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PENN RAINE: Follow the money: our institutions for sale

Winston Peters' media bribe jibe may have hit a nerve as last week one of our prominent dailies printed a piece by the Jewish Council’s, Juliet Moses, Unasked questions over Gaza ceasefire calls in Hamas/Israel war. We note this  novelty with interest because until now MSM has been notably coy in presenting the conflict in any terms other than promoting the pro-Palestinian narrative and, who knows, it may yet foreshadow the placing of slightly more centrist reporting in order to prove Peters a fibber.

 

Whatever back peddling our media in NZ may engage in that was not to be seen in the US where news junkies have been riveted by the theatre of Representative Elise Stefanik grilling the Presidents of the Universities of Pennsylvania, Harvard and MIT during a House Education Committee hearing on anti-Semitism on their campuses and processes to deal with its perpetrators. Those campuses, among others, have seen in the last two months an outpouring of vitriol towards Israel and the intimidation and bullying of Jewish students, by faculty as well as students. If you enjoy seeing someone banged to rights, then watching the video of college presidents Gay, Magill and Kornbluth skittering on the head of a pin as they try to avoid agreeing that such behaviour might contravene the colleges’ DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) policies,  then this is for you. When Stefanik presses Magill and Gay to say whether students calling for Jewish genocide tipped over into actionable ‘conduct’ they cowered in the shallow hole they had been scooping out for themselves by saying that it depended on the ‘context’. Presumably, this means when the threat to kill translates into an actual murderous attack.

 

And while still on the subject of who is willing and able to purchase opinion and behaviour,  UPenn’s Magill’s performative innocence when asked to quantify the monies received for the college from Qatar was award worthy. Fortunately, the congresswoman was able to remind her that they had received $300, 000,000 - clearly from Magill’s point of view a forgettable figure.

 

Since then, two of the Ivy League college presidents have produced, rather late you would think, some form of apology for not having been ‘focussed’ at the hearing. Maybe this had something to do with wealthy furious alums reconsidering their funding. Or that 72 representatives and senators thought they should consider relinquishing their posts. That Magill has just done so is a small Elastoplast on the suppurating moral rot of many of our formerly respected universities.

 

The fury against Israel specifically and Jews in general since October 7 has been phenomenal, the more so as the hatred was on display even in the hours before the IDF shook themselves awake to retaliate, when many thousands of Muslims took to the streets and media to rejoice on what had happened and to protest what they guessed was yet to come. So why all this simmering racial rage?

 

Journalist Andrew Gold  has suggested that the old trope of international Jewry controlling the globe’s finances might explain this loathing and though he laughed at the idea of this masterful monetary conspiracy, he then quipped that perhaps it was after all true and he was the only Jew not in the loop, in on the trick to control the world’s banking.

 

 The ancient disgust for the Jewish money lender first occurred at the time Christians were forbidden by scriptures to lend money for profit. Following the diaspora Jews were generally prohibited from owning land, the usual source of pre-industrial wealth, so this and their attention to education came to support their successes in business and banking.

 

Then Shakespeare, the literary hero of Anglophones, gave us Shylock who, stripped of nuance by subsequent simple storytelling, came to represent a literal bloodthirsty Semite, standing for centuries as a figure of moral repugnancy. A closer reading of The Merchant of Venice offers the reason for Shylock’s anger against the merchant Antonio:

 

‘He hath… laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies; and what’s his reason? I am a Jew.’

 

In further explication of his equivalent humanity, dismissed and marginalised by Christian Venice he adds, ‘If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?'

 

Notwithstanding the hypocrisy of complaining about having to pay interest on borrowed funds, early Christendom was keen to promote the simplistic claim that the Jews killed Christ. Although never likely to win a debate this was still an acceptable assertion to make even recently, and no one has given much scrutiny to the advantage the Romans would have had by shifting the crucifixion responsibility of a populist figure elsewhere. The impetus to condemn and punish European Jewry for Christ’s death may go some way to explain the victimisation they experienced during two millennia of diaspora, the regular pogroms, and being blamed amongst other events for the Black Death and Germany’s financial woes following World War I ally-imposed reparations.

 

That the ovens of the Jewish extermination camps have been sneered at by Hamas supporters as an over-used sympathy card suggests that perhaps as the 1930’s and ‘40’s continue to recede in cultural memory the young progressive world is reappraising those years. Is there a niggling thought that the Third Reich, whose pro-genitors included figures such as Bach and Beethoven, Goethe, Kant, and Einstein may not have been wrong? Do these thoughts include the reasoning that a nation so efficient, careful, precise, and considered in its commitment to slaughtering six million people, carried this out because the Jews deserved it?

 

The useful idiots protesting across the West’s university campuses probably cannot be entirely blamed for their frail grasp of Middle East geo-political history that permits their shrieks of ‘occupation’ and ‘colonisation’. Their education is largely filtered through the lens of critical race theory which, despite the closeness of tribal likeness of Arabs and Israelis, has re-assigned Israel as white-adjacent and therefore oppressors. 

 

Perhaps the terrorist cabals jostling on Israel’s borders to extinguish are simply demonstrating political envy at its successful turning of a slim slice of desert surrounded by hostile players into a highly functioning technological state.

 

If the dire circumstances of Gaza, even and especially before October, are down to Hamas and its appropriation of billions of foreign aid for its war chest, this uncomfortable fact does not support the leftavist narrative which continues to shout that Israel has caused Gaza’s suffering rather than its own government’s use of its people as pawns. A viable infrastructure could surely have been built in the 140 square mile strip for the cost of the 300 miles of equipped tunnels – Hamas’s own figures – to continue aggression against its neighbour.

 

A willingness to accept a two-state solution would go even further.

 

Meanwhile, it must give the Hamas responsables a chuckle or two seeing keffiyeh wearing, semi-informed western liberals and media hysterically promoting their terrorist cause as they lounge poolside in their luxury Qatar resort hotels.

 

Qatar again. As they say, follow the money.

 

And perhaps the next time Winston stirs the pot he might wonder whether there are some dodgy players slyly funding the addled left in our own universities.

 

 

 

Penn Raine is a writer and educator who lives in Auckland and south-west France.

 

This piece was previously published in Breaking Views.

 

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