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Columbia is a parody of radical activism LARPing students care more about partying than Palestine

'It's about the camaraderie. The connections. The cameras.' Spencer Platt/Getty Images

'It's about the camaraderie. The connections. The cameras.' Spencer Platt/Getty Images


April 26, 2024   5 mins

This week, amid widespread US campus protests against the war in Gaza, a video emerged of a confrontation on the Columbia quad. A slender young black man in a keffiyeh and a pair of florid pink Crocs paces through the crowd, shouting an urgent warning: “We have a Zionist at the entrance of our encampment!”

“Repeat after me!” he calls, and the crowd of students — there are at least a hundred of them — begin to chant as instructed.

“We have Zionists!”
“We have Zionists!”

“Who have entered the camp!”
“Who have entered the camp!”

“We are going to create a human chain—”
“We are going to create a human chain—”

“Where I am standing—”
“Where I am standing—”

“So that—”
“So that—”

“They do not pass this point!”
“They do not pass this point!”

“And infringe upon our privacy!”
“And infringe upon our privacy!”

“And try to disrupt our community!”
“And try to disrupt our community!”

The students link arms, moving as one. “One step forward!” the leader calls, and they duly obey as a hundred voices echo: “One step forward!”

I have no normative judgement to hand down on the protests themselves. This is America, the students are engaged in the protected exercise of their first amendment rights, and it is their prerogative to continue doing it within the parameters of the law, whether or not this will have any impact whatsoever on the thing they’re protesting. (It won’t.) I certainly don’t agree with Columbia’s president’s decision to send in the NYPD to arrest participants; this was excessive, and also wildly counterproductive, given how it has obviously fuelled the group’s sense of heroic victimhood and caused their ranks to swell exponentially.

But the video is worth discussing. The robotic chanting, the lockstep conformity, the way the ringleader in the pink Crocs simpers and giggles as his group advances on the two students who he’s identified, for reasons unknown, as Zionists. “Have you got enough video?” he coos. “Cause I look very pretty.”

It is, of course, the position of those sympathetic to the protests that videos like the above are non-representative of the general tenor of things — as well as a foolish distraction from the true issue at hand. Ilhan Omar, whose daughter was suspended from Columbia for her participation in the protests, posted on X, “Throughout history, protests were co-opted and made to look bad so police and public leaders would shut them down. That’s what we are seeing now at Columbia University… Public officials and media making this about anything else are inflaming the situation and need to bring calmness and sanity back.” Meanwhile, the protestors themselves released a statement complaining that their activism was being unfairly conflated with the acts of a few malicious idiots: “We are frustrated by media distractions focusing on inflammatory individuals who do not represent us…Our members have been misidentified by a politically motivated mob.”

There’s something a bit odd about this no-true-Scotsmanning, given the tendency of these same protestors to treat any Jewish-appearing person who is not sporting a keffiyeh and chanting for intifada as a proxy for the Netanyahu regime. It’s also a bizarre form of special pleading; I certainly don’t remember anyone taking seriously the notion that, for instance, the 100 or so tiki torch-wielding protestors shouting “Jews will not replace us” at the Unite the Right rally in 2017 were not representative of the cause to which they’d attached themselves.

“You can see what animates them in this moment, and it isn’t the cause.”

But either way, I doubt it matters. If you’re being screamed at, spat on, and told to “go back to Poland” on the streets of the Upper West Side, how much do you really care whether the people doing this are certified Ivy League-pedigreed assholes or just the regular kind? The only difference this could possibly make is to Columbia itself, and then only because if these are students, the school might be expected to do something about it.

It’s also an unavoidable and unfortunate feature of this and other campus protests that they do tend to attract a sizeable contingent who are not so much pro-Palestinian as anti-Israel — and, more specifically, anti-whichever-Jewish-person has the misfortune to be within shouting distance. For while Columbia’s activists may believe that this is not the true soul of their protest, the video linked above indicates otherwise. If the point of protesting the war in Gaza is to protest the war in Gaza, why is one of the movement’s leaders squandering even an iota of energy on intimidating two random, completely unconnected people off a public lawn for the crime of supporting Israel’s continued existence? The chanting, the linked arms, the singular focus: this is not a distraction from the regularly scheduled program. It is the program.

And for at least some of these people — certainly for the ones in the video — I strongly suspect that it is the entire point.

This is not to say that the students captured here are antisemites, even if they are engaged in what is arguably antisemitic harassment. In all likelihood, most of them had never thought much about Jews or Palestinians or Israel at all before the war in Gaza became the cause du jour; I’m not sure many of them have thought about it much since, either. Whatever else these demonstrations may be, they are the biggest social event on campus — in a world where campus social events have been basically nonexistent for the past three years.

Between the chanting, the dancing, and the… well, whatever this is, it’s hard to blame the kids for wanting to join what is, for all intents and purposes, a party. It’s also hard to blame them for being somewhat bewildered when the party ends with their own university calling the cops, who in turn force them to disperse with a fire hose. It’s not just the brutality; it feels like a breach of contract. As writer and academic Tyler Austin Harper has noted, Columbia and others like it explicitly highlight their histories as incubators of political activism with the express purpose of attracting a particular type of young person, the kind for whom protesting and partying seem like one and the same thing.

I suspect that this is why these events have the feeling of performance, or even parody: a photogenic, vibes-based facsimile of radical activism instead of the thing itself. It’s not just that their ostensible goal of “divestment” — in this case, from ETFs that include shares in businesses with ties to Israel — is a categorical impossibility; a number of the campus demonstrators will openly admit that they neither know nor care what specific policies they’re demonstrating against. What matters is, they’re part of something, a tradition of campus activism that dates back a hundred years. For the students who are drawn to Columbia’s “Social Justice university” branding, protesting is less about results than participation, a sort of institutionally-sanctioned Larp, like one of those interactive team-building exercises where you get to solve a murder, or escape from prison — or, in this case, hunt a witch.

Which brings me back to the video from the quad and the chants of “One step forward!”, which some have compared with Children of the Corn — the 1984 slasher film in which a maniacal child preacher orchestrates the massacre of every adult in town. Others have noted that a group of people linking arms to push Jews out of public spaces has, uh, particular connotations. To me, though, this scene was most reminiscent not of horror movies or history books, but of high school. The socially approving smirks that the kids in the video flash at each other are the same ones that would ripple across the faces of my school’s resident mean girls as they chased some less popular kid from a lunch table, a bus seat, a bathroom. It was bullying, yes, but more important, it was a bonding exercise. Nothing brings a group of people together like pushing another one out.

And the kids in the video, with their linked arms, their self-satisfied grins? You can see what animates them in this moment, and it isn’t the cause. It’s the camaraderie. The connections. The cameras. This was the college experience they were promised — and it’s everything they hoped it would be.


Kat Rosenfield is an UnHerd columnist and co-host of the Feminine Chaos podcast. Her latest novel is You Must Remember This.

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David McKee
David McKee
21 days ago

I had to look up what larping meant. Live action role-playing, apparently. So Kat Rosenfield thinks the Columbia protests are a semi-organised version of the Sealed Knot.

Hm. So can we see Europe’s craze for witch-burning, or the old South’s penchant for lynching blacks, as exercises in larping? Now there’s a thought.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
20 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

These people are play-acting, not realizing that their play could suddenly turn real. Those people were out for blood from the get-go.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  David McKee

The word Larping has been used a lot lately to describe the men-pretending-to-be-women. I had to look it up too, the first time I saw it there. It’s come from gaming, obvs.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
21 days ago

Excellent essay. I agree. The cause is irrelevant. These kids think they are fighting the machine, rebelling against the institutions that have caused so much oppression in the world. They are completely oblivious to the fact that no one on earth has benefited more from these institutions than themselves. They are amongst the most privileged people in a nation that is the most privileged in history. The lack of gratitude and self awareness is annoying.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

We pay far too much attention to these kids. Most of what adolescents do is about sex. These parties are no different. It’s mostly just fun. If any of these protesters genuinely cared about Palestine they’d be doing something practical to resolve the problem – something that involves a degree of personal sacrifice or discomfort – as would the climate numpties and all the other larpers. Campus demos are too easy.

