Column: Death of a ‘Zionist’

PHILADELPHIA – Looks like I need to take out a restraining order against Khymani James who, at the age of 20, went down in modern history this weekend clamoring that “Zionists don’t deserve to live.”

In a rambling response to questions, James told Columbia University administrators that he is capable of killing me since I am a Zionist, not to mention most of America’s Jewish population.

James interprets Zionism to mean that I am a “white supremacist” and I am included among “supporters of genocide,” which is news to me. Not to mention, again, most of America’s Jewish population. He needs to read Merriam-Webster’s definition of Zionism: “An international movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel.”

Most American Jews believe that the state of Israel is the Jewish homeland, which inherently makes us Zionists. True, there are many Zionists who tie Zionism into the Gaza and West Bank territories. They remain a minority among Zionists. It is at best foolish for the Israeli government to expand the so-called settlements in the West Bank and even annex that territory. For that matter, a high percentage of American Jews never wanted a conservative Israeli government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Calling for the deaths of Jews – excuse me, Zionists – by protesters on college campuses has been difficult to prove, but James strongly indicated so at first in a video and ultimately built a case against himself for being able to kill Jews, which would include me.

I believe most demonstrators do not seek Israel’s destruction or the deaths of Zionists like myself. They genuinely oppose Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 raid in which Hamas slaughtered 1,200 Israelis in southern Israel and kidnapped another 240; they are still holding between 100 to 140 Israeli hostages. Hamas claims that Israel’s response killed 31,000 Palestinians in a toll that fails to distinguish between terrorists and civilians.

Pre-Oct. 7, the student protesters also identified with the Palestinians as victims of colonialist-style oppression.

James may well be part of a core central group of organizers that almost certainly seeks to destroy Israel and kill or subjugate Jews. However, they would get nowhere if not for the participation of the vast number of supporters who condemn Israel’s actions.

James and I concur on one crucial element, if for different reasons – Israel should cease its advances into the West Bank. Israel has yet to offer practical reasons for settling the West Bank, which the current government also wants to annex. If Israel hopes to control the West Bank badly enough, a lot of blood will probably be shed before it can take full control.

Conversely, Palestinians will likely spill an even greater amount of blood if they want to take over all of Israel. Arab extremists who control the agenda have made it clear that they seek Israel’s destruction. This goal does not necessarily apply to all Palestinians or their supporters in America.

During the protests last week, James organized a human chain to prevent a group of what he described as Zionists from entering a protest camp, Newsweek reports. He called upon demonstrators to take “one step forward” together and “push them out of the camp.”

He identifies as “a first-generation African-Caribbean gay Black male” who spent most of his childhood in Boston’s Dorchester section, according to Wikipedia. His mother died when he was 12 and he was raised by an aunt where he lived with two cousins.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that he was originally banned from campus, and has been placed under an “interim suspension.” It means he could potentially return to class or be expelled. A Columbia spokesperson told the Times, “We initiated disciplinary proceedings which encompass this and additional potential violations of university policies.”

James’ collection of comments is recounted in detail by Newsweek, which attributed it to a video published by The Daily Wire on Thursday last week. His words are choked with assumptions, which we can readily dissemble:

During a virtual meeting, two Columbia employees voiced concern about previous comments he made, which are: “Zionists in my DMs (direct messages) wanting to meet up and fight. I don’t fight to injure or for there to be a winner. I fight to kill.”

What made James so sure they represent Zionism?

He added that Haitian slaves “had to kill their masters in order to gain their independence. These were masters who were white supremacists. What is a Zionist? A white supremacist.”

How could the late actor Yaphet Kotto be a white supremacist as well as all Black people who worship as Jews? That’s right, James. Many Black people as well as other nonwhites are Jewish.

He continued, “I’m not saying I’m going to go out and start killing Zionists. What I’m saying is that if an individual who identifies as a Zionist threatens my physical safety in person – i.e., puts their hands on me – I’m going to defend myself, and in that scenario it may come to a point where I don’t know when to stop.”

I should be relieved that his actions – if this means he will kill a Zionist – would be in self-defense, but is it? I am worried that he is attempting to play with words to justify his possible killing of Zionists.

After speaking with the Columbia employees, he addressed the camera directly, saying, “Why would we want people who are supporters of genocide to live? I’m confused.”

My turn to be confused. In all my years of supporting Israel, which automatically makes me a Zionist, I was never among “supporters of genocide.” My word of honor.

Then he said, “Zionists, along with all white supremacists, need to not exist because they actively harm and kill vulnerable people…Be glad, be grateful, that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists. I’ve never murdered anyone in my life, and I hope to keep it that way.”

I hope he keeps it that way. Does this mean he might yet murder someone?

James probably buys into a strict world-view claiming that the world is all Black vs. white, Jew vs. Arab, rich vs. poor, etc., with no room for flexibility. Would it surprise him that roughly 75 percent of Jews vote for Democrats? That some of America’s wealthiest citizens donate to liberal causes? That before Oct. 7, close to half of Israelis opposed Netanyahu’s policies and now a sure majority wants to dissolve his government?

If he travels to Israel and the territories, he would be surprised that Israel’s white Jewish colonialists mostly welcome gays like himself while homosexuals in Gaza and the West Bank face execution if they are outed. Let’s have some fun with him by imparting this tourism advice: He should announce to Muslim freedom fighters that as a Black man he identifies with their cause.

Then he can ask for directions to the local gay bars.

About Bruce Ticker

Bruce S. Ticker, who writes from Philadelphia, also blogs for The San Diego Jewish World and Smirking Chimp and previously for the suspended Philadelphia Jewish Voice. He was previously a reporter and copy editor for daily newspapers in eastern Pennsylvania.

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