By Howard Levitt

Opinion: Foreign funding has been seeding the protest movement for years

Let me start with an old Jewish joke: The definition of “chutzpah” is killing your parents and then asking for clemency on the basis that you are an orphan.

We are seeing something close unfold on college campuses across North America, where the students who are occupying university grounds are now making as their primary demand not that schools divest their financial holdings tied to Israel, but academic amnesty in return for vacating the properties upon which they are trespassing. These are not, as they are frequently described, “pro-Palestinian rallies.” Every one of them has been pro-Hamas, calling for the death of Jews in Israel and, in some cases, here as well.

As Marco Rubio told the U.S. Senate last month, in response to rising antisemitism, “These mobs don’t just want to destroy Israel, they want to destroy America. Some of them are out there chanting, ’Death to America.’”

Rubio went on to ask how this behaviour made its from the streets of Tehran to the United States itself. The mobs, he said, have been an admitted part of the strategy of groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, a means of  intimidating American leaders.

“And they boast about how what they call their friends on the global left are actually now responding to their calls,” he said. “They openly brag (that) ‘because of the introduction of colonialism racism and slavery studies into history curricula’ many young Americans have been groomed to support armed resistance, to support intifada in the U.S.”

What we are seeing in our academies has troubling historic antecedents. Heidelberg University in 1920s Germany was then a prestigious liberal university, like those in today’s Ivy League. A decade later Heidelberg students were burning Jewish books in the university square. The school’s faculty developed false academic fields such as race theory, eugenics and forced euthanasia, just like the pseudo-sciences introduced into our universities that Rubio decried. The prominent German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who earlier had many Jewish colleagues, joined the Nazi party in 1933 and became its source of intellectual respectability. Interestingly, race theory promoted antisemitism then and DEI and critical race theory, as they mutated, became a harbinger of today’s antisemitism.

The fact that the campus revolts involve young students makes many view them as less dangerous. That is an illusion. Student revolts have been fundamental in bringing to power many tyrants throughout history.

Within hours, on Oct. 7, days before Israel’s counter-attack, protests sprang up in massive numbers, energized and ready to go. A good question is, ‘Why?’

It is well-documented that Islamic regimes, Iran and Qatar in particular, have been sending monies and supporters to the West and organizing campuses, through BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) and other activities, keeping up a low boil.

In a recent interview with Brian Lilley, Haras Rafiq of Secure Canada noted that Canada had become a “critical nexus” for funding from Iran, Qatar and other countries connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Islamists have exploited Canada’s system to launder billions here and spread money globally to promote destroying Israel and spreading Shariah law worldwide,” said Rafiq, who served as anti-extremism adviser to the U.K. government.

In November 2023, The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy and the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian coalition opposing the Islamic Republic’s government, published a study entitled The Corruption of the American Mind. It revealed that US$13 billion in undisclosed foreign funding had come from Qatar and other countries to over 100 U.S. universities. The result: a 300 per cent increase in antisemitism before Oct. 7. According to the Financial Times, Qatar alone has contributed US$5.1 billion to American universities since 1986.

Also in 2023, a Global News investigation found that 700 associates of the Iranian regime were operating in Canada.

So where are we in Canada today? We have had a synagogue firebombed, a Jewish school shot at, a Jewish hospital targeted by a mob, Jewish-owned stores vandalized and a mob outside the Montreal Holocaust Museum chanting “Death to Jews.”

And now, our campuses too have become scenes of open revolt.

The only appropriate approach is what University of Florida president Ben Sasse made clear to all his students, after an encampment was set up on the school’s grounds: “The University of Florida is not a daycare and we do not treat protesters like children,” Sasse said. ”They knew the rules, they broke the rules and they will face the consequences.”

What should Canada do right now?

1. The police must enforce the law;

2. Like Sasse, the universities must make clear that campus policies will be enforced and call in the police, as required to do so;

3. Participating students must be expelled after being warned;

4. Donors must stop donating to universities that do not enforce safety of all their students;

5. Non-citizens participating in these unlawful demonstrations should be deported; and

6. We have to consider what remedies should be taken against tenured and other professors who encourage illegal conduct.

As for legal remedies, lawsuits against individuals for assault or against universities and other institutions for failing to protect their members are one option. Criminal sanctions for those that damage property or obstruct lawful use are another. Hate crime, intimidation and criminal harassment charges should also be pursued where applicable.