Terry M
Terry M
20 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

“Campus demos are too easy.”
Exactly, make the cost a bit higher and you’ll sort the wheat from the chaff. Maybe 3 days in jail and $1000 fine for distributing the peace.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
20 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

This is true.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Haven’t you heard—Gen Z has less sex than any generation before them. That would force them to get off their phones— I think.

T Redd
T Redd
20 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Exactly Hugh and these events are loaded with tent sex….lots of social disease are transmitted at protests…..

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

The least self-aware are the females in the crowd. It is very ironic that few of them would tolerate the subservient role they would face should they live in the Palestine they robotically cheer for.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
20 days ago

That is the most ironic part of all this. These females, who are most likely rabid feminists, have no idea they are supporting a regime that advocates the rape and mutilation of women.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
20 days ago
Reply to  Warren Trees

You know for a fact that Palestinian culture “advocates the rape and mutilation of women?”

Kent Ausburn
Kent Ausburn
20 days ago

I believe what happened on Oct.7 is proof enough.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
20 days ago

The majority of Palestinians are supportive of Hamas, therefore they must be in favour of the rape and mutilation of women. And the same goes for all those who are active in the Palestine Solidarity movement.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

We know that Hamas is the regime in Gaza and we know they active organused what happened on October 07th and then boasted about it. Admittedly, they are rolling back on their initial euphoria over the killing of innocent families when they discovered many in the west don’t fully support the rape of women and the murder of babies.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
18 days ago

Hamas. Please don’t conflate peace-loving Palestinians with Hamas.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
17 days ago

Genital mutilation amongst Palestinians is common, as is in all Muslim states and in all areas governed by the Palestinian Authority, a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s. Facts!

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
20 days ago

So, you’re implying that self-aware women, if they knew the truth about Palestinians, wouldn’t be horrified at the genocide occurring in Israel right now, and want to demonstrate in order to impress upon their government that they want the killing and displacement to end?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
20 days ago

There is no genocide occurring in Israel.

RM Parker
RM Parker
19 days ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Yeah, that one had me scratching my head too. Perhaps a lack of geopolitical knowledge is a large part of the problem here.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago
Reply to  RM Parker

It’s also a lack of historical knowledge! Of course, if you’ve been told all your life that history is not a valuable subject, and can be revised when the fancy strikes you, even that mindset is somewhat understandable.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

The way things are going, they may have the opportunity to experience their Palestinian sisters lives during their lifetime. Wonder how they will spin it to blame Israel whe their rights are eroded by creeping Islamism.

Bernard Brothman
Bernard Brothman
18 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’d like to see the young women, and especially trans-women, in these protests go to Gaza and try to help with the rebuilding and see how they are treated.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago

A part of me, admittedly a part that is growing larger every time I see these brainwashed fools, truly hopes that they will reap what they’ve sown! My only wish is that it could be selectively enforced on those mindless fools. I have had personal encounters on two occasions with these protesters; neither one of them knew even the basic facts about Israel and Palestine, both could not identify the river on their little poster, and one couldn’t even identify the sea. When I asked her she sheepishly looked at me and responded: “The Pacific?” I turned away in disbelief, shaking my head at the utter stupidity and ignorance of these people. This happened in Washington, DC earlier this month.

L Brady
L Brady
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

They are also more antisemitic rather than pro Palestine. Where were the protests when Ukraine was invaded? Where are the protests for the Chinese Uyghurs? What about the Sudan Darfur genocide?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
20 days ago
Reply to  L Brady

People from those places don’t pay full tuition.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  L Brady

Exactly.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  L Brady

It’s amazing how those who hate the thought of Palestinians being killed in a war started by their leaders aren’t out on the streets demanding a ceasefire in Yemen. But then again, that doesn’t present an opportunity to do a bit of Jew bashing.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
20 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Forgive them for they know not what they do

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago

You could say that about anyone doing anything.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago

I have no intention to forgive them! Ignorantia juris non excusat!

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
20 days ago

The parallels between what’s going on now and what happened during the 1960s are eerie: a long shadow war against an ideological enemy that many Westerners are uncertain as to the necessity of fighting (Communism, Islamism); an increasingly out-of-touch and decrepit former vice-president (Johnson, Biden) who’s succeeded a young and popular president with a reputation as a peacenik despite ruthlessly widening said shadow war (Kennedy, Obama); an opposition candidate widely derided by and derisive towards the “establishment” who’s preparing another run for the Big Chair after defeat in a perceived stolen election (Nixon, Trump); a controversial and polarizing “civil war” (South Vietnam vs. North Vietnam, Israel vs. Hamas) between a US ally and a guerrilla force sponsored by America’s primary adversary in the shadow war (Russia, Iran) that’s tactically and strategically favoring our ally but is portrayed by the media as a defeat for said ally; massive campus “protests” bordering on riots by student radicals who favor the side in the proxy war that, if they won, would be the first to line the radicals up against a wall to be shot; domestic politics increasingly poisoned by foreign policy; a “free speech” movement that demands increased license for the radicals and silencing of the radicals opponents…obviously, the two situations are not identical, but the parallels, at least to me, are striking.
They say that history repeats, first as tragedy and then as farce, except that last time was the farce, so I have no idea what this is. I will say, however, that I think it’s probably impossible to understand what’s happening on our campuses today without recognizing the extent to which Sixties radicalism has been hagiographied, especially on the campuses themselves. Anyone who considers themselves an “activist” has been reared in the shadow of the SDS, the Weathermen, and the Black Panthers (hey, Black Lives Matter, another parallel!); they undoubtedly feel they have a lot to live up to. In his very perceptive book Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert Bork, who as a professor at Yale Law School lived through a number of 1960s student protests, noted the similarities between the sloganeering and actions of the student radicals and the brownshirts in 1930s Germany. Today, perhaps, the mask has slipped even further. Antisemitism is, as someone once put it, the socialism of fools, after all.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
20 days ago

I, too, have thought many of these things recently. Thank you for putting them neatly into words.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
20 days ago

Excellent post. IMO these students think they should be protesting something, that they need to be activists fighting against oppression. There just aren’t a lot of targets these days. One big difference is the US had boots on the ground in Vietnam and thousands of young people were being killed. Lots of parallels though.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago

I believe it was Karl Marx, the father of Communism, who postulated that history repeats itself as a farce. I disagree with this statement. History repeats itself, because people are people. We do not fundamentally change, and the veneer of civilisation is thin. Secondly, we do not learn from history. In many cases that’s because history is not properly taught, and the lessons from the past are easily dismissed.
Other than that, I very much agree with your comment, and I too have noticed the parallels for some time now.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
20 days ago

Release the hounds.

J Bryant
J Bryant
20 days ago

My question is when trans activists were issuing death threats to faculty members who didn’t buy into the trans movement, where were the Columbia University authorities? Why is Columbia only taking action over these particular protests?

George K
George K
20 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

One word: donors

Donald
Donald
20 days ago
Reply to  George K

Speaking of antisemitism…

James S.
James S.
20 days ago
Reply to  George K

And one hopes that a lot of their Jewish donors tell schools like Columbia to drop dead.

Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
20 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

And the anti-white activism under the name of BLM often inspired and led by Jewish people. That was fine for the campus authorities. It only matters when it happens to Jews. That’s real persecution!

Peter G
Peter G
20 days ago
Reply to  Paul Devlin

BLM inspired and led by Jews? Who’s the antiSemite now?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
19 days ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Columbia has been an integral part of New York for generations.
New York is a Jewish city.
Get used to it.

T Bone
T Bone
20 days ago

Crybullies protest under the banner of tolerance and exclusion and operate through intolerance and exclusion. It’s the highest form of Doublethink. There is no attempt to resolve the contradictions. People that believe they’re on the right side of history feel no need to question their own reasoning. One could almost call it an “unconscious bias.”

Amos B. Haven
Amos B. Haven
20 days ago

Like everything else with the Tide Pod Challenge generation, this grew like a fad and it will die like a fad. Not only will they deny having taken part in this a few years from now, they will not even recall it.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago
Reply to  Amos B. Haven

On the contrary – as the genocide continues and the deaths reach the hundreds of thousands, it’ll be you who have supported it that’ll be mumbling into your beards when it’s mentioned.

Terry M
Terry M
20 days ago
Reply to  Amos B. Haven

Just like they never supported lockdowns, the wet market theory, Russian collusion, trans activism, or global warming.

David Mayes
David Mayes
20 days ago

Except this is a bonding exercise based on persecuting Jews. How is it different from German students in the 1940’s persecuting the Jewish students at their universities? For the Nazis, persecuting Jews was a means of bonding the non-Jewish Germans.
No, these students are as nasty and deserving of our condemnation as those who marched with Tiki torches. We cant excuse them because they are juvenile fools.

George Venning
George Venning
20 days ago
Reply to  David Mayes

But it isn’t about “hating Jews” is it.
German strudents in the 1930 wanted Jews violently thrown out of their universities in order to expunge what they saw as a stain on their noble European culture. The compaint about Jews was general, violent and spurious (having its origins in such claptrap as the protocols and the blood libel).
The Columbia protests want their Government to stop Israel’s Government from carrying out an indiscriminate military campaign against an occupied population which has already killed tens of thousands of people – many of them children. The students at Columbia have no doubt realised that such a destructive campaign makes a Two State solution impossible and that its logical end game is not a pacified Gazan population living in semi autonomy within the Israeli state and voting reliably for the mildest of peace candidates, it is either on-going conflict or forcible depopulation of the entire strip (a.k.a genocide).
Kristallnacht this is not.

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

You are completely wrong. All the chants are about destroying Israel. nothing about peaceful co-existence. Many are vowing hundreds of October 7ths It is all about the vilification of Israel and the Jewish right to self-determination.
I reject your premise that there is an indiscriminate military campaign against an occupied population. Israel has taken more steps than any other warring party to minimise civilian casualties. Do you really believe the figures parroted by Hamas? If so, more fool you. All innocent lives loss are mourned (but not by the so-called pro-Palestine protestors who are openly revelling in the Israeli casualties) but the ratio of terrorist to civilian deaths is about 1:1 or at worst 1;2 which is far lower than in any other urban conflict.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
19 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

They have no vision for peace or coexistence other than to violently impose arab-muslim supremacy on the world’s only Jewish state. They want Israel to be defenceless against an invasion that would ultimately liquidate the Jewish population there. It is a genocidal campaign. Moral people must reject it and fight against it.

Jae
Jae
19 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

You are so off base it’s hard to know where to begin. There is no “genocide”, except the one attempted on 10/7. The genocide is being carried out by Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Stop equating Israel protecting itself against an attacker who wants all Jews destroyed and its state demolished, and let’s not pretend that isn’t most of the Arab nations including Palestinian citizens, and be honest for a change.

The only people who are openly and actively calling for genocide are Muslims and Arabs and their useful tools on campuses, institutions and corporations, and they can’t wait to carry it out. They’ve even called for it on US soil with chants of Death to America. Are you so blind you cannot see this?

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
20 days ago
Reply to  David Mayes

Okay, George Venning’s reply to Mr. Mayes isn’t “approved.” I disagree with Mr. Venning, but I don’t find his post offensive. Let’s see if I can post it.
But it isn’t about “hating Jews” is it.
German students in the 1930 wanted Jews violently thrown out of their universities in order to expunge what they saw as a stain on their noble European culture. The complaint about Jews was general, violent and spurious (having its origins in such claptrap as the protocols and the blood libel).
The Columbia protests want their Government to stop Israel’s Government from carrying out an indiscriminate military campaign against an occupied population which has already killed tens of thousands of people – many of them children. The students at Columbia have no doubt realised that such a destructive campaign makes a Two State solution impossible and that its logical end game is not a pacified Gazan population living in semi autonomy within the Israeli state and voting reliably for the mildest of peace candidates, it is either on-going conflict or forcible depopulation of the entire strip (a.k.a genocide).
Kristallnacht this is not.
To which I reply:
No. Kristallnacht is tomorrow night.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
19 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

If Israel was disarmed then a genocide of the Jewish population would be the result. The result would be the end of the only Jewish state, with its replacement the 23rd arab muslim majority state. This is not justice. Judging by social media none of these protestors would support the realistic, peace 2 state solution. They stand in arms with those who want an arab-muslim country between the river and sea with the murder or subjugation of the jewish population. Luckily they lack the ability to do it. The protestors want them to have the ability. They write social media posts like “go back to poland”, they celebrate the Hamas massacre, they engage in age old antisemitism like tropes about Jewish control and holocaust survivors in Israel are just called “colonisers” for them even though they were victims of an attempt to ethnic cleanse them in their previous countries.

So far biden has done the right thing. Also nothing there is wrong sanctioning hilltop settlers or IDF units. Im not an extremist. Just a moderate zionist who wants Jews to be safe.

George Venning
George Venning
17 days ago

Matthew, your post is weird.
lets just take one claim here.
You say that holocaust survivors are not “colonisers”.
But of course they are. You acknowledge that they came from one place (Europe) and took up residence in another (Palestine) on land that belonged to others. The initial right to do so was conferred by a literal colonial power (Britain) but, when the rate of immigration threatened the social cohesion that the Balfour declaration sought to preserve, British oversight was violently, rejected (Stern Gang et al) and further land seized to facilitate further immigration. What can this be but colonisation? And violent colonisation at that.
You may claim that it was a regrettable necessity after the enormities of the holocaust. But it is simply silly to claim that a group of people coming from one place and seizing land legally owned by others is something other than colonisation.
And, if you accept that colonisation is bad (and you seem to – otherwise why object to this characterisation?) then you have seen the other side of the argument.

Ryan K
Ryan K
19 days ago
Reply to  David Mayes

The kids have all ready made clear …we don’t want no two states…we want all of it”
this repetition of so called occupation is specious. Israel left Gaza and made it Judenrein….the Jewish state made Gaza a Judenrein entity as the world and Palestinians demanded….despite the thousand years or more of a significant Jewish community in Gaza. The remnants destroyed as the WAqf does to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Thousands of Gazans murdered by Hamas before and during this campaign. Much Easier to just hate Israel….and they do. Even the “Queers”made this their cause….”Palestine is a Queer issue” how banal. Tibet isn’t. Sudan isnt’…Kurds aren’t. Armenia isn’t….Uganda isn’t….just poor little Palestine and big bad Jewish interlopers. Interlopers with 4,000 years unbroken inthis land.

Ryan K
Ryan K
19 days ago
Reply to  David Mayes

I’m really replying to one of your other replies…..I wanted to say I’m reading Hare with Amber Eyes….same garbage at Vienna Universities 50 years or so before the Holocaust….throw the Jews out.

