Anti-Semitism on Campus–An Easy Target

by | in Jewish World

Student David Elmaleh discusses how the college campus has become a hub of anti-semitism

Shouting, anti-religious slurs, evil glares and anti-Semitic rhetoric often get thrown my way as I walk through the halls during one of the countless anti-Israel demonstrations at York University. Am I a walking target? I often wonder if I am drawing a bull’s eye for myself when I dress in a way that identifies me as a Jew on campus. Indeed, the distinction between anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish is becoming increasingly blurred.

Anti-Semitism on campus is undoubtedly on the rise, and campus groups are growing bolder each day. Pictured above: a counter-demonstration to a pro-Israel, pro-peace event at the University of Texas at Austin. The pro-Israel event was sponsored by the University of Texas Hillel.  Courtesy of the University of Texas Hillel and ADL

Anti-Semitism on campus is undoubtedly on the rise, and campus groups are growing bolder each day. Pictured above: a counter-demonstration to a pro-Israel, pro-peace event at the University of Texas at Austin. The pro-Israel event was sponsored by the University of Texas Hillel.
Courtesy of the University of Texas Hillel and ADL

In several cases, these rallies have deteriorated into soapboxes for Jew bashing. I have been called names and been insulted for simply wearing my kippah. One day, while hurrying to a class, a few individuals stopped me in the hallway and began berating me about Israeli policies.

The campus newspaper has not been very helpful; it consistently presents editorials and articles that blast Israel, while very few pro-Israel pieces make it into the paper. Last year, after the fatal terrorist attack at the Mercaz HaRav yeshivah in Jerusalem, a York student wrote an op-ed for the campus paper entitled “Jewish Attack Not a Surprise,” which defended the massacre and called on continued resistance in order to end the occupation in Gaza. Jewish students of all walks of life felt outraged and hurt that their paper had printed such a hate-inspired editorial. It sparked intense debate among all factions of students, and, as usual, Jews were targeted.

Below is my response to the op-ed.

Upon reading the article “Jewish Attack Not a Surprise,” I was angered, frustrated and disappointed. At what price should freedom of speech be protected? Attempts to incite hate and demonize a minority group on campus are by no means welcome and should not be allowed to continue. The author [of the article] justifies the massacre of eight defenseless and unarmed students by stating that they were learning in a school that is connected to the Israeli military and that its graduating students are contributing to the fighting in Gaza. I wholeheartedly disagree with her analysis of the situation in Gaza. However, her opinion is her prerogative, and not my primary concern. I take issue with her justification of the “Jewish attack.”

Anti-Israel demonstrators at the University of   California. Courtesy of ADL

Anti-Israel demonstrators at the University of California. Courtesy of ADL.

I spent some time learning in the Mercaz HaRav yeshivah. . . . If somebody had walked up to me in the [York University] library while I was studying and shot me in cold blood, would the author justify that as well? Or perhaps she was referring to the hundreds of other Jewish students who have studied in similar seminaries before commencing their studies at York? Openly condoning a brutal, heinous and targeted attack on defenseless Jewish students because of their religious and political affiliations threatens the prospect of cohesiveness both abroad and here in our university.

Specifically targeting vulnerable civilians is never acceptable, and such justifications have no business in a university that prides itself on its diversity, acceptance and global interest in human rights. University newspapers . . . should not be used as a vehicle . . . for those who wish to incite hatred and hurt an important minority group on campus that greatly contributes to the academic and social aspects of York.

My response never made it into the paper. I wonder why. . . .

This article was featured in Jewish Action Summer 2009.

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