#StandUpToHate Blog

An Open Letter – College Campuses Protesting

College Campus Protests, and OPEN LETTER from Rabbi Idan

As a parent of a current college student, I am first and foremost sending hugs and strength to all the parents of college students, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, who are certainly, like me, terrified by this outrageous, disastrous wave of hate on campuses around the country targeting Jews. Some students have also called for “death to America.” This is not a surprise, as much of the anti-Israel “activism” is linked to hostility toward the West and our values. It’s alarming to see our future generation praise the atrocities of a terrorist group committed to the destruction of Israel, the Jewish people, and really, anyone who falls outside of Hamas’s rigid worldview of acceptable lifestyles. 

As a rabbi, I’m deeply concerned about the increasing hostility against the Jewish people. During the modern era, we have seen how hatred against Jews has also been an assault on Western values. On Passover, the Holiday we just celebrated, Jews are reminded to have compassion for the persecuted because we were once slaves in Egypt. Slavery, tyranny, and suffering are all elements that threaten to undermine our civilization. Those who promote such things do not desire a peaceful world, but instead seek to sow fear and destruction. Unfortunately, in every generation, we encounter evil forces that endanger our existence as a society, and as free individuals. From Pharaoh and Amalek to Hitler and the Nazis of WWII, and now the Islamic terrorist organizations supported by Iran. These threats persist.

However, post-World War II, our Western brethren came to the realization that what was done to the Jews was wrong, and then many adopted our declaration, “Never Again.” Despite such a conviction to “Never Again,” this time, this day and age, marks a new height of hatred, and a very dangerous one at that. Prestigious institutions like Columbia University, NYU, Yale, and so many more, are allowing the flame of hatred to spread to alarming new levels with very little substantial pushback.

When Jewish students were near a hostile anti-Israel encampment set up in the middle of their campus at Columbia University, a student grabbed a megaphone and ordered what seemed to be more than a hundred students behind him to stand up and form a human chain to keep the “Zionists” out. “Zionist” has been distorted to mean something it isn’t, and is a stand-in code word for Jews, the Jews who believe that Israel should exist as a Jewish safe haven and a democracy for all its citizens. Obediently, the students behind him stood and linked arms, forming a chain that moved forward to push the Jewish students away from the area. In a cultish fervor, they repeated literally every word that came from the boy shouting through the megaphone. Later on, a video surfaced of that very same student leader saying things like “Zionists don’t deserve to live,” and “Be grateful that I’m not just going out and murdering Zionists.”

For colleges to have standards against propaganda isn’t a way of inhibiting freedom of speech; it’s simply not giving credible platforms to those who mislead and preach hate. 

Vandalism and a disregard for public safety, are not protected forms of speech. Campus administrators should not interfere with law enforcement as they try to bring order back into the communities to make them safe places for all students and outside residents.

Several students in these “protests,” seem to exhibit cult-like behavior. Many are unable to answer basic questions about the conflict they are willing to risk everything for. This is evident from watching several students on video struggle to answer the question of which river and which sea are they talking about in the graffiti in the walls of their encampment. But the problem is that numerous “credible” individuals, including faculty and staff members, as well as NGOs and organizations like the UN, have become propaganda machines that validate other propaganda outlets. Thus, those who seek to cause problems create “fact sheets” and websites that are dishonest, targeting the underinformed who then feel like experts after absorbing the propaganda. This is no longer just a case of students being lazy and naive; this is propaganda on the scale of what the Third Reich and the Soviet Union have implemented.

If these protestors were to internalize and fully understand who Hamas is and what their charter calls for, I am sure they would seriously reconsider their blind support of what they promote. Not only do they call for the annihilation of the state of Israel and ultimately all Jews, but under their law, which many of their leaders expressed wanting to implement, the same destiny awaits LGBTQ+ people and ensures that women do not have any rights. 

Expressing concern for the suffering of Palestinians is legitimate, Hamas has put them and the Israelis in a horrific position. Calls for peace should not be tainted by hate and violence. 

The reality is that Israel and the Palestinian people are not going anywhere. If students genuinely care for human rights, human lives, and peace, they should side with Western values and Western countries that promote this, like the United States and Israel and work to help Palestinians earn a democracy by discrediting the terrorists that have held them captive.  Peaceful people don’t call for the annihilation of one country over another but for coexistence.

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