By Earle I. Mack

Never again is here.

Never since America’s founding have we experienced such overt, venomous antisemitism publicly taking root, especially at institutions dedicated to enlightenment and free inquiry.

The Hamas slaughter of Oct. 7 that killed over 1,200 Israelis will go down as one of the darkest days in the 5,784 years of Jewish history. As the Anti-Defamation League explains, sinister chants of “From the river to the sea,” are vicious calls to annihilate the Jewish state of Israel — chilling echoes of the Nazi call for a “Judenfrei” Europe free of Jews.

As Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, was observed this week, it grieves me to say that I have never witnessed the blatant antisemitism currently on display at schools across this country. The level of Jew hatred is unprecedented.

Swastikas scrawled on buildings, students doing Nazi salutes and chanting for the destruction of Israel, calls for violence against Jewish kids just trying to get an education. It’s the kind of twisted, racist garbage you’d think we moved past as a civilized society after the horrors of the Holocaust.

What’s happening on our college campuses are not mere political protests, but the inevitable outcome when the ancient sociopath’s disease of antisemitism is allowed to fester unchallenged. It begins with dehumanizing words and escalates to dehumanizing actions, as we know too well from the Palestinian leadership’s long-embraced culture of martyrdom that indoctrinates generations to romanticize murderous violence against Jews.

Words truly do have consequences. And the inflammatory words of today risk igniting the next genocide tomorrow. We cannot be bystanders to this burgeoning evil in our midst. This hatred must be condemned, confronted and stopped dead in its tracks before it metastasizes into something darker and deadlier.

It is an important question to ponder because the rise in antisemitism didn’t start with Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7. FBI data highlights a nationwide surge in hate crimes, with a shocking increase in anti-Jewish incidents. In 2022, reported anti-Jewish hate crimes rose by more than 37 percent, reaching the highest number recorded in almost three decades and the second-highest on record.

I’m appalled to see these protests broadcast by Al Jazeera and cheered throughout the Middle East, with rogue regimes like Iran actively fanning the flames. One Iranian university even offered scholarships to students expelled from Western universities over these protests.

America’s enemies seek to exploit young minds disillusioned with American democratic society, radicalizing them against Israel and the United States as part of their broader war against the free world. This cynical ploy by Earth’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism and their enablers in Russia and China should dispel any illusions — these are not organic protests, but part of a pernicious campaign of disinformation and hatred aimed at American ideals supported by our enemies.

Some may discount these incidents as mere youthful rebellion, but it’s not just a few fringe radicals spouting this vile hate. There is a diabolical force cultivating this new breed of anti-Jewish sentiment — similar to the gradual dehumanization that once captured the “enlightened” societies of Europe in the 1930s.

Whatever the reason, it’s shocking that over the span of just a few years, university student issues have evolved from needing “safe spaces” and being “triggered” by microaggressions to hyper-aggressive anti-Israel protests.

In some senses it is hard to take these kids seriously; as some are chanting “death to America,” others are demanding “humanitarian aid ” — aka food service — while occupying an administration building at the same time many are begging Biden to forgive their student loans.

But make no mistake, for the supposed best and brightest, these are not harmless child’s plays; they are indicative of a dangerous shift towards radicalization.

This cannot be tolerated in the modern civilized world, least of all America. It betrays the very liberal democratic values our universities were created to model and defend. We must repudiate this evil ideology wherever it arises and reaffirm our precious, hard-won values of human dignity, religious pluralism and mutual understanding.

Tragically, antisemitism is not a new phenomenon on elite American campuses. A century ago, schools like Columbia, Harvard, Yale and Princeton created the modern admissions system specifically as a tool to restrict the number of Jewish students by imposing racist quotas and denying educational access to my people. They deemed Jews a separate, inferior race who would corrupt these bastions of “Protestant culture.”

That shameful legacy of academic antisemitism has been repudiated, but the ancient prejudices fester on in new forms. We must ensure the ivory towers of academia remain faithful to their noble mission of intellectual discipline, ethical courage and openness to all people and perspectives.

If universities want to keep receiving funding, donations and societal validity, they must unequivocally condemn antisemitism, protect Jewish students’ safety and expel those engaged in propagating Jew hatred on their campuses. Also, corporate America has been warned — do not hire these purveyors of hate, lest you allow them to infect our leading institutions with this malignant ideology.

We simply can’t let these young people get more brainwashed. This is how you raise the next generation of terrorists and inciters of genocide if left unchallenged.

I’m not going to mince words — we may be staring down the barrel of another attempted ethnic cleansing down the line if we don’t shut this hatred down hard right now on our campuses.

If universities fail this moral test by allowing antisemitism to take root, then we shall have betrayed our highest principles as a society. Never again can the world allow such a pernicious evil to find shelter and sustenance in the houses of liberal enlightenment meant to be humanizing forces against barbarity.

Earle Mack is a former United States ambassador to Finland.

Read the full post from Earle I Mack on The Hill: https://thehill.com/opinion/education/4649270-never-again-rings-hollow-as-antisemitism-corrupts-us-universities/