Fox News, Republicans Demand Safe Spaces for Pro-Israel College Students

Fox News personalities have lampooned safe-space craving college students for years. Now they are advocating for them as pro-Palestinian protests spread to campuses across the country. In recent days, every time I turn on Fox News or look at their app, I see protest coverage—much more of it than coverage of Trump’s criminal trial, among other big stories. The tenor of the coverage, both in print and on the channel is always the same: the protestors are antisemitic, anti-American, anti-Israel “agitators” who are making campuses unsafe for Jews. The curious thing is that in all their hyperbolic coverage, I couldn’t find a single example of Fox actually interviewing a protester or even aggregating a quote from another outlet in any of their protest coverage to give their audience a sense of what it is they’re angry about.

I typed the words, “Fox News Israel protests” into the news search on Google late last week and was stunned to see the incredible scale but narrow focus of their coverage. In just one roughly 48-hour period between April 22 and 24, I found an astonishing 96 stories and videos about the protests (see headlines and links below) all with the same strongly disapproving tone. You can see the laundry list of headlines below but here are some representative samples.

Jewish, pro-Israel Columbia University professor says he was blocked from entering main campus: ‘This is 1938’

Antisemitism on campus surges as agitators take over.

Jewish NYU students say anti-Israel protesters are making people feel unsafe on campus.

AOC called out for dishonesty after praising ‘peaceful’ anti-Israel protests: ‘This is insane’. Columbia Jewish students ‘no longer feel safe,’ say anti-Israel mob chased them off campus.

 Ivy League anti-Israel agitators’ protests spiral into ‘actual terror organization,’ professor warns.


“Stabbed in the Eye” and “Kill the Jews” Controversies

If you look back to Fox News’ 9/11 coverage, I’m not sure if they produced this much content on the attacks. There are nuggets of truth in Fox’s coverage. Students on some campuses have broken laws, some Jewish students have been assaulted or harassed, and clearly some of the protesters are antisemitic nutcases. Hundreds, including Green Party candidate Jill Stein, have been arrested.  But some incidents have clearly been exaggerated or outright fabricated. For example, news went viral last week that a Yale student, Sahar Tartak, was “stabbed in the eye” with a Palestinian flag by pro-Palestine protesters on campus on April 20. The following day, the Free Press published a piece by Ms. Tartak claiming she was stabbed in the eye “because (she) is a Jew.” The following day, her media tour commenced, including appearances on Piers MorganFox News, and other news outlets, where her eye appeared to be fine.

Fox News didn’t air footage of the supposed “stabbing” incident during any of her appearances on the network, taken by Ms. Tartak, but some popular YouTube channels did, including the Jimmy Dore showThe Majority Report, and Breaking Points. The clip shows a man walking by her waving a small flag on a wooden stick, the kind that one might buy for a dollar in a convenience store, and Ms. Tartak yells out, “Ow, ow! You stabbed me!” But it’s clear that if she was stabbed at all, it was clearly accidental, as the man was just walking past her and wasn’t even looking in her direction. So no, she wasn’t “stabbed because she’s a Jew” any more than Jussie Smollett was beaten up by MAGA bros in Chicago. But Fox and others on the right immediately embraced her claim because it jives with their narrative.

Fox producers already apparently had Ms. Tartak on speed dial before the “stabbing,” so it’s no surprise that they interviewed her multiple times and referred to the “stabbing” repeatedly.  She appeared on the air in 2022 to complain about CRT being “pushed” at her high school, then in November and January of this year she appeared on Fox to complain that her pro-Israel column was “censored” by the campus newspaper at Yale. In December, she was on the network to kvetch that the word “Israeli” was removed from a salad in the Yale dining hall. And so, she was already well positioned to promote her bogus “stabbing” incident story before it happened. Did she already have her article written before the incident? If not, it’s quite impressive that she had an article published by The Free Press less than 24 hours after being “stabbed.” After all, it takes time to write the piece, pitch it to publications, have it accepted and then edited and published.

