Is Silence a Solution?

Recently, many Jewish students have found themselves facing identity-based dilemmas. These students often need to make decisions that would protect them from brutal violence, at the expense of expressing their identity freely. The last time Jews had to keep their identities behind closed doors was in 1942, during the Holocaust. Today, history seems to be repeating itself, as Antisemitism is once again soaring, especially on college campuses.

In fact, students have had to cancel planned lectures on campus out of fear of being shamed and attacked during those events. It is becoming increasingly clear that blaming the Jewish State for all the world’s injustices is a trendy tactic of the campus anti-Israel movement.

A prime example of this worrying phenomenon is the “Israeli Apartheid Week,” a reoccurring event on campuses across the United States. During this week, a mock Apartheid wall is usually erected, with protesters in front of it, advocating to end the Israeli “occupation” and free “Palestine”. During one such event at Wake Forest University in 2019, the student group Students Supporting Israel (SSI) were advised to “lay low,” getting no chance to voice their opinion in their own university, the one place where “free-speech” is supposed to be valued above all else.

Unfortunately, this is not the only case where Jewish students and faculty have found themselves worried and confused that their University had permitted shameful parades of Israel hatred. When universities allow these types of anti-Israel events to occur, while Jewish students are simultaneously advised to keep a low profile, the anti-Israel movement is given free rein to continue brainwashing thousands of students, who simply do not know any better when it comes to Middle Eastern politics.

Another example of Antisetmisim is the recent case that occurred in Canada’s McGill University. A Jewish student named Jordan Wright had decided to go on “Face to Face,” a Hillel-sponsored organized trip to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Due to this decision, Wright was subjected to intense pressure from her peers on the University’s Student Union to leave her position on the union or face impeachment. As she recounted: “The SSMU President personally singled me out, and actively encouraged others to attack me. Only I was targeted, despite the fact that another non-Jewish Councillor will also be joining me on the trip.” Wright was confronted with a terrible dilemma, solely due to her Jewish identity, that no person should ever have to encounter.

In 2016, the Algemeiner Journal released a list of the top 40-worst-colleges for Jews in the US and Canada. On this list, McGill is marked as a place that is “unfriendly for Jews,” ranked as 2.5 out of 5 on the hatred scale, and the fourth overall worst on the list. This is the same university in which a student was called a “Zionist B****” just for advocating for Israel, passed a pro-BDS resolution, and openly admitted to censoring pro-Israel content, claiming that Zionism is a product of “settler-colonial ideology.”

The real question is, why, in 2019, are we facing these problems? How have we allowed ourselves to reach the point where we even need a list of the “top-40-worst-Univesities” for Jews?

Having mentioned some horrific instances of antisemitism above, we must ask ourselves: Is silence really the solution? Should Jewish students simply sit quietly in the face of discrimination, or fight for what they believe in? Should they not be encouraged to express their Zionist identity freely?

We have seen time and again that when students stand for what they believe in, they truly make an impact. Blake Flayton, a student at George Washington University, is a left-wing Jewish member of the LGBTQ community, and a self-described Zionist. Despite his progressive bona fides, Flayton has been widely condemned on campus, forced to justify his very identity to his peers, and blacklisted from multiple events, solely due to his Zionist identity. Eventually, his plight became public knowledge when he wrote an op-ed that was published in the New York Times, in which he laid his struggles bare, for all of the world to see. Flayton is an example of a leader that fought back against the haters on college campuses and impacted the Jewish community across the world.

So no, silence is NOT the solution. Fighting for your identity can be hard, but it can truly make an impact. It is how we can change the world, starting with one college campus at a time.

About the Author
Noa Rekanaty is a second-year Government student at IDC Herzliya, Reservists on Duty fellow on campus, and an IDF veteran.
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