It was a proud day on UCLA’s campus. Hundreds of students, high on vicious self-righteousness, rallied in Bruin Plaza on the afternoon of October 12 to show their support for Hamas. They came together to celebrate the raping of Jewish women, the decapitation of Jewish babies and the brutal mass murder of festival attendees their age in the name of “liberation.” They wore masks in the California sunshine, because, as one of the young protesters told me, “COVID is a very dangerous virus.” Or perhaps it’s to hide their identities? Who really wants their future employers to know they rallied in support of terrorism.
In the middle of the angry crowd, amid enthusiastic chants of “Intifada! Intifada!” and “Itbah el Yahud” (that’s ‘slaughter the Jews’ in Arabic), stood two young men with Israeli flags. I joined them.
I am not new to activism. I was in college during the second Intifada and 9/11. Tensions were high when I started the first pro-Israel student group at my university. This did not make me popular. I even got boo-ed at my own graduation: a badge of Zionist honor. But Thursday’s Palestine Walkout felt different, and more gleeful, than anything I have experienced before.
At first, the two students and I were the only pro-Israel presence in a sea of keffiyehs, Palestine flags, and hoodies. My heart rate went up. These demonstrators were more aggressive than what I was used to. Rather than advocating for peace and justice, they had fire in their eyes and adrenaline pumping through their veins: a generation fueled by memes and social media outrage; completely unphased by images of terror.
As soon as they spotted our flags, a group closed in around us chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free,” – a slogan that calls for the destruction of the entire state of Israel, thereby the ethnic cleansing of Jews – and a man in a mask and bright orange vest told us to leave, “for your own safety.”
The student I was standing next to answered, “We are going to stay right here, thanks, and peacefully hold our flags.” I hope my young daughters will one day be able to stand up to intimidation the way he did. Despite the threat of violence, I ignored my racing heart and stayed at his side. Eventually, we were joined by a few more Jewish students and several professors.
We chanted, “Free Palestine from Hamas,” and “Am Yisrael Chai,” as they yelled, “When people are occupied, retaliation is justified!” It’s important to note that Gaza has not been occupied since 2005, so presumably the occupation they are referring to is Israel’s existence. A protestor approached us aggressively blaring Middle Eastern music from a boombox, doing his best to drown us out. The scene was surreal: American self-proclaimed social justice warriors celebrating the slaughter of innocent civilians.
It must be terrifying to be a Jewish student on UCLA’s campus right now. It was hard in my day too, but this is different. The attack on 9/11 happened during my sophomore year in college, and we all watched the television in horror as our fellow Americans jumped out of skyscraper windows. In the aftermath I thought surely now my fellow students would understand what terrorism is and what Israelis are up against. But they didn’t. After 9/11, the venomous sentiment towards Israel only intensified on campus.
As details of last week’s attack began to emerge, I naively thought surely now, when there is so much blood spilled, when the crimes are so gruesome, the progressive left would see the evil Israel is up against. Unlike the Nazis who tried to hide their crimes, Hamas terrorists proudly shared theirs, including live streaming the murder of a grandmother on her own Facebook page. But rather than condemning the slaughter, UCLA students gleefully celebrated it as “resistance”, with eager calls for more.
It’s no coincidence that college campuses are breeding grounds for Jew hatred veiled as social justice. Qatar, which harbors Hamas leadership, is the largest investor in American universities. At UCLA, students were offered extra credit for attending a Pro-Palestine Learn-In as bodies were still being uncovered from the largest mass murder of Jews since the Holocaust. This issue is not isolated to UCLA, universities everywhere are proudly displaying posters featuring the paraglider who perpetuated a mass shooting of unarmed young people, as a symbol of liberation. Why not a gas chamber to celebrate freedom while they’re at it?
For me this is personal. I lived in Israel for four years. I got married and had my first child there. I spent many weekends on one of the kibbutzim that was attacked. I still remember the peace I felt there, how friendly the residents were, and all the kids running around. The civilians on these kibbutzim were normal people like you and me, living in a democracy. Now my social media feed is a constant scroll of people searching for their loved ones, begging for help, or mourning family and friends who were senselessly murdered.
So, I say to all those who consider themselves Progressive — wake up! Jihadist values are not human values! Justifying and celebrating murder is a disgraceful moral failure. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched in Selma, Jewish leaders marched with him. When LGBTQ+ rights are under fire, we rise up. But when Jews are slaughtered by the thousands in cold blood, who do you stand with? Is this how you want to go down in history? Supporting a terrorist organization whose charter explicitly calls for genocide? You are on the wrong side of history. As Dr. King so eloquently put it, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” In this case, we will remember your actions. We will remember how you celebrated our pain. We will know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Jihadist cancer in your movement is terminal.