Alexander Hamilton Society (AHS) executive director Gabriel Scheinmann is underwhelmed by the manner in which many colleges and universities in the United States have responded to on-campus discourse following the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist organization’s attack on Israel.
Dozens of college and university student groups have held protests and expressed their support of Palestine after Hamas gunmen breached the Gaza–Israel barrier and carried out brutal killings and extensive kidnappings of Israelis. Some campus activists have issued statements blaming the Israeli side for all of the violence between Israel and Hamas. Pro-Palestinian student groups have also been accused of glorifying Hamas by including imagery and references to the Oct. 7 attack on promotional materials, and cheering what they called the “historic win” that was the attack.
“We’ve seen reports, frankly, of some of these student groups, who’ve issued these basically antisemitic statements, actually go on and march by some of the campus university Jewish groups centers, which shows the explicit antisemitism baked into this,” Mr. Scheinmann said in an interview with NTD News’ “Capitol Report” on Monday.
Mr. Scheinmann, who has previously worked for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Jewish Policy Center, said many universities have refused to issue clear statements condemning the Hamas attacks.
“Universities really should do a better job of standing strong with its Jewish communities on campus in general, but also with these basic principles of human decency on campus,” he said.
Mr. Scheinmann argued that in some instances, universities have not only allowed antisemitism to go unchecked, but have also allowed intimidation against “pro-Israel” voices on campus. He said explicit threats against certain student groups may happen in rare cases, but in most cases the efforts are more subtle.
“It is much more likely that students might encounter, for example, suggestions to … change the focus of a particular event because it might stir up passions, or maybe they should use a different speaker because that person might be controversial, or maybe they should be inclusive of a speaker … choosing the other side’s point of view in order to make things balanced and inclusive. Or maybe the university won’t pay for the necessary security arrangements that might happen,” he said. “And those are actually the more subtle and sometimes more insidious ways that universities have ways to silence free speech, but in particular kind of pro-Israel, pro-American programming on these campuses.”
‘Calling For Violence Is Not Free Speech’
In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks, Mr. Scheinmann said many universities have issued statements that “hide behind the concept of free speech” while allowing pro-Palestinian activists to hold on-campus events.
“Calling for violence is not free speech, it is not protected speech. And that is a lot of what is happening here. The dehumanization of Israeli civilians, the justification and glorification of terrorism is what is happening,” Mr. Scheinmann said.
Mr. Scheinmann said universities should be able to distinguish between people expressing policy views that Israel might not support, and outright calling for and glorifying violence.
He also likened the comments some campus activists have made against Israel and “Jewish people writ large” as akin to Ku Klux Klan members calling for the elimination of African Americans in the United States.
“There’s absolutely no way that the university presidents would stand up for the right of the KKK to call for the elimination of African Americans in this country or elsewhere. Absolutely not. Nor should it, by the way. And so the problem is the double standard when it comes to questions about attacks on Israeli civilians by a terrorist group and, ultimately, sadly, attacks on Jewish citizens not only there on campuses, but of this country.”