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Jody Comins
Jewish Mom, Lifelong Zionist, and Activist

Bearing Witness at MIT

Jody & Friend Supporting Jewish Students at MIT

This past February, I led a mission to Israel for Evolve Hadassah, the young women’s department of the Women’s Zionist Organization of America. We bore witness in some of the places that Hamas committed atrocities on October 7: Kibbutz Be’eri, Nova Music Festival, and the Gaza envelope. We visited Hostage Square in Tel Aviv and met with families of hostages. We paid our respects to fallen soldiers, young people the age of my daughters, at Har Herzl in Jerusalem. And we brought treats and hugs to women displaced from their homes in the north of Israel due to the threat from Hezbollah.

Yesterday, I attended an IAC (Israel American Council) rally to support students in Boston on campus. I once again bore witness, this time at MIT, to the injustices in our community, through the voices of the pro-Israel students. We heard from Shabbas Kestenbaum, a student at Harvard who is suing the university for not protecting him from antisemitism. We heard from countless MIT students, primarily young women, who spoke directly to the counter-protestors that stood across the street in front of their encampment telling them, “We will not be intimidated by you!” and “We will dance in front of you and continue to bring our light to the world.”

They spoke of an administration at MIT that is failing Jewish students. Changing the rules for them- like the grad student that was told she had to take the Israeli flags out of her window because they no longer allow personal expression or large signs in personal campus apartments. She pointed out that the encampment across the way was covered in signs calling for “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea”. By the way, she refuses to take them down. Kol Hakavod.

I saw more American flags and cheers of USA at this rally than ever before. We Jews recognize that the protests on campus are not anti-Israel, they are actually anti-American. We know the protestors are supported by PFLP, Hamas, Qaatar, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. And it’s very clear that those organizations and countries, which are on the US Terrorist Watch lists, are looking to create a worldwide caliphate and wipe out democracy. This is not only a Jewish problem, but also an American problem and threat to our democracy.

My daughter attends Tulane University and last Monday an encampment was erected.  Within two days, the administration, with the help of campus and New Orleans police, took it down. The number of students involved was less then 20%, the rest were community members, i.e.: professional agitators. There were parents on our college Facebook page questioning the “tactics” of the University in breaking up a “peaceful protest”. Let’s be clear, not one of the 120 campus encampments are peaceful. Blocking Jewish students from entering campus, chanting “Death to Zionists” and holding signs that tell Jews to go back to Poland, are not peaceful. We all saw what happened at Columbia on CNN when the “peaceful protest” finally came to a head.

One of the main tactics the pro-Hamas protestors are taking is asking for Universities in America to divest from Israel. And some of the campuses are acquiescing. Brown, Northwestern, and Rutgers have negotiated with and made deals with the rabble rousers in exchange for them taking down the encampments.

I have an idea. I call on Jewish college students across the United States to make their own demands of their colleges administrations. We need to demand that ALL the Universities, like Cornell, which receives over 151 million dollars from Qaatar, need to stop. Qaatar gives another 5 BILLIION dollars to other Universities. Large donations like this allow for chairmanships and professors that espouse hate and indoctrinate young minds that are looking for a cause. Allowing money to come in from countries that actively support Hamas and or call for the destruction of the state of Israel is a huge part of the problem that we are facing on campus in America today.  Universities need to denounce the donations and the problems on campus that stem from the acceptance of the money. They need to fire the Professors that are in the encampments, threatening students, and fanning the fuel of hatred towards Jewish students.

In an article about this topic in November from Fox Business, Ben Freeman, the director of the Democratizing Foreign Policy program at the Quincy Institute, said it wouldn’t be surprising to learn university responses to the Israel-Hamas war were correlated with countries they’ve received substantial funding from.

And Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., told “America Reports” it wouldn’t shock him that foreign regimes are using their monetary donations to “corrupt colleges and influence students.”  He also said,”Some of our most elite institutions have become cesspools of antisemitism.”

Also, the face masks have got to go. The threat of serious illness from covid is far behind us and the intimidation and hiding behind a mask are people taking social media tactics into real life. Our culture of keyboard fighting while hiding behind fake profiles has come to real life in the encampments and they are terrorizing Jewish students. If you stand so strongly behind your beliefs, take off the mask and spew your hatred to our faces, I don’t think you’ll be so bold then…

 

About the Author
Jody Comins, MSW is a life-long Zionist and Israel activist since her early days working for the University Student Department of the American Zionist Youth Department. She lives outside of Boston with her husband. She is a Divorce & Family Mediator and volunteers as the National Hadassah Chair of Evolve Engagement. She leads several trips for women to Israel as part of one-two year engagement programs. She’s the author of “Speaking Out: Voices of Adult Children of Divorce” and is a “snowbird” in Tel Aviv.