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May 21, 2024

UNLV President Kowtows to Campus Antisemites

Administrators have tacitly encouraged antisemitic protesters and used that pressure as an excuse to enact anti-Israel policies.

Times of controversy and conflict make or break leaders. During his moment of testing, University of Nevada, Las Vegas President Keith Whitfield, like many college presidents, is crumbling.

Whitfield recently met with the UNLV chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. That alone was a major error. Earlier this month, this group helped sponsor a “Walkout for Palestine” at UNLV. At that event, protesters chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Long life the intifada.” The first is a call to wipe out Israel, which would result in the murder of millions of Jews. The second is praise for terror campaigns, including bombings, directed at Israelis.

Higher education is obsessed with microaggressions, but if you scream for the murder of Jews, you’ll get a meeting with UNLV’s president.

It gets worse. I obtained a memo from Whitfield to Chancellor Patricia Charlton summarizing the meeting. He wrote, “It is important to hear all views and perspectives on any issue.”

That’s nonsense. For instance, it was a big story in 2018 when a sticky note with “kill the blacks” was found in UNLV’s Lied Library. If a similar incident happened today and assuming it was racially motivated, it’s absurd to think Whitfield would meet with the author of that note. That’s because meeting with the college president tells the campus that perspective is a legitimate part of the conversation. Whitfield’s meeting also came after this group celebrated pro-Hamas protesters at UNLV shouting down a guest physics lecturer from Israel earlier this year.

It gets worse. SJP-UNLV wanted Whitfield to disclose and divest university investments with Israel.

While not committing to anything, “I did say we would speak with the Investment Committee of the UNLV Foundation to better understand our investment strategies and asset holdings,” he wrote.

No wonder SJP-UNLV came out that meeting and proclaimed “progress was made to meet stated demands of disclosure, divestment and defense.” Whitfield granted their premise — that the university needs to give closer scrutiny to Israeli investments.

At universities around the country, administrators have tacitly encouraged antisemitic protesters and used that pressure as an excuse to enact anti-Israel policies. Whitfield’s put UNLV on the same path.

It gets worse. The students “expressed concerns about their safety” and retaliation against protesters. They whined about elected officials filming “them at their events and post[ing] on social media.” That’s presumably a reference to Regent Byron Brooks, who’s been boldly and courageously highlighting open antisemitism on Nevada’s campuses.

Think about this. The people chanting for the genocide of Jews are worried about their safety. The people protesting in public are upset others film them. The hypocritical gall here is appalling. It’s the kind of temper tantrum you’d expect from a sixth grader, not a college student who supposedly is learning to think things through.

Whitfield should have laughed them out of his office. Instead, “I committed” to “do what we are capable of related to security or their sense of security,” he wrote. Pathetic.

University presidents should have courage and moral clarity. As recent events have demonstrated, Whitfield lacks one or both. He should resign.

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