Just as some racist “hate crimes” turned out to be hoaxes, there have also been incidents where pro-Israel provocateurs tried to goad protesters into antisemitic chants to discredit their movement. For example, The Daily Beast reports that a pro-Israel student at Northeastern University tried unsuccessfully to goad the crowd into chanting, “Kill the Jews.” He was booed but ended up getting about 100 other peaceful protesters arrested in the process.

Though it isn’t clear how many legitimate incidents of antisemitism have occurred on campuses in recent weeks, Fox has been keen to tarnish all the protesters as violent antisemites in hundreds of articles and videos in one week (the 96 I sorted through represented just April 22-24) without giving any of them a chance to provide a counter-narrative. This sledgehammer approach isn’t news coverage, and it isn’t just bias, it is industrial-scale propaganda.


Are the Protesters Part of a “Lunatic Fringe?”

Do the students represent a far-left, lunatic fringe? Fox clearly wants its audience to think so and to associate them with violent BLM and Antifa protestors. Gallup published a poll a month ago indicating that only 36% of Americans approve of Israel’s military actions in Gaza, while 55% disapprove. Only 18% of Democrats and 29% of Independents back Israel’s conduct, and now even 30% of Republicans disapprove of the IDF’s campaign despite the fact that most conservative media outlets seldom report news that reflects negatively on Israel. And this weekend, CNN published a poll indicating that 81% of Americans under 35 disapprove of Biden’s handling of the conflict in Gaza.

So the students aren’t the only ones who are upset about Israel’s conduct in the war and America’s support for it. And rightfully so. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children. So many more are trapped in the rubble and Palestinian health authorities aren’t even counting their dead anymore. Additionally, 196 aid workers have been killed in the conflict, according to the US-funded Aid Worker Security Database, and at least 97 journalists, 92 of them Palestinian, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. A huge percentage of the population has been rendered homeless, countless schools and hospitals have been bombed. For far too long, the Israeli government imposed a siege on the Gaza Strip, refusing to allow an adequate amount of aid in, and now the U.N. says some 577,000 Gazans face imminent famine.


Cracking Down on “Antisemitic” Protesters, Even Jewish Ones

Fox has bluntly obscured the fact that some (perhaps many as The New York Times has asserted) of the protesters are Jewish. Protest organizers at Columbia, for example, say that 15 of 85 students who were suspended from school for the protests are Jewish. NBC Boston quoted an MIT student who is part of a group called Jews for Ceasefire. Here’s what Quinn Perian, a member of that group told NBC Boston: “Looking back at the pain of our Jewish history is a call for us to understand what is happening in Gaza and make sure no one has to go through suffering.” Does this Jewish MIT student sound like a wild-eyed, violent, antisemitic radical to you?

For years, conservative news outlets, Fox included, have correctly roasted colleges for silencing conservative voices on campuses under the guise of preventing “hate speech.” But now it seems that Fox, and other right-wing outlets want harsh crackdowns on protests they don’t like under the guise of making Jewish students feel safe on campuses. I have zero tolerance for protests that turn violent and zero tolerance for “protesters” that assault, harass or intimidate Jews or anyone else who disagrees with them. And protesters who block traffic are never in my good graces. But it’s a slippery slope when you start cracking down on protestors who are exercising their first amendment rights.

The protests come at a time when Congress is trying to police our speech by sending antisemitism monitors to college campuses and has already passed a resolution to brand the slogan “From the River to the Sea” antisemitic. (Perhaps it is, but Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party has a similar slogan in its party platform, and in any case, Congress has no business policing speech.) How would the right feel if Democrats proposed to send, for example, anti-homophobia monitors who might brand typical GOP policy positions “hate speech” to college campuses? Hint: not good, but with a few exceptions (Thomas Massey, Rand Paul, etc) they’re apparently fine with branding critiques of Israel hate speech.

Safe Spaces for Pro-Israel Gen Z

Fox’s coverage has featured a host of Jewish students who say they feel unsafe on campuses where protests are occurring. On some campuses, Jewish students have been physically assaulted or harassed and, again, that is unacceptable and the perpetrators of those ugly incidents should be harshly punished to the full extent of the law. But some of the students feel unsafe simply because they don’t like some of the things the protesters are saying or chanting. Their right to feel safe doesn’t also include the right to be shielded from viewpoints they dislike.

