-He condemns those who are raising historical questions about the creation and perpetuation of the state of Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people

Former Purdue University President and Republican Governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, published an opinion piece in the Washington Post on November 24 entitled “How Oct. 7 revealed the moral vacuity of U.S. higher education.”

In it Daniels suggests that institutions of higher education are “wallowing in moral confusion and hypocrisy.” He suggests that “Higher ed has operated for too long in a homogenous, non-diverse bubble of groupthink. America would benefit if that bubble were burst by the sudden discovery of a larger world of people who see things very differently.” And he charges critics of United States support of Israeli militarism in Gaza and the Israeli’s brutal bombing campaign as being “supposedly educated Americans” who “cheer on those who gleefully slaughtered Jewish people, even infants.” (Virtually every peace activist has rightfully condemned the violence and hostage-taking of Israelis on October 7 by Hamas).

Daniels foregrounds his positive experience with Jewish people by recalling fellow children who were Jewish participating in trick and treating during Halloween to raise money for UNICEF. He also referred to Jewish resisters against German fascism during World War II and to the courageous work and tragic deaths of Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Mississippi in 1964.

For him university administrators and college professors should recall these moments of Jewish heroism and the practice of humane values when many students are protesting Israeli policies.

However, it is Daniels who speaks for those who want to recreate “a homogeneous, non-diverse bubble of groupthink.” While he, to his credit (see the essay linked below on academic freedom), opposes the banning of speech and protest around US and Israeli policy he is speaking for those that do. He invokes what amounts to the old “some of my best friends” are Jewish and/or “aren’t Jewish people virtuous,” and by doing so ignores the history of the creation and perpetuation of the state of Israel and the plight of the Palestinian people.

And ironically, he speaks for those who are revamping higher education to eliminate diversity of thought. Humanities programs that would address the troubling history, ethics, politics, and literature of the current crisis in the Middle East are being dismantled at Purdue and other places. In addition, rich alumni and politicians are, in the spirit of Daniels, seeking to prohibit the discourse on the issue of the Middle East on college campuses. The bottom line is that while most of the world looks on with horror at Israeli slaughter of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, every effort is being made in the political process and in educational institutions to censor discussion of this grievous and inhumane period in our history. And to Daniels’ initial point, many of those who are outraged and are protesting US policy are Jewish people.




On threats to academic freedom.

Criticizing the Israeli war on Gaza is not anti-semitism.

Some of the historic role of the United States in the Middle East.

Some of the history of living in Gaza

By Harry Targ Saturday December 2, 2023