Law and Order Takes on October 7 and Campus Antisemitism

The following contains some spoilers of Law and Order Episode 1 of Season 23: Freedom of Expression.

The season premiere of Law and Order dropped last week, and it deals with current events and issues, namely October 7, its fallout on US university campuses, cancel culture, and the line between freedom of speech and incitement to murder.

The episode revolves around the murder of of the Jewish president of the fictional Hudson University, who is in the midst of being scrutinized for plagiarism (sound familiar?). He’s reviled by the anti-Israel side for canceling their (anti-Israel) film symposium (probably a reference to this), but also the pro-Israel side for failing to release a statement condemning Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack.

I was pleasantly surprised to see their portrayal of the Israel-hating student group was pretty accurate. They were shown to actually be antisemitic (committing antisemitic acts and engaging in antisemitic rhetoric and tropes), as well as violent and more than willing to lie. When one of them is arrested over the murder, they claim he was framed merely because of his views – even though there is evidence of his involvement in the crime – mirroring their real-life retort when confronted with evidence of their antisemitism that they are being silenced only because of their views. They are also portrayed as brainwashed, and some as supportive of Hamas’ October 7 atrocities and other crimes.

Even the head of the anti-Israel student group looks a lot like Nerdeen Kiswani (albeit a way better looking version).

This is all rather ballsy on the part of the Law and Order writers, but they lose gonad points for their clumsy attempt at even-handedness; they have a Zionist professor kill the anti-Israel student organization leader because Never Again, despite the fact something like this is very unlikely to happen in real life. There is also a bit of “both-sides-ing” by the cops, and the Lebanese assistant DA (played by an Israeli actress!) suggests the anti-Israel student leader is more passionate and naive than anything else.

Nevertheless, I was overall pleased with the episode for the simple reason it painted the real-life bad guys as, well, bad guys….and thus will no doubt piss off the haters.

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