Amichai Chikli laments the “progressive mindset, where equality and political correctness have overtaken merit, quality and basic truths.”
By Etgar Lefkovits, JNS
Harvard University has become synonymous with antisemitism, and to a total moral collapse of core basic academic values that is spreading like wildfire on American campuses, Israel’s minister for Diaspora affairs said Thursday.
The remarks come as the Ivy League school is facing a donor revolt following the evasive congressional testimony by Harvard President Claudine Gay on calls for the genocide of Jews, and the university board’s subsequent refusal to oust her.
Minister for Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Amichai Chikli said that all three university presidents who testified on Capitol Hill should have been forced to resign, even before their bitterly criticized congressional testimony, due to their failure to speak out against the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre.
“Universities that were unable to issue an unequivocal condemnation of Oct. 7 are in a colossal crisis from a moral point of view,” Chikli said in an interview with JNS. “Moral relativism has created a moral abyss. Truth has become a relative term.”
He advocated increased pressure “by all means,” on academic institutions which tolerate antisemitism, adding that the strong backlash across the political spectrum against their testimony created an opportunity for change, and showcased the massive foreign funding of American universities by Qatar which many Americans were unaware of.
While the president of the University of Pennsylvania has stepped down from her position following her testimony, the heads of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology remain in their jobs, having apologized for their remarks.
Chikli lamented the slide to “academic amateurism,” which, he said, was spurred by “a post-modernist progressive mindset, where equality and political correctness have overtaken merit, quality and basic truths.”
Greater Jewish identity amid assaults
In the interview, the Diaspora affairs minister noted that the antisemitism that has burst out in the open on American campuses in the wake of the war against Hamas in Gaza has led to a concomitant increase in Jewish identity.
“We are witness to a dynamic in which anti-Jewish hate is leading to an increase in Jewish identity,” he said, citing a slogan that read: “The more you hate us, the Jew-isher we get.”
The ministry is set to co-fund a $8 million campaign on campuses with pro-Israel partner organizations for Israel advocacy and is also working with the governments of Belgium, Denmark and Italy against antisemitic activity.
Chikli noted that many of the anti-Israel demonstrators shouting: “From the River to the Sea” have “zero knowledge” of the situation on the ground or the reality in the Middle East. This could give educated pro-Israel students an opening to influence people with their knowledge.
The wave of anti-Israel demonstrations, which have taken place at campuses across the U.S., including some with openly jihadist rhetoric, has exposed the vast amount of foreign funding flowing into American universities, with Qatar reportedly the single largest donor of any country, pumping in billions of dollars.
Chikli argued that Israel should boycott Qatar, home to Hamas leaders who live in opulent luxury.
He is pushing for a boycott, despite Qatar’s role as an intermediary in getting more than 100 Israeli hostages abducted to Gaza released last month in exchange for 240 Palestinian security prisoners. “It is because of Qatar’s support of Hamas that the hostages were taken to begin with,” he said. “I have zero faith in them.”