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‘It’s scary to be a Jew:’ Students sound off on campus hostilities

Ben Zeisloft, Campus Reform

Thanks in large part to campus leftists, universities are increasingly hostile environments to Jewish students.

Across the nation, leftist students passed resolutions that discouraged Jewish students from voicing support of Israel. For instance, Pomona College’s student government approved legislation with the end goal of defunding pro-Israel clubs.

Meanwhile, over 100 student groups at Harvard University signed a statement condemning Israel for “state-sanctioned violence against Palestinians.” The document did not once mention Hamas or its terrorist activities.

Such developments have Jewish students worried.

Campus Reform spoke to several who detailed the rise of left-wing anti-Semitism on American college campuses.

University of Michigan senior Ryan Fisher told Campus Reform that classmates are not only voicing opposition to Israel, but also those in the US that support it. He explained that “many student groups, as well as our student government, have released incredibly pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist statements which are so frequently veiled instances of antisemitism.”

However, anti-Semitism at the university extends much further.

“In June of this year, the campus rock was painted with slogans like ‘F*ck Israel,’ around the same time a Jewish campus building was defaced by red handprints,” said Fisher. “University President Mark Schlissel went on to offer a lukewarm statement condemning all forms of bigotry. This was different from past responses. Schlissel had championed the Black Lives Matter movement, as Black lives were subject to unique yet substantial challenges.”

“Nonetheless, this level of nuance and attention was absent for Jewish students despite ongoing attacks against them locally and nationwide,” he added. “To be clear, the situations are not identical and there is no equivocation. Yet, the response to rampant anti-Semitism has been comparably lackluster.”

Fisher feels “absolutely fine” about returning to campus in the fall. However, he was “much more concerned” when his address was leaked last year in a “Black @ UMICH” group chat.

Recent Syracuse University graduate Justine Murray — who previously worked as a correspondent for Campus Reform — shares many of Fisher’s experiences.

Murray explained that she had to study off-campus during her senior year because she “received doxxing, anti-Semitic death threats and calls to release my home address after standing up for my Jewish professor online when student-run Instagram pages launched a campaign for her firing after posting a warning to watch out for ‘openly Zionist’ professors.”

“Students tried to get her fired simply because she is a Zionist and served in the IDF years ago,” explained Murray. “The situation got so bad that an anti-Semite sent her emails to her school account, calling her things like a ‘white supremacist Jew,’ a ‘sub-human savage,’ stating ‘F*** your Torah and F*** your Talmud.’ The FBI had to get involved, because the school did nothing to help us.”

Such anti-Semitic threats occurred throughout Murray’s college experience: “During my freshman year, the residence director of my dormitory taped up a crossed-out image of the Star of David in our lobby with bold letters on top stating ‘Boycott Israel.’ When I confronted him about it, he claimed this poster and other posters he taped up were an attempt to honor and celebrate Black History Month.”

Even more students have taken action against anti-Semitism at their schools.

University of Michigan student Aaron Zelmanov referred Campus Reform to his recent piece on campus anti-Semitism for The Michigan Review.

Zelmanov criticized his student government’s resolution for “labeling Israel an apartheid state engaged in ethnic cleansing and war crimes.”

“It is scary to be a Jew in America right now,” Zelmanov wrote. “Observant men must cover their yarmulkes to not be yelled at or spit on. Women are unable to walk with their children for fear of intimidation. My family immigrated to this country as religious refugees to live harmoniously with our fellow citizens, not to live in fear.”

“The Jewish people have always prevailed through misery, and we will overcome these difficulties today, to triumph once more,” he concluded.

A spokesperson for the University of Michigan referred Campus Reform President Mark S. Schlissel’s June 9 statement on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Campus Reform reached out to Syracuse University for comment; this article will be updated accordingly.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @BenZeisloft

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