Paul Rodolf
Paul Rodolf
20 days ago

These are not innocent children acting out, they are young adults spouting racist rhetoric and threatening physical harm to Jewish students. There can be no tolerance for their threats of violence, unleash the hounds.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rodolf

Where were the threats of violence?

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
20 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

In their physical actions.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
20 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

We’ll just put you out on a street somewhere and have a bunch of arms-linked, chanting idiots advance on you and see if you don’t feel threatened.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Wagner

Excellent – I’m free a week next Thursday. How does that suit you? I’ll be the one with the annoying smirk. Violence my arse.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
18 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Just don’t look openly Jewish.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Listen to the things spouted by the protest leader. He has openly and frequently called for the death of all Zionists.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

In their social media posts, for example! One student has even been named in the media and expelled from Columbia for threatening to kill Jews.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
20 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rodolf

If, in fact the “young adults” are threatening physical harm to ANY students, that cannot be tolerated. However, if Jewish students FEEL threatened by virtue of the fact that the supporters of the Palestinian cause are critical of Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians for the past 60 years, that does not qualify as requiring disciplinary action.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
20 days ago

Some of these people chant for destruction of the world’s only Jewish state. Half the world’s Jewish population lives there. They send social media posts to Jews telling them to “go back to Poland”. These posts get 10,000s of likes on X. Concern over Gaza is granted but its manifested itself in a way that is ultimately genocidal.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
19 days ago

(1) I’m not sure I understand your last sentence. Did you mean that the protests about concern for the Palestinians would lead to the continuation of the war against them? (2) How should concern over Gaza have been manifested? The U.S. has a president who has said he will support Israel no matter how much destruction and death Israel visits upon the Palestinians, who has expressed some sort of something, I hesitate to say, empathy, for what’s happening to the Palestinians, but has done absolutely nothing in ceasing to send arms to Israel with which they can continue their merciless assault on the Palestinians. Many Americans, Jewish as well as non-Jewish, who feel great empathy for the plight of the Palestinians, call and write to our Congress people, and to the president, but nothing is done. The media present whatever the IDF and the Israeli government tell them, with little or no evidence for the truth of what they are being told. So, is it so unreasonable to see see university students, who constitute a subgroup of society, rising up to say this is wrong, we shouldn’t allow this? (3) Calling for the destruction of ANY state is abhorrent to me. However, I would not like any RELIGIOUS state, be it Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim. I believe in secular states in which every citizen receives the same respect, benefits and responsibilities. Forty years ago when there was conversation about what the solution to the “Israeli problem” was, both a two-state solution and a one-state one with the same rights for Palestinians as for Jewish people, were proposed. If you look at the history, it doesn’t work to blame the inability to arrive at a solution to the Palestinians’ unwillingness to compromise, for what you may be talking about is their unwillingness to accept Israel’s terms. Of course, over the years, Israel has allowed, even encouraged, the settlements that have so ghettoized the area of the West Bank and Gaza, and the U.S. has stood by and done nothing. You can hardly, in good faith, offer a two-state solution now. Yet something must be done – it is unjust for the Palestinians to live with less justice, less rights, less benefits than Jewish citizens.

Ken Bowman
Ken Bowman
19 days ago

“The media present whatever the IDF and the Israeli government tell them”
I have viewed several recent BBC news transmissions showing horrors from inside Gaza. These have presumably been provided under Hamas control. There have been no balancing pro Israel pieces.

D Day
D Day
19 days ago

I thought the whole “safe space “ agenda was all about people “feeling threatened” by other people not agreeing with them

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Paul Rodolf

No, the innocent children live in Gaza. These are the new anti-war protestors, and long may their voices be heard. The military industrial complex must be stopped.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
20 days ago

I pray for these lost souls carping on about things they don’t understand, but let’s not underplay this as mere LARPing. Something far more sinister is at work here, acting through these young people.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

We will all need strength in the trials ahead. God help us all.

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
20 days ago

Which god?

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
20 days ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

The God of Abraham, which is the same God Muslim’s worship.

Archibald Tennyson
Archibald Tennyson
20 days ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

You know which one. The living God, maker of heaven and earth, of all things seen and unseen.

This faux-intellectual atheist posturing is getting real old.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
20 days ago

There’s no such thing as God. Unless of course you mean little tin gods, there’s plenty of them around.

Arthur G
Arthur G
20 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

That’s your completely unsupported opinion.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  Arthur G

No, it’s not just her completely unsupported opinion, it’s a fact.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  Eleanor Barlow

Exactly.

Chris J
Chris J
19 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

I am not a religeous person but how is it a proven fact that the god claimed by the worshippers of the Abrahamic Religions does not exist.
Can you supply a reference to this proof.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
20 days ago

The sad irony here is many of the pro-Hamas protestors are black and yet they have zero awareness of how racist the Islamic world is toward them.

R S Foster
R S Foster
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

I believe the most commonly used Arabic word for a Black African or one of that descent…translates as something between “slave” and the “n” word that must not be uttered. And as I recall, antisemitism was “a thing” amongst some more extreme African/American activists because of the supposed role of American Jews as landlords, pawnbrokers and shopkeepers in their neighbourhoods…more recently replaced with an animus towards Koreans for the same reason?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Quite the sweeping generalization given the fact that several sub-Saharan nations have a Muslim majority.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
18 days ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

Witnessed it personally. It’s a definite thing.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
20 days ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

(1) Why do you insist on calling them “pro-Hamas?” (2) Do you lack the imagination to understand how black people, whether in South Africa or in the U.S., would identify with Palestinians, as they, too, have endured apartheid treatment?

T Bone
T Bone
20 days ago

You’re making the exact DEI argument as if DEI is an emancipatory program for minorities when in fact is a political program to install socialists.

The only people using the language you use are Socialists. Stop conflating black people with Socialists. Just because a SOME Black people identify with the settler colonialism narrative doesn’t mean ALL do.

You’re intentionally conflating All with Some.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
20 days ago

As a Jew this is terrifying stuff. Most Zionists believe in the only Jewish state, a mere slither on the Mediterranean coexisting with 22 Arab league countries in the middle east. Israel does its best to make friends in region, exampled by water supply deals with Jordan.

Anti-zionism on American campuses believes in the violent destruction of the only Jewish state and replacing it with an arab-muslim supremacist state over all of it.

The moderate 2 state solution Jewish zionist will always much much better people than these performative protestors.

George Venning
George Venning
20 days ago

“The moderate 2 state solution Jewish zionist will always much much better people than these performative protestors”
Sure, if you like. And if you count yourself among that number, good for you.
But moderates aren’t the subject of the protests. The subject of the protests are the current Israeli cabinet – people who have made their entire political careers out of frustrating that outcome – a policy they appear to have taken to the extreme length of supporting Hamas.
https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-778417
https://www.thenation.com/article/world/why-netanyahu-bolstered-hamas/

Addie Shog
Addie Shog
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

It is nothing to do with the current Israeli government nor Netanyahu. Do you actually listen to the protesters? They are most certainly not calling for co-existence. They are espousing a genocidal ideology of destroying Israel and all of the Jews therein. “We are Hamas.” “We love you Hamas”
(FWIW Netanyahu’s policy of bribing Hamas has been proven to be a disaster and if only for this he has to lose his job.)

