Protesters at Columbia University want Hamas to “burn Tel Aviv to the ground”

Protesters at Columbia University want Hamas to “burn Tel Aviv to the ground” April 24, 2024

“The 7th of October is going to be every day for you.” So screamed protesters at two Jewish Columbia University students just outside the campus gates. Others at Columbia called for Hamas to “burn Tel Aviv to the ground,” which would entail the murder of more than four million Jews, and chanted, “Hamas, we love you. We support your rockets too.”

Since Hamas terrorists murdered an estimated 1,200 men, women, and children in Israel last October 7, antisemitism has escalated dramatically in the US and especially on college campuses.

Columbia, an Ivy League school in New York City, became an epicenter when a tent city dubbed the “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” was created on the school’s campus. Now pro-Palestinian demonstrations and encampments have spread to more than a dozen schools across the country. Students are calling for an end both to the Israel–Hamas war and to their universities’ investment in companies engaged with Israel.

School administrators at Columbia did report some progress early this morning in negotiations with pro-Palestinian protesters, who agreed to remove a significant number of tents from the lawn, ensure non-students would leave, and bar discriminatory or harassing language among the protesters.

Harvard University has closed its yard until Friday in anticipation of pro-Palestinian protests. Yale’s president is concerned about “reports of egregious behavior such as intimidation and harassment” on his campus. Officials at numerous schools are concerned that pro-Palestinian demonstrators will disrupt graduation ceremonies later this spring.

Jewish students are especially at risk. Some at Columbia have been assaulted and otherwise threatened. Jewish groups have been hiring extra security for Passover events.

What is behind these protests?

How can the answers help us engage our broken culture with redemptive truth?

“The only nation founded on a creed”

The day after the October 7 massacre, Columbia professor Joseph Massad praised the “awesome” scenes of the assault “witnessed by millions of jubilant Arabs.” In 2018, Columbia professor Hamid Dabashi posted on Twitter (now X): “Every dirty treacherous ugly and pernicious act happening in the world” could be traced to “the ugly name of Israel.”

As I noted in my ebook on the conflict between Israel and Hamas, protesters claim that Israel “colonized” its land from the rightful Palestinian owners and that it “occupies” territory that should belong to a free Palestine. As I explain in my book, both claims are absolutely false, both with regard to the history of the land and to current realities there.

However, we no longer live in a culture where truth is determined by what is right and wrong, factual or fallacious. As a result, it is difficult to have a reasoned conversation these days about Israel, abortion, same-sex marriage, transgender rights, or any other contested cultural issue.

G.K. Chesterton famously noted that “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” Ours can be stated in a sentence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

But if these truths are no longer “self-evident,” are we then free to reject them?

  • Darwin convinced many that we are not “created” by a “Creator” but the product of naturalistic processes.
  • Anti-semitists and other racists, pornographers, and sex traffickers do not believe we are “created equal.”
  • Abortion and euthanasia advocates do not believe that the “unalienable Rights” to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” extend to all.

Now we’re seeing a blatant rejection of our founding creed at some of our most elite educational institutions. What does this mean for our future as a democracy?

Beware this “work for God”

Self-governance will fail if people cannot govern themselves. And, as Scripture notes, “There is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). This is why, as we have seen this week, we each need a daily, intimate relationship with the only One who can forgive our sins and transform our hearts.

The good news about human history is that anyone can change history. Paul’s unnamed nephew (Acts 23:16–22) and a Roman officer named Claudius Lysias (Acts 21:31–23:30) were instrumental in saving the apostle from his enemies, enabling his ministry in Rome (Acts 28:30–31) and the last seven of his letters (Acts 23:16–22). Many of the Bible’s greatest heroes came from the unlikeliest of backgrounds.

According to Jesus, you and I are “the light of the world” today (Matthew 5:14). But we must be the change we wish to see. To manifest the love of God, we must experience the love of God (1 John 4:19).

This is why Oswald Chambers warned:

Beware of any work for God which enables you to evade concentration on him.

He explained: “A great many Christian workers worship their work. The one concern of a worker should be concentration on God.” Then he added:

There is no responsibility on you for the work; the only responsibility you have is to keep in living constant touch with God, and to see that you allow nothing to hinder your cooperation with him. . . . God engineers everything; wherever he puts us, our one great aim is to pour out a whole-hearted devotion to him in that particular work.

What is your “one great aim” today?

Wednesday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure; to find him, the greatest human achievement.” —St. Augustine

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