Victoria Coates, vice president of the Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at The Heritage Foundation, spoke at the University of Pennsylvania on Thursday about the ongoing antisemitism directed at Jews occurring on college campuses today. She said that Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, did not start but instead revealed that such antisemitism has been festering on American campuses for a long time.

With decades of experience as a national security adviser in Congress, at federal agencies, and in the White House, Coates leads the Davis Institute in designing and promoting policies focused on the nation’s security and protecting America’s interests around the world. (Heritage founded The Daily Signal in 2014.)

Here are Coates’ remarks to the Penn Alumni Free Speech Alliance and the Open Discourse Coalition on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia:

In terms of national security, our current predicament in academia has not been caused by recent events, but it has been revealed by them.

For our purposes tonight, the stark reality for me is that free speech at Penn [the University of Pennsylvania] is no longer free. It comes at a very real dollar cost—a cost born by the university, by the city of Philadelphia, and by The Heritage Foundation to ensure my safety because the opinion I am here to express—that I think hating Jews is a bad idea—is considered so radical as to raise legitimate concerns about potential violence if I dare utter it in a public forum such as this one.

While I thank all these first responders from the bottom of my heart for their service, and we are hopefully operating under an abundance of caution, my goal is to have such an escort unnecessary the next time I visit Penn.

The fact that an unprecedentedly savage terrorist attack in Israel on Oct. 7, 2023, revealed the antisemitism that has been festering on American campuses here at home is what makes this issue relevant to my broader work on national security.

Before Oct. 7, these two things would have been considered separate and distinct, with Israel being the purview of foreign policy experts and free discourse that of constitutional scholars. But now, these two problem sets have merged in a unique fashion, demanding new approaches and analysis. I don’t claim to have a silver bullet to solve the problem tonight, but perhaps the first step in that direction is the acceptance that we have one.

Not since the Vietnam War era have international affairs and campus culture so dramatically collided. And, of course, the two cases are distinct in that the United States was a direct participant in Vietnam, as were many of the students protesting the war. Our situation seems much more a domestic product, albeit one that has been triggered by events abroad.

What has become apparent to me in the aftermath of Oct. 7 is that First Amendment rights on campuses across the country have become selectively applied. Certain groups enjoy freedom of worship, assembly, and expression. And others, namely Jews and those who support them, due to the threats of violence attested to in this room by the presence of armed security, are compelled to hide the symbols of their religion, disperse gatherings that could become targets, and modify—if not entirely suppress—opinions that have been judged by others as so noxious as to legitimately provoke violence.

While all forms of ethnic and religious bigotry are abhorrent, it must be said that antisemitism today, given the scale of the Jewish population on American campuses and the disproportionate brunt of racist attacks they have suffered, is in a category of its own as a problem because, in its current manifestation, it is the only case where the victims of the attacks are seen as complicit in their own victimization, which, by extension, is deemed legitimate.

The point I want to emphasize tonight is that this should be a flashing red light of danger to all of us who love academic discourse and inquiry in general and Penn in particular. It should be no comfort to us that while fellow Ivies [Ivy League schools] such as Harvard got Fs for confronting antisemitism in the Anti-Defamation League’s report card on the topic released earlier this month, Penn got a D.

The ADL is hardly a bastion of conservatism, so this must be taken seriously or antisemitism could become a canary in the coal mine; a warning of a broader corrosive hate that will not be confined to Jews and that could destroy the free discourse in academia we are gathered here today to preserve.

Making antisemitism acceptable, and even fashionable, should be intolerable to all of good faith, regardless of religion. While after World War II, many hoped the searing evil of the Holocaust would be such a wake-up call that “Never Again” would mean just that, in reality, antisemitism might have been defeated but it was not eradicated. Its focus simply shifted as, almost exactly 76 years ago, the modern state of Israel was established as a Jewish state.

That Israel has an official religious identity should not be considered radical, as many more modern states have official religions such as Christianity (Argentina, Iceland, Denmark) and Islam (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia). Yet the religious identity of Israel has made it subject to almost continuous attack both external and internal—the most recent and sensational on Oct. 7.

In a new twist, Hamas’ target was not exclusively Israel but rather Jews as well as those seen as complicit with them. The terrorists thus indiscriminately killed and tortured Americans, Europeans, Africans, and Asians—and even fellow Muslims. Three Americans are still hostages in Gaza today, more than six months after the attacks.

We can discuss the geopolitical ramifications of the fallout of Oct. 7 and possible resolutions to the conflict in the question and answer portion of our event, and I’d like to get to that as quickly as possible so this isn’t an interminable monologue, but I would like to return in conclusion to the way these terrorist attacks abroad have revealed what is going on in campus culture here at home.

Strikingly, there have been more Palestinian-related protests in the U.K. and U.S. than there have been across the entire Arab world, indicating that this phenomenon is not exclusively of the Middle East. As with Oct. 7 itself, the protests and threats that are spreading across our country are not political in nature and are not targeted at the Israeli government. They are targeted at Jews, particularly American Jews, which is something very different and pernicious—and which was just waiting for a trigger such as Oct. 7 to come out into the open.

As I said earlier, my main purpose here tonight is to express my opinion that it is incumbent on all of us who value academia to admit this reality and be unafraid in our opposition to it. We tolerate it or excuse it at our peril. So, I hope by my presence here tonight to not only identify the problem but hopefully become part of a civil and open discourse on how to resolve it.