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FLOWERS: The Shameful Cowardice of Academic Elites In Face of Hamas Evil

Sunday night, I was sitting in a café watching the Eagles lose to the Jets. Admittedly, I was not in a very good mood to begin with. Alas, a few shots of anisette didn’t lighten my spirits. My lone ray of emotional sunshine was the prospect of a Phillies sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NLDS.

And then I saw the waiters rushing to the door of the restaurant, and I saw police lights glaring through the windows. When I got up to see what was happening, a phalanx of Philadelphians marched by waving Palestinian flags and signs that supported Gaza.

As I inched closer, I noticed a few anti-Israel signs as well. And as if that weren’t bad enough, there were chants of “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.”

Not one to miss the opportunity to have my opinions heard, I grabbed my cell phone and started recording, expressing my views on people marching in support of terrorists. You might quibble with my characterization of support for “Palestine” (not a historically recognized country) and Hamas, and they are not necessarily equivalent.

But the fact that there were seemingly hundreds of Philadelphians wrapping themselves not in the flag of persecuted Israeli women and children but of the people who attacked them infuriated me. And I said so.

Two men behind me called me the “B” word (and I am not referring to “beautiful”) and laughed at my one-woman counterprotest. They were older men, stout and grizzled, with the colors of Palestine in the scarves wrapped around their necks. I glared back at them and asked how they felt about the murder of babies. They laughed again and walked on with fists raised, screaming, “Palestine will soon be free.”

So, you will excuse me if I don’t celebrate the belated attempts at PR triage being done at some of the elite institutions around the country. When Hamas launched its genocidal attack against Israel last Saturday, several student groups at universities like Harvard and Columbia — and locally, like Swarthmore and LaSalle — issued statements blaming Israel for the shed blood of its own people. Others remained silent.

Most notably, Penn, which has a flourishing Jewish community, didn’t issue any words of condemnation for the Palestinian terrorists.

And people started noticing. Donors like Marc Rowan, a Wharton grad, penned an op-ed exhorting other alums to withhold funding from the school unless and until it condemned Hamas. His request went further. Last month, on the eve of Yom Kippur, Penn hosted the Palestine Writes Literature Festival on its campus. This event included well-known, vocal antisemites as featured speakers. This caused a great deal of anguish for Jewish students at Penn, and Rowan condemned the school for not doing enough to take their feelings into consideration before allowing this sort of event to take place.

A few days later, Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah, former presidential candidate, former ambassador and 1987 Penn grad, announced that his family’s foundation would no longer contribute to Penn, writing in a letter that it would “close its checkbook” to further donations.

This caused Penn President Liz Magill to issue a statement condemning terrorist acts. It was much too little and far too late. Some of the students whose names were affixed to those condemnations of Israel from Harvard also walked back their support for Palestine, claiming that they hadn’t fully understood what they were signing.

All of this is a sign of cowardice, a form of cowardice that is shameful in the face of the greatest attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust. There should be no place in our society for those who sit back and wait to see which way the wind is blowing before they condemn the gruesome evil we’ve seen inflicted on the people — the children, the babies — of Israel.

The time for speech and support was in the moments after news emerged of the massacres in Gaza, not a week later when job offers were rescinded and checkbooks began to close. There should never have been a “Hamas is bad, but so is Netanyahu” narrative while children were dying in their cribs. The obscenity of the reaction from some in elite academia is appalling, and Magill’s attempt at triage, most likely to keep her donors happy, is repugnant.

There have been courageous voices, but they are not coming from academia. One of the most courageous was the Vatican’s representative in Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzabella, who offered himself to Hamas in exchange for the release of Israeli children being held hostage. He did not have to wait to see which way the wind was blowing to find his humanity.

It’s a shame that Liz Magill and her colleagues across the country found safety in silence. Only it wasn’t that safe, after all.

