- Thursday, April 25, 2024

It’s instructive to watch the way people react to the pro-Hamas demonstrations on college campuses. You can learn a lot, especially about members of the media and President Biden.

In recent days, large groups of students at elite schools have decided that Israel does not have the right to defend itself against the existential threat it faces every day. The kids side with Hamas, the terrorist organization responsible for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, the bloodiest assault on Jews since the Holocaust.

Before we get to our spineless president, we should check in on some of the media reporting, because much of it went about how you would expect.

At Columbia University, protesters chanted, “We say justice, you say how? Burn Tel Aviv to the ground,” yet The New York Times lightly criticized the gatherings as merely having “veered into antisemitism,” as though calls for genocide were somehow accidental.

A user on X posted a video of his wife, who is Jewish, staring down the protesters at Yale University and noted that she wore no mask, unlike the pro-Hamas forces he deduced were trying to conceal their identity. But Taylor Lorenz, a “tech reporter” for The Washington Post, raced to defend the antisemites.

“There’s nothing ‘brave’ about refusing to mask during an ongoing pandemic,” she posted, indicating that she believed that they were masking because they “have solidarity [with] oppressed groups and care about not harming others” and not because they wanted to hide their faces to escape any consequences for their actions. 

By weighing in, Ms. Lorenz showed that the only thing that separates her from the drum-playing, dancing and chanting campus leftists is that she has a byline in a major American newspaper.

The Daily Beast posted unintentional comedy on X when it described how the daughter of radical leftist Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota was somehow “suspended, homeless, and left without food” after one campus protest, as though all those things could actually happen to her.

But Mr. Biden turned out to be the crassest of them all; his political self-interest obviously dictated his feelings on the matter. He made clear that his previously stated support for Israel is not stronger than his desire to win reelection.

His reluctance to stake out a position was obvious from the outset.

Even though there were reports of Jewish students fearing for their safety and needing escorts to make it safely off campus in some places, the White House delayed communicating anything from the president at all.

When an official statement broadly condemning antisemitism did finally come, it was issued under the name of a midlevel communications staffer, which is how you know the White House wasn’t taking it seriously.

And when Mr. Biden was forced to address it himself in response to a shouted question, he refused to take a side and, in the end, both denounced and agreed with everyone.

“I condemn the antisemites, and I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians,” he said.

Why the cowardly response? Because Mr. Biden and his team are trying to judge whether it’s politically better to support Israel, the terrorists, both, or neither.

It can all be traced back to Democratic Party politics in the great state of Michigan because Mr. Biden knows he needs the 15 electoral votes from there to win reelection.

Mr. Biden can’t do the obvious right thing and condemn the plainly antisemitic uprising from within his own party because he can’t afford to antagonize the perpetually irate hard-core left. He specifically doesn’t want to offend supporters of Hamas, terrorist sympathizers though they are, because there is a high concentration of them in Dearborn, Michigan, and he needs their votes.

Tom Barrett, the Republican candidate in Michigan’s 7th Congressional District, the top House race in the country,  put it succinctly: “Biden is trying to win the support of pro-Hamas voters in Michigan to save his reelection,” said Mr. Barrett, who (full disclosure) is a client of my public affairs firm. “If that makes him afraid to criticize a bunch of spoiled college students, then he’s even weaker than anyone ever thought.”

The unavoidable conclusion is that the president sees college crowds intimidating Jewish students, and his first thought is, “I can’t let this cost me Michigan.”

So, Mr. Biden had a choice: Either forcefully denounce the seething anti-Jewish hatred spewing from his political party or put his own reelection chances first and look the other way.

Guess which one he chose.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist, a communications consultant, co-host of the “Line Drive Podcast,” and the author of the Amazon best-selling book “Swing Hard in Case You Hit It: My Escape From Addiction and Shot at Redemption on the Trump Campaign.”

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