All students should be safe, but some members of Gen Z define safety so broadly that it’s almost as if they believe hurting someone’s feelings is a crime, or at least a microaggression.  The right has correctly, I believe, critiqued progressives for labeling nearly any viewpoint they dislike as “racist” or “sexist” or “homophobic.” But now Fox News and many others on the right are doing the same thing in labeling legitimate criticisms of Israel as antisemitic.

Fox personalities obviously aren’t using the term “safe spaces” but in its tsunami of coverage, it is essentially advocating for them. In any case, one prominent Jewish student group, Jewish Voice for Peace, says that Columbia has “actively created a hostile environment for students who are Palestinian or who support Palestinian freedom.” Along these lines, the Department of Education has now opened an investigation into the University of Massachusetts- Amherst, after a group of 18 students there said they were subjected to “extreme anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab harassment,” including a claim that a student yelled “kill all Arabs” at fellow students protesting Israel’s war on Gaza. And so, it isn’t just pro-Israel Jews who feel threatened on campuses, though you’d never know that from Fox’s coverage.


Viewing Protests Through a Partisan Lens


Why is Fox stoking panic and fear and working so diligently to convince its audience that student protesters are violent antisemites? It seems that both the left and the right have polarized views of protests depending on who’s involved. The left broadly characterized the J6 protesters as violent right-wing insurrectionists, even though there were plenty of ordinary, non-violent people involved in the J6 protest-turned-riot, as Fox News and many other conservative outlets argued. But the right feels very differently about left wing protests, particularly the George Floyd protests and now the Gaza ones unfolding on college campuses.

Thanks to social media, partisans on both sides can use inflammatory, damming video clips to argue that protesters are violent extremists if it suits their agenda. As in any large crowd, no matter what the topic of the protest is, you’ll have a wide range of people, ranging from straight up criminal sociopaths to ordinary, reasonable people who are simply upset about something, be it the 2020 election, George Floyd, the war in Gaza or something else. As we saw in the Nicholas Sandmann incident in 2019, brief viral clips of this young student in a MAGA hat smirking at a Native American man beating a drum in his face, didn’t capture the context of their interaction.

Fox and most news outlets in our partisan media landscape try to tell their audience what they think it wants to hear. The Breaking Points podcast commissioned a survey on attitudes about the war in Gaza and where people get their new from and found that opinions on the war align with where people get their news from. Their poll revealed that those who get their news from podcasts, YouTube and social media are broadly supportive of Palestinians, while consumers of print and television news, i.e. corporate media, are far more supportive of Israel and believe that antisemitism is rising dramatically.

Fox News, which is far and away the TV news ratings leader, is run by executives who no doubt believe that their audience, which skews older and (obviously) Republican, wants staunchly pro-Israel coverage. And clearly their top editors must be emphatically pro-Israel. Perhaps they’re also trying to distract Americans from Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan? It’s hard to say, but their coverage has crossed the line beyond objective journalism and even advocacy journalism or biased journalism to straight-up brainwashing.

Even though I’m a conservative, I don’t always agree with GOP party lines. It’s a shame that so many voters simply align their viewpoints with the herd in their preferred party. With respect to Israel and Republicans, it’s almost as if Israel is a sports team rather than a country. Those of us on the right are supposed to root for them and argue their side, regardless of their conduct and how it might impact our national security and image around the world. Fox and other conservative outlets do their part, riling up the faithful with what is essentially propaganda. Perhaps it’s all good politics and good business, but I hope that Americans on all sides realize that in seeking the “news,” they’re swallowing an awful lot of propaganda.

