“There’s Spartacus!” Pathetic cowardice at UCLA
The classic 1960 film Spartacus tells the story of an heroic rebellious slave in first century Rome. In the climactic scene, captured by their Roman oppressors, Spartacus’ fellow rebel-slaves are pressed by the Romans to identify the fugitive leader amongst them in return for leniency. Preferring to face their fate rather than betray their comrade, each of the hundreds of prisoner slaves claims to be the wanted slave Spartacus.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century campus of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). As part of a determined campaign to “out” those Jews on campus who dare see the Jewish state in a positive light, anti-Israel extremists demanded student candidates sign a pledge promising not to participate in any unapproved Israel programs and trips.
Those who signed were given the political green light by the BDS affiliated anti-Israel gangs running loose on our campuses.
Most of the student candidates cravenly added their names to the vile document, earning the support and avoiding the opprobrium of anti-Israel groups like Students for Justice in Palestine. For Avinoam Baral, a Jewish candidate for student senate, it would have been easier to sign the “pledge” and thus avoid the coordinated barrage of denunciations sure to come. Baral refused to sign.
Avinoam ignored the calumnies and slander as he pressed forward to be elected as Student senate Vice President of Internal Affairs.
But what of his fellow students? The vast majority of senate candidates had no ties to either Judaism or Israel. For them the choice was easy, stand by a fellow student targeted by an International movement peddling in the oldest hatred, or betray their friend to gain an easy endorsement. They chose betrayal.
One cannot help but be reminded of the statement attributed to pastor Martin Niemöller about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis‘ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.
“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out– Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me.
I imagine in my mind the final climactic scene from the film Spartacus, but in this version the Romans demand betrayal from the spineless candidates of the UCLA senate. As the camera pans across their tortured faces, each points to the wanted fugitive slave shouting, there’s Spartacus!