(JTA) – The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Davis, both of which have recently experienced widely publicized episodes of conflict around Israel, are among six new institutions facing U.S. Department of Education investigations.
The department has indicated it is taking a newly aggressive approach to addressing it and Islamophobia on campus since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war and is announcing new investigations at a rapid clip, dramatically increasing the pace of civil rights inquiries that it opens.
All of the investigations relate to allegations of mistreatment owing to “shared ancestry,” but the department does not publicly reveal the incidents or complaints that cause it to open inquiries. None of the latest targets would comment on their investigations’ nature, and many said they were not told why they were being investigated.
Still, it is almost certain that at least some of the investigations are related to antisemitism.
MIT President Sally Kornbluth, who is Jewish, came under heavy criticism at a recent congressional hearing for failing to say whether calling for the genocide of Jews would violate university code. The school recently decided to partially suspend pro-Palestinian student protesters who staged a disruptive event on campus property.
MIT’s communications department did not immediately return requests for comment about its investigation. The school had previously been the only one of the three represented at the congressional hearing without an active federal investigation, as the Department of Education has previously announced inquiries into Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania.
And UC Davis entered the news in October when a professor, Jemma Decristo, posted threats to “Zionist journalists” on social media. “One group of ppl we have easy access to in the US is all these zionist journalists who spread propaganda & misinformation,” Decristo wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Oct. 10. “They have houses w/addresses, kids in school[.] They can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more.” The post concluded with emojis of a knife, an ax and blood drops.
A UC Davis spokesperson said the university could not comment on the current status of Decristo’s employment, but the professor’s faculty page has been removed from its website.
“UC Davis is committed to fostering a climate of equity and justice where all can feel welcome and thrive, free of harassment or discrimination,” UC Davis spokesperson James Nash told JTA, adding that the university would be fully cooperating with the investigation. “We take all claims of harassment seriously.”
The other new active investigations are at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Drexel University, and two public school districts: one in Springfield, Illinois, and the other in Chandler, Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix. The schools join an expanding roster of dozens of active civil rights investigations on campuses across the United States since Oct. 7, including ones involving antisemitism at Harvard, Columbia, Rutgers and Tulane.
The opacity with which the office has treated its civil rights investigations has frustrated some university administrators. While some schools have indicated to JTA that they know what their investigations are related to, others have said they were not informed.
“It’s frustrating to know that you’re under investigation but you don’t know what for,” one communications staffer of a university under investigation, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told JTA. “At the same time, it is the Department of Education and we don’t want to antagonize them.”
None of the schools that responded to requests for comment would say whether their investigations were related to antisemitism.
A spokesperson for UIC said the university “strives to be a place where everyone feels welcome and where all people – no matter what color, race, ancestry, age, sex, interests, sexual orientation including gender identity, religion, disability, national origin, or marital status – can share perspectives and viewpoints to learn from one another,” but would not comment on its Title VI investigation.
A Drexel spokesperson similarly said, “Drexel does not tolerate acts of bias, discrimination and harassment.” On Oct. 11 the president of Drexel said the university was investigating a suspected case of arson outside a Jewish student’s dormitory.
A spokesperson for Springfield Public Schools District 186 told JTA their investigation was related to a complaint “filed by a parent on behalf of their child” but would not say what it was related to. Last year a high school student in the district faced hate crime charges in connection with antisemitic graffiti found at the school.
A spokesperson for Chandler Unified Schools told JTA it was “unable to provide details” about their investigation. The school district experienced an antisemitism controversy in 2021 when a woman at a school board meeting accused “the Jews” of developing the COVID-19 vaccine.
Opening an investigation does not mean the Department of Education believes the complaint has merit, only that it falls under the department’s purview.
The post MIT joins Harvard and Penn on list of schools facing federal civil rights investigations appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
‘Enough is Enough’: Petition to Replace UNRWA Gets More Than 130,000 Signatures
Geneva-based monitor group UN Watch has collected more than 130,000 signatures in support of replacing UNRWA — the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees — after it was exposed to have extensive connections to Palestinian terrorists.
