Jewish students fall victim to vandalism and antisemitism
About two months ago, the US Department of Education decided to update its policy on attitudes toward Judaism as an ethnic origin. The change means that BDS operations and its boycott against Israel on campuses will now be considered antisemitic.
In light of this decision, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is updating the situation of Jewish students on campuses throughout the United States, which according to the heads of the organization, is considered “bleak”. Lior Ben David, chairman of the ZOA’s Campuses Department in the USA, is in constant contact with pro-Israel unions and student associations, across one hundred universities throughout the United States that report to the organization on a daily basis what is going on inside campus walls.
The picture is pretty gloomy,” says Ben David. “We’re seeing a rise in the number of antisemitic actions against Israel and Zionism on campuses.”
Ben David says that there is a significant increase in physical and verbal violence against students and pro-Israel associations, which create a hostile and threatening atmosphere.
In the case of the central sukkah at Columbia University in New York, the words “Free Gaza” were sprayed on the walls of the sukkah. This case is an example of wanting to “punish” and demonize Jews as a people and an attempt to express political opinions against the policies of the Israeli government.
Ben David also tells of antisemitic acts carried out by the Students For Justice in Palestine (SJP), in which Lara al-Qassem served as president, whose name appeared in headlines following the State’s refusal to admit her to Israel, whilst the Supreme Court eventually granted her approval of entry. “The SJP constantly threatens, intimidates and virtually harasses via social media Hebrew-speaking students on campus. Jewish students fall victim to acts of vandalism, such as the destruction of mezuzahs from the doors of student residences and antisemitic hate speech.”
Lev HaOlam Organization founder Attorney Nati Rom describes the nature of BDS in the United States: “You have to understand that BDS is a violent organization. Their only desire is to destroy the Jewish State, and they continue the narrative of ‘occupation’ and ‘apartheid’ in order to recruit people its organization.”
The Lev HaOlam organization, founded by Rom, sends thousands of packages of products from Judea and Samaria to Israeli supporters worldwide to help businesses in Judea and Samaria despite the boycott. As part of his activity, Rom conducts lectures and participates in university debates in the USA. “Curses and demeaning behavior were on display from these activists.” During one lecture, a BDS activist attacked a local reporter who attended.
“Every time I organize Jewish or Israeli cultural events,” says Ben David, “I regularly encounter loud and violent demonstrations against Israel and Judaism. Last week, a guest lecturer at the Department of Art and Design at the University of Michigan showed a slide with a picture comparing Netanyahu to Hitler. This hostility took place with the knowledge of university authorities, who usually don’t intervene and thus legitimize the claim of ‘freedom of expression’. Many Jewish students are frightened and feel threatened and unprotected on their campuses. They experience antisemitic discrimination and harassment, while the institutions do nothing to assure to their personal safety.
“On most campuses, ours and similar organizations attempt to conduct civilized dialogues, and in most cases end in verbal and physically violent demonstrations”, concludes Ben David.
“Part of the treatment of BDS incitement is strengthening the connection between us and citizens from around the world,” says Rom.
“The BDS’s false narratives reach citizens, more than the true story of the territory. Many citizens abroad fall in this trap. It’s important to promote connections with citizens abroad, many of whom are real ambassadors and spread the truth, in places where only the voice of BDS is heard. In the case of al-Qassem, unfortunately, the court decided to allow her in the country, and the verse ‘your murderers and destroyers will rise from within you‘ is very valid here. The direct result of this case is that Israel allows for the possibility of entry for anyone who wants to destroy it . I hope that the case of al-Qassem will be the last one.”