Fox News coverage of the protests, Feb 22-24

Antisemitism on campus surges as agitators take over

Jewish, pro-Israel Columbia University professor says he was blocked from entering main campus: ‘This is 1938’

Morning Glory: Joe Biden’s antisemitism problem

Anti-Israel campus protesters make demand of administrators, vow to stay put until universities meet it

Anti-Israel campus protests are spreading: California, Texas brace after activists overrun Columbia, Yale

AOC sounds off as college president sets imminent deadline for anti-Israel camp and more top headlines

Columbia protests are ‘writing on the wall’ about antisemitism on campuses, student organization founder says

Students are rejecting elite colleges like Columbia and Yale to attend southern schools like Clemson

Trump slams Columbia University for closing campus amid anti-Israel protests: ‘Means the other side wins’

Columbia student describes ‘scary’ atmosphere on campus amid anti-Israel protests

Anti-Israel protests may cost Biden election, supporters, journalists warn

Legendary comedian shreds anti-Israel college students at Columbia: ‘You’re supposed to be smart’

Anti-Israel protests sweep across elite universities just before Passover

House Speaker Johnson calls on Columbia University President Minouche Shafik to resign

Jewish NYU students say anti-Israel protesters are making people feel unsafe on campus

Omar’s daughter decries ‘hypocrisy,’ says anti-Israel students are ‘100% targeted’ after suspension and arrest

Jewish-American alum says Columbia president should have taken these steps ‘the second’ protests started

Columbia negotiating with anti-Israel protesters as they refuse to vacate

Activists challenged on Oct. 7 Hamas terror at pro-Palestinian campus ‘fair’ in Wisconsin

AOC called out for dishonesty after praising ‘peaceful’ anti-Israel protests: ‘This is insane’

Columbia sets deadline for agreement with protesters, threatens ‘alternative options’ for clearing protesters

US colleges face unrest as anti-Israel protests spread

Watchdog CEO confronts anti-Israel protesters at Columbia: ‘Which is your favorite terrorist group?’

SEAN HANNITY: Schools do nothing in the face of ‘raw, repulsive’ antisemitism

Columbia University anti-Israel protesters: 5 dramatic moments from a week of chaos

Columbia University moves to hybrid learning on main campus amid antisemitic protests: The announcement comes amid continued antisemitic protests on the New York City campus

Ivy Leagues, high schools and small colleges deal with anti-Israel protests

Berkeley anti-Israel agitators met with stern university warning: ‘We will take the steps necessary’

Columbia Jewish students ‘no longer feel safe,’ say anti-Israel mob chased them off campus

Multiple Yale anti-Israel protesters arrested as police close in on occupation: report

Columbia University president orders virtual classes as anti-Israel protests take over: ‘We need a reset’

Students Supporting Israel founder on Columbia University protests: ‘This is the writing on the wall’

Sen. Tom Cotton demands Biden crack down on anti-Israel agitators on college campuses

Israeli minister torches Biden’s ‘harmful’ leadership: ‘I’d vote for Trump’

It’s ‘frightening’ to see students support Hamas: Yola Ashkenazie

Gen Jack Keane: Anti-Israel protests rapidly becoming a ‘stain on our national honor’

Columbia ‘does not want NYPD present on campus’ as anti-Israel protests raise Jewish safety concerns: police

Sean Hannity: Columbia’s president is a ‘gutless coward’

Columbia’s billionaire donors mull giving amid anti-Israel protests

Yale student stabbed in the eye during anti-Israel protest

GOP congresswoman demands Columbia University ‘restore order and safety’ amid anti-Israel protests

Ivy League anti-Israel agitators’ protests spiral into ‘actual terror organization,’ professor warns

NYU requested NYPD to gain control of ‘disorderly’ anti-Israel protest: ‘Did not need to lead to this’

Trump slams anti-Israel protests as ‘disgrace’ that are ‘all Biden’s fault’ ahead of Manhattan court

Ilhan Omar daughter barred from campus housing, dining hall after anti-Israel protest suspension, she says

Adams, NYPD blame ‘outside agitators’ for fueling anti-Israel protests at Columbia, NYU

Columbia student details ‘rabid’ anti-Israel protests: ‘Chaos, disorder’

Hundreds of anti-Israel protest tents set up on Columbia University’s campus

Anti-Israel protesters don’t have a right to ‘shut down’ universities: Sen. Mark Warner

Columbia University protests: Rep. Elise Stefanik calls on Biden admin to deport terrorist supporters on visas

Minnesota police clear out anti-Israel protest in the heart of Ilhan Omar’s congressional district

