Gabriel Noah Brahm is Professor of English and World Literature at Northern Michigan University and Visiting Researcher in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. In the days after the 7 October Hamas Pogrom, he argues, woke antisemitism showed its true face to the world. Having ‘grown out of control in the university’s “gain of function” laboratory’ the last two weeks have made clear that woke antisemitism has ‘escaped to infect populations everywhere.’
—To the memory of Paul Hollander, teacher, friend, and lifelong, trenchant critic of intellectuals’ romance with political violence
It is […] correct to say that every European, in what he could say about the Orient, was […] a racist, an imperialist, and almost totally ethnocentric. —Edward Said 
Transition occurs only through revolutionary violence. —Mahdi Amel 
Violence is as American as cherry pie. —H. Rap Brown
What did y’all think decolonization meant? Vibes? Papers? Essays? Losers. —Naomi Sharif
And as you might have seen, there was some sort of rave or desert party where they were having a great time until the resistance came in electrified hang gliders and took at least several dozen hipsters. —Speaker at a rally of the Democratic Socialists of America
This is what ‘decolonization’ looks like. —Popular social media slogan, for example on Reddit
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him’. —Hamas Charter, Article 7
The Wages of Woke
What too many variants of radical ideology have in common—besides gauzy dreams of a qualitative break with present reality, in favor of some utopian alternative that can hardly be specified—is a palpable, visceral attraction to fantasies of transformative, retributive violence.
In roughly psychoanalytic terms, they gravitate to alibis for sadistic murder. Or as one says nowadays, they seek a ‘permission structure’ to vent their spleen to the fullest. According to the eminent myth scholar and philosophical anthropologist, René Girard, these befuddled victimisers of innocents hunger for sacrificial scapegoats who are designated, essentially arbitrarily, as responsible for the ills of the world, and they bond together as a solidaristic community of the (self-)righteous in the act of executing them.
Add to that the predominance of ‘woke’ progressive ideology on the American college campus today—too often a wooly-minded mélange of every sort of anti-civilisational, anti-systemic ‘thought’—and what you get that’s somewhat novel is the uninhibited cries of bloodlust, worthy of a proud troop of resentful Raskolnikovs, now echoing through the halls of academe so loudly that they can no longer be ignored, but have instead at last forced the broader public to take note of the rot festering in the universities for decades.
Albeit, the mad shrieks had surely been sounding there over a very long period of time. Nonetheless, the cumulative results of so much grotesque miseducation foisted on our young have yet been on display more starkly than ever, since 7 October: support or apologia for a ‘resistance’ that carried out the worst antisemitic pogrom since the Holocaust. (See Alan Johnson’s astonishing catalogue of such ‘progressive’ responses to the Hamas Pogrom.) Even torture is okay with the kids today, it seems, when sacrificing to the pagan gods of wokedom. The ‘resistance’ is being hailed, despite the fact that many of the terrorists’ victims on October 7th in southern Israel were denied even the mercy of a swift death—or, rather, as one senses, in fair measure because of it. Remember, we’re talking about human sacrifice, as I began by mentioning, the enjoyment of a ritualistic, albeit frenzied cruelty. Thus, many had their hands tied first, then were laid on the ground, then stabbed, then set on fire, then shot. Including children. This is what decolonization looks like? While university administrators have been wringing their hands about ‘micro-aggressions,’ it turns out the English department and Gender Studies program have been softening the ground for their students’ to exult in the face of antisemitic butchery.
The Long March Arrives at Its Destination
The 1960s activists’ ‘long march through the institutions’ certainly made it into nearly every nook and cranny of academia some time ago. Including the levers of power. Including ‘star’ professors. Angela Davis, former Black Panther and Communist Party member (and a great friend to Stasiland) is today a UCSC professor emerita and leading advocate for the anti-Israel BDS movement. Even Weather Underground members emerged from hiding to take up, in due course, plum positions at leading institutions of higher learning. And this eventually began feeding into the ‘political correctness’ of the late 1980s (‘Hey, ho, Western Civ has got to go!’) and 1990s (when it was still just about possible to deny the threat by treating it as a joke). By now the long march has evolved—to mix metaphors—into something more advanced, an even more potent, deadly strain of gain-of-function, enhanced anti-intellectual virus, for which an effective vaccine has yet to be found.