The petition was announced at a UN Watch conference which aimed to “address the humanitarian situation in Gaza and formulate a plan for a future beyond UNRWA,” which the planners described as “a failed agency.”
The petition notes that, over the past few months, it has been reported that at least 12 UNRWA employees took part in Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attacks, about 1,200 UNRWA members have terrorist connections, thousands of UNRWA teachers are part of a Telegram channel that celebrated Hamas’s attack, and Hamas built a large tunnel under the UNRWA headquarters.
“Since its creation in 1949, the agency has brainwashed Gazans into believing that their home is not Gaza, but rather on the other side of the fence, in Israel,” the petition says, referencing the fact UNRWA counts Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank as refugees even though they are living in land they consider to be Palestine.
“Enough is enough,” the petition concluded, “It’s time to stop the perverse logic of an agency that perpetuates war. It’s time to replace UNRWA.”
The show of popular opposition to UNRWA comes as a growing number of countries — more than a dozen so far — have pulled funding from the UN agency amid its many scandals.
The US State Department said “The United States is extremely troubled by the allegations that twelve UNRWA employees may have been involved in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel,” and, consequently, it “has temporarily paused additional funding for UNRWA while we review these allegations and the steps the United Nations is taking to address them.”
Other countries, such as Japan, used similar language, noting that it was “extremely concerned” and that it would pause new funding until an investigation takes place.
Israel welcomed these developments. Israel’s Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, said “major changes need to take place so that international efforts, funds and humanitarian initiatives don’t fuel Hamas terrorism and the murder of Israelis.”
However, others argue that, without UNRWA, Palestinians would have no way of obtaining critical humanitarian aid.
In January, U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, after the Biden administration announced that it would pause funding to the agency, “Cutting off support to @UNRWA – the primary source of humanitarian aid to 2 million+ Gazans – is unacceptable. Among an organization of 13,000 UN aid workers, risking the starvation of millions over grave allegations of 12 is indefensible.”
“The US should restore aid immediately,” she argued.
The post ‘Enough is Enough’: Petition to Replace UNRWA Gets More Than 130,000 Signatures first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars
In a recent profile of the Israeli settlement of Homesh and the tensions between its Jewish residents and their Palestinian neighbors, The New York Times’ Steven Erlanger uncritically echoes the claim that some settlers are using boars to uproot local Palestinian agriculture.
Partway through the piece, Erlanger writes, “They [settlers] chop down olive trees, roll flaming tires down the hills to burn crops and even send boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees, the locals say.”
In the next paragraph, he expands on this claim, relating how a local Palestinian man has bought dogs to keep these boars away from his land.
This is not the first time that Israelis have been accused of setting wild boars loose in order to attack Palestinians and destroy their property.
However, in the more than 15 years that this libel has made the rounds of both Palestinian and foreign media outlets, it has proven to be only an incendiary cudgel used against the Jewish residents of the West Bank — not a legitimate news story.
Why would @nytimes legitimize the utterly ridiculous charge that Israeli settlers are “send[ing] boars to dig up Palestinian seedlings and fruit trees?”
— HonestReporting (@HonestReporting) February 26, 2024
As far back as February 2007, the Elder of Ziyon blog reported on the Palestinian claim that Israeli settlers were using trained wild boars to terrorize local Palestinian communities and to tear up their agricultural fields.
However, the claim that Israelis were using trained wild boars against local Palestinian communities really gained steam in 2012, when it was reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had previously stated that Israelis were training wild boars to uproot Palestinian trees and to “spread corruption on the face of the earth.”
In 2014, Abbas reiterated this baseless claim at a conference in Ramallah.
Since then, this libel has routinely popped up in Palestinian publications as well as news outlets aimed at foreign audiences.
As the blog Israellycool has previously noted, when it comes to blaming Israelis for wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas, there are a wide variety of conspiracies about how Israel is to blame.
These contradictory conspiracies include the allegations that Israelis are setting these pigs against Palestinian communities; that Israeli security fences are protecting Jewish communities while allowing for Palestinian areas to be ravaged; that Israelis are allowed to shoot wild boars while Palestinians are not; and that Israeli construction has forced these animals to venture into Palestinians towns and cities.