Jesse Watters: These protesters are chanting ‘I am Hamas’

House Democrats, Republicans condemn anti-Israel Columbia University protests: an ‘attack on democracy’

HELP chairman Bernie Sanders avoids agreeing to campus antisemitism hearings

NYU students stage walkout following violent anti-Israel protests

Charlie Hurt slams violent anti-Israel protests on college campuses: ‘This is insane’

Hochul silent as pressure grows for National Guard to break up Columbia’s anti-Israel throng

Anti-Israel mob stages ‘seder on the street’ near Schumer’s home in NYC

Yale student says campus has been ‘taken hostage’ by anti-Israel protesters

NYC riots: Anti-Israel agitators hurl bottles at NYPD, form human chain amid mass arrests

AOC calls Columbia protests ‘peaceful’, despite rabbi warning Jewish students to stay home

Rabbi: Columbia University proves we need ‘real enforcement’ by White House against ‘anarchy’

Anti-Israel Columbia protester who ‘killed’ VT couple in crash belongs in prison, not college: victims’ family

Democratic Rep. Gottheimer says he would be worried to send children to Columbia after visiting protests

Democrats join Republicans in condemning antisemitism at Columbia University

Harvard closes Harvard Yard as anti-Israel protesters take over Ivy League campuses across country: report

Elite university reverses on NYPD presence as antisemitic mob takes over campus and more top headlines

Fetterman hammers ‘a–hole’ anti-Israel protesters, slams own party for response to Iranian attack: ‘Crazy’

Columbia president condemns terrorism ‘full stop’ after video surfaces of her calling it ‘form of protesting’

White House mum on whether Biden would send National Guard to Columbia University

Biden once ripped ‘antisemitic bile’ but now faces own ‘Charlottesville moment’

Jewish Columbia students denounce campus ‘anarchy’ as rabbi warns them to leave

Anti-Israel Yale agitators refuse meeting with university trustees before police bust dozens of occupiers

‘Tudor Dixon slams anti-Israel demonstrations at Columbia University: ‘If it’s not safe it’s not a protest’

At a turning point? Columbia arrests and anti-Jewish harassment shut down campus

Bill Bennett: Authority has to be asserted on campuses against ‘ignorant’ protesters

Arab-Israeli journalist speaks out after being attacked by anti-Israel agitator at Columbia University

Michael Rapaport speaks out against anti-Israel demonstrators at Columbia, says they’re ‘bullies,’ ‘cowards’

NY House Republicans demand Columbia University president step down over anti-Israel ‘chaos’

Michigan voters ‘appalled’ by anti-Israel protests, ‘death to America’ chants

Biden’s education chief slams ‘antisemitic’ and ‘anti-Muslim’ hate, silent on protections for Jewish students

‘Vicious’ Anti-Israel attacks turn Democratic party against Israel: ‘They’re terrified of their rabid core’

Liberal comedian Michael Rapaport tells anti-Israel protesters Trump will win ‘because of you’

Columbia University student no longer feels ‘physically safe’ on campus after protests

Israeli consulate in New York ‘deeply troubled’ by ‘rise in anti-Semitic incidents’ at Columbia, NYU

Columbia alum Obama silent as Jewish faculty, students face antisemitic harassment on campus

SEAN HANNITY: Democrats went from hippies to terrorist sympathizers

Fetterman ‘not wrong’ to compare Columbia protests to Charlottesville, CNN host says

Fed up with traffic-blocking protests, California Dems back GOP bill to double fines

Biden crushed for equivocating on antisemitic protests: ‘Very fine people on both sides’ moment

Patriots’ Robert Kraft pulls support for Columbia University amid antisemitic violence

Anti-Israel protests should be a ‘wake-up call’: Dana Perino

Ex-CNN anchor bringing her sons to Israel where she says they will be ‘safer’ than in New York City

GOP lawmakers demand Biden admin prosecute ‘pro-terrorist mobs,’ hold schools accountable

USC protests break out after anti-Israel valedictorian’s commencement speech cancelled over safety concerns

Antisemitism at Columbia University ‘pains me to see,’ Patriots owner Robert Kraft says