Since 7 October nobody can any longer fail to hear this supposedly woke’s unmistakably anti-Semitic chants. Once-respected American universities, from Berkeley to Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Michigan State, Stanford, UCLA (my own beloved alma matter), University of Pennsylvania, Yale, et al., have been issuing mealy-mouthed statements often containing rationalisations or apologias at best, while rejoicing at worst, over the slaughter, rape and kidnapping of close to 2000 Jews (the largest massacre of “Semites” in a single day since the Holocaust).
Students have been egged on by professors.
– Columbia University’s Joseph Massad on 8 October celebrated Hamas’ attack as ‘awesome’ and a ‘stunning victory’. He wrote ‘’The sight of the Palestinian resistance fighters storming Israeli checkpoints separating Gaza from Israel was astounding. Perhaps the major achievement of the resistance in the temporary takeover of these settler-colonies is the death blow to any confidence that Israeli colonists had in their military and its ability to protect them.’
– Jemma Decristo, Assistant Professor of American Studies at the University of California at Davis, tweeted ‘one group of ppl we have easy access to in the US is all these zionist journalists who spread propaganda and misinformation. they have houses w addresses, kids in school. they can fear their bosses, but they should fear us more’, followed by emojis of a knife, an axe, and three large drops of blood.
– Cornell history professor Russell Rickford told a campus rally on 15 October ‘What has Hamas done? Hamas has shifted the balance of power. Hamas has punctured the illusion of invincibility’. The Hamas Pogrom, he went on, was ‘exhilarating!’ and ‘energizing!’ Rickford closed his remarks by stating: ‘I was exhilarated!’ The crowd then erupted into thunderous applause and chants of ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’. A euphemism for the eradication of Israel/Israelis.
– A Stanford lecturer was suspended after instructing Jewish and Israeli students to ‘identify themselves’ before telling them to grab their belongings and stand in a corner, saying, ‘This is what Israel does to the Palestinians’, as The Forward reported. ‘How many people died in the Holocaust?’ he then asked the Jewish students of the class, to which they replied, ‘Six million.’ He allegedly responded, ‘Colonizers killed more than 6 million. Israel is a colonizer’. He also reportedly stated that Hamas represents the Palestinian people and the acts committed on 7 October were 100 percent legitimate. Students identified the instructor as 46-year-old Ameer Hasan Loggins, a Lecturer, at Stanford Introductory Studies of Civic, Liberal, and Global Education. Stanford has kept the identity of the lecturer anonymous.
From Ivory Towers to Mass Influencers
Let there be no mistake, then, this phenomenon is not confined to elite institutions, star-system profs who rarely teach more than an occasional class or two, media darlings, or just fringe groups (as Jonathan Greenblatt’s ADL yet persists in misleadingly suggesting). It is everywhere. Even at my own little university in the northern midwest, for example—where books by Davis and Coates are assigned routinely to undergraduates and graduate students alike, along with Joe Sacco’s graphic novels, depicting Israelis as Nazi-like invaders akin to modern-day Spanish conquistadors in the Americas, and with no more right to be there, or a band of pirates washed up on some random shore to loot and pillage. Ubiquitous are the works of Edward Said, Frantz Fanon, and other ‘postcolonial theorists’ demonising and dehumanising (the first step in any genocide campaign) the West and its allies as the sorts of warped people who cannot know the truths of ‘theory’ and cannot be reasoned with (they haven’t ‘done the work’, which they are incapable of anyway).
