Chaim Y. Botwinick

Anti-Israel Rage and Jew Hatred on University Campuses: A Proposed Response

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“Sheb’chol Dor VaDor Omdim Aleinu Lechaloteinu V’HaKadosh Baruch Hu Matzilenu Miyadam” ….(“In Every Generation, They Try to Destroy Us, and HaShem Saves Us from Their Hands”…) Vehi Sheamdam

Since the horrific massacre of  October 7th, we have witnessed an explosive increase in anti-Israel and antisemitic violent demonstrations and rallies on university and college campuses throughout the United States and Europe.

These acts of hatred, have had a dramatic effect on the physical safety and emotional welfare of our Jewish students attending these institutions. They have also had a profoundly negative and fearful impact on the psyche and mind-set of our Jewish communities, many of  whom are shocked and horrified by the recent resurgence of  blatant aggressive antisemitism and violent anti-Israel protests.

As we know, for many years, an increased number of colleges and universities have become academic bastions of progressive left-wing liberal woke-centric philosophy with strong anti-Israel leanings and connections. To be sure, many of the faculty at these institutions, from tenured to adjunct at Harvard, Yale, Columbia NYU and University of Pennsylvania. (to name a few), continuously teach, spew and regurgitate anti-Israel leftist ideology and pseudo-intellectual positions based upon false narratives, indoctrination and conspiracy theory. For many, their ideology and teachings have gone unchecked (for accuracy) for years, they hid behind invisible banners and shields of unsupervised or honest credible curricula in the name of academic freedom.

These are indeed the college and university teachers of hate, vile discrimination and ugly racism. Many of these progressive leftist faculty lack true moral clarity, academic credibility and authenticity as their teachings mimics and compliment  TikTok history lessons which deny the historical existence of Israel and promote fictitious narratives regarding Palestine, Israel, the Jews and the middle east.

Unfortunately, the proliferation of this poisonous indoctrination have had a very toxic effect on our privileged, indulgent and coddled college students, many of whom are hungry for a purpose, for a cause as well as the need for peer pressure recognition.

These pathetic impressionable, arrogant and ignorant students are convinced that they are fighting a war against the oppressors and self identify with the oppressed. They are only comfortable when surrounded with other like minded students which self identify with the perceived poor oppressed ……fighting a virtuous battle against the mythical oppressors.

Most of these students, as borne out of interviews and their individual public statements, have absolutely no idea as to why they are demonstrating and are completely confused and ignorant regarding the historical and political realities or facts on the ground.

What exacerbates this troubling condition is a recent finding which suggests that  between 30-40% of the demonstrators are non-student agitators who are being payed and financed by pro Hamas group to create mayhem, violence and anarchy.

Once these students cross the line by advocating  “death to the Jews”  “death to America” “long live Hamas”  “from the river to the sea” (to name a few)  or by physically blocking Jewish students from attending university classes, let alone physically attacking and shoving Jewish students in libraries, lunchrooms or dormitories, they are moving in a very dark, dangerous and insidious direction which now demands our community’s response as well as a coordinated unified response from our local, state and federal authorities.

Historically, there  have always existed subtle undercurrents of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment at these institutions …just ready to explode in all of its glory and ugliness.

Nevertheless, it is so difficult, exacerbating and painful for us to fathom that it was as if a switch was flipped, immediately after the infamous October 7th  bloodbath massacre. It created a spontaneous combustible firestorm of  unimaginable historic proportion.

We all know that as a Jewish community, we will never ever be able to put this ugly devil back into its bottle (or back under its moldy rock from where it originated). But, what we can do is confront this vile evil with moral principles, wisdom, determination, resilience and strength. We have used these battle-tested approaches throughout Jewish history and we must now use them once again.

As a Jewish community in the diaspora, we will no longer accept or tolerate the level of anti-Israel and antisemitism we are currently experiencing. It must be challenged in every manner possible. This is an existential imperative. To be sure, we all know and history records what happened in the 1930’s when our Jewish communities in Europe were somewhat complacent, except for pockets of  brave Jews who comprised the “resistance”. Remember, complacency leads to weakness, and weakness when fighting antisemitism is never acceptable.

I am not suggesting or advocating that we establish resistance groups, or weaponize our responses; but I am imploring us to respond with all of the resources now available to us as a Jewish community.

The following are a series of actions which I humbly suggest deserve serious attention and consideration.

We must…….

