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VICTOR JOECKS: UNLV president kowtows to campus anti-Semites

Times of controversy and conflict make or break leaders. During his moment of testing, UNLV President Keith Whitfield is crumbling.

Last week, Whitfield met with the UNLV chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. That alone was a major error. Earlier this month, this group helped sponsor a “Walkout for Palestine” at UNLV. At that event, protesters chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Long live the intifada.” The first is a call to wipe out Israel, which would result in the murder of millions of Jews. The second is praise for terror campaigns, including bombings, directed at Israelis.

Higher education is obsessed with microaggressions. But if you scream for the murder of Jews, you’ll get a meeting with UNLV’s president.

It gets worse. I obtained a memo from Whitfield to Chancellor Patricia Charlton summarizing the meeting. He wrote, “It is important to hear all views and perspectives on any issue.”

He doesn’t believe that. It was a big story in 2018 when a sticky note saying “kill the blacks” was found in UNLV’s Lied Library. If a similar incident happened today, and assuming it was racially motivated, do you think Whitfield would meet with the author of that note to discuss his “perspective”? Of course not. Such a meeting would send an awful message to the campus. Whitfield’s meeting with Students for Justice in Palestine also came after this group celebrated pro-Hamas protesters at UNLV shouting down a guest physics lecturer from Israel earlier this year.

It gets worse. SJP-UNLV wanted Whitfield to disclose and divest university investments with Israel.

While not committing to anything, “I did say we would speak with the Investment Committee of the UNLV Foundation to better understand our investment strategies and asset holdings,” he wrote.

No wonder SJP-UNLV came out of that meeting and proclaimed, “Progress was made to meet stated demands of disclosure, divestment and defense.” Whitfield granted their premise — that the university needs to give closer scrutiny to Israeli investments.

At universities around the country, administrators have tacitly encouraged antisemitic protesters and used that pressure as an excuse to enact anti-Israel policies. Whitfield has put UNLV on the same path.

The students also “expressed concerns about their safety” and retaliation against protesters. They whined about elected officials filming “them at their events and post(ing) on social media.” That’s presumably a reference to university Regent Byron Brooks, who’s been boldly and courageously highlighting open antisemitism on Nevada’s campuses.

Think about this: The people chanting for the genocide of Jews are worried about their safety. The people protesting in public are upset others film them. The hypocritical gall here is appalling. It’s the kind of temper tantrum you’d expect from a sixth grader, not a college student who supposedly is learning to think things through.

Whitfield should have laughed them out of his office. Instead, “I committed” to “do what we are capable of related to security or their sense of security,” he wrote. Pathetic.

Nevadans should expect our university presidents to have courage and moral clarity. As recent events have demonstrated, Whitfield lacks one or both. He should resign.

Contact Victor Joecks at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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