Woke anti-Semitism, in other words, has now shown its true face to the world at large. It grew out of control in the university’s laboratory. From there—higher education, being a truly mass phenomenon these days, its cultural dominance over swathes of American life beyond doubt—it has escaped to infect the population at large.
We no longer have any right to laugh at the stale postmodernist clichés being taught to our youth. Clichés about the indeterminacy of all meaning have led to profound confusion about ‘questions’ like ‘who’s to say what’s true and false, just and unjust.’ Talk inspired by the ‘decolonial’ revamping of what used to be called Third Worldism has led to the belief that the ‘wretched of the earth’ have got a right to see their oppressors served their comeuppance, in the form of heads on a platter. And so, to reiterate once more, many looked at an antisemitic pogrom and tweeted, ‘this is what decolonization looks like’. Could the rise of a contemporary exterminationist anti-Semitism could be more plain? They have our addresses, they know where our children go to school, as we are gleefully told.
Yet before now, aside from readers of journals like this one, who, other than the ‘theorists’ themselves (and maybe not even some of them), took seriously the danger they represented? How many moderate leftist sympathisers viewed them as basically well-intentioned progressives armed with a novel vocabulary, if at times overzealous in their rhetoric?
It turns out all that was peanuts, compared to what the response to 7 October revealed was truly at stake. In fact, as I warned in these pages in 2014, leading philosophers and academicians had already by then (and for a considerable time before) taken to openly supporting Hamas. ‘I’d like to shoot those Zionist bastards,’ said the well-known, highly regarded Italian postmodern thinker, Gianni Vattimo, as Israel was embroiled at the time in ‘Operation Protective Edge,’ defending itself against rockets from Gaza then raining down on its civilian population.
Furthermore, Vattimo proposed sending military aid to Hamas (in contravention of international law, which forbids the arming of terrorists), while it was engaged in one of its previous ‘liberation struggles’ with the IDF. I warned readers that Vattimo was not alone. Judith Butler, for example, had years before admonished that one must recognise ‘Hamas [and] Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the left, that are part of a global left.’ Is it a surprise that students of teachers like this cannot tell up from down, north from south, or right from wrong?
In that same spirit, a book edited by Vattimo and Michael Marder, called Deconstructing Zionism, (also published in 2014) assembled a remarkable group of leading theorists—Butler herself, Marc H. Ellis, Luce Irigaray, Michael Marder, Walter Mignolo, Slavoj Zizek, among other lesser luminaries—together advocating for a ‘one-state solution’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Or, in other words, for ‘deconstructing Zionism’ by disassembling and wiping the Jewish state from off the map.
Vattimo went further still, openly supporting the dictatorial Iranian regime that he hoped would do the job of ‘deconstructing Zionism’:
For good reasons of international stability, one never dares—or almost never, except in the case of Islamic heads of state like Ahmadinejad—to question the very legitimacy of Israel’s existence. […] When Ahmadinejad invokes the end of the State of Israel, he merely expresses a demand that should be more explicitly shared by the democratic countries that instead consider him an enemy (emphasis added, 19).
Another contributor to the same academic volume from a respected press in which such remarks were permitted to appear, Marc H. Ellis, no less committed to the cause of Jewish Israeli extirpation, unflinchingly drew the inevitable conclusion of such a friend-enemy distinction, by welcoming the idea of a ‘mass exodus’ of Jews from Israel to Europe, in a grotesque parodic inversion of aliyah, or Jews’ return to their indigenous homeland (108). Not forgetting, incidentally, that the refugees of Europe and the Middle East did so legally, purchasing land, or that many had never left.
