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Tuvia Book
Author, educator, Tour-Guide, artist

Tufts University Intimidation of Jewish Students

Anti-American and Anti-Israel signage at Tufts University, April 2024.  Photo (c) T. Book, 2024
Anti-American and Anti-Israel signage at Tufts University, April 2024. Photo (c) T. Book, 2024

Misconception:  College campuses are havens of tolerance and understanding, where one can express one’s views without fear.

Reality:  Many college campuses have campaigns which single Israel out for demonization. These campaigns are, immoral, bigoted, and based on misinformation.

My daughter attends Tufts University in Boston.  She is scared and intimidated by the growing antisemitic (and anti-American) violence on her campus.  The tropes, glorification of terrorism, threats, intimidation, blatant hate, and outright calls for the annihilation of the Jewish homeland, combined with total lack of consequences for the intimidators/haters, and apparent passive acquiescence of the university authorities, lead the Jewish students feeling abandoned, scared, and fearful.  This picture is repeated across institutes of tertiary education in north America, and indeed throughout the world.

Anti-American anti-Zionist posters atTufts University, April 2024. Photo (c) T. Book, 2024)

Once Jewish students leave the protective bubble of school, home or intimate social group and enter the “real world” of a mixed college campus, sometimes hostile to Jews and Zionism, they often find themselves uncomfortable, on the defensive and unable to speak about Israel, in part because they lack the knowledge of and passion for Zion.  To respond effectively with a sense of self-respect and to be proactive, students need commitment and pride, as well as knowledge and tools.  Tufts is just one of the numerous campuses in North America, and across the world, where similar scenarios are played out.  Natan Sharansky stated:

Today the battle which takes place on the campuses is one in which our enemies try to convince Jewish students that to be part of the world of justice and freedom, you must disengage yourself from Israel and from your own identity. These attacks and double standards and slander result in the fact that many young Jews don’t want to have anything to do with their Jewish identity. Our history, whether talking about 2,000 years ago, or the struggle of Soviet Jewry, or where it is today, you find this again and again. It’s something that we must bring to every young Jew. If you want to be part of the world of freedom and justice and tikkun olam, your identity is your source of strength to fight for those things – your identity, which is based on your history, on your traditions and of course on your connection to Israel.

The Jewish students need knowledge, correct information, and tools to advocate for Israel.  Since most of the Arab world, together with the Gen Z “TikToc educated” generation, (which unfortunately contain a few Jewish students, also known as “useful idiots”), are trying to negate the Jewish historical claim to Israel, it is vital for us to understand our historical and current claim to Israel.

The most effective method to develop a clear understanding regarding the achievements and challenges facing Israel is to visit Israel, preferably on a peer group educational touring program, or a solidarity mission.   As Professor Gil Troy, who recently visited Tufts,  observed:

In the face of a vicious assault on Israel’s legitimacy, it is crucial these days to understand the depth of the Jewish attachment to Israel.

Some of quotes in this article are from my curriculum of Israel studies, “For the Sake of Zion” (Koren).

About the Author
Dr. Tuvia Book was born in London and raised in both the UK and South Africa. After making Aliya at the age of 17 and studying in Yeshiva he volunteered for the IDF, where he served in an elite combat unit. Upon his discharge he completed his BA at Bar-Ilan University, as well as certification in graphic design. He then served as the Information Officer at the Israeli Consulate of Philadelphia, while earning a graduate degree in Jewish Studies. Upon his return to Israel, Dr. Book graduated from a course of study with the Israeli Ministry of Tourism, and is a licensed tour guide. Tuvia has been working in the field of Jewish Education, both formal and informal, for many years. He has guided and taught Jewish students and educators from around the English-speaking world for some of Israel’s premier educational institutions and programs. Tuvia has been guiding groups for Birthright Israel since its inception and, in addition, has lectured throughout North America, Australia, Europe and South Africa. Tuvia served as a Shaliach (emissary) for the Jewish Agency for Israel as the Director of Israel and Zionist Education at the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York (Jewish Education Project). He was a lecturer/educational guide at the Alexander Muss