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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Op-ed: It’s time to acknowledge antisemitism on campus

Antisemitism is rising on college campuses, and Jewish students are fed up.

More Jews were killed on Oct. 7, 2023, than on any day since the Holocaust. Innocent Israeli civilians were kidnapped, sexually assaulted and violently slaughtered by Hamas in a massacre some are calling Israel’s “9/11 moment.”

And since Oct. 7, antisemitism has skyrocketed. Hamas supporters have called for a day of action, implying the targeting of Jews and Israelis around the world, and Hezbollah has called for a global day of rage against the Jewish state. Even ISIS has called for violence against Jews and Israelis globally. 

Their calls have been heard.

Synagogues in Germany and Tunisia have been set ablaze. Jewish-owned businesses have been vandalized with swastikas in New York, and Jewish homes branded with Stars of David in Berlin. Crowds of anti-Israel protestors in Sydney have cried, “Gas the Jews!” Antisemitism has, once again, reared its ugly head.

“Oh, but it’s just anti-Zionism,” some say. Let us be clear: Zionism is simply the right to Jewish self-determination in our ancestral homeland, Israel. As of 2020, eight in 10 American Jews say that caring about Israel is important or essential to their Jewish identity, according to the Pew Research Center. Of course, constructive criticism of Israel isn’t antisemitic — no one acting in good faith is saying otherwise. But denying its right to exist — and engaging in violence against Jews in the process — has a name: antisemitism.

Most appallingly, students on campuses across the nation have openly celebrated this violence — and we’ve seen it on our very own. Just days after Hamas’ violent attack on Israel, Tufts Students for Justice in Palestine applauded “the creativity necessary to take back stolen land.”

And on Tuesday, Oct. 24, Tufts Revolutionary Marxists openly declared their “support [for] the Palestinian mass-led overthrow of the colonial Zionist Israeli apartheid state” in an op-ed published in the Daily, writing that “there can be no liberation if not carried out through the struggle of the oppressed masses, organized and politically conscious.”

To this, we say: how dare you. How dare you applaud the mass slaughter of Jews and Israelis, of our family and friends who live there. How dare you call for the violent annihilation of the only Jewish state.

Over the past two weeks, our campus has not been a safe place for Jewish and Israeli students. Flyers of Israeli hostages have been defamed, Judaism’s historic connection to the land of Israel has been erased and visibly Jewish students have expressed feeling unsafe walking around campus.

To protect Jewish students, we must understand the hate that faces us. Antisemitism is a unique form of hatred — a conspiracy theory. As the U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism outlined, other forms of prejudice punch down against marginalized communities, casting them as “lesser than” the rest of society. Antisemitism, by contrast, punches up. It defames Jews as a supernatural, malevolent force pulling society’s strings. Jews — as individuals, as organizations and as the Jewish state — are painted as wealthy and powerful, conniving and thievish. For millennia, Jews have been killed for being capitalists and communists, isolationists and globalists. Today, we’re killed for being Zionists and Israelis.

Logically, academic circles have long served as cesspools for this conspiracy. Antisemitism thrives when it masks itself as virtuous — packaged in the language of justice and fighting for the oppressed, antisemitism has endured on college campuses around the world.

Make no mistake: As Jews and as human beings, we are heartbroken by the tragic loss of innocent life, both in Israel and in Gaza. Our moral compasses inform our heartbreak, for Israelis and Palestinians alike. These are not mutually exclusive values, and the nuanced statements of Jewish organizations across the globe are a testament to that reality. But now more than ever, we watch as student groups on this campus denounce the humanity of Israelis, openly justifying their deaths.

We bear witness to far-right antisemites calling for the destruction of Jewish civilization in the U.S. Simultaneously, we helplessly stand by as our peers on campus advocate for the destruction of Jewish civilization in Israel. If you don’t want Jews in America, and you don’t want Jews in Israel, where are we supposed to go?