DelVal College Students Among Those Posting Pro-Hamas Messages

Students at area colleges are sending messages supporting the same Palestinian cause championed by the Hamas terrorists who killed more than 1,000 Israelis in Saturday’s horrific attack. It’s a sign, Republicans say, of the far-left extremism that makes up part of the progressive base of the Democratic Party.

While most Pennsylvania elected officials, including Democrats Gov. Josh Shapiro and progressive U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, loudly declared their support for Israel and denounced the violence from the Palestinian terrorists, liberal student groups sent a very different message.

“We…hold the Israeli government accountable for the ongoing violence,” announced student organizations at Philadelphia’s La Salle University. “The events occurring are not isolated; for the past two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in open-air prisons. Israeli authorities have threatened to escalate the conflict, resulting in casualties in Gaza. In the days ahead, Palestinians will face the brunt of Israel’s aggression, and the blame solely lies with the apartheid regime.”

In Delaware County,  Swarthmore College’s Students for Justice in Palestine posted a statement that “honors the martyrs” who murdered Israelis, raped women, and took children hostage.

“Since early Saturday morning, Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have valiantly confronted the imperial apparatus that has constricted their livelihoods for the past 75 years. In an unprecedented violation of Zionist intelligence and military rule, the resistance [Hamas terrorists] broke its people out of the open-air prison that is the Gaza Strip.

“Swarthmore Students for Justice in Palestine enshrines the right of the Palestinian people to resist the Zionist regime by any means necessary and honors the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives for liberation,” the Swarthmore students posted on social media.

That statement inspired a response from Dave McCormick, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

“This is despicable. Glorifying Hamas terrorists who have slaughtered innocent women and children as ‘martyrs’ is unacceptable. @swarthmore: Step up, demonstrate leadership, and condemn these disgusting comments immediately,” McCormick tweeted.

Swarthmore officials did not respond to a request for comment.

The anti-Israel response appears to be part of the culture of elite, liberal universities. For example, local supporters of Israel quickly pointed out that UPenn hosted a Palestinian Writers Festival last month featuring several openly antisemitic participants. Among them, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and Noura Erakat, a Rutgers University professor who called Zionism a “bedfellow” to Nazism.

Radio talk show host Dom Giordano said the leadership of those institutions is partially to blame for their students’ attitudes. “I think the position of the La Salle groups that supported this is indefensible. La Salle has a teachable moment to address this or support it with their silence. They should have a forum for faculty and students to discuss.”

La Salle University, a Catholic institution, posted a statement that conflated the violent attack committed by Hamas terrorists with Israel’s self-defensive actions in response.

“Over the weekend, the world witnessed the sudden violence taking place throughout Israel and Gaza. The reports, images, and videos we are seeing in the news and social media are disturbing and anguishing,” the university wrote. “We pray for peace in this part of the world and for those touched by this violence while we mourn the loss of life.”

Those views are hardly exclusive to Pennsylvania institutions.

When 35 Harvard student groups released a letter of solidarity with the Palestinians of Gaza (“We hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence”), several high-profile alums reacted in horror.

Former Harvard president Larry Summers, who previously served as U.S. treasury secretary, decried the university’s “neutral” stance in response to the student declaration. “I am sickened. I cannot fathom the administration’s failure to disassociate the university and condemn this statement,” Summers said.

At New York University Law School, the student bar association president released a statement standing with the terrorists.

“I will not condemn Palestinian resistance,” wrote Ryna Workman, who called the terrorist attacks “necessary.” Instead, “I condemn the violence of obfuscating genocide as a ‘complex issue.’”

At the University of Virginia, the Students for Justice in Palestine said, “The events that took place yesterday are a step toward a free Palestine. They reflect the power and resilience of the Palestinian people in the face of 75 years of continued brutal oppression…We stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance fighters.”

Students at California State University at Long Beach made the most graphic statement with posters portraying a paraglider like the ones used by Hamas terrorists to attack an outdoor concert and kill hundreds.

“We will be rallying and marching in support of the Palestinian liberation and against Zionist occupation in Palestine,” the student group said.