George Venning
George Venning
17 days ago
Reply to  Addie Shog

The core demand is to “stop the genocide”. You may, or may not accept that characterisation of Israel’s actions – the ICJ has yet to rule on the matter – but that is obviously their central claim. It is a totally legitimate claim and one that is not being advanced through any major political channel – leaving protest as the de facto action of last resot.
If you can find protestors saying things like “we love you Hamas” fiune, I am not going to say you’re lying. I am going to say that you are ignoring the overall tenor of the thing and imagining that these comments add up to a general demand for genocide on the part of all the protestors.
But shall we play the same game with commnents made by Netanyahu, his cabinet and generals. South Africa has pages and pages of the stuff Amalek and the like. If we take these off hand comments by a few protestors “seriously” isn’t it far more important that we do the same for the comments of powerful politicians with an active military under their command?

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
20 days ago

I’ve got to the end of this rather good essay with the conclusion that this was not a protest as such – just a restless, directionless, mindless mob.
The logical conclusion to that is that the event does need shutting down. The peoples’ presence does not attach to any specific cause which is what would make it a protected protest and it is resulting in the articulation of anti-semitic hatred.
The problem is – they got a good cover. Add a couple of keffiyehs to your rowdy student party and BOOM! You’re intouchable. It’s impossible for the police to break it up, even if the status as a protest is only superficial.
Just as the younger generation have become fluent in the language of victimhood to escape responsibility for their own bad behaviour, so Palestine is a cover – an Iron Dome one might say – for the same.
And this is the flower of America’s intellectual future. Good grief.

James S.
James S.
20 days ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

No, these kids and their faculties may think that they’re the “flower of America’s intellectual future” but they’re VERY far from it.

If I were a prospective employer, I’d steer well clear of anyone whose main credential is an Ivy League education. Lots of other good kids out there who have gotten a real education (classical Christian, e.g.) and know how to think, as well as how not to be entitled a*****es.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
20 days ago

Well if we’re doing movie comparisons, these chanting students most closely resemble the Little Green Men from Toy Story who worship the Claw at the Pizza Palace.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
20 days ago

The promotion by governments, corporations, academia etc all getting distracted from their core purposes and promoting social / racial / climate / LGBTQ / whatever “justice” provides bullies with license to bully, by claiming victim status. The students leading this “protest” are simply petty, ignorant bullies who claim victim status in order to bully others.

The gross naivety of the so-called leaderships of governments, corporations, academia who thought they could do good by unleashing this violence-enabling sense of injustice is truly sickening. Their cowardly refusal to look at the harms they have done and change course is nothing short of malicious negligence of duty.

It’s time now for it all to stop and the adults to get back in the room, grow some balls, find some humility and even more courage, and stop the bullying. History will – if it is written truthfully – judge our current leaders very harshly indeed.

Paul MacDonnell
Paul MacDonnell
20 days ago

Great analysis.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
20 days ago

Even as they “stick it to the man”, they slavishly conform to an ideology which they not only don’t understand, but probably aren’t even aware of. That is a terrifying thought.

These spoiled brats might have made it to an Ivy League university. But I see nothing to admire in them. They are weak, and they are foolish.

The whole point of the education that they are there to receive is to teach them to think for themselves and not to merely adopt the thoughts of others. They will leave their gilded academic halls in exactly the same pliant, conformist condition in which they entered.

What a waste of four years and £100,000 or so. What a waste of life. And what a waste of space these people are.

Michael Daniele
Michael Daniele
20 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

FWIW, it’s closer to $100,000 per year.

James S.
James S.
20 days ago

Lot of $$ to pay to become a barista

Cal RW
Cal RW
20 days ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

My daughter attended Columbia about 15 years ago. It was $65K a year then. I told her it was like buying a new BMW each year and driving it off a cliff. She did fine – is now an Army lawyer. I visited several times a year. The campus was beautiful and well manicured. I commented on that to a University official on one visit and was told the campus garden and lawn maintenance was funded by continuing royalties from the movie Ghostbusters (filmed there). At the time Columbia had about 4,000 undergraduate and 20,000 graduate students. The inverse of most universities. Kat’s analysis of the situation seems on target.

Matt
Matt
20 days ago

I can buy the idea that these kids see the protests as a social event. But the idea that they don’t really know or care what’s being protested doesn’t hold water. If this was a protest against giving kids puberty blockers, they wouldn’t be there. If it was a protest against DEI policies that prohibit the search for academic truth, they wouldn’t be there.
There have been no protests against Hamas, demanding that they stop hiding behind civilians, building their bases under hospitals and elementary schools.
There have been no protests demanding that schools cut all ties with Qatar, where the leaders of Hamas are given sanctuary in the penthouse of a luxury hotel.
There have only been protests against Israel, when Hamas kicked this war off with an atrocity, and ended a cease fire by blowing up a bus stop.
If they can label me an irredeemable racist just for being born white, I can (and do) label them as antisemites for participating in these protests.

James S.
James S.
20 days ago
Reply to  Matt

If one spouts antisemitic rhetoric, and intimidates/harasses people solely because they are Jewish, one is an antisemite, full stop.

marianna chambless
marianna chambless
20 days ago
Reply to  Matt

So, the student protestors are all antisemites just out to bond together and have a good time! That is so demeaning. These demonstrations are occurring at some of the most prestigious universities, so I would guess they have knowledge of what they’re doing. Has it ever occurred to you that they may be so disgusted with the double-speak and lack of action their government has evinced in the face of the worst horror of their lives that motivates them? As long as they stay within the confines of the Constitution, so, too, should the university administrations and the U.S. government. And I applaud their action, and particularly that of Jewish kids who stand up and say, “Not in our name”, they are the real heroes.

Matt
Matt
20 days ago

If what they are protesting is the horror (and I agree, it’s horrible), then why are none of them demanding that Hamas (the people who started the war by murdering 1,200 innocent civilians) lay down their arms and surrender?
If these kids are so knowledgeable they are aware that if Hamas surrenders there will be no more war, but if Israel surrenders there will be no more Jews left alive in the Middle East. If their elite educations have provided them with tremendous insight, then clearly 10 million dead Jews is what they want.

Matthew Freedman
Matthew Freedman
19 days ago

I could be one of those Jews as I don’t agree with the israeli government, but the pro-palestine campaign is clearly genocidal against the Jewish people as evidenced by social media posts telling them to “go back to poland” getting 10,000s of likes. They lack even the most basic knowledge of Jewish history and struggle to survive as a othered minority without homeland. They also call for a single Arab state over all the land erasing Israel and putting Jews there at risk of genocide. They have no plan for peace as evidence by their support for the Hamas massacre that murdered over a 1,000 innocent people. These people are the new nazis. They are despicable. You are not righteous, you are the new nazis of our age. You are despicable.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
20 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Well said.

Ryan K
Ryan K
19 days ago
Reply to  Matt

from my experience as an educator….the mob mentality is very strong…..race identity is strong….races all end any semblance of mixing in the lunch room….and hating Jews behind a facade of anti Zionism is very strong and very real.

Peter Lee
Peter Lee
19 days ago
Reply to  Matt

There have been a multitude of interviews with protesters indicating that many of them have little or no knowledge of what is actually being protested. The professionally produced signs and paraphernalia produced at a moments notice is obviously indicative of left wing activism and money behind these protests. This together with peer-group pressure remain powerful tools in the protest movement.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
19 days ago
Reply to  Matt

This is just students being loud and brash simply because being radical is more fun than being sensible.
At Cambridge I remember the student politics were mainly absurd. Many of my friends voted in Campus elections for the Monster Raving Looney party, or the Peanuts party rather than the Socialists or the Moderates who were very boring. It meant nothing. Just being silly.
What has changed is that the authorities are giving space to all this stupidity as something important instead of shutting it down as racist and demeaning.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago

Here’s another video from Columbia to discuss. Maybe indicative of what may have preceded the video discussed in this piece, maybe not, but it’s not as if selective editing or agent provocateurs aren’t things. These are demonstrations and this is sometimes what goes on (see also the extended versions of Gideon Falter’s guff-spreading this weekend).

https://x.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/1783719776889536754

Some of those Columbia students may have done something to make their beds here with acceptance of all the trigger-warning, hate-speech cobblers of the last few years, but now the boot is on the other foot regarding the cry-bullying and snow-flakery from their accusers. Hopefully this will teach them to grow a pair – we’ll see if they manage more self-reflection than some of the pro-Zionist lot around here eager to accept every claim of ‘feeling unsafe’ as gospel (see for example the calls for calling out the hounds above).

