Jewish Life Kolot

Kolot: Holocaust Memories on Today’s Campus

By Ruth King ~
When I was a young girl my parents entertained many colleagues and friends who had escaped from various corners of hell in Europe. In pre-war Europe, intellectuals and academic professionals were the elite–even their wives were called “Frau Professor” or “Frau Doktor.”

One of my parents’ friends was a physician who had been a medical school professor and pioneer radiologist in Germany. This particular gentleman was bald and had on his cheek the fencing scar “Renommierschmiss,” a mark of honor sported by many German and Austrian doctors, lawyers and professors to signify an elite social rank.
On November 10 in 1938, the day after Kristallnacht, Herr Doktor reassured his Frau Doctor that this was a passing event. He told her that decent, cultured and educated German intellectuals would be appalled by the violence against Jews.  After all, even as the Nazis were implementing their Nuremberg Laws in 1935 he and “Frau Doktor” were on the “A” list of soirees, salons, dances, dinners, musicales, in which the intellectuals expounded on the joys of reading Goethe or Schiller, avoided politics and listened to the music of Brahms, Schubert and Bach–great music, which, to paraphrase poet William Congreve, had “charms to soothe the savage beast.”

But when he went to his medical school that morning his formerly obsequious students–who customarily leapt up to help him don his teaching robe, his colleagues and friends, all turned their backs on him. He was summarily fired.  Other Jewish professors were similarly dismissed and professionals lost their licenses. And, with rare exceptions, their former friends and colleagues joined the savage beasts.
The story of my father’s friend had a happy ending. Thousands of Jews managed to leave and he and his family were among them.
But back to the present – and future. Where are America’s intellectuals, including above all the academics, today? In fact, where are those of the Western world? Ostensibly, they are in the vanguard of those promoting progressive thought and liberal values, staunch opponents of bigotry and racism, virtually quivering with multi-cultural sensitivity.  Yet where are the most appalling examples of antisemitism to be found in the world today? Where is a democracy, a model democracy, routinely slandered with Holocaust and apartheid metaphors?  Where are the jihad driven efforts to destroy her ignored? Where is the moral world turned upside down so that the real evil-doers, Israel’s would-be destroyers, are painted as victims?
Why in the universities and colleges, of course, where boycott and divest and assorted hate fests may be manipulated or financed by Arab money, but flourish through the studied and outrageous indifference–and worse–of presidents and faculty.
Not all these professors are recycled radicals from the anti-war movement who approach their teaching mandate with an anti-Israel agenda and manufactured history (although many are). Some may actually see their task as teaching history fairly.
But even when it comes to these people, where is their outcry and protest? They fret about the earth’s temperature; about endangered flora and fauna; they sing songs about “peace” and worry about abortion rights; they worry about every and all minority rights except for the right of Jews to live in safety in Israel – and for the right of Jews to live safely everywhere, including on their own campuses.
These cowards, particularly Jewish professors – including, alas, faculty in Israel who preen in narcissistic self-hatred–have turned their back on Jews and Israel. They will the first to be shocked when the rising tide of international anti-Semitism comes lapping at their heels and their cronies and friends abandon them.
Herr Doktor and Frau Professor would be the first to tell them so.
Ruth King is a columnist who lives in Newtown, Conn. and New York City. This article first appeared in the March edition of OUTPOST, a publication of Americans For A Safe Israel (
KOLOT is a feature of the Jewish Ledger in which readers are invited to submit original work on a topic of their choosing.  Inquiries and/or submissions should be sent to

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