News Release

Israel, U.S. Campuses, and the “Fragility of the Coloniser”


ARUN KUNDNANI,, @ArunKundnani
Kundnani is the author of What is Antiracism? (2023) and The Muslims are Coming! (2014).

He just wrote the piece “Israel, U.S. campuses, and the fragility of the coloniser,” which states: “People who think they know all about the dangers of McCarthyism are promoting a new McCarthyism.”

He notes that “Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican” who attacked university presidents at recent congressional hearings “was described by the New York Times as ‘the voice of reason in the hearing’ and praised by leading lights of liberal America.”

He also notes that prior to her resignation and testimony before Congress, University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill “had already been attacked before Oct. 7 for allowing the Palestine Writes literature festival to take place on Penn’s campus.    “For her detractors, it was not enough that she blocked musician Roger Waters from attending the festival in person. …    “For the first time Israel has lost legitimacy among young people in the U.S. Zionists are losing the argument. With their usual propaganda no longer effective, they have turned to the blunt imposition of power, censoring and penalising any expression of support for Palestinian freedom.    “But there is something more at play than conscious calculation by organised Zionists. To be a coloniser is to live in a state of terror in relation to the colonised. For all their talk of defending the virtues of Western civilization, on some level Zionists suspect that the Israel they have created is nothing but a garrison, its existence dependent on overwhelming force.    “And their great fear is that the violence they inflict on the colonised will be directed back at them. This terror of retaliation runs through the history of European colonialism. The whites of apartheid South Africa, for example, always lived in fear of the genocide they were sure would be inflicted on them should white rule come to an end.    “The coloniser cannot confront this terror directly, for to do so would mean acknowledging the barbarism of the colonial system. Instead, it is carefully repressed. But repressed fears have a habit of resurfacing in irrational ways.    “This is why when the colonised speak out, colonisers only hear violent threats to their own lives. The merest assertion of opposition to the colonial project becomes, in the colonisers’ mind, a monstrous threat of annihilation.”