If this claim about Israel-trained fighter pigs seems fantastical, it’s because it is.
As HonestReporting noted last year (when we critiqued a UK education magazine for publishing similar absurd claims), there is no evidence that wild boar attacks in Palestinian areas of the West Bank are attributable to a nefarious Israeli plot.
In recent years, due to a variety of factors, there has been an uptick in boar sightings in both Jewish and Palestinian communities in the West Bank, as well as parts of pre-1967 Israel. In fact, the rise in boar appearances inspired a 2021 New York Times profile on the boars of Haifa.
Parallel to the rise in boar sightings has been the rise in boar attacks, with both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians falling victim to the pigs’ aggression and viciousness.
Even Yesh Din and B’Tselem, two Israeli organizations that focus on alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, have found there to be “no evidence” of any boar attacks in Palestinian communities being attributable to a Jewish conspiracy.
This boar conspiracy is yet another point in a long line of Israel-related animal conspiracy theories.
While they might seem ridiculous, some of the theories include:
The claim that Israel trained dolphins to serve as spies or assassins.
The claim that a vulture was trained by the Mossad to conduct reconnaissance.
The claim that Israel was using rats to drive out Palestinians from their eastern Jerusalem homes.
The claim that the Mossad was responsible for a slew of shark attacks in the Red Sea off the coast of the Sinai Desert.
Much like these other conspiracies, the claim that boar attacks in the West Bank are attributable to an Israeli plot is hogwash, and should not be spread by The New York Times or other reputable news organizations.
The author is a contributor to HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias — where a version of this article first appeared.
The post The New York Times Shares Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theory About Boars first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State
What really drives terror against Israel? To begin a proper answer, we must first understand the universal human need “to belong.” This primal need can be expressed harmlessly, as in sports fandom or rock concerts, or perniciously, as in jihadist terror-violence.
In matters of terrorism, widely alleged political motivations (e.g., sovereignty, “self-determination,” and statehood) are actually secondary or reflective. In the case of any proposed “two-state solution,” Palestinian sovereignty is never anything other than political manipulation or subterfuge. Not only would a Palestinian state fail to stop Palestinian terrorism, it would render such terrorism increasingly likely and even more injurious.
In ancient times, Aristotle already understood that “man is a social animal.” Typically, the seminal philosopher recognized, even a “normal” individual can feel empty and insignificant apart from any tangible membership in the “mass.” Inter alia, that mass is the State. Sometimes, however, it is the Tribe. Sometimes the Faith (always, of course, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is “The Liberation” movement or simply “the Revolution.”
Details aside, whatever the mass claims of any particular moment, it is an unquenchable craving for belonging that threatens to produce catastrophic downfalls of individual responsibility and variously correlative triumphs of collective wrongdoing. Today, in jihadist-centered parts of the Middle East, unless millions can finally learn how to temper the overwhelming human desire to belong at all costs, all military, legal, and political schemes to control war and terrorism will fail.
It’s time for more serious explanations. To more genuinely understand what lies behind Palestinian terrorism against Israel, science-based analysts must first learn to look more deeply behind the news. In the final analysis, such “molecular” looks could helpfully explain jihadist fusions of susceptible individuals into murder-centered terror gangs. Prima facie, in the jihadist Middle East, war and terrorism would never take place in the absence of such inherently barbarous collective identifications.
Earlier, relevant core concepts were clarified by Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. Whenever individuals crowd together and form a mass, both recognized, the exterminatory dynamics of a mob can quickly be unleashed. More precisely, they discovered, these dynamics could lower each single person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where even anonymous mass killing would be widely welcomed and encouraged. This is precisely what happened with Hamas’ October 7, 2023, attack upon vulnerable Israeli civilians.
In today’s jihad-oriented Middle East, Islamic faith has been placed in the witting service of war and terror. Hamas terror against Israel is fueled by effectively unchallengeable evocations of “divine will.” Ironically, the net result of any such perfidious summoning is to drown out any authentic hints of sacredness or godliness.
