College campuses are supposed to be sanctuaries of inclusion where all students feel safe and welcome. But at some schools, administrators care more about catering to fringe interest groups than looking out for the student body as a whole. UMass Amherst is one such university.
Three Jewish UMass students were recently forced to file a lawsuit to prevent a troupe of anti-Semites from holding an event on campus. The event, titled “Not Backing Down: Israel, Free Speech and the Battle for Palestinian Right”, features a panel of highly controversial figures. Linda Sarsour, Roger Waters, and Marc Lamont Hill represent a clear and present danger to Jewish students. These speakers all have a disturbing history of racist and extremist rhetoric and their presence alone constitutes a form of violence against members of a religious minority.
According to the lawsuit, Sarsour is an “out-spoken anti-Semite [who] opposes Israel’s right to exist”. She has used her large social media following to promote hateful content and anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Earlier this year, she shared an article accusing the Jewish Community at large of “waging a profound war on black people”. She has praised convicted terrorists with blood on their hands, called for the destruction of Israel and warned her followers not to “humanize” Jews. The founder of the Women’s March even called for Sarsour to resign her position within the organization.
Marc Lamont Hill was recently fired by CNN after calling for a free Palestine “from the river to the sea”. This phrase is commonly used by terrorist organizations to promote the eradication of all Jews living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, which happens to include the entirety of Israel. Roger Waters has been a vocal advocate for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. He has also been known to make outrageous comments and spout conspiracy theories that would fit right in at an alt-right white supremacist rally.
There is always room for healthy debate on college campuses but this panel has nothing to do with debate. These shameful speakers have all made their contempt for Israel and Jews very clear. Providing them with an official university platform would only serve to ostracize Jewish students and make them feel less safe on campus.