Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Daily Times of Delaware County, Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is something in asylum law called the “material support to terrorist” bar, which essentially states that, if you have given significant assistance to a terrorist organization, you cannot obtain refuge in the United States.
In virtually all cases, any kind of support of a financial or tactical nature to a militant of any stripe, even if you have a gun pointed at your head or at the head of your child, will deprive you of the right to asylum. It might seem draconian, but it is a recognition by our government that you give up your right to seek protection if you have assisted in the violation of someone else’s human rights.
I was thinking of that last week as I watched protesters filling the streets of cities like Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Washington.
It occurred to me the folks who were shouting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” were mouthing the usual Hamas propaganda, which seeks the annihilation of Israel. There was also a repellent protest on the campus at the University of Pennsylvania, where marchers accused Israel of genocide and said that the massacre in Gaza was justified.
And, while many of the protesters and their media supporters tried to draw a distinction between the Palestinian people and the terrorists who they elected into office in 2007, there is no question that, for some, they were interchangeable.
In the days after the horrific attacks by Hamas on innocent Israelis — and, in some cases, only hours after children had been murdered in their cribs — student groups at schools like Harvard, Columbia, Ohio State, Swarthmore and La Salle issued those statements, which contained language that sounded as if it had been taken from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
There was blame for Israel and, beyond that, palpable Jew hatred. I have started to use that phrase instead of the more sanitized “antisemitism” because Semites cover a larger ethnicity, which also includes Arabs, whereas the hostility toward Israel is limited to hostility toward its Jewish population.
And important people noticed.
CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, alumni of these august institutions, started informing their alma maters that they were “closing the checkbooks,” as Penn alum and former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman put it.
The most crippling consequence of these anti-Israel statements will likely fall on the students who signed those statements. And that is exactly as it should be, despite the shock of those students and the protests from even some so-called conservative “civil libertarians.”
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman has called on his alma mater, Harvard, to release the names of all the students who signed a letter that included the language, “Israel’s apartheid regime is the only one to blame” for the Oct. 7 massacre in Gaza.
He wants possible employers who would normally be attracted by a Harvard pedigree to know that a job candidate blamed Israel for the death of its own citizens.
Similarly, several high-profile, white-shoe law firms have rescinded job offers to students who made clear that they supported Hamas’ actions in Gaza.
When Ryna Workman, student bar association leader at New York University, blamed Israel alone for the carnage in the bar association newsletter, Winston & Strawn canceled its job offer, noting that her comments “profoundly conflict with (our) values.”
I normally oppose cancellation in any form, but I celebrate these actions as fair and justified exercises of free-market principles. You can have your opinions, and you can express them from the mountaintops but just be ready to bear the consequences.
Even though no one should prevent these students from sharing their views about the conflict in the Middle East, we have the right, and the obligation, to tell them what we think of those opinions.
And it goes even further than that. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote, “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”
So many of these elite academic institutions and organizations remained silent in the face of the horrific attacks on innocent Israelis.
Sometimes, you have to pick a side, and refusing to do so renders you a moral cipher.
So, I celebrate the righteous smackdown of those who support terror attacks on innocent men, women and children. I’m certain they’ll eventually find gainful employment as spineless college administrators.
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