of Israel. The BDS movement’s use of this appellation is their code for Jews (and Judaism) in general, an odium recently made fashionable at York University in Toronto, where a mural advocating Palestinian violence against Jewish citizens of Israel is resplendently displayed for public viewing. The “anti-Semite” of yesteryear is become the anti-Zionist of today.
Trotsky wrote of Romania that “anti-Semitism has established itself as a state religion…” A similar observation could be made today of Canada’s universities, where inciting and condoning violence against Israel’s Jewish population is now defiantly deemed as “freedom of expression.” This is not a new phenomenon. Shirer points out that even before the Nazis came to power in Germany, “the university professors…had given blind support to the conservative government and its expansionist aims and the lecture halls had been breeding grounds of virulent nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Weimar Republic had insisted on complete academic freedom, and the one result had been that the vast majority of university teachers, anti-liberal, anti-democratic, anti-Semite as they were, had helped undermine the democratic regime.” Replace the German nationalism of yesterday with the Palestinian nationalism of today and, mixed with the same basic Jew-hatred that was purveyed by the Nazis, you have the same detrimental mix residing here in Canada that brought down the Weimar Republic just prior to the Holocaust. Konrad Yakabuski’s recent article in the Globe and Mail in defense of the anti-Israel mural on display in York University is a perfect example of this imprudent and prejudicial support of “academic freedom.” After reporting that “campuses across North America have become scary places for many Jews as the unsubtle Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and chapters of Students Against Israeli Apartheid wage relentless campaigns that are often difficult to distinguish from anti-Semitism,” he concludes that the mural should remain in place, and that despite anti-Semitism and/or criticism of Israel, even though a source of fear and intimidation for Jewish students at York University, “That’s no reason to take it down.”
Shirer recounts that a certain German Protestant Bishop Otto Dibelius proudly declared: “I have always considered myself an anti-Semite.” Many Canadian and American professors today proudly and shamelessly proclaim their antipathy not only toward the State of Israel, but especially toward those “Zionist Jews” who choose to eke out an existence in “settlements.” Nietzsche wrote of Germans in his day that they “have no conception how vile they are.” The same can be said of many of North America’s academic elites. They are not only proud of obsessing about what they believe are the transgressions of the State of Israel, but also feel no shame in the fact that they neglect to expose and condemn simultaneously the “apartheid” practices of those Arab countries whose borders are conterminous with the State of Israel – the same countries whose leaders have publicly maligned the government of Israel for simply defending its citizens from acts of Palestinian terrorism.
In his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen writes: “The universities were still more swept along by the antisemitic wave that engulfed them and German society. During Weimar, student organizations and student bodies throughout the country showed themselves to be virulently antisemitic. In one university after the next, governing student associations were already, in the first years of the Weimar Republic, captured by nationalist, volkisch, and antisemitic forces, often by electoral majorities of two-thirds to three-quarters. Many of them, with little opposition, subsequently adopted ‘Aryan paragraphs,’ clauses that called for the exclusion of Jews or for their severe restriction, both from student organizations and from study at universities.”
Intimidating Jewish students (read Canadian citizens) with boisterous displays of BDS propaganda on behalf of Palestinian nationalism/terrorism is in Canada today the avant-garde’s method of “exclusion of Jews” from our universities; students and professors insouciantly demonizing Jewish Zionists and the State of Israel as absolutely evil is nothing but a remake of Weimar and Nazi Germany’s “prevailing cultural models about Jews,” as Goldhagen put it. We are not witnessing “academic freedom” here, but full-blown and unbridled anti-Jewish hatred, plain and simple. It is no more a crime to be an Israeli Jew today than it was to be a German Jew during the Weimar and Nazi eras, although the antisemites of yesterday and today, students and professors both, would argue to the contrary. The presence today of these antisemites in Canada’s universities has become “a smear by a malignant ape escaped from a leash.”