Gil Troy: Students, it’s time to find your courage and confront Hamas apologists on campus

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National Post 19.10.2023


Gil Troy: Students, it’s time to find your courage and confront Hamas apologists on campus



Dear students,


I cannot believe it. How can we wake up every morning since Oct. 7 knowing that young kids are being imprisoned in dungeons simply because they are Jewish and not speak out? How can we accept a world in which young women are sexually enslaved, while others are being tortured, because they were visiting Israel? Why would you respect a campus culture that excuses such abominations?


You’ve seen the horrifying images and the despicable videos. You’ve heard the cries of people who were swarmed, beaten, humiliated, raped, burned and slaughtered by Hamas. This bloodbath gave Israelis your age no choice: they must now stand and fight for their homeland, or they’ll be the next to die.


You, however, have a choice: you can fight this outrage and make your resistance a generational game-changer, or you can dodge responsibility and continue life as usual — at least until this evil catches up with you eventually.


Hamas’ orgy of violence was so monstrous that no fair-minded human could justify it. Beheading babies, kidnapping people confined to wheelchairs and slaughtering whole families is pure evil. Our civilization deems such acts repugnant — and if you have been a long-time critic of Israel, it’s even more important to reinforce that value.


That some people, some of your fellow students,  justified these acts, blaming the victims for their suffering, is inexcusable. This isn’t about “occupation,” “colonialism,” “imperialism” or “racism.”


While we must always tolerate differences, we must also draw some red lines. I will not fraternize with Nazis or racists or their cheerleaders. Similarly, I would never hire, work with, work for, learn from or befriend someone who delighted in these crimes or finds Israel “entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.”


No political stance justifies torturing the most vulnerable. Yet some have adopted images of paragliders  — which were used by terrorists to raid the Supernova music festival, where they slayed 260 people — as inspiring symbols.


For me, freezing out such callous fanatics is easy. I’ve long recognized their Jew-hatred and utter refusal to process new facts. For some of you, I understand it’s harder to distance yourselves because you share common cause with them on other issues, or have even spent years justifying Hamas as pragmatic and Palestinians as oppressed — and thus never guilty of any crimes. But what does it say about us if events, especially such horrific ones, don’t cause us to rethink our assumptions?


I had no expectations of these Hamas barbarians or their apologists, so their depravity repels me but doesn’t surprise. I was surprised, however, by many of the snivelling responses to these amoral bullies. I was embarrassed by reports of students turning to administrators because pro-Palestinian demonstrations frightened them. Warnings not to go to class during last week’s “Day of Jihad” also made me squirm.


Israelis your age are running toward gunfire. On Oct. 7, Canadians raised just like you were equally heroic. One Canadian who was killed, Alexandre Look, 33, of Montreal, shielded other concert-goers  from bullets with his body, while another, Ben Mizrachi , 22, tended to wounded revellers instead of fleeing — and was slaughtered as a result. Yet in North America, students run away from some loudmouths?


It’s time to grow a spine. If you feel “uncomfortable,” don’t whine to grownups, but act. Invite your friends to accompany you. If they say it has nothing to with them, then you know they don’t get it. Invite beefy friends from the football and lacrosse team along, too — not to confront (we’re not the violent ones), but simply to deter.


Invite your professors to join, especially gender studies profs. If they refuse, ask them to at least comment on Hamas’ rape culture and the delight so many Palestinians took in degrading so many Israeli women.


Two years ago, 120 gender studies departments throughout North America denounced Israel’s acts of self-defence against Hamas. So far, I haven’t seen a single academic department denounce Hamas’ anti-woman, anti-human bloodbath.


It’s a win-win: either you find unexpected allies, or you realize who your true friends are.


More broadly, you must launch an intellectual revolution. For too long, too many of our universities have degenerated into propaganda mills rather than centres of critical thought. The past couple weeks have shown how much that propagandizing undermines the liberal values that are essential to every democracy.


Wake up! There’s much more for you to do. Sometimes, history intrudes on your normal life with an epic challenge. Admittedly, this massacre happened far away. But don’t kid yourselves: the butchers attacked you, too. They targeted civilization itself. They crossed all lines.


But they — Hamas, their cheerleaders and their enablers — are banking on your silence. That’s been true of previous generations of students, who stood silent as this cancer of terrorist totalitarianism and academic relativism spread. This is your moment. Prove them wrong.


A Distinguished Scholar in North American History at McGill University currently living in Jerusalem, Gil Troy is an award-winning American presidential historian and a leading Zionist activist. He is, most recently, the editor of the new three-volume set, “Theodor Herzl: Zionist Writings,” the inaugural publication of The Library of the Jewish People ( www.theljp.org )  . Two years ago he co-authored with Natan Sharansky Never Alone: Prison, Politics and  My People,  was published by PublicAffairs of Hachette. Recently designated one of Algemeiner’s J-100, one of the top 100 people “positively influencing Jewish life,” Gil Troy is the author of  The Zionist Ideas , an update and expansion of Arthur Hertzberg’s classic anthology The Zionist Idea, published by the Jewish Publication Society and a 2019 National Jewish Book Award Finalist. 




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Prof Gil Troy · 20 Derech Bet Lechem · Apt 2 · Jerusalem 9310925 · Israel