top of page

U.S. Colleges Teaching Hate: American Miseducation (Documentary)

2024-02-01 (285)

In October last year, when Hamas attacked Israel, a new form of violent antisemitism instantly exploded onto American streets.

This newest strain of the oldest hatred comes not from far-right extremists, but from students and faculty at America’s most vaunted centers of learning.

In American Miseducation, Free Press correspondent Olivia Reingold travels to America’s most elite colleges—from UPenn to Columbia—to find the origins of campus antisemitism and to ask how the smartest people in the country became the source of so much hate.

American Miseducation was made possible through our partnership with the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History—a nonprofit organization building a movement of civic educators to reach the next generation with the principles of freedom, tolerance, and human dignity that lie at the heart of the American political tradition.

Credits: The Free Press @thefreepress

Video Transcription:

Okay, so I've probably been to over a dozen

of these rallies so far, and I have never

seen it this crazy this early on.

This protest was one of hundreds of pro

palestinian marches that have broken out around the

country since Hamas's attack on Israel last year.

On October 7, terrorists raped and tortured civilians,

murdered 1200 people, and took 250 hostages.

Many protesters are calling for an end

to Israel's ongoing counterfessive in Gaza.

But increasingly, the message is not one of peace.

It's one of revolution and violence against the state

of Israel and anyone who supports what revolution is.

The people versus government.

That's all you need to know.

The people versus the government.

Not black people, not Palestinians, everybody.

The people versus the government.

Israel came onto their land and colonized it.

I'm struck by how many

people are using academic language.

He's just like colonized and colonizer.

I have a degree from Columbia University and history in

war and say radical ideas from the ivory tower have

made their way into mass protests on the streets and

put a new twist on an old prejudice.

We decided to go to the source to

visit the institutions that originated this language and

ask how it has come to define protesters'understanding

of the Israel Palestine conflict.

The struggle of imperialism and colonialism is intersection,

and nobody's free until we are all free.

Political action on campus

often reflects national movement.

In recent years, college students have demonstrated

for Black Lives Matter, the Metoo movement,

and calls for trans rights.

But when pro palestinian rallies kicked off around

the country this fall, we heard from students

who said things on campus felt different.

My jewish sisters and brothers and I are on

the receiving end of death threats from our peers.

Won't touch him.

Radical progressive politics were metastasizing

into open anti semitism overnight.

The very people who had spent years demanding

safe spaces and complaining about microaggressions

transformed into free speech absolutists. Shut up.

Free Palestine vote.

What happened?

The rhetoric, both from students and faculty

leaders, has been deeply worrying for.

The University of Pennsylvania, one of the

most selective schools in the world, faces

some of the strongest criticism.

Last year, the college hosted several anti semitic

speakers at a festival on palestinian literature.

The event featured Mark Lamont Hill, who was fired by

CNN for calling for the destruction of Israel, and maybe most

notably, Roger Waters, the really wacky former Pink Floyd

vocalist who's publicly used anti jewish slurs, desecrated

the memoryof Anne Frank, and has dressed up as a Nazi

and floated a pig balloon with a Star of David

at many of his concerts.

And when activists across the country began

tearing down posters of israeli hostages.

Why are you tearing them down?

The Penn campus was no exception.

Every single one is a flyer that was ripped down.

You can see the remnants of

them, like literally all over.

Eyal Yakobi is a Penn senior tracking

the uptick in anti semitic incidents.

This is where the swastika was found,

spray painted in a spray booth.

It was in here, I believe, in the spray booth.

I don't know where.

In the past month at Penn, there's been six

different physical incidents of jew hatred, whether it be

a swastik or whether it be a jewish fraternity

house being vandalized with Jews or Nazis.

Since October 7, AoL has been eating

meals at the campus hallel, where jewish

students have been sharing their experiences.

I'm sure a lot of you woke up on October eigth

and realized that there had been a terrorist attack in Israel.

And when did you first started to notice

that maybe other people on campus weren't perceiving

it as an act of terrorism?

It must have been 11:30 a.m.

Was pen against the occupation, organizing

a rally for the next day.

Literally wall Hamas.

Terrorists were still in Kibutzim.

And that's when I kind of realized that

we have members in the community who actively

want to defend it and justify it.

That was really eye opening.

The reason why I even got involved with speaking out

about any of this was because at one of therallies, my

Hebrew and Judaica advisor, that Israel desecrates the

memory of those who died in the Holocaust.

Israel is the epitome of anti semitism.

