Anti-Semitism Should Not be Part of the American College Experience

Most Americans have been shocked by recent images of violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic protests on college campuses. Jewish students at America’s top universities, including Columbia, NYU, and MIT, are being physically attacked and intimidated. Jewish students are fleeing Columbia University because campus police cannot guarantee their safety.

How can this happen in America in 2024? Why are we seeing the return of the vile prejudices and hatreds of the 1930s at our leading universities? Who is responsible for this?

The leadership of America’s colleges and universities bears most of the blame.

Many of these student protesters are not high-minded crusaders for justice but lazy, ill-informed morons who know little about Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East. They are also cowards who are hiding behind masks because they don’t want their anti-Semitic and anti-Israel radicalism to prevent them from getting high-paid jobs in corporations and law firms. These student protesters are afraid that heroic organizations like Canary Mission will put their names and faces on mobile billboards and list them in databases to hold them accountable for their hateful extremism.

Anti-Israel/anti-Semitic professors are the source of much of the violent protests and are egging them on. On Monday, hundreds of Columbia University faculty members staged a walkout to protest the school’s decision to have police arrest student protesters. Also in New York City, police blamed faculty and professional agitators for causing heated standoffs after university officials asked the police to remove a protest encampment and arrest 120 protesters, according to the New York Daily News.

One has to ask: if these student protesters are actually demonstrating for justice and peace, why didn’t they begin their protests on October 7, 2023, after Hamas terrorists waged the deadliest attack on Jews since the Holocaust—slaughtering babies, raping women, burning whole families alive, and taking hundreds of innocent Israelis hostage? More than 1,200 Israelis were killed. The Hamas terrorists also took about 240 hostages and imprisoned them in tunnels in Gaza. Israel believes about 100 of these hostages are still alive.

Where’s the outrage on college campuses over the rapes, murder, and brutality committed against innocent civilians in Israel on October 7? Where are the demands that Hamas immediately free its hostages?

It is important to recognize that the recent outburst of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel hatred on college campuses were not spontaneous or organic events. There are clear signs—such as students setting up dozens of identical tents at Columbia—that these protests were organized and well-funded by radical leftist organizations. Journalist Ira Stoll claims in an April 25, 2025, Wall Street Journal op-ed that some of the student anti-Israel protesters have been paid with funds from Rockefeller and Soros Foundation grants.

But even more important, U.S. college and university leadership are directly responsible for the outbreak of violence and hatred on their campuses because, for years, they have incubated and tolerated extreme left-wing ideologies that led to the current anti-Semitic and anti-Israel protests.

Our colleges and universities have been taken over by far-left professors who have imposed radical and divisive concepts like cultural Marxism, intersectionality, “diversity equity, and inclusion,” and hatred of America into the curriculum.

A 2023 survey found that 50% of professors identify as liberal, 17% as moderate, and 26% as conservative, with 58% of conservative professors self-censoring themselves for fear of retribution if they express thoughts that go against their schools’ reigning far-left ideology.

This has turned colleges into hotbeds of far-left and intolerant extremism. A conservative University of Iowa student recently told a congressional committee that “students who hold opposing views are often subjected to frequent, violent threats and other forms of harassment with no accountability.” Conservative speakers on campus are unwelcome and routinely canceled or shouted down. Conservative students are forced to pretend to support their professor’s far-left views to get good grades and avoid being harassed by other students.

Major universities have long tolerated professors who hold and teach far-left, hateful ideologies. These include professors who enthusiastically praised the genocidal Hamas attacks against Israel on October 7, 2023. Some examples:

  • Columbia University Professor Joseph Massad called the October 7 Hamas attack “awesome” and a “stunning victory of the Palestinian resistance.”
  • Cornell University Professor Russell Rickford called the Hamas terrorist attack “exhilarating” and “energizing.”
  • Yale University Professor Zareena Grewal said after the October 7 terrorist attack, “My heart is in my throat. Prayers for Palestinians. Israel is a murderous, genocidal settler state and Palestinians have every right to resist through armed struggle, solidarity.”

On the other hand, conservative professors who spoke out against the October 7 terrorist attack or criticized the recent protests have been ostracized.

  • Columbia University Professor Shai Davidai, an assistant professor at Columbia Business School, recently was barred from campus because of his outspoken criticism of the student protesters.
  • University of Southern California Professor John Strauss was suspended last October after he said about the Hamas terrorists who committed the October 7 attack, “Hamas are murderers. That’s all they are. Every one should be killed, and I hope they all are killed.”

Aggressive efforts are needed now to protect Jewish students on college campuses. There must be no tolerance for violent anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations by college administrators or local, state, and federal officials. The National Guard must be sent in to break up these demonstrations when they turn violent or threaten Jewish students. Violent student demonstrators and those who threaten Jewish students must be expelled and prosecuted. Foreign students who engage in violent protests or threaten Jewish students should have their student visas pulled and deported. Radical professors who promote anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate should be fired immediately.

But these are short-term fixes. Intolerance and violence on campus, like the current anti-Israel and anti-Jewish demonstrations, will continue and grow until there are fundamental changes to banish the radical and intolerant radical ideologies that cause them. This will be a huge undertaking that will require major initiatives to reform college curriculums and culture—including hiring moderate and conservative professors—that college administrators and faculty will fiercely resist.

Parents and potential students should boycott colleges and universities that refuse to implement reforms to deradicalize or condone intolerance, anti-Semitism, and anti-American ideologies. If a school employs anti-Semitic radical professors like Joseph Massad, Russell Rickford, or Zareena Grewal, college seniors should apply elsewhere.

Donors to schools that refuse to reform should redirect their donations to other schools committed to providing students with a meaningful education and teaching about character, citizenship, and freedom. (Some good examples: Hillsdale College, Liberty University, New College of Florida, Brigham Young University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, College of the Ozarks, Pepperdine University, and Grove City College.) Federal tax dollars should be cut off from colleges and universities that promote radical-left ideologies, intolerance, and hate.

I don’t see any prospect right now of forcing America’s colleges and universities to implement much-needed reforms to deradicalize and end anti-Semitism and left-wing radicalism. But this may change next January if there is a new president in the White House.

Fred Fleitz is vice-chair of the America First Policy Institute Center for American Security. He previously served as National Security Council chief of staff, CIA analyst, and a House Intelligence Committee staff member.

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Photo: People draped in Israeli flags watch as pro-Palestinian protesters create a human chain around an encampment set up at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 25, 2024. College campuses across the US braced for fresh protests by pro-Palestinian students, extending a week of increasingly confrontational standoffs with police, mass arrests and accusations of anti-Semitism. (Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP) (Photo by JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP via Getty Images)