I always try to avoid Holocaust metaphors when discussing campus anti-Semitism. But the craven indifference of academic elites to the anti-Semitism that threatens Jewish students on their respective campuses is reminiscent of the purges of Jewish professors and students in the darkening days following Kristallnacht in November of 1938.
When I was a young girl, my parents, émigrés from Poland via Bolivia, entertained colleagues and friends who had escaped from the corners of hell in Europe. In prewar Germany, intellectuals and academic professionals were the elite — even their wives were called "Frau Professor" or "Frau Doktor." One of my parents' friends was a physician who had been a well known medical school professor and pioneer radiologist following in the steps of Wilhelm Röntgen, who won the first Nobel prize in physics in 1901. This particular gentleman was bald and had on his cheek the fencing scar "Renommierschmiss," a mark of honor sported by many German and Austrian veterans, doctors, lawyers, and professors to signify valor and social rank.
On November 10 in 1938, the day after Kristallnacht, Herr Doktor reassured his Frau Doktor Ilse that this was a passing event. He told her that decent, cultured, and educated German intellectuals would be appalled by the violence against Jews. After all, even as the Nazis were implementing their Nuremberg Laws in 1935, he and "Frau Doktor" were on the "A" list of soirées, salons, dances, dinners, musicales, in which the intellectuals expounded on the joys of reading Goethe or Schiller, avoided politics, and listened to the music of great German composers. It was Kultur and class.
But when he went to his medical school, his formerly obsequious students who customarily leapt up to help him don his teaching robe, his colleagues, and his friends all turned their backs on him. He was summarily fired. Other Jewish professors were similarly dismissed, and all Jewish professionals lost their licenses. And, with rare exceptions, their former friends and colleagues joined the shunning. Kultur had its limits.
But back to the present — and future. Where is a democracy, a model democracy, routinely slandered with Holocaust and apartheid metaphors? Where are the jihad-driven efforts to destroy her ignored? Where is the moral world tergiversated so that the real evildoers, Israel's would-be destroyers, are painted as victims? And where has this morphed into violence and threats to Jews?
Why, in the universities and colleges, of course, where boycott and divest and assorted hate fests may be manipulated or financed by Arab money but flourish through the studied and outrageous indifference — and worse — of presidents and faculty.
Where are America's intellectuals, including above all the academics, today? In fact, where are those of the Western world? Ostensibly, they are in the vanguard of those promoting progressive thought and liberal values, staunch opponents of bigotry and racism, virtually quivering with multi-cultural sensitivity. They are silent when anti-Semitic lecturers spew hateful rhetoric and passive when Jewish speakers and students are harassed and vilified.
There are many academics who decry the bigotry and gamely defend Israel — too many to name and risk the offense of exclusion of any. However, they are increasingly marginalized and called "parochial" and narrow-minded by students and other faculty members.
Many of these professors are recycled radicals from the anti-war movement who approach their teaching mandate with an anti-Israel and anti-Western agenda and manufactured history. Some may be deluded enough to think they teach impartially and fairly.
They warn about the Earth's temperature, about endangered flora and fauna, they fret about abortion rights, they worry about every and all minority rights except for the right of Jews to live in safety everywhere, including on their own campuses.
These cowards, particularly Jewish professors — who preen and strut in narcissistic self-hatred — have turned their back on Jews and Israel. They will be the first to be shocked when the rising tide of international anti-Semitism comes lapping at their heels, and their cronies and friends abandon them as they have abandoned principles and decency.