On April 11th, the ADL released the first Campus Antisemitism Report Card, which assessed 85 universities and assigned them a grade (A-F) reflecting the level of antisemitism at each school, according to their research.

Along with MIT, Harvard, and Tufts, my college, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), was 1 of 13 schools to receive an F. I didn’t think antisemitism at UNC was nearly as bad as the Ivies, and I decried the ADL’s methodology, which evaluated public and private universities using the same criteria, amongst other issues.

I have become so desensitized to campus antisemitism that the ADL’s grade surprise me.

It shouldn’t have.

In the past few years, UNC Jews have been subjected to Nazi graffiti, “traditional” antisemitism, student senate BDS resolutions advocating to openly discriminate against us and our Israeli peers, and now cadres of anti-Zionist “protesters” actively try to bully us off campus.

These peers of ours are so brazen in their ignorant or intentional antisemitism that they see no problem suppressing our right to honor Israelis still held hostage by terrorists while demanding their right to lie about how evil we all are for supporting Israel.

Pro-Hamas protesters at UNC Chapel Hill “Gaza Solidarity Encampment,” April 28, 2024.(courtesy)

On April 19th, UNC Students for Justice in Palestine constructed their own “solidarity encampment,” in the Polk Place Quad, the center of UNC’s campus, two days after the Columbia encampment began. The UNC encampment was gone by 3 p.m. that same day.

I thought this was the end of it. They tried, nobody cared, they went home. I was wrong.

Exactly one week later, on April 26th, the tents were back up. According to the timestamps of videos taken by myself and other Jewish students, the intifada chants began around 11:30 a.m. that day.

The ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampment’ at UNC Chapel Hill, April 28, 2024. (courtesy)

“Intifada” is an Arabic word that translates to “uprising” or “shaking off,” but Jews understand it in reference to the First and Second Intifadas in Israel from 1987 to 1990 and 2000 to 2005, respectively. The Intifadas were periods of constant Palestinian demonstrations, suicide bombings, and other acts of terrorism against Israelis.

Perhaps the most infamous terrorist attack during the Intifadas was the Sbarro bombing, which ultimately killed 16 Israelis, including seven children. That is what the phrase “globalize the Intifada” means to Jews. I refuse to believe that the use of this chant, which has become characteristic of so-called “pro-Palestinian” protests, is mere coincidence. 

The UNC encampment continued through the ​​weekend, growing in size and violating university policy. Jewish and Israeli students began avoiding the quad out of fear for their safety.

On Monday, April 29th, UNC SJP promoted on their social media that they would be holding a “teach-in” to learn about Leila Khaled, a plane hijacker and leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a designated terrorist organization, as well as organizing in Lebanon.

Protesters attach Leila Khaled’s name to flagpole at UNC Chapel Hill, April 29, 2024. (courtesy)

Supporters of the encampment cited these “teach-ins” as examples of how the protest was peaceful. I fail to understand how lectures glorifying terrorism and explaining how to replicate it can be considered peaceful, but what do I know, I’m just an idiot Zionist.

Later that evening, I was sitting on a picnic blanket with my friends on a different part of campus, listening to the former chancellor Kevin Gusciewicz speak for our “Last Lecture,” an annual senior event.

Around 6 p.m., my fellow attendees and I began hearing screaming and banging noises. Gusciewicz tried to continue the event, but as the screaming drew nearer, it became impossible.

The mob stormed into the clearing as we frantically picked up our bags and blankets and scrambled out of the way. They carried their tents with them as they screamed in Arabic, “From water to water, Palestine will be Arab,” and banged on pipes.

Members of the ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampment’ interrupt Last Lecture event at UNC Chapel Hill, April 29, 2024. (courtesy)

One of my friends had a panic attack during this. Another friend recognized a roommate in the mob and no longer felt safe living in Chapel Hill. She went home to her family that night, the final days of her senior year ruined.

When Jewish students are terrorized, feel that nowhere is safe, and are driven away from campus, your protest cannot be considered “peaceful.”

Fed up with the protesters’ continued violation of university policies, including trespassing into locked buildings overnight, interim Chancellor Lee Roberts and Provost Chris Clemens announced on Tuesday April 30th that the protesters must remove themselves and their belongings from the quad by 6 a.m. or risk possible arrest, suspension, and expulsion.

Naturally the protesters, whom one can only assume had been eagerly waiting to cry “police brutality,” did not remove themselves by 6 a.m. As threatened, the university sent the police in to remove the encampment, due to its violations of state law and university policies.

30 protestors were detained, of which only 10 were UNC students. Only six people were arrested, half of whom were not affiliated with the university.

Discarded signs after UNC sends police in to dismantle ‘Gaza Solidarity Encampment,’ May 1, 2024. (courtesy)

The arrests added fuel to the protesters’ fire. They returned to campus in swarms later that morning. As the size of the protest grew, so too did the anger and vitriol emanating from it.

Around 1:45 p.m., my friends and I watched in horror as the protesters pulled down the American flag and replaced it with the Palestinian flag. A veteran standing near us burst into tears.

I left at this point to go to class, not that I was able to pay attention. While I was in class, Lee Roberts, trailed by my friends, bravely marched into the angry mob and rehung the American flag.

When I returned to the quad after class, the protesters had cut the pulley system and a group of people (not all of whom frat guys) were holding up the flag to keep it from touching the ground, sparking this viral picture:

Fraternity brothers and UNC Chapel Hill students hold up American Flag, April 30, 2024. (courtesy)

I joined this group of people at the flagpole at the center of the protest. Angry protestors surrounded us on all sides, screaming for UNC’s divestment from Israel and Intifada at the tops of their lungs and throwing things at us.

One of my friends later recounted having her Israeli flag taken from her and stomped into the ground while a water bottle hit her in the back of her head. 

The situation became increasingly violent and, out of fear for our physical safety, we took the American flag and got out. After a couple hours, the protest eventually fizzled out. The American flag was restored to its proper place, surrounded by an immovable metal fence to prevent further attempts at removing it.

UNC Chapel Hill students hold American and Israeli flags, April 30, 2024. (courtesy)

This was my last day of class as a college student. I refused to return to campus alone after these events, immobilized by the fear of what could happen if an angry mob found me studying for finals in the library.

This fear is not irrational. They know who I am. They’ve called me out by name and left hate comments on my personal social media. 

Since October 7th, I’ve been called a “freak,” “weirdo Zionist,” “terrorist,” “genocide supporter.” What could I have said to elicit such vitriol, you ask?

Apparently being outspoken in my beliefs that Israelis should not be raped and murdered en masse, that hostages should be returned home, and that Jews possess the right to self-determination, just like any other indigenous group, triggers their ire.

Do not try to gaslight me into believing these protests were peaceful. They were anything but. The encampment did not cause mere “discomfort,” as a letter to UNC administration signed by over 800 faculty and staff claims.

Terrorism supporter at UNC Chapel Hill holds PFLP flag, May 5, 2024. (courtesy)

Regardless of whether you believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza (they’re not), intimidating Jewish students and vandalizing the American flag are not hallmarks of peaceful protest.

I never thought the situation at UNC would get that bad. I never thought I would understand how the world allowed the Holocaust to happen. I thought the protestors didn’t know what they were saying, and that, if they only knew, they would stop.

Now I know it doesn’t matter if they know. They will follow along anyway.

It’s time to believe that when they call for intifada they mean it.

This article was originally published in the Times of Israel Blogs.

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