The president of one of the world's largest Holocaust museums has some choice words for college administrators who tolerate anti-Semitism on their campuses.
Meet Dani Dayan, President of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem. The center has the largest collection of artworks produced by Holocaust victims.
According to an exclusive report from Fox Newsthis week Dayan toured the United States and met with the presidents, chancellors and deans of several East Coast universities, including Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, New York University and Queens College .
FYI, some of his visits last year to American universities inspired anti-Semitic protests by pro-Palestinian activists:
We stand in solidarity @AiguaPalestina and the march they organized for an event called “The Legal Strategy for Israeli Settlements” by Israeli Ambassador Dani Dayan. Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and we demand justice for the Palestinian community. pic.twitter.com/JS6kz0hkiR
— Harvard College YDSA (@HCYDSA) November 13, 2019
Speaking to Fox News about those visits, Dayan criticized college leaders he met for using the First Amendment to defend their inaction in the face of so much antisemitism of his students.
“I am the last person trying to harm anyone's free speech, even though the free speech of pro-Israel students is being put in jeopardy. But I wonder what would happen if a professor of sociology or philosophy developed a pseudo-academic theory that justified “blackface” or a pseudo-intellectual theory that ostracized LGBTQ people. Would it also come under the protection of the First Amendment?” he said.
“We all know that if any professor published such theories, he would be fired the next day, and rightfully so. On the other hand, when a professor at Columbia, Harvard, or Princeton publishes a pseudoscientific call for the elimination of Israel, there are many chances that he will be promoted”, he added.
He mentioned the notion of “pseudo-academic” and “pseudo-intellectual” theories because many university professors have been spouting exactly that about Israel.
“In the Ivy League universities of the United States … there are groups of academics, not all, but important academics, especially in the humanities and social sciences, who are meticulously, stone by stone and step by step, building pseudo .-academic, pseudo-scientific, pseudo-intellectual theories that justify the elimination of the Jewish state,” explained Dayan.
“Violent demonstrations with students shouting 'from the river to the sea' or for a 'Global Intifada' are, of course, extremely disturbing. But in a sense, these are just a symptom. With all these academic buzzwords about 'ethnic-nationalist', 'colonial settler', 'colonization of Palestine' and 'apartheid', they are slowly but steadily building a pseudo-scientific truth of academic theories,” he continued.
“First is the demonization of Israel and then the justification. After that, they actively advocate the elimination of the Jewish state, and that is terrible,” he concluded.
Pro-Palestinian students attending Harvard University on Wednesday walked out of a lecture by Dani Dayan, Israel's consul general in New York, holding signs that read “Settlements are a war crime.”#GrupPalestina#Palestine_Group pic.twitter.com/RpUnM6fI2N
— Marwa Lahouimel (@MarwaLahouimel) November 14, 2019
Going forward, Dayan hopes that university leaders/administrators can learn from the past by not repeating the mistakes of, say, Heidelberg University.
“The University of Heidelberg in Germany in the 1930s was no less prestigious than Harvard or Columbia. This university, along with other German institutions of higher learning, developed far-fetched, horrific and barbaric academic theories about Jewish racial inferiority and racial supremacy,” he said.
“Universities and intellectuals are not immune to developing terrible theories to justify and defend atrocities… the mob that burned books written by Jews in Berlin in the 1930s were not the ignorant masses, but professors and students from the elite universities of those. days,” he continued.
That said, he appreciates the efforts made by some schools, namely schools in Florida, where a radical anti-Israel group was recently banned for promoting Hamas propaganda. But he argues that it is not enough and that, moreover, they are not motivated by the right reason.
“They've taken action for the wrong reasons … because of pressure from donors, but that's not why the president of a prestigious Ivy League university should take a stand against anti-Semitism. This stance it should come from their internal beliefs,” he explained.
“Unfortunately, I don't see that the university administrators understand this. They only respond to provocations, and do not take a principled position, rejecting anti-Semitism from their innermost convictions,” he added.
In a separate interview with Jewish Insider, Dayan had good news to share about some of the “incredible and amazing groups of young Jewish students and young Jewish leaders” he had met on his recent visit to college campuses.
After visiting the Ivy League universities in the US, the president of Yad Vashem @AmbDaniDayan raises concerns about the “academicization of anti-Semitism”, in an interview with @reglash. https://t.co/beuWG8PXZP
— Jewish Insider (@J_Insider) November 27, 2023
“If this is the next generation of American Jewish leadership, then we have reason to be optimistic. But that's where I conclude the good news,” he said.
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