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Universities, we used to think, were places where the smarter kids went, and where the smarter teachers taught.

We used to think that.

Now, not so much. Now, universities – including the most-admired ones, like Harvard and Columbia and McGill and U of T – are where profoundly-stupid things are happening. And where hate is running rampant.

The Times of Israel published a story about all of this a couple days ago.  A study found that the pro-Hamas, anti-Israel madness has gripped elite universities – but not the less-exclusive colleges, where kids from lower-income families go.

The study was conducted by the Washington Monthly. “Have pro-Palestinian protests taken place disproportionately at elite colleges, where few students come from lower-income families?” the study’s authors asked, then answered their own question: “The answer is a resounding yes.”

The survey focused only on U.S. universities and colleges, but is applicable in Canada, too. Because we’re not seeing so many kids screaming “from the river to the sea,” or hanging Jews in effigy at Red Deer Polytechnic or Durham College, are we?

The survey looked at 1,421 colleges, some public and some private. Only 123 had some kind of an encampment. At private colleges, they were practically non-existent.

But at the big-shot universities? At the fanciest universities, like Harvard – where, full disclosure, I attended classes at the business and law schools – the protests and rallies and encampments have been positively widespread. Said the study’s authors: “In the vast majority of cases, campuses that educate students mostly from working-class backgrounds have not had any protest activity. For example, at the 78 historically Black colleges and universities, 64 per cent of the students, on average, receive [grants for coming from lower incomes]. Yet according to our data, none of those institutions have had encampments and only nine have had protests.”

Their conclusion: “Protests are overwhelmingly an elite college phenomenon.”

Thus, what we witnessed at the University of Manitoba in recent days. A Dr. Gem Newman was asked to give the valedictory speech at U of M on May 16. The people who asked him should’ve checked out his social media first.

In his speech, Newman said that the Jewish state deliberately targets hospitals and healthcare workers. He said Israel was committing “genocide.” He said graduates should oppose “settler colonialism both at home and abroad,” “injustice” and “violence.”

Not surprisingly, a controversy immediately erupted, with U of M alumni, and others, expressing outrage about Newman’s attacks and false statements.

If anyone had bothered to review Newman’s social media, as noted, they wouldn’t have been surmised by his speech. For example, last year he expressed approval when someone posted on X that “if my kid respected Israel, I would have him tested for rabies.”

He liked another one calling Israeli “a genocidal apartheid state,” that was “engaged in ethnic cleansing.” Also one saying that Israel was not “a real country,” much in the way the Hamas Charter says it isn’t. In his own words, he has said “Israel is an apartheid state.” He has posted about the IDF being a “mass assassination factory.” And so on.

It would be comfort, small as it may be, to say that Gem Newman is the exception at our best places of learning. But he isn’t. Just this week, someone at the University of Toronto made Nazi salutes on-camera, approvingly called Hitler “a gangster” and said he should have finished exterminating Jews.  At McGill, a Jewish leader was hanged in effigy at the universities main gates. Nobody did anything.

Everywhere you look, these days, our supposedly-elite places of learning have degenerated into festering pits of hate and division. Their presidents may appear before House of Commons committees, and they may agree anti-Semitism is a problem on their campuses, but then they do precisely nothing about it.

Higher education? It is neither. It is very very low, these days, and there is nothing educational about it.

Do your kid, and yourself, a favour. Send him or her to a community college. They’re less likely to end up praising terrorists, and more likely to get a better life.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

There appears no end in sight to the Israeli bombardment of Gaza.

Despite the death of at least 213 Gazans, 61 of whom were children, and the wounding of 1,500 others (along with 12 Israelis, including two children), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains undeterred in his campaign of violence against the Palestinians.

Dismissing calls from many in the international community, pleading for an immediate ceasefire, the ever-belligerent Netanyahu has doubled down on Israel’s “natural right of self-defense” and pledged “full force” against Gaza.

The repercussions of Netanyahu’s destructive aggression cannot be understated.

By continuing Israel’s immoral (not to mention completely disproportionate) onslaught on Gaza, Netanyahu is escalating the cycle of violence that has plagued the middle east for decades.

Then, as in now, the overwhelming victims are Palestinian children. As Israeli bombs fall relentlessly down from the skies above, far too many young Palestinians will have their lives cut short. And even those that do survive will have their innocence forever tainted by the carnage they were forced to witness and endure.

Not that Netanyahu could give a dam.

As long as the Israeli government’s most prominent backer, the United States, maintains its duplicitous support- by blocking UN Security Council attempts calling for an immediate ceasefire, and by providing billions in no-strings attached military aid – they are unlikely to prematurely end their deadly air strikes.

In Canada, our influence in the middle east is far less consequential than our American neighbours, though no less complicit.

In response to the crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and foreign affairs minister, Marc Garneau, issued the usual round meaningless statements, full of government jargon, all while offering nothing to end the bloodshed.

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole was even worse.

With his entirely pro-Israeli statement (in which he makes no mention of the immense suffering endured by the Palestinian people) O’Toole demonstrated again that the Conservatives are even more ill-suited than the Liberals to advocate for justice in the middle east.

After all, the Conservatives are a party that still endorse, in full Trumpian fashion, the relocation of the Canadian embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They, like their Republican compatriots to the south, are both blinded by their unconditional support for Israel’s intolerant and repressive government, and to the principles of international justice.

In fact, the only major political leader who has displayed even an ounce of integrity on the issue was the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh.

During a press conference last week, and later in Question Period, Singh demanded that the governing Liberals suspend their arms sales to Israel. Singh wisely noted that “…by arming one side of the conflict” the federal government “is undermining the peace process and it is supporting illegal occupation.”

Not only is this an entirely reasonable proposal, but it is also an incredibly necessary one to limit Canada’s culpability for the violence and systemic oppression incurred upon the Palestinians by the Israeli government.

Of course, that is not the opinion held by the “esteemed” thinkers in the editorial newsroom of the National Post, who went on the offensive against Singh.

According to them, because Canada’s military arms sales to Israel is limited ($13.7 million worth in 2019) and because Canada has had “longtime friendly relations” with Israel, Singh’s proposal is both absurd and yet another example of misguided equivocation between a fellow democracy (Israel) and a terrorist cell (Hamas).

Views like this must be countered, as this is a shockingly simplistic take on the situation; one that fails to recognize that the violence unleashed by an internationally recognized, democratic country such as Israel, is no more morally acceptable than the violence unleashed by the militant Hamas.

Nor does it consider, as wiser minds have (like United States Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) that even if it was more morally acceptable, Israel is still anything but an egalitarian, rule of law democracy, as “apartheid states aren’t democracies

But this is the reality of Israel.

After years of systematically oppressing millions of Palestinians and denying them even their most basic human rights, it is little wonder that Israel has been credibly charged by the Human Rights Watch for committing “crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.” With indictments like these, it is credible to argue that Israel should not even be considered a “flawed democracy.”

As such, any arms sales to Israel under the current circumstances is utterly unacceptable. As argued by both Singh and Human Rights Watch, continued arms sales from some of the world’s wealthiest do nothing but enable the Israeli government to continue its human rights abuses against the Palestinians.

By stating as much, Singh has faced a barrage of ridicule and admonishment for his lonely stance amongst Canada’s political elites.

He need not fret though.

His position is a noble one that would do more to bring about peace in the middle east than anything either of his two main political rivals are proposing.

Photo Credit: CBC News

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.