  • document and report all acts of antisemitism to local, state and federal  authorities;
  •  photograph and video record the faces and voices of the demonstrators and  perpetrators; these photos and videos will be processed by the legal, immigration and justice departments via AI intelligence;
  • seek and engage legal counsel if your child (student) is physically denied entry into a public domain on campus including college and university classrooms or if denied the ability to take finals or participate in graduation; there are now discussions underway to pursue civil liberty lawsuits;
  • report to police authorities all physical attacks on self and others in your community;
  • do not under any circumstance agitate protesters by responding to their slurs, chants and remarks (we go high when they go low); counter demonstrations yes, physical engagement, no.
  • do not be fearful to wear a kippa in public, wear it with pride; this also holds true for other symbols which publicly display one’s proud Jewish identity (mezuzot, stars of david necklaces, etc.)
  • engage in a comprehensive letter writing and lobbying campaign in order to impact the election of officials on the local, state, federal levels;
  • always be encouraged to attend and participate in peaceful public rallies in support of Israel as well as public Jewish communal celebration;
  • always check in on a friend or neighbor who may be fearful to go out in public places/spaces;
  • consider enrolling in self-defense classes, the type of self-defense is totally dependent upon individual preference,
  • always feel free to express your opinions and feelings via articles, interviews, blogs, editorials, opinion pieces and social media posts;
  • always be informed about the latest news from Israel and about other Jewish community news in the diaspora;
  • try to identify colleges or universities that are safe spaces for your children. Many institutions of higher learning under Jewish auspices are now making special accommodations to accept and welcome Jewish students, a heartfelt congratulations and thank you to Yeshiva University, Touro and others for reaching out to Jewish students;
  • bring the conversation into the classroom; it is essential that our yeshiva day high school students are aware and knowledgeable regarding the current events now impacting Israel and our Jewish community. This will require knowledgeable and sensitive leadership commitments on the part of school heads, principals, teachers, rabbis, parents and board members;
  • lobby governmental officials to pass legislation in order to arrest, charge, convict  and deport arrested students on immigrant visas; protest against catch and release.
  • deny loan tuition forgiveness for all arrested students.
  • parents must be held accountable for the millions of dollars of physical damage to university and college campuses;
  • implore the FBI to trace the money trail which is supporting the purchase of supplies, weapons, food, transportation and stipends for all arrested student protesters.
  • demand that the US Congress and Senate conduct a full and comprehensive investigation and hearings into the violent antisemitic, anti-American insurrection on college campuses.
  • ensure that all outside agitators are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law;
  • withhold all philanthropic gifts and endowments to colleges and universities that were and are complicit prior to, during and following the demonstrations; this includes institutions that adhere to the demands of protesters – especially those that focus on divestment of Israeli goods, and services;
  • create and/or disseminate leadership talking points in support of Israel and to combat antisemitism;
  • promote, support and advocate for strong and meaningful relations between Israel and American Jewry. this includes: encouraging aliyah to Israel; enrolling in Israeli institutions of higher learning; promoting and participating  in solidarity missions and educational trips to Israel;
  • create a multi media marketing, public relations and hasbara program in support of Israel;
  • continuously engage in private and in communal tefilla, torah study and religious practice.

In the final analysis, education must become our first line of offense and defense. It is one of the most effective responses or anecdotes for combating anti-Israel and antisemitic hatred. But, as we know, in order to engage in an effective education process, we must first “stabilize the patient” – meaning that we must first extinguish the all consuming firestorm prior to rebuilding trust, understating, and knowledge through education.

It is essential to understand and appreciate the fact (as painful as it is) that no other entity in the world will defend Am Yisrael or Eretz Yisrael in the manner in which we can and should.

We must continue to call out and combat those that threaten our lives and the lives of those who support us. It will be an uphill battle, but lets remember, this an existential battle, not just an initiative in peaceful coexistence

There are those who feel strongly that we must not (under any circumstances) allow or permit anti-Israel and antisemitic acts against our community, or be placed in a position which determines how our lives will be negatively impacted. To this end, we refuse to allow this to continue unchallenged and unabated.

Reality dictates that our Jewish community is now on its own. Yes, we have supporters and friends. But make no mistake, history has taught us that this reality can change on a dime! We know this, we have experienced this before and we must be prepared for this unfortunate sad reality and realization.

Let us all remember that achdut (unity) is a powerful anecdote to these challenges.

When we stood together in unity at the base of Har Sinai, preparing to receive/accept our Torah from HaShem, we stood unified together Ish ehad B’lev Echadas One People with One Heart.

Friends, we are still that one people with one heart. And together, we will stand strong and resilient against all of our enemies and advesaries, with HaShem’s help and guidance.

May HaShem guide and protect Kol Acheinu Bnai Yisrael as we embark upon a new chapter in our history and destiny; and as we all eagerly await the Geula 

 Am Yisrael Chai

About the Author
Dr. Chaim Botwinick is a senior executive coach and an organizational consultant . He served as president and CEO of the central agency for Jewish education in Baltimore and in Miami; in addition to head of school and principal for several Jewish day schools and yeshivot. He has published and lectured extensively on topics relating to education, resource development, strategic planing and leadership development. Dr. Botwinick is Author of “Think Excellence: Harnessing Your Power to Succeed Beyond Greatness”, Brown Books, 2011
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