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
20 days ago
Reply to  A D Kent

These are the same students who have spent years vilifying whites, males, and Christians, and more recently, anyone familiar with biology. They are part of institutions that purposely sought to exclude qualified Asians from admissions. They are part of institutions where BDS has been a staple for some time. They tore down statues and openly hate a system that has made the planet’s most privileged people. No one has to selectively edit anything. They have told us who they are for years, and it has largely been tolerated, which means we get more of it and in an escalated fashion.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Some of those students may have been the kind to do that kind of whining I’m sure, but as a gender critical, DEI & Lockdown sceptic, AGW agnostic, Brexiteer, anti-imperialist, Jeremy Corbyn fan I’ve never been one to make assumptions about someones world view from a single data point. In fact I’d go further than that and say that anyone who does is a nob.

That there are people who believe all the things you list is undeniable, but then so is the fact that there numbers are probably matched by those who would have been calling those nitwits snowflakes in the last few years who are now frantically fingering their pearls informing us that a few people chanting and holding hands is absolutely, positively another Kristallnacht.

Oh and BDS should be a staple everywhere. No one should do business with genocidal c**ts.

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
20 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Alex two good posts, the lack of self awareness of the most privileged of so called students, and of the authors who you responded to is outstanding, anti semitism has many faces.

John Tyler
John Tyler
20 days ago

What I find so sad is that these youngsters are putting such effort into negative causes instead of building anything better.

Thomas Wagner
Thomas Wagner
20 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

They are not being taught anything that would lead to betterment, either physical or philosophical. They’re just chanting the shibboleths of their professors.

Mary Bruels
Mary Bruels
20 days ago
Reply to  John Tyler

They are useful idiots being used as pawns by a small nefarious group (Soros led) that wants to destroy Western civilization.

David Clancy
David Clancy
17 days ago
Reply to  Mary Bruels

Hah ha, good one.

George Venning
George Venning
20 days ago

This essay is part of a long and ignominious tradition of looking for motes in the eyes of protestors rather than the blooming great beams in the eyes of those they are protesting.
See also, all those articles mocking anti-austerity protestors for (gasp) owning smartphones or “clutching” (always clutching) a cup of starbucks coffee.
Remember that a man gaving Winston Churchill’s statue a turf mohican was somehow used to discredit any number of protest movements for years,
The soixant-huitards, it was noted, often came from privileged families – the ingratitude! The same criticism is levelled at the XR lot. Just as it was at the women’s suffrage movement – some of them were from respectable families!
If you show up to a protest you will, if you look, find any number of idiots doing idiotic things and if you want to make them look ridiculous or vicious it isn’t that difficult. You can certainly pull the same trick at the NatCon conference, or, indeed any of the major party conferences or at any event on either side of the Brexit question. It is about as lazy as “journalism” gets. Although I suppose, it’s even lazier if you don’t even bother to turn up and instead rely on stuff someone else has already uploaded to YouTube.
Movements shouldn’t be defined by selectively edited footage of their daftest adherents but by what they are actually trying to achieve.
Whatever your take on this specific conflict, asking your Government not to help another Government bomb children is, generally speaking, a legitimate political demand.
That is the distinction between what is going on at Columbia and what happened at the Unite the Right rally. Everyone could see that the Bed, Bath and Beyond Blackshirts shouting “Jews Will not replace us” were wrong ‘uns. It was difficult to discern the legitmate political demand which animated the wider rally.
But it is very notable that the demand for peace in the middle east has notably little political expression in either Parliament or Congress. Neither opposition party has thought to court the “don’t bomb babies” vote – despite extensive polling suggesting that this would be a popular position for them to take.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

Why anyone would downvote “don’t bomb babies” never ceases to blow my mind.

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
20 days ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

Because nobody is intentionally “bombing babies” Max. Hamas ensures that civilians are killed. There’s plenty of room for babies in their underground bomb shelters.

A D Kent
A D Kent
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

Absolutely spot on George. Very well said!

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

It’s weird how one person’s “black shirts” are another’s speakers of truth to power when the one uniting characteristic of the two is a dislike of Jews. Except the Tiki boys did not block random Jews from going about their business or call for a global intifada, nor were they even the focal point of the event.

George Venning
George Venning
17 days ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

No, that’s the opposite of what I’m saying.
I am saying that we should evaluate political protests on the basis of their political demands.
I am saying that the Unite the Right rally was an attempt to “Unite” existing white supremacist organisations. It was intended as a show of strength to find common cause among their various agendas which ranged from restrictions on immigration to outright white nationalism. These people are blackshirts.
The Colombia protestors are demanding that their Government cease its military and diplomatic support for Israel – a foreign state which has been found to have a case to answer for the gravest of all war crimes – genocide.
Although jewish people are the subject of both demonstrations, the first targets all Jews as Jews, the second targets the specific members of the Israeli Government who are carrying out a bloody military campaign against an occupied population. It is telling that , the latter demonstration involves large numbers of jewish people

Terry M
Terry M
20 days ago
Reply to  George Venning

The Unite the Right rally was about statues. You seem to be hypocritical.

George Venning
George Venning
17 days ago
Reply to  Terry M

So the legityimate political demand behind a rally that literally opened with a torchlight procession and chanting about Jews was the retention of statues of white goyim with connections to confederate cause and black slavery.
How very odd.
All those Nazis flags and automatic weapons must have been an administrative c**k up.
Happy to discuss controversial statues any time you like.

Max Rottersman
Max Rottersman
20 days ago

Right back at you 😉 You wrote “If the point of protesting the war in Gaza is to protest the war in Gaza, why is one of the movement’s leaders squandering even an iota of energy on intimidating two random, completely unconnected people off a public lawn for the crime of supporting Israel’s continued existence? ”
Why are you squandering energy on the weak aspect of the protests and not the more important ones?
The question is why did Jews in Israel bomb 221,000 housing units to rubble? Should we believe there was Hamas in every one? Why do these students have hours long videos of atrocities filmed against people in Gaza, often by Jews themselves?
My daughter graduated from Columbia. In her year a valedictorian spoke about “the open air prison we call Gaza”. Naturally, the large Jewish audience went silent. But SHE was right. SHE saw into reality–years ago! My eyes almost teared over not because I think she was 100% right (I’m pro Israel), but because she could say such things at a predominately Jewish school.
Where are those Jews? Why are their criticisms forgotten with whitewashing such as this. Sorry. To me you’re cherry picking aspects of the protests to defend the sicko-behavior of others (despite all your caveats). I wish you’d really LOOK at what’s going on in Gaza and has been for decades.
History will judge which Jews used their eyes and stood up for the TRUTH of what they see, not what they want to see. Columbia is a special place.

G M
G M
20 days ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

“The question is why did Jews in Israel bomb 221,000 housing units to rubble?”

