By Joshua Klein
(DECEMBER 25, 2023 / BREITBART NEWS) Universities must ban diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) departments and begin other major structural reforms to rout out antisemitism, according to Jewish Institute for Liberal Values (JILV) founder David L. Bernstein, who has long highlighted a worrying rise in antisemitism in American Ivy-League institutions, where it is hidden within progressive “woke” ideologies that view society through a binary of oppressors and oppressed and which increasingly categorizes Jews and Israel as oppressors.
Bernstein, who authored the acclaimed Woke Antisemitism: How a Progressive Ideology Harms Jews, explained how radical sentiment on campuses reached the current state, noting that the “ideological environment” that produced university presidents who excuse calls for Jewish genocide had been long in the making.
“In the late 1960s, you had postmodern scholars with a political agenda enter the higher education scene and establish ethnic studies and other studies departments in universities across the country,” he said. “Within ten years, there were roughly 1,300 of these programs.”
“These programs indoctrinated a generation of young people in this oppressor-oppressed ideology,” he added.
Though such doctrine remained confined to the university at first, Bernstein pointed to a change beginning around the time of the Ferguson riots — a series of protests and riots that began in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 10, 2014, the day after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson Police Department Officer Darren Wilson.
“From then, we start to see it jump the ladder into the larger society,” he said. “We also started to see universities themselves become more radicalized.”
“So by the time of the George Floyd murder, we really began to deal with the university that was fundamentally illiberal, hostile to multiple points of view, and perhaps a powder keg on the issue of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” he added.
In addition, he noted, society has seen the “convergence of radical Muslim groups and radical progressive groups.”
“Sometimes that’s referred to as the Red-Green Alliance, where you have radical Muslim groups — who are principally and philosophically hostile to a progressive agenda — join forces with radical progressives to call for the genocide of Israelis,” he said.
“And you’re seeing this on campus every day now,” he added.
Regarding why Jews and Israel have become a main focus of this ideology in a world raging with conflict and hostilities on a far larger scale, Bernstein offered two reasons.
“One is that the ideology conflates group success with oppression,” he said. “So, in other words, if you’re a community like Jews who succeed on average above the mean on income or on educational achievements, you’ll be perceived as an oppressor. Even if you’re a group, like Jews, who have been traditionally discriminated against.”
The other reason, he explained, is that beginning in the late 1960s, “at the very same time this postmodern ideology was seeping into these universities, the Soviet Union sought to discredit Zionism.”
“They created a new field called ‘Zionology’ and had best-selling books written that reached hundreds of thousands of people, and that placed Zionism front and center in the post-colonial narrative,” he said. “And it was only a few years later when the UN passed the ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution.”
“So, Zionism took center stage with progressive politics beginning in the late 1960s, at the very time when progressive ideology was being inculcated in our universities,” he added, “and I think that’s why Jews play an outsized role in the collective imagination of the radical left.”
In order to combat the phenomenon beyond “short-term interventions,” Bernstein suggested three ways for universities to take on the necessary structural changes and reforms to be effective in the longer term.
The first is that universities need to “ban” DEI departments or “transform” them “to the point where they’re not ideological indoctrination centers.”
“DEI is definitely an accelerate to this ideology on college campuses and in society at large,” he said. “So pushing for universities to get rid of these sprawling DEI departments is going to be a necessary condition” in combating antisemitism on campuses.
The second thing he suggested is finding a way to “cut off foreign money, particularly foreign money funding from Qatar, which has also been a major irritant at the universities.”
“There’s something like $5 billion that Qatar has transferred in the past decade to American universities, and that’s had some impact on perceptions, and it has powered bad actors on campus,” he said.
The third thing, he proposed, is for universities to “create centers for open inquiry that allow academics with different points of view to teach in an intellectually open way.”
“I think that will attract some of the top academic talent, and it will attract some of the top student talent, and over time, it might be able to overtake the popularity of these leftist study programs that serve as vectors of transmission for this ideology,” he said.
Noting potential new universities, like the University of Austin, Bernstein said such models would be “harder to scale” over the next two decades.
“But I do believe a lot of universities can start to create alternative centers for open inquiry,” which the University of North Carolina and Yale Law School have recently set up.
Asked about how those on the left reconcile their support for the anti-Israel narrative while maintaining liberal beliefs that would endanger them in Palestinian society, Bernstein asserted that they simply “don’t square the peg.”
“This ideology holds that there are certain groups that are fundamentally oppressed and certain groups that are fundamentally the oppressors based on their identity,” he said. “And because Muslim groups or Palestinian groups are viewed as the oppressed, one doesn’t need to justify it; there is support for them no matter what their policies are.”
“They’re not looking for intellectual consistency,” he added. “They’re looking to support the ‘downtrodden,’ the ‘oppressed’ — and the oppressed in this ideology gets a final say on what everybody else believes.”
He also explained how someone committed to such an ideology would regard Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israelis — the deadliest against Jewish people since the Nazi Holocaust, which saw the torture, rape, execution, and abduction of hundreds of Israeli civilians — and the overwhelming Palestinian support for it.
