As a Jewish student, I feel unsafe on my campus. I feel unsafe on my campus when there is an open forum about race, with a huge portion of the student body and faculty in attendance, and the sole comment made by a Jewish girl, submitted anonymously, is booed by nearly everyone present. Her comment merely expressed that Students for Justice in Palestine’s methods make her feel targeted on campus.
I feel unsafe on my campus when one of the audience’s members gets up after said comment, interrupts the forum, and starts screaming for several minutes about how Israel is a terrorist country that murders people indiscriminately.
I feel unsafe when this girl is cheered, loudly, for her hatred by the same student body and faculty that jeered at the comment made by a Jewish individual who feels threatened for simply existing on campus.
I feel unsafe that, in a supposedly safe space focused on oppression due to identity, I feel oppressed because of my identity.
To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies a space that is safe.
To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies that everyone should be able to sit in a room without feeling explicitly targeted for their ethnic, religious, or racial identification.
To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies listening from the heart and speaking from the heart. To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies empathy. To me, the term ‘safe space’ implies that everyone has an opportunity to voice experiences with oppression, including African-Americans, including Jews, including Arabs, including Asians.
But that is not what this ‘safe space’ turned out to be.
As a Jewish student, I feel unsafe on my campus. But my fear will not overshadow my voice.
I will not let a safe space for one group of people turn into a dangerous space for another.
I will not act with trepidation when confronting discomfort.
I will not accept my narrative being chewed up, spit up, and bottled up.
I will not stand by as I see fellow Jewish students hide their identity.
I will not watch idly as Israel is defined by those who have never stepped foot on her soil.
I will not let my peers demonize the only place in the world where I, as a Jew, truly and unquestionably feel secure.
I will not allow myself to be boxed in and denied my own voice.
A lack of safe space does not mean a lack of agency.
This was written by former CAMERA Summer Intern Lilia Gaufberg and was originally published in the Jewish Advocate.