In 1970, while a student attending Community College of Philadelphia, a prelude to my entry at a four-year university, I saw first-hand how students could commandeer an institution of higher education. The alert arrived by way of a late-afternoon phone call from a friend who urged me to come back to school. “You should see this, it’s amazing,” he said.
As both a member of the student newspaper and a young partier, I was compelled to return to campus. It was an event which I had to experience. Upon arriving, I became part of about two hundred students who had taken over the administrative offices on the eighth floor. We stayed all evening, under the mission of demanding better employment conditions for teachers and improved attention to the voices of students.
If you asked many of the assembled to explain what those goals were, you may have received a blank expression. A large number of the students were merely swept up in the moment, a chance to hang out all night with classmates, smoke weed and consume food that had been brought upstairs. Still, it was viewed as a battle between the underrepresented, the oppressed, and those who were considered to be the oppressors, the administration.
This came to mind when attempting to unscramble the recent university backing of Hamas by hundreds of students on various U.S. campuses, along with a call for action against Israel and, by extension, Jews everywhere. How could our close ally and country that struggled to build a flourishing existence out of desert sand surrounded by hostile Arab neighbors be considered the oppressor? And how could young minds support a savage group of terrorists that had tortured and slaughtered largely defenseless Israeli civilians? These questions boggled the mind.
That universities such as Penn, Harvard and MIT could, from the highest level, tolerate such behavior was even more perplexing. When confronted in the House of Representatives inquiry by New York Representative Elise Stefanik, the Presidents of these three institutions were dumbstruck to explain their silence during overt displays of antisemitism. Penn’s Liz Magill later resigned, but the other two continue in their posts.
Watching the protesting youngsters yelling chants such as “death to Israel,” gas the Jews,” and “Palestine free from the river to the sea,” one wondered how many kids were simply hitching their wagons to the perceived repressed, an exercise that has been developed over half a century and is now on many college campuses nationwide. Were they paying any attention to the extreme misogyny of extremist Arab Muslims who require their women to don headwear and given limited rights overall? Do they know that women in the crowd of protestors might very well be beheaded for such protests in the fundamentalist- run regimes? Do they actually care that a whole people, the Jewish people of whom I am a part, were being threatened with annihilation, something which is contradictory to their frequent cries for social justice?
In a world full of disinformation, have the protestors not heard of the rape, torture and killing of Israeli woman and overall atrocities by these barbarians? Have they never formulated a distinction between good and evil? Perhaps far too many from this group are busy getting high and getting their information from the jaundiced accounts on Tik Tok. If these are some of our future leaders in our country, God help us.
That student uprising at CCP over half a century ago represented some of the early days of student defiance to authority. But it also was the era when seeds were planted for the progressive indoctrination that exists in today’s educational institutions. It is a view without nuance, where the world is divided into perceived oppressed and oppressor. Never mind the reality: it is one to which the narrative is immune.
Jeff Hurvitz (email@example.com) is a freelance writer and native Philadelphian