Jewish college students are dealing with attacks on Israel and harassment on their campuses. When will it stop?
It feels odd — wrong, even — that my family and friends scattered across Israel are asking me if I’m okay and safe. But I’m not, and nor are many of my Jewish peers at GW.
What we’re witnessing in rallies around the world and on our campus echoes the antisemitic fervor that led to the Holocaust. In Israel, my family and friends have been experiencing “od Shoah,” another Holocaust. Around the world, across the U.S., and even at GW, the pledge of “Never Again” is under assault.
On Tuesday night, a group of students from Students for Justice in Palestine at GW projected messages like “Glory to our martyrs” and “Free Palestine from the river to the sea” onto Gelman Library. These messages, including one that even put Israel in quotation marks, celebrate terrorists who have kidnapped and slaughtered Israelis and call for the annihilation of Israel and its Jewish citizens.
My mood has been a rollercoaster of depression and anger over the past few weeks. It’s more than enough to bear the emotional burden of Hamas’ attacks on our homeland and Israelis of all races, religions, and ethnicities.
Over the past two weeks, my Jewish friends have told me they’ve been heckled at, spat on, laughed at for losing a loved one in the Israel-Hamas war, and threatened with physical harm. Some have told me that they have been called antisemitic slurs in passing. Many have texted me that they’re skipping Shabbat, cutting class, and even feeling like they need to leave D.C. This may be the first time I am grateful that my dad insisted on putting my mezuzah on the inside of my door.
My friends and I have been in classes and panel discussions where academics omit and distort facts about Israel and Hamas’ grip on the Gaza Strip and even minimize Hamas’ barbarism and its goals as just “problematic” or a “resistance group.” Our friends at other campuses are being beaten up — and this is just here at home. Abroad, we’re see Stars of David graffitied on homes, “Jews not allowed” signs placed on storefronts, and synagogues set ablaze.
SJP’s projections and other antisemitic acts are shocking but not surprising: “You’re dirty and disgusting! F*ck Israel, Free Palestine!” I heard one student shout at a Jewish student in Kogan Plaza on Tuesday. And during a large anti-Israel demonstration in D.C. on Saturday, some demonstrators confronted apparent members of Zeta Beta Tau, the world’s first Jewish fraternity.
We must reduce the violence that has rocked the campuses of Tulane and Columbia universities and the University of California, Berkeley, where anti-Israel students physically assaulted Jewish and pro-Israel students earlier this month. Every GW community member — and the world — must understand that the combination of misinformation, propaganda, and hateful rhetoric leads to violence. Proper actions must be taken to stop this.
While I’ve been comforted by the increased security around campus and the unconditional support of GW’s Jewish community, I’m perturbed by the thought that my peers in class or behind me at the line in Starbucks might support a terrorist organization seeking to murder my family, friends and me — and one that abuses the people whom they claim to advocate for.
SJP and Jewish Voice for Peace supporters conflate the Palestinian cause with Hamas’ agenda, and they and leaders in their movement refuse to condemn Hamas, call on the organization to surrender, or demand it release all its hostages. Decrying Israel as the ultimate villain reeks of Nazism and demonstrates their ignorance and moral idiocy.
If they were morally sound, these organizations would make it clear that Hamas’ liberation mission is far detached from Palestinian welfare and explain how Islam dictates that all civilians lost in war or natural disaster are “martyrs” — not Hamas terrorists. Some members of the GW chapter of SJP even expressed feelings of “hope and joy” after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which included acts of kidnapping, rape, human butchery and the massacre of entire communities.
A Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll conducted earlier this month found nearly half of young people said they side with Hamas over Israel. That is a testament to Generation Z’s perverted embrace of terrorism and violence to achieve progress and political change. Where will Jew hatred take us 10 to 20 years from now?
Knowing that SJP and JVP have such a presence on campus is petrifying: They belong to a network of organizations that promote Jew-hatred and terrorism like the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and American Muslims for Palestine.
As hateful slogans flashed on the walls of Gelman Library, anti-Israel students chanted, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Jewish students huddled together to sing “Ose Shalom,” a song for peace, and Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” meaning “the hope.”
GW’s Jewish community is hoping for better days as we mourn the losses of our loved ones, the destruction of our communities, and the innocent lives lost in war — both Israelis and Palestinians.
You don’t have to like me or my country, but now is not a time to project hate. It is a time to come together, show empathy, and pray for peace for people and a land we care deeply about. Students for Justice in Palestine could have lived up to its name that night, joined in our prayers, and projected messages that emphasized a shared humanity. Instead, they tore us apart.
This article was originally published in the GW Hatchet.