My grandfather survived the Holocaust and his

father and his brother were murdered.

And I just was standing there and

I'm like, who is this woman?

My great grandfather who was

killed, his name was Israel.

You don't think he would have been

proud of the state of Israel?

In the aftermath of October 7, students were

surprised to find their own professors speaking out

in support of the murderous attack.

A UC Davis assistant professor is under fire tonight

for things they posted on social media platform x.

One group of people we have easy access

to in the US is all these zionist

journalists who spread propaganda and misinformation.

They have houses with addresses.

Kids in school, they can fear their

bosses, but they should fear us more.

At the end of the post, a

knife, an axe, and blood emojis.

Mika Tosker described Israelis Jews as

pigs, savages, and irredeemable excrement.

Stanford University has suspended a lecturer following

accusations that he directed jewish students in

his class to stand in the corner

and described Israelis as colonizers.

Hamas has shifted the balance of power.

Hamas has punctured the illusion of invincibility.

It was exhilarating.

It was energized.

The only criminal thing is stellar colonialism.

It is completely not acceptable for a professor

at Columbia to call what Chumas did something

worthy of jubilation and awe, of stunning victory.

I think that antisemitism plays some role

in explaining what's been happening on campus

and how administrators have been responding.

Political scientist Yasha Monk writes about the

history of identity politics on college campuses.

The new ideology about race and gender and

sexual orientation that's become so influential in our

society as a whole, in particular on college

campuses, gives you a few basic conceptual categories

to understand the world.

The first is that it'll split the world into

whites and people of color and think that that

is really the key distinction that explains the contemporary

United States, but also other parts of the world.

The second is to distinguish between

dominant people and particular colonizers and

the dominated of the colonists.

Now, if you apply all of that to

the very complicated situation in Israel Palestine, it

suddenly looks deceptively simple, and it's impossible for

those oppressed people to do anything bad, anything

unjust towards their oppressors.

And so suddenly you can reconceptualize something like the

terrible, gruesome Hamas massacre on October 7 as a

form of righteous resistance against white colonials.

Glory to the murders.

Glory to the murders.

The problem for me is with what campus

culture becomes if a few activists are dominated.

So it's enough for a relatively small percentage of students

to want to intimidate people who support as well, or

to intimidate anybody who happens to be jewish.

For that to become a very unpleasant atmosphere.

I'm heading to Cooper Union now.

There have been reports that jewish

students are locked in the library.

I believe they are there for safety

reasons, and there are reports circulating.

Security feel outnumbered.

Several jewish students who wished to

remain anonymous recounted their experience in

the library that afternoon.

So a bunch of us went into the library.

Security or some teachers locked the door because

they heard people coming, and then they were

shouting, like, free tie sign, pre tie sign.

We all heard the loudest banging on

metal doors, floors shaking, walls shaking.

We all ran from our seats once

they were banging on the library. Let us in. Let us in.

Let us in.

It was very scary.

I definitely feel hatred towards me.

I've never been scared like that, because I

realized if they came in, then there was

nothing I could do to stop them.

A lawyer for the jewish students held

a press conference the following day.

We have been retained by a number of the

students who were impacted by yesterday's horrific events.

Students felt afraid for their safety.

They feared for their lives.

This is unacceptable in New York City.

This is unacceptable anywhere in the United States.

This is fake news.

You are supporting.

While some students disputed the threat posed to

jewish students, tensions were reaching a breaking point.

The rally was here, too, though. Right here?

Yes and yes.

Here to the right.

The very next day, at Tulane University

in Louisiana, threats turned to violence.

They were trying to burn an israeli

flag, and a student jumped out.

And the first instinct that he had

was to try and save the flag.

And as he was saving it, one of

the kids hit the person with the flag.

All hell broke loose after that.

One had a megaphone.

He whacked one of our friends, broke his nose.

There was punches thrown.

There was blood on the ground.

Just escalated very fast.

Tell me what happened next. Okay.

Yeah, someone just pretty much went

up to me and hit me.

She seems to come for you. Yeah.

I just stood on the pro Israel side.

I had no israeli flag.

It was because I was jewish.

I was surprised that this could happen on a university

in the United States, that people could be calling for

my genocide, and also that someone just came up to

me and assaulted me just for being jewish.

Despite a more than threefold increase in antisemitic

incidents after October 7, some influential voices claim

that the real threat is to the speech

of antiisrael students and faculty.

I don't see any rise of antisemitism.

I see a rise of antizionism.

