I scarcely thought it possible, to be honest, but my contempt for the academic and cultural Left in this country has lately reached new heights. Ever since Hamas’ pogrom on October 7, much of our intellectual elite has seemingly decided to work pro bono for the terror group’s PR team.
Nick Riemer, a linguistics lecturer at Sydney University, spends so much time on activist pursuits that it’s a wonder he has a spare moment for students. “It’s simple,” Riemer averred as the Israeli body count was climbing, “everyone who wants a just world must stand with Palestine, for an end to brutal occupation, siege and apartheid. Unconditional solidarity with Gazans. Free Palestine.”
Unconditional solidarity, it turns out, really means the moral impermissibility of showing any sympathy towards murdered Jews, or any unease about the manner in which Jews are murdered. The cause of liberation, apparently, is too important for such considerations. Riemer, who is also a union president with experience in rallying the troops, has been a major promoter and organising force behind the protest marches that have defiled the streets of Sydney. It’s hardly surprising, then, that such get-togethers have brought out Hamas cheerleaders and other assorted goons — it’s simply a reflection of the leadership at the top.
Another prominent figure in this rogue’s gallery is Sara Saleh, a Palestinian poet, author and lawyer.
She seems at least to acknowledge that — well, sure — Hamas may occasionally misbehave, but no one should be too hard on them. “As a matter of fact,” Saleh wrote not long after the stories of beheadings and mass rape began to emerge, “Palestinian resistance has, by and large, shown considerable restraint.” Saleh’s compassion only extends to the Palestinians who die for the cause. “Glory to our martyrs always,” she added, a sentiment which some might think might be of interest to ASIO. Instead, you’re much more likely to find Sara Saleh headlining an academic conference on Aboriginal-Palestinian solidarity, or perhaps as an expert heckler on ABC’s The Drum.
The most ubiquitous figure has undoubtedly been Randa Abdel-Fattah, an author and Macquarie University Fellow. Whenever Hamas gets up to its genocidal mischief, Abdel-Fattah is quick to appear on television screens to contextualise — that’s her word — the latest atrocities. She manages this task by noisily dodging condemnation of Hamas and banging on about Israel’s supposed settler colonialism, ethnic cleaning, and whatever else has lately been added to the charge sheet. She did all this in the now-viral interview with Erin Molan on Sky News, embedded below.
After Molan on a few occasions tried to describe Hamas’ war crimes, like the decapitation of babies, Abdel-Fattah got very huffy and denied such allegations, dismissing them as Israeli “propaganda.” She then added — and this still wasn’t her most odious claim — that Hamas should not be considered a terrorist organisation. Towards the end of the debate, Molan played a video clip of protestors at the Sydney Opera House chanting “Gas the Jews” and asked for a reaction: Abdel-Fattah tersely replied: “I didn’t hear anything.”
That sums up Abdel-Fattah and her co-thinkers. All can be reliably counted upon to accuse Israel of fabricated crimes, like the bombing of the Al-Ahli Hospital, while they pretend not to notice the mass murder of Jewish civilians, which now includes babies torn from their mothers’ wombs.
Australian campuses and institutions are not the only ones infested with cretins. The war in the Middle East has triggered an outbreak of Hamas excuse-making and glorification all across Western universities. “It was exhilarating, it was energising,” enthused Cornell professor Russell Rickford about the 1400 dead Israelis. “Settlers are not civilians,” stated Yale professor Zareena Grewal, who has probably served up the most laconic justification for the massacre of Jews. “Intifada until victory,” declared a group of Oxford academics and union members.
If there’s anything useful to be gleaned from all this, it might be the broader public’s belated realisation of how disgustingly corrupt our universities and elite institutions have become. Konstantin Kisin, a thoughtful observer in the UK, has written of how many people must have woken up as a progressive on October 7 and turned into some kind of conservative as the horrors unfolded. It should go down, he writes, as “the day the delusions died.” All this talk of decolonisation, intersectionality and siding with the so-called oppressed turns out to have practical and bloody implications. If academics, intellectuals and their student followers can applaud the violent “decolonising” of Israel, one might easily suspect they have similar plans for our societies.
I’m slightly heartened, then, by a cultural turn against these villains in our midst. This ought to involve, first of all, a willingness to call apologists for terror and murder by accurate descriptors. In that Sky News interview there was a missed opportunity to get started on such an endeavour. Randa Abdel-Fattah, after detailing her various moral idiocies, asked a flummoxed Erin Molan, “Do you think I’m a monster?”
Well, yes. Yes, I believe many do.