Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.
When pro-Hamas students at Manhattan’s prestigious New School blocked the entrance to campus last week, they were also trampling the memory of the Zionist scholar who co-founded the university, and of the refugees from Nazi genocide who served as its core faculty for decades.
For several hours on December 4, dozens of extremists physically prevented fellow-students from entering, waved Palestinian flags, and falsely accused Israel of committing genocide. One student walking by the pro-Hamas protesters told reporters that they encircled her and shouted accusations about her being a “colonizer.”
The protest was organized by the campus branch of Students for Justice in Palestine, which has praised the October 7 pogrom by Hamas in southern Israel, in which over 1200 Israelis were massacred, tortured, raped, or beheaded, with hundreds more abducted.
Before ditching class and picking up their bullhorns, the students should have taken a few minutes to read up on the history of their own school.
I wonder if they know, for example, that the university was co-founded by the philosopher Horace M. Kallen, who was one of the earliest leaders of the American Zionist movement. Kallen lectured and wrote tirelessly in support of creating a Jewish state in the Holy Land.
The New School’s Jewish roots don’t end there. In the 1930s, when many American universities refused to help German Jewish scholars who were trying to flee the Nazis, the New School stepped up. It created a new division, the University in Exile, for the specific purpose of rescuing fugitive professors.
Unlike today’s protesters, who hurl the term “genocide” at anybody they dislike, the refugee scholars who taught at the New School knew from first-hand experience what it’s like to be persecuted by a genuinely genocidal regime.
[The Journal Commentary Continues]
Despite protests by New School faculty members, prominent U.S. universities, including Harvard, Columbia and Yale, sent delegates to take part in celebrations at the University of Heidelberg in 1936. It was part of the broader tragedy of Ivy League schools cultivating friendly relations with Nazi Germany.
As for Zionism and Israel, New School co-founder Kallen was far from the only Zionist in the New School’s illustrious history. Stella Adler, a strong supporter of Israel, chaired its drama department, and among her students was Marlon Brando, an equally ardent Zionist. Brando later recalled how the refugee scholars “enriched the city’s intellectual life with an intensity that has probably never been equaled anywhere during a comparable period of time.”
New School drama alumni Ben Gazzara and Shelley Winters were active in a pro-Israel group in Hollywood; a statement they and other entertainers drafted—back in 1976—warned that Israel was “the target of total planned destruction” by its Arab enemies. Another alum, Walter Matthau, famously clashed with Vanessa Redgrave over her film supporting Palestinian terrorists.
In short, American Zionists and European Jewish refugees made the New School what it is today. They must be spinning in their graves at the spectacle of New School students cheering on the mass murderers of Israeli Jews and slandering the Jewish state.
View this Jewish Journal Commentary from December 18th