The two things are very different.

They're not the same.

Colombia professor Mahmood Mamdani is one of many

faculty members who signed an open letter supporting

the right of pro Palestine students to protest.

So this is the letter, and you're one of the signees.

A lot of it has to do with

protecting the free speech rights of Palestine supporters.

We need to create an arena

which is more inclusive than exclusive.

The university should not just be an arena

for supporters of the state of Israel.

Do you think that jewish students feel

terrified to express pro Israel sentiments, though?

I mean, I can't speak in such generalities as

jewish students, but I can tell you that the

jewish students in my class are not scared.

I went here, I went to the journalism school,

and in my experience, I mean, this was a

campus in which misgendering people was violence.

I just am surprised that there would be

a tolerance for antisemitism when there's so much

intolerance towards other kinds of hatred.

Well, look, you have to prove that there

is tolerance for anti semitism, but if a

speaker is anti semitic, they should still be.

They should be confronted.

We're not going to ask people to produce their

transcripts, vet them and say, okay, you can talk.

You cannot talk. Come on.

It's a place for debate.

I mean, this is not a police station.

It's not a police state.

We don't decide what speech is

acceptable, what speech is not acceptable.

I think Columbia often has, though.

It's time to change.

Mondani made no public statement when fire named

his college the worst in the US for

free speech in 2022, nor when hundreds of

students disrupted campus republican events in 2017.

Students say administration rules make hosting

major conservative speakers practically impossible.

It's selective, their social justice advocacy.

I have friends that marched against the

abortion decision when the Metoo movement happened.

These were students, women and men alike, that

came out in unequivocal support, with unequivocal and

unwavering belief in the women that came forward.

But when the rape victims are jews, they want proof.

People were protesting before Israel retaliated,

and they're screaming, globalized the antifata

from the river to the sea.

We don't want no two state.

We want all of it.

These are calls for the erasure of

Israel and of Jews from the land.

And these are your classmates, right?

That's what's like.

It's gut wrenching.

I have people who I was friends with, whose friendships

and relationships I valued, seeking to contextualize what

Hamas did to thousands of jews on October 7.

I'm seeing attempts to contextualize and

justify the massacre of jews.

Jewish students have learned that there isn't a,

quote, safe space for them on campus like

there is for other minority groups.

When college presidents were called to

testify before Congress in December, their

institutional policies were made clear.

Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn's code

of conduct when it comes to bullying and harassment?

Yes or no?

It is a context dependent decision, congresswoman.

It can be, depending on the context.

I've heard chance, which can be

anti semitic, depending on the context.

When calling for the elimination of the jewish

people, again, it depends on the context.

The presidents of UPenn and Harvard, both of

which are now being sued by students for, quote,

pervasive anti Semitism, resigned when their apparently

indifferent testimony drew public outrage.

But their attitude reflected a common one.

On campus, protesters largely denied that there

is significant anti Semitism in their movement.

But in DC, at the largest pro palestinian

rally, to date, what I heard was revealing. Biden.


You can't hide.

It's not their land. It's our land.

And they're killing them.

And they tell him, either you go live in

a desert so they can take that land.

They said, no, we're not leaving our country.

One guy, he was just walking. They pushed him.

He's arabian.

They pushed him.

Who's they? Jewish. Is that.

We don't like to use the

term when we're talking about Israel.

We don't like to use the term Jews.

We like to use the term Zion.

Wait, can I ask you, but can I ask you.

You did use the word Jews, so can I ask you why?

Tell me about that.

Because they're the one who came in 1948.

That's how we know as the Jews.

While college students might know better than

to say jew instead of zionist, data

reveals how they actually feel.

Among 18 to 24 year olds, 67% believe that Jews,

quote, are oppressors and should be treated as oppressors.

It is, of course, legitimate to criticize

the policies of the state of Israel.

And I have done so many times in my own life.

You start to get into more complicated waters

when you single out the only jewish state

in the world in ways that don't seem

to apply when you're talking about other countries.

And we've simply learned that the socially

respectable way to express that is to

say, oh, no, hang on a second.

Nowadays, we don't say the Jews.

We say the Zionists.

What happens on campus doesn't stay on campus.

No peace on stolen land.

An extreme ideology, once written off as

fringe, has exploded onto the street.

I will not condemn the palestinian people

fighting against over 75 years of colonialism

and genocide by any means necessary.

Israel murdered their own people on October 7,

and its followers are targeting Jews everywhere.

We all live on campus now.

bottom of page