For many of America’s college students across the country, the sounds of Israel Apartheid Week were heard in the hallways of their universities. Israel Apartheid Week, which took place this past week, is a growing movement with a goal to garner support for the Palestinian cause and spread lies about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. The Students for Justice in Palestine Club dominates campuses in the United States, and projects ample support for the BDS (Boycott Divestment and Sanctions) movement, urging their fellow students to boycott Israel. There is a much broader issue within combating the rampant anti-Israel sentiment on America’s campuses; the majority of anti-Israel activism has ultimately become anti-Semitic. The widespread mission to demonize Israel on America’s campuses is most-evidently filled with countless undertones of anti-Semitism.
The words “Israel is a terror state” and “Zionism is racism” are just a couple of the virulently unpleasant phrases shouted in rallies that take place on these campuses. Signs can be seen which read, “Jews killed thousands! End Israel!” and “Zionist = ISIS” by many pro-Palestinian students. These students have openly chanted their support for the intifada and have embraced a following for the terrorist organization Hamas. This has become so prevalent on college campuses, especially on social media, to the point where Zionist students fear showing support for Israel. They are threatened by the potential reaction of their peers, as being pro-Israel is not the popular stance on these campuses.
The anti-Israel activity has only escalated over the years. Jewish students are called “Nazi pigs” and Zionists are compared to Nazis and Islamic State terrorists. Just last year, Temple University student Daniel Vessal was drawn into a dialogue with some anti-Israel activists on his campus, and was allegedly hit so hard that he had to seek medical treatment at the hospital. In addition, he was called a “kike” and “baby killer” by the offenders. Swastikas were painted on a Jewish fraternity building at Emory University, and more recently, swastikas were found painted on a Jewish fraternity building at Vanderbilt University.
This is the new face of anti-Semitism on campuses, and this is the new face of anti-Semitism in our generation in America.
In a video titled “Crossing the Line 2: The New Face of Anti-Semitism on Campus,” Jewish students were featured to speak about their experiences as students on a plethora of different universities across the country. They described Pro-Palestinian groups on campus as intimidating, loud, and forceful, making it hard for the pro-Israel students to feel comfortable embracing their support for Israel. In addition, the Jewish students in the video said that the Students for Justice in Palestine have a large faculty support, in which many professors have vocally expressed support for the Palestinian cause. Many of these professors have tenure, thereby giving them the free reign to say whatever they please.
Pro-Israel students sitting in classrooms with anti-Israel professors feel that they cannot voice their opinions. Roz Rothstein, CEO and Founder of StandWithUs, an international Israel education and advocacy organization, is also featured in this video. She described, “The Students for Justice in Palestine have become more focused and organized over the years.” For example, they have learned how to manipulate the student government to vote against Israeli support. As a result, campuses have passed resolutions in their student governments to support the BDS Movement. Rothstein also explained that anti-Zionism has become the vehicle through which anti-Semites deliver their views.
In an article published in the Jewish Daily Forward in January 2005, Israeli politician Natan Sharansky posed an answer to differentiate what it means to be truly anti-Israel versus being straight-out anti-Semitic. He says that when one criticizes Israel to the point where it is delegitimized, demonized, and held to a double standard, this is when the criticizer can validly be considered anti-Semitic. He calls this “anti-Semitism in 3-D.” When “Free Palestine” is chanted by enthusiastic anti-Israel protesters, this means that none of Israel, “from the river to the sea,” has the right to exist. These people are openly proclaiming that Jews do not belong in any part of Israel.
Many Zionist students have found that Pro-Palestinian students consistently present anti-Israel propaganda without providing any context, and refuse to open a dialogue with the Zionist students, who very much wish to participate in one. One student who was featured in the video said that during Israel Apartheid week, Jewish students were yelled at, and called “dirty Jews.” It is evident that their intentions are not to support a two-state solution, but to abolish the State of Israel completely. This is a clear representation of the anti-Semitism in our time, and as the future leaders of the Jewish People, we must stand up for Israel in the midst of a hostile world around us.
Stacey Weiner, a junior at the College of Staten Island, said that she has witnessed anti-Semitic remarks firsthand. “I’ve seen videos that have taken place in the center of our campus where there are anti-Semitic rallies promoting how Jewish people suffocate the Arabs in Israel, holding them hostage and not allowing them to leave Israel for labor or college.” She also heard about an experience from her friend when he was walking to a night course. Some kids approached him and started taunting him, asking if he was going to blow up the building [alluding to Israel’s summer war in Gaza]. Although this was a simple comment, Stacey said, it had the power to evoke a lot of fear in this friend of hers. Despite all this hardship, Stacey looks to the positive, striving to show the world how Jewish people “are not exactly always portrayed in a correct fashion. I give them the opportunity to see past the extremist or past the unreligious. I show them a nice view of Judaism as someone who is proud to be who they are. I try to show my peers that just because I am Jewish does not mean I am a bad person, it means that I am different and proud to be different.”
The relics of our past too vividly loom behind us. “Never Again” must truly remain “Never Again.” We must use our power to expose the beauty of Israel, and the many ways that this country is changing the world. We will not be silenced.