How to End the Craziness on College Campuses

News & Politics

Amid anti-Semitic demonstrations on American college campuses, multiple attacks on Jews and Jewish institutions, and increased violence (especially in New York City), it’s a good time to remember group that was established to “combat anti-Semitism in the public and private sectors of life in the United States of America.” This organization “rejects all hate and illegality, and believes firmly in law and order, backs police forces and will work actively in the courts to strike down all discrimination.”  Its motto is “Never Again,” a phrase first used by survivors of the Buchenwald concentration camp upon being liberated.

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Given what is going on at college campuses around the nation, this sounds like an organization that many of us might support. Except that this is not a new organization. The above words are from the mission statement and manifesto of the Jewish Defense League in 1968. The organization was founded by Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was assassinated in 1990, and has been inactive since 2002.

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The JDL has a terrible reputation in most circles, and justifiably. What started as an organization devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and defending Jews morphed over the decades into a domestic terrorist organization. Physical violence became a first response rather than a measure of last resort. At times, the JDL would be proactively violent in order to eliminate a perceived threat rather than initiate a dialogue. The FBI identified that between 1980 and 1985, there were 15 acts of terrorism that were performed by members of the JDL.

Most of us Jews who grew up in the last decades of the 20th century looked at the JDL with disdain. We saw the organization as unnecessary. We often labeled its members as far-right extremists who were not searching for peace, but sought to express violence whenever possible. We viewed them as antithetical to having good relations with non-Jewish neighbors, and opposed to integrating patriotic Jews into American society. They were seen as crazy, violent, fanatical extremists. And let’s be clear: They were.

But their original mission was neither crazy nor extremist; it was a response to the violent and virulent Jew hatred that was pervading college campuses and society in the 1960s and early ’70s.  A hatred that is even greater today than it was 56 years ago when Kahane formed the JDL.

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Let’s be clear: I am not recommending that the JDL be reborn, or saying that violence is the answer. But we need to consider the situation we are all seeing today: College graduations being canceled, Jews being threatened and even killed (may Paul Kessler rest in peace), temples being vandalized, and a hatred of Jews that rivals anything the world has seen since Nazi Germany in the 1930s.  The terrorism that ended up being the practice of the JDL by the 1980s is not the answer, but what is?

Colleges are defying constitutional law and prohibiting Jews, pro-Israel supporters, and even the media from entering their “encampments” in public areas. Michigan is filled with people (some are even politicians) who are calling for “death to Israel, death to America.” College administrators are not allowing law enforcement to arrest these perpetrators of hate; they are not even expelling all students and firing all faculty who participate in these encampments. The rule of law has been abandoned. It is unsafe for Jews and any pro-Israel supporter, and nothing is being done about it with the exception of states like Florida and Texas.

In a topsy-turvy world where this type of persecution is allowed, what can be done? How can we stop this craziness legally, safely, and without resorting to the techniques that were ultimately utilized by the JDL?

 One simple way is the legal system, as challenging and time consuming as it is.  Attacking institutions like Columbia and USC financially is an effective way of changing their complacent behavior. The standards are clear and high in order to do this. Anyone filing a lawsuit must be a direct stakeholder and personally affected by the actions of the college. There must be “substantial disruption.” Free speech is, thank God, protected. But when these demonstrations lead to students missing classes, having graduation ceremonies canceled, and students in fear for their safety, the acts or lack of action by the university are violations of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Students and their parents pay a lot of tuition to attend a college — money that is wasted when the student is forced to have any of the above experiences.  Many law firms around the nation are taking on these cases (notably Dignity Law Group in California), and when enough legitimate suits are filed against each college, the administrations will quickly change their behavior and stop these crazy encampments and dangerous demonstrations.

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A different method is to take the lesson from Kahane, but not to go to the extreme of violence that the JDL became known for. As Joel Pollak of Breitbart News personally experienced, these encampments have been trained in how to treat “invaders.”  They use scarves to block any video footage, and link arms in a human chain, taking steps forward to force the “invader” out of their camp.  While this is unconstitutional and an invitation for violence, the response to this must be clear, legal, and safe — and lead to the encampment being disbanded and the demonstrators being arrested. And there is a way to achieve that goal.

Gather together in a group of 10 people with clear instructions. Eight should be videotaping, and two should have their phones ready to call the police. Walk into the encampment. Do not put on a mask (they are using these to cover their identities) or even speak with them. Just walk into the encampment together and force the demonstrators to act illegally.   You will be threatened by the demonstrators, and they will attempt to force you out with their linked arms. Do NOT fight back, nor engage in verbal altercation: The goal is to get them arrested while you stay safe. As soon as they link their arms sit down as a group where you are.  Do not argue or fight; just sit down and wait for them to act. The moment any of these demonstrators put a hand or foot on anyone, immediately call the police. Keep the cameras running at all times so that there is a video record of what they have done for prosecution purposes. Do not threaten to call the police, and do not even speak with them. Just sit down and force them to act illegally. We have as much right to sit in a public space as they do.  If they are too close to you (they will be) and try to put a hand or scarf in front of your camera, politely tell them that doing so is a form of assault, and if they do not immediately desist you will call the police.  Do not give a second warning, just call law enforcement.  The goal is to force them into illegal actions such as assault, and immediately have the police come.  Realize that this does potentially put you in harm’s way as some of these demonstrators are bona fide crazy, which again is a reason to stay calm and have a group.  Also, it may be a wise idea to bring backpacks of food in case they decide to just encircle you for hours.

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The most powerful thing that can physically be done to these collegiate idiots is not to get violent, but to just sit down.  They are looking for violence, but Gandhi taught us the power of calmly sitting down, being still, and forcing evil to show its true colors.  And make certain that at least two people are ready to call law enforcement.

 The JDL was useful at one point prior to becoming an organization of violence. Evil can be exposed and conflict can be resolved non-violently through the power of enforcing the law — whether it is through legal actions against the universities or through sit-downs that force demonstrators to act illegally.

These demonstrations must be stopped for the welfare of the country.  Four years ago almost to the day, a “pandemic” was announced, government actions were taken, and in the name of “safety” all too many elections became mail-in, leading to questionable electoral results. If these pro-Hamas demonstrations are not quickly and legally stopped, is it that outrageous to think that Biden and company will again say that the streets are not safe and elections should again all be through mailings?

This is not an attack only on Jews, it is an attack on our nation, democracy, and Western culture. It must be defeated now, before it grows even more and, God forbid, becomes a nail in the coffin of America.

 Never again — not just for Jews, but for all people dedicated to freedom and the truth. We are again threatened by “political extremism” and “racist militancy” as we were in 1968.  We must respond in safe and effective ways to keep Jews, Catholics (who are now being repeatedly persecuted as well), devout Christians and all people of faith safe. The values of this country cannot be allowed to be destroyed by useful idiots on college campuses.

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Never again is now. And we will only be able to keep this nation whole if we have the courage to stand up.  May we all have that courage, and be safe and sane in all our actions.

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