A few days ago, on Yom Hashoah, I saw my first swastika. I froze. I did not have an outburst; I did not ask or yell or scream when I saw it. I froze and I started to cry. Why? I was beyond startled. We are in the 21st Century after all. I go to a Jesuit institution of higher education. Yet, in the middle of my class, a woman’s background on her computer was a swastika. And I should have said something.
Sometimes I feel muted as a Jewish student regarding my pro-Israel feelings. There are so many issues being championed around the world, why should my Judaism, my love of Israel, and hearing or seeing anti-Semitism, silence me? It shouldn’t. It shouldn’t silence you either.
Recently I visited the Israeli Consulate in Chicago to engage in discussions with students from various Chicago-area schools who are fighting to eliminate the hatred of BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movements from their campuses. We discussed coalition building among minority groups. We talked strategy on how to work with student governments to eliminate references to Israel in BDS Resolutions.
But really, I don’t want to eliminate references to Israel in hate speech. I want to defeat these hate-filled resolutions based on the basis that they are filled with hatred. As part of the millennial generation, we aren’t doing this. We are censoring ourselves because we are so scared everything we do or say will offend someone. Therein exists the problem: we are so censored that we lose our voices when there is a correct time to stand up and call something like we see it.
We forget the common humanity we share. I am disappointed in pro-Israel students having to hide their pride and love for Judaism and Israel because of someone else’s bigotry. In WWII, Jews were silenced for their love of faith and pride of self. Today, anti-Semites and the BDS Movement are trying to silence us yet again. A few days ago, on Yom Hashoah, I saw a swastika as someone’s background on their computer and I should have said something.