Doctrinally, once empathy and compassion are extended outside the terrorizing jihadist mass,they must go unrewarded. In the case of Jews, moreover, humane sentiments must also be actively punished. Here, as generalizable virtues, empathy and compassion become extraneous and presumptively self-destructive.
There are pertinent details. In the name of allegedly divine commandment, jihadist/Hamas terror-criminality offers the wider world neither salvation nor holiness, but only conspicuously lethal “groupthink.” Among other things, the dissembling rhythms of this annihilating ethos make it futile for Israel to advance even the most honest efforts at peaceful coexistence.
This fundamental dilemma can never be solved by pundits, political leaders or self-declared “experts.” True solutions will require the concentrated intellectual efforts of uncommonly gifted thinkers. For Israel, it would emerge, any purported two-state solution could be a “final solution.” Here, the ironies would be both insufferable and unconscionable.
To undertake increasingly urgent investigations of Hamas terror-criminality, capable scholars and policy makers should look much more closely at the complex determinants of human meaning. Before we can slow-down terror-violence against Israeli and various other noncombatants, Hamas and kindred groups will first have to be shorn of their inclination to bestow celebratory status upon murderers. To affect those mass-directed individuals who turn to terrorism (i.e., ritualistic murder) for affirmations of personal worth, capable thinkers should first identify more benign but still comparably attractive sources of belonging.
In the very deepest analytic sense, Hamas terror-violence represents the result of cumulative individual failures to draw personal meaning “from within.” In Gaza and other mass-directed Palestinian areas, “redemption” requires “the faithful” to present tangible and perpetual proof of belonging. In any such presentation, evidence of participation in violence against Israeli men, women, and children is self-evidently gainful.
At its heart, Palestinian terror-violence against Israel is a problem of displaced human centeredness. Ever anxious about drawing meaning from their own “inwardness,” Hamas adherents draw ever closer to mass-based defilements. In all too many cases, a blood-soaked voice of anti-reason makes even the most gratuitous forms of terror-killing seem glorious.
There is more. When it is correctly understood as a form of religious sacrifice, Hamas terrorism confers the greatest possible form of power. This is the power of “martyrdom,” or power over death. At that stage, it is not merely belief or belonging that is being offered to jihadist murderers. It is also immortality. Lest anyone forget, the heroic death that the Palestinian “martyr” expects to endure is nothing more than a transient inconvenience on the path to a life everlasting. In essence, therefore, the Palestinian shahid “kills himself” (or herself) in order not to die.
At birth, each person contains the possibility of becoming fully human, an opportunity that could reduce potentially destructive loyalties to any murderous mass. Indeed, it is only by nurturing this indispensable possibility that we humans can seek serious remedies to war and terrorism. In principle, at least, Israel’s long-term struggle against Hamas and other jihadists should be to encourage potential terror-killers to discover the way back to themselves as empathetic human beings. But that’s hardly a realistic suggestion.
It’s a time for a summation. Israel should never misunderstand or misrepresent the core causes of Palestinian terror. To wit, Hamas killers are not most genuinely interested in sovereignty, “self-determination,” or statehood, but rather in evidence of belonging, pretended heroism, and a faith-reinforcing immortality.
For the immediate future, Israel will need to continue its life-saving military response to jihadist terrorism, especially when Hamas leaders remain determined to sacrifice Palestinian civilian populations for narrowly cynical and self-serving reasons. If Hamas leaders really believe in their own “sacred” promises of life everlasting to Palestinian “martyrs,” why are they unwilling to “sacrifice” themselves or their families? Only when this core question is raised and candidly answered could Israelis finally understand why well-intentioned concessions to Palestinian statehood would be misconceived and self-destructive.
Louis René Beres, Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue, is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (University of Chicago Press, 1980) and Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (D.C. Heath/Lexington, 1986). His twelfth book, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, was published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016. A version of this article was originally published by Jewish Business News.
The post The True Motivation of Terror — Hamas Terrorists Don’t Want a State first appeared on Algemeiner.com.