Where did you get those stats?
From Hamas?
In Gaza Hamas did not allow free speech and was not a democracy.
Hamas ran an authoritarianism regime while Hamas leadership became rich.
Israel is a democracy with free speech.
The people of Gaza can do whatever they want as long as they don’t threaten and attack Israel, as on October 7.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
20 days ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

The question is why did Jews in Israel bomb 221,000 housing units to rubble?
Why did Hamas attack Israel on October 7, slaughtering hundreds and behaving worse than animals? But, please; lecture some more on “whitewashing,” as if that day never happened and as if hostages remain in captivity, even if any are still truly alive.
One group has tried repeatedly to co-exist in peace with the other. The other group wants nothing to do with peace and, in fact, wants the first group wiped out. You listened, with neither irony nor self-awareness, while the valedictorian of an Ivy League university – the living embodiment of first-world privilege – went on a rant that ignored how the population freely elected a terrorist group as its masters.

Terry M
Terry M
20 days ago
Reply to  Max Rottersman

Gaza was an open air prison due to Hamas. Israel is liberating it.

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
20 days ago

This is the collective unconscious working, a thoughtless, brainless group think if you prefer, the fact that this anti semitic racism is being done for a “larf” at a prestigious educational establishment is profoundly alarming in itself, they are not “kids” but privileged young adults acting childishly. Columbia needs to wake up and get a grip whilst it still has a reputation.

Brian Thomas
Brian Thomas
20 days ago

97% of the male student protesters are there in order to increase their chances of a sexual encounter. That’s the actual truth.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  Brian Thomas

Fine as long as they leave the women alone.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Funny!

Nathan Ngumi
Nathan Ngumi
20 days ago

Indeed.
Woke protests are now a rite of passage in higher ed in USA, like prom dances in high school.
Seldom do these American kids really know or care why they hit the streets, chant, scuffle with cops, choke on tear gas, etc. It is the fun, amusement and excitement of the experience that they prize.

Terry M
Terry M
20 days ago
Reply to  Nathan Ngumi

They want to identify with the Vietnam and segregation protests that were truly virtuous (mostly), but don’t understand the difference to the Gaza situation.

Jeff Harper
Jeff Harper
20 days ago

Groupthink rarely yields good results.

Ralph Hanke
Ralph Hanke
20 days ago

Beats studying for finals. How many of these kids are getting incompletes on their courses?

And, more importantly, how many profs will have the guts to say no? And of those, how many will be overridden by their chair and dean?

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
20 days ago

An interesting article – thanks. The whole thing for me pivots around the moment the leader says “Have you got enough video?” “Cause I look very pretty.” Everything for these kids is a performance.
‘Activism’ for me is the Poll Tax Riots. But that is not glamorous. People get hurt. And you don’t get to pose for the camera in an Arab head scarf draped in a pretty flag, fist raised to the heavens like some pound shop Che Guevara.
It often seems that demos these days are like music festivals without the music. Sit around. Smoke dope. Do a bit of chanting. Chat someone up. Maybe these kids need permission to party?

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
20 days ago

I have no normative judgement to hand down on the protests themselves. 
Perhaps that’s the problem. Making noise is one thing. Infringing on someone’s ability to move about peacefully is another. It was all fun and games when the mob attacked whites, males, Christians, and people familiar with biology, and worked to keep qualified Asians from being admitted. No one said much when pictures of the hostages were being ripped down after October 7. And here we are, a half-step from open violence. Some judgment is long overdue.
History is openly repeating itself. Again. Not that long ago, similar tactics were called for and, at times, deployed against the unholy unvaxxed. Not long ago, statues were toppled because a black criminal died of a self-inflicted overdose in police custody. Neighborhoods burned, law enforcement was vilified, and years-long crime spree followed. Every step of the way, the mob was appeased, its actions excused, justified, and rationalized. Well, here we are.
One more student movement continuing the rather sordid tradition of student movements like the Red Guard in China, the youths that helped usher in the Castro regime in Cuba, and the students who took over an embassy to open the door to the Ayatollah’s return to Iran. But let’s not be too judgy.

Another Username
Another Username
20 days ago

Anyone who has taken a journalism course in high school or college knows that students DO NOT HAVE FREE SPEECH ON CAMPUS. They have limited speech rights subject to school policies.

From the Free Speech Center:

“Constitutional provisions safeguarding individual rights place limits on the government and its agents, but not on private institutions or individuals. Thus, to speak of the First Amendment rights of students is to speak of students in public elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions. Private schools are not government actors and thus there is no state action trigger…
Students in private universities — which are not subject to the requirements of the First Amendment — may rely on state laws to ensure certain basic freedoms. For example, many state cases have established that school policies, student handbooks and other relevant documents represent a contract between the college or university and the student. Schools that promise to respect and foster academic freedom, open expression and freedom of conscience on their campus must deliver the rights they promise.”

All Ivy League schools are private institutions (they are paid for with private funds, not governmental funds). This is true of all private spaces, you do not have free speech rights in my house, you do not have free speech rights at the office, etc. The First Amendment protects us from government regulation of speech (within reason. yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater is not protected).

But if these students are violating school policy, then the schools have no duty to protect them, in fact they bear the duty to their non-disruptive students to end campus disruption and rules violations.

L Brady
L Brady
20 days ago

Where were the protests when Ukraine was invaded? Where are the protests for the Chinese Uyghurs? What about the Sudan Darfur genocide?

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
20 days ago

Excellent essay.
Luckily (in this case), protests tend to have no effect on our Glorious Leaders. They’ll do whatever they want.
And what the Democrats really seem to want is to lose the upcoming election. These protests will certainly aid in that cause.
([potential future essay]: Why do the Democrats always shoot themselves in the foot as soon as the race gets started? Too much therapy? Too little? Could it be something comically Freudian? Or maybe a genetic issue?)

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago

Maybe it’s a Father Ted Eurovison thing. They know Biden will be unlikely to make it though another term and they can’t afford to have Harris unleashed as President. Incidently, those in charge of the Democratic party should be utterly ashamed of using an elderly man with very obvious cognitive impairment in the way they are.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Alas, there is much that they should be ashamed about. Unfortunately they’re not.

Duane M
Duane M
20 days ago

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Force continues to slaughter Palestinians at will, whether man, woman, or child. And continues to deny food, water, and medicine to those Palestinians not under direct bombardment. Israel is committing crimes of premeditated mass murder.
I’m no great fan of the kids protesting on campus about Israel’s revolting behavior, because it is ineffective, impotent virtue-signaling and it directly harms those students who have come on campus to study and learn in peace.
But a column like this one from Kat Rosenfield is nothing more than a noisy distraction from the very real violence happening in Gaza, the West Bank, and other occupied territories of Israel.

Frederick Jones
Frederick Jones
20 days ago

Do they actually do any academic work and get degrees?

Dengie Dave
Dengie Dave
20 days ago

This is not just kids being kids, or a s Kat Rosenfeld puts it: “It’s hard to blame the kids for wanting to join what is, for all intents and purposes, a party.” Yikes, how do you think it feels for those not invited to the party? To me, those words treat antisemitism as a lesser form of racism, just as happened here in Labour and now at our unis. There’s a lot more going on at US unis than Kat realises. A few years back Stanford’s DEI Stazi stated: “Jews, unlike other minority group[s], possess privilege and power. Jews and victims of Jew hatred do not merit or necessitate the attention of the DEI committee.” That is pure undistilled racism. Other thing is that Qatar is major funder of US unis, which is not unrelated to the pervasive ideology now sweeping campuses, not least in the appointment of anti-Israel professors and Middle-East courses that erase the Israeli narrative, both of which provide a satisfying investment return for the Qatari millions. Don’t forget either that it was among the youth that the groundswell of Nazism took hold and was orchestrated by Hitler. Plus, you should always be wary of anyone pink Crocs.

Jeff Dudgeon
Jeff Dudgeon
20 days ago

If you run a maskometer over the photographs of the students you can detect the level of support beyond the usual core deranged proportion.

Chuck Burns
Chuck Burns
20 days ago

I enjoyed reading the article. I thought it was well written. One thought that kept coming to mind as I read the article is that Colombia is home to Cultural Marxism in America. Members of the Frankfurt School, to include Max Horkheimer, T.W. Adorno, Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, and others, fled Germany and went to work at Columbia. They taught their anti-America revised Marxist ideology to hundreds of Students. Some of those would continue on to become teachers and professors who would in turn carry on the Cultural Marxist message to destroy America. Today, virtually the entire education system of the USA is controlled by disciples of those original creators of Cultural Marxism from the Frankfurt School..

Tom Blanton
Tom Blanton
20 days ago

The more things change…
Monday, May 4, 1970, Syracuse University. I walked over to the Quad to see what all the fuss was about. Flyers for the anti-war demonstration had been passed out the previous week at the beginning of the student strike, part of a nation-wide Viet Nam war protest taking place on college campuses across the country. 
Microphones had been set up on the steps of Hendricks Chapel, and a scruffy looking fellow was reading press reports of what was happening on other campuses. A chanting rhythm had been established. “XX Hall had been occupied at YY University.” Yeah! Yeah! “Sit-in at ZZ university’s administration building.” Whoop-tee-doo! “Students shot at Kent State University.” Hooray! Right-on! “Student Union at…”
Wait, what? Students shot? Did I hear that right? The established rhythm continued unbroken. I looked around at the faces in the crowd. Did what I had just heard register with anyone else? Apparently not. The party atmosphere from the previous weekend had carried over into the demonstration. Final exams had been called off. It was party time!
Feeling a bit shocked and disgusted, I exited the Quad to the north. As I passed Crouse Hall, I noticed the Sacco-Vanzetti mural on the east wall of the building. Part of the mosaic shows a handful of demonstrators in dark suits carrying signs. I couldn’t help but think how times have changed. Things seemed so much more serious then.
As I got back to the geology building, I noticed students at the fraternity houses that lined the street on the east side of campus doing what most students were doing, packing up their cars and leaving for the summer.
We were busy in geology doing the same thing. Student Strike? Our department head was having none of it. He couldn’t go against the administration, so he just moved up the dates for our summer field courses. We were all looking forward to a summer in Wyoming and Montana studying the grand geology of the Rocky Mountains Foreland and leaving the craziness behind. 

c hutchinson
c hutchinson
20 days ago

I doubt any of the protesters have thought about the long term repercussions of their actions. I have no doubt there are organizations busy using arrest records and facial recognition to compile a list of these children to be used when they apply for jobs at companies owned or predominantly managed by Jews.

Katja Sipple
Katja Sipple
19 days ago
Reply to  c hutchinson

Oh well! Actions have consequences, and if they have not yet learnt that lesson by age 20, it’s about time they do so now.

Sara Bickley
Sara Bickley
20 days ago

I hate to defend these twerps even in a small way, but: It’s misleading, in this context, to refer to the group repetition of a speaker’s words as “chanting.” It’s called a human microphone, and it’s an established and practical technique for spreading a message through a crowd.
The message itself is the problem here; ignorant mockery of the medium doesn’t help.

T Redd
T Redd
20 days ago

Children of the Columbia Corn….special corn kids….truly organic corn

Jae
Jae
20 days ago

This article is saccharine. Too long on explaining why we just need to understand these poor, young and misjudged souls. It’s the fault of society don’t you know, because they weren’t allowed to have a party during Covid. What utter rubbish!

It’s written with the same mindset that creates the attitude of these ungrateful, vengeful privileged few at Columbia in the first place. Stop finding excuses for this degeneracy, they are acting as two year olds, and that’s an insult to two year olds.

However, even two year olds learn by being held accountable when they have a tantrum, they learn through consequences. Not milksop excuses for why Johnny is throwing a fit.

These people threatening and bullying Jews for being Jews are, unfortunately for all of us, the future. If Kat Rosenfield thinks finding excuses for these peevish and puerile babies, with no consequences for their actions is the way to address this, then the future is certainly a bleak and dismal one.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  Jae

I didn’t read Kat making excuses for the demonstrators, on the contrary.

James S.
James S.
20 days ago

Kudos to Kat R for this gem of a label:

“certified Ivy League-pedigreed assholes”

That’s a keeper!

David Pogge
David Pogge
20 days ago

But somehow the phrase “useful idiots” inevitably comes to mind. Yes, the motives of many of these children are simply puerile and shallow. But their participation gives weight to “protest” and the motives behind those organizing and driving these activities is not to simply have a party and feel important. It is evil. Those with political agendas have always used the numbers and voices of the unwitting and easily manipulated to pursue their goals. This, I am afraid, is no different.

Tim Quinlan
Tim Quinlan
20 days ago

Larping? The closest translation into UK English is: larkin’ about

Sylvia Volk
Sylvia Volk
19 days ago
Reply to  Tim Quinlan

Live Action Role Playing. As when one goes to a weekend event, dresses up as an elf and joins with the other elves to have a mock-war with other LARPers costumed as orcs.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago

Cosplay activism mixed with a heavy dose of Arab-flavoured antisemitism. Ironically, this stinks of Orientalism – a truly pathetic display of misunderstood politics and lack of self awareness.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago

There is the inconvenient truth that anyone who bothers to educate themselves on the Israeli-Palestinian issue quickly realises that the Palestinians have been treated badly.

Andrew Holmes
Andrew Holmes
20 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

There is another inconvenient truth, that Palestinians have chosen to follow leaders who have refused all proposals that don’t effectively destroy the Israeli state.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
20 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

They really have been left with very little choice. I’m surprised that there’s so little understanding here of the way the Israeli government has played this to their advantage. We are all losers and more so when we become heartless to the suffering of children in war.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I doubt anyone here has become heartless about the suffering of children in war.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
19 days ago
Reply to  Clare Knight

Really? Reading many of the comments here that is the impression I get. Many of you appear to have very little sympathy. It saddens me.

Clare Knight
Clare Knight
19 days ago
Reply to  Andrew Holmes

And those leaders have channeled millions of dollars in aid meant for Palestinians and used it for tunnels and weaponry instead of nation-building. Also, it depends on where you get your education about the Palestinian conflict. There’s more than one version.

Heidi M
Heidi M
19 days ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Up until 7 October, I honestly leaned towards the Palestinians, and while obviously the issue is complex, the pushing out from much of their homelands for various self inflicted and external causes never sat right with me. However, after seeing the horrors inflicted on 7 October, that was it. I can no longer support that cause or bear a shred of empathy. Until Hamas is throuroughly stamped out and rejected from the culture/society, I just cannot see anyway ahead for peace.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
20 days ago

Kat really hit the nail on the head here. It’s all just so much herd behavior nonsense from young people who are, as ever, the most susceptible to herd behavior nonsense. We really shouldn’t be all that surprised at such things given every generation seems to have its pet causes, its fads, its trends, its own obsessions. How many college students of the 80’s had those Che Guevera pictures yet couldn’t even name the country where his rebellion was taking place. How many teens of the early 90’s had pictures of Kurt Cobain on their walls. Let’s call a spade a spade. Adolescent people are the ultimate conformists, trying to find their place in this great big world. They’re susceptible to whatever ideas are put into their heads, which is why a lot of older and wiser people spend a great deal of time and effort trying to control and shape the opinions of these young people to establish voting preferences that will lead to future political success for whatever faction or establish purchasing patterns that will ensure the future profits of corporations.
We do them no favors by throwing them all tog