Not since Philip Roth’s 2000 satiric novel, Operation Shylock, had something so crazy been dreamed of. In Roth’s parody of the anti-Semitic left, one is asked to imagine Europeans ‘ecstatically welcoming back their Jews’ in the name of ‘Diasporism.’ In the novel, it is Zionism that now threatens Jewish survival—Roth’s mad doppelgänger lecturing audiences in Jerusalem that ‘Israel is no longer in the Jewish interest. Israel has become the gravest threat to Jewish survival since the end of World War Two’. (41)
I concluded my 2014 essay ‘Philosophers for Hamas!’ with the lament, ‘Philosophy as a discipline had lost its mind’ and so had ‘the large audience for such authors’. The appalling response of American campuses to 7 October strongly suggests how far the malady has spread since. How many others, then, in the meanwhile, and across which sectors of society, have lost their minds as well?
 Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1974), 204.
 Amel was responding to Said’s prompt by quite plainly drawing the consequence—for those who are serious about opposing the sort of racism, imperialism, and ethnocentrism that are so pervasive in the mind of the oppressor there’s no use talking to him—that Said’s own work was not sufficiently enamored of murder. At least the Columbia professor had settled for throwing stones at Israelis from Lebanon (literally). See Hichem Safeiddine (ed.), Arab Marxism and National Liberation: Selected Writings of Mahdi Ahmel, Boston: Brill, 2021 (p. 35), https://brill.com/display/book/edcoll/9789004444249/BP000005.xml. Born Hassan Abdullah Hamdan in 1936, among Ahmed’s impressive oeuvre, curtailed prematurely when he was assassinated at just 51, in 1987, by Syrian intelligence at the behest of Hafez Al-Assad, was a sympathetic yet biting critique of Said’s Orientalism from a more ‘activist’ perspective. For Ahmel, the founder of postcolonial theory failed too sufficiently draw the consequences of his own discoveries, with regards to prospects for the overcoming of such purblind power as Said discerns, by means of political violence. See Ahmel’s Marx in Edward Said’s Orientalism: Intelligence for the West and Passion for the East? (excerpted in the Safieddine volume). Likewise, a typical student of Ahmel’s own work writing today, Nadia Bou Ali, in her essay, ‘Edward Said, Michel Foucault, and the Prison-House of Ideology,’ purports to show, in her academic’s blandly worded research, that the bloodthirsty Ahmel criticized Said for lacking ‘an adequate account’ of colonial oppression in all of its aspects, most important among them ‘would be one that could further the aims of emancipatory politics’ (Critical Times, 4:3, December 2021, p. 509). We now know what that ‘looks like’ too, in the case of most interest to these ‘critical theorists’ concerned with Middle East studies. Along the way, Dr. Ali has things to say about Immanuel Kant, as well (sure to interest scholars of German Idealism everywhere). I thus choose the Mahdi reference and the negligible (in itself) paper by her not for their extraordinary quality, but rather to evoke the casual, commonplace, indeed routine way in which discussion of ‘emancipatory’ uprising goes on all the time in the academy. Albeit most academicians don’t actually get to experience political violence in quite the emancipatory way Ahmel did. Or the way the victims of 10/7 did.
 René Girard, The Scapegoat (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1989).
 On this theme more broadly, see John M. Ellis, The Breakdown of Higher Education: How It Happened, the Damage It Does, and What Can Be Done (New York: Encounter, 2020).
 For example, one of the more recent entreaties to come to terms with the seriousness of the problem is Christopher Rufo, America’s Cultural Revolution: How the Radical Left Conquered Everything (New York: Broadside Books, 2023).
 ‘The horrors don’t stop. The latest, as casualties continue to mount across Gaza, is the accumulating evidence that the killers from Hamas lacked even the humanity to grant their victims the mercy of a quick death. In far too many cases, the victims were tortured before they were killed.’ Walter Russell Mead, ‘Appeasing Iran Has Failed,’ The Wall Street Journal, October 16, 2023, https://www.wsj.com/articles/appeasing-iran-has-failed-biden-israel-hamas-e86e249c?mod=Searchresults_pos5&page=1.
 Philip Roth Operation Shylock: a Confession (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993), 221. Subsequent reference to this edition appears cited in the text.