Jason Langsner

Building Bridges on Campus

Get Involved. Mentor. Support.

Holocaust 2.0.

This was the message written on The University of Maryland’s campus during a protest organized by the school’s’ Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) group. Words matter. And these words were written on a campus that educates and houses the fourth largest Jewish population of any American college or university, during a rally where students chanted, “There is only one solution – Intifada revolution.”

The university has started an investigation. University leadership has condemned the speech. But words matter and actions must be taken to reverse this hate speech:  a trend that The Jerusalem Post cites represents a “staggering 1,180% rise in antisemitic events across the globe, with a third of all incidents taking place in the United States.”

Since Oct. 7, when 3,000 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists attacked Israel – murdering 1,200; injuring 5,500; and kidnapping over 240 men, women, children, and babies – antisemitic incidents in the United States are up 400% – according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

This scares me as a Jew.

This scares me as an American.

This scares me as a father who lives in Maryland – not far from UMD.

Eight years ago, I wrote as a millennial how I began to support Israel with all of my charitable giving. Then, I was unmarried. Then, I had no children. Then, I still loved Israel, but my vantage point today has changed and I need to do more. I need to do more to stand-up against antisemitism and anti-zionism (as they are one in the same).

Recently, I stood up with 290,000 of my closest friends on The National Mall of the United States: to stand with Israel, to stand to bring the hostages home, and to stand against antisemitism.

Jason Langsner at The March for Israel in Washington DC

My broken heart was partially mended as some of the hostages have since be freed, but more needs to be done to free the remaining hostages.

One way that I’m doing more is that I purchased Israel bonds and donated them to The University of Maryland’s Hillel – as a sign of solidarity with those supporting my Jewish neighbors who are on campus to learn, to grow, and to simply live their best Jewish lives however that is meaningful to them as young people and students. They should never be victimized and scared to display their religion. They should never be victimized and afraid to go to class or walk across campus to see calls for genocide or to hear classmates advocate and invoke slogans that support or endorse violent protests of bus and restaurant bombings of civilians.

I am not an alumnus of The University of Maryland, but I am a Marylander and a taxpayer whose hard work supports the state public university. I am, though, an alumnus of Georgetown University and I recently wrote an op-ed in The Hoya, Georgetown’s newspaper, “Draw the line at antisemitism,” as I saw free speech on campus that masqueraded as hate speech.

The Embassy of Israel in Washington DC posting on Instagram about hate speech on Georgetown University’s campus (instagram screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of copyright law)

As a father of two young children, I do not sleep enough.

There is nothing greater in my life than holding my nine-month old baby or playing with my three year old. They are my everything. And when they are of age to go to college, whether they choose The University of Maryland, Georgetown University, or any other school (or choose not to go college and immediately enter the workforce after high school), I will support them. Until then, I will continue to introduce them to Judaism and what it means to be Jewish. I will teach them that their words matter, but their actions mean even more.

I will also, somehow, continue to dig in and find more time to speak up when I see an injustice: whether it impacts Israel, the Jewish people, or innocent Palestinian civilians caught up in Israel’s justified war against Hamas in Gaza. A war that Israel did not start, but it will win. The Palestinian people will be freer when Hamas is excised from their stronghold over Gazans. Hamas is terror.

I support a future two-state solution, where Palestinians can live in peace and prosperity with their neighbor Israel. But unlike the calls that were said on UMD’s campus, I believe that peace will come through direct negotiations of Palestinian and Israeli leaders: just as peace was delivered between Israel and Egypt or Israel and Jordan. And how normalization has been realized between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan through The Abraham Accords. And how hopefully soon, after this war ends, peace or normalization will come with Israel and Saudi Arabia – through negotiations and treaties.

Until then, we can all pray for peace. And we can all pray for the safe return of the hostages. We can pray for no or minimal civilian collateral damage in the war. And we can act. Many mega-donors are choosing to act by pausing or stopping their contributions to universities. I hear them. I understand their motivations.

For my fellow millennials, we likely are not mega-donors, so, I ask you to not turn your back on the schools that matured you into the young adults you are today. Do not stop giving to your school, but consider reframing how you give…

  1. GET INVOLVED: I choose to buy Israel bonds and donate them to Hillel International. Hillel was, is, and will always be a space for all kinds of Jewish students — a place where they feel welcomed and included. This double mitzvah is a meaningful way to build bridges between the schools that I respect and a nation that I love. Join me.
  2. MENTOR: I also choose to volunteer to mentor students from my school – Jewish and non-Jewish alike.  I will always accept every request from students who reach out to me professionally for informational interviews and/or to learn more about my industry because I was in their shoes not that long ago. Join me.
  3. SUPPORT: And I will speak up when I see an injustice in schools and communities that I love. I will speak. I will act. Because silence is complicity.
Jason Langsner mentoring Georgetown University students during an on-campus Hackathon (screenshot, used in accordance with Clause 27a of copyright law)
About the Author
Jason Langsner is an active member of the American young Jewish professional community. He is a published author about Israel and American-Israeli affairs and regularly blogs and speaks at conferences about the intersection of communication, culture, politics, and technology. He formerly ran the digital strategy for B'nai B'rith International, the Global Voice of the Jewish Community, and currently serves as a lay leader with various pro-Israel organizations. Mr. Langsner received a Masters at Georgetown University and studied International Business Management at the University of Oxford.
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