“If you were a progressive that first witnessed the October 7 massacre, you might have recoiled,” he said. “But as soon as you discussed it with your Palestinian and Muslim coalition partners, who celebrated it as an act of ‘resistance,’ there’s going to be tremendous pressure to defer to those voices because that’s what the ideology ultimately sets out.”
According to Bernstein, the ideology consists of two fundamental tenets.
“One is that racism and bigotry and the like are not just matters of one’s personal opinions, but they’re embedded in the very structures and systems of society,” he said, “while the second is that only those with ‘lived experiences’ are qualified to define oppression for the rest of society — which is sometimes referred to as ‘standpoint epistemology.’”
“So, if you’re a progressive, you’re duty bound to support the oppressed, and it is Muslims and Palestinians that have been defined as the ‘oppressed,’” he added.
Noting that the philosophy can be difficult to apprehend, Bernstein explained that the ideologues “view Israel as white and Palestinians as brown — and it’s that simple.”
“Israel, in their worldview, is a settler colonial estate, and there’s really no ambiguity about it,” he said.
“So, anything Israel does is wrong, and anything the supposed oppressed [Palestinian entities] do is right — it’s entirely based on perceived power,” he added.
Ironically, he noted, Israel is predominantly non-white, though perception takes precedence over facts in such an ideology.
“If you’ve ever stepped foot in Ben-Gurion airport, you realize how brown the country actually is,” he said.
Noting that the people subscribing to this ideology are “deeply influenced by postmodern ideology,” Bernstein added that they “don’t believe in facts and truth” but “narratives” instead.
“They believe that narratives are dictated by who has power, and so they’re not, for the most part, arguing the facts,” he said. “They’re willing to say whatever it is that will support the ‘oppressed.’”
“We’re judging them by the categories of objective reasoning — and that’s not how they function,” he added. “It’s hard for us to wrap our heads around that someone would put aside their objective reasoning and buy into somebody else’s narrative by virtue of their perceived positionality in the power structure, but that’s how they think.”
Regarding radical left-wing anti-Israel groups that market themselves as “Jewish” organizations, Bernstein noted their desire to be accepted by fellow progressive groups.
“If you look at an organization like Jewish Voices for Peace, they have a relatively small number of funders,” he said. “In addition, American Jews, in general, want to be in lockstep with their progressive allies.”
“They’ve sought safety in the civil rights movement, and I think many Jews still perceive their social justice activism as an extension of the historic Jewish engagement in civil rights,” he added.
However, things changed, and American Jewry had yet to come to terms with the new reality.
“Unfortunately, the civil rights paradigm changed from Martin Luther King’s nonviolent movement to Malcolm X’s version of civil rights, and many American Jews didn’t understand how this discourse shifted over time,” he said.
“And so, I think many are shell shocked at what happened post-October 7, that their traditional allies and friends, people they thought even if they were critical of Israel would support them, came out full on in favor of Hamas,” he added. “And I think that puts many of them in an identity crisis.”
He called on the Jewish community to “go through its own internal reckoning” over what occurred on October 7 as well as “what it means” for them.
“I think many Jews are in a state of confusion about where they fit into American society and have to really ask themselves if their permanent allies are really allies and if they need to start rethinking how they engage in politics and with whom they engage in politics,” he said.
Though the actual number of “hardcore” progressives in the Democrat Party is a “relatively small percentage” of the party, Bernstein acknowledged that “that’s where the energy is.”
“And that energy from the left is impacting the way that moderates think and behave,” he said.
“So, moderate Democrats in Congress are constantly looking over their left shoulder, not wanting to anger their left flank, so it is affecting the overall tenor of Congress,” he added.
According to Bernstein, the Biden administration’s response to the situation “started off very strong, with an unequivocal pronouncement supporting Israel,” but since has “faced pushback from the progressive wing.”
“While he continues to provide Israel with a lot of support, there have been some recent concerning comments like accusing Israel of ‘indiscriminate’ force,” he said, noting that he has an election coming up.
“To me, that lightly reflects concerns about how this is playing out in the Democratic Party in an election year,” he added.
Further, he explained that in battleground states like Michigan, Muslim groups are influencing Biden’s policy going forward.
“I think he genuinely wants to support Israel, but I don’t think he’s going to provide the unequivocal support that he provided on the front end of this,” he said.
Bernstein has long critiqued the impact of progressive ideology on Jewish communities, arguing it fuels antisemitism and stifles debate, particularly in the U.S., while advocating for a return to classical liberal values.
The matter comes as many who have long supported left-wing causes face a mounting crisis as they witness a surge of anti-Jewish hostilities emanating from the left.
Many of today’s progressives appear surprised by the rise of antisemitism within academic institutions, the young “woke” left wing, and immigrant groups after years of attributing such sentiments mostly to “right-wing” nationalists despite their robust support for Israel.
His remarks follow the presidents of Harvard, the Michigan Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania refusing to condemn “calling for the genocide of Jews” as bullying and harassment according to their codes of conduct during a congressional hearing on antisemitism at American universities earlier this month.
This article was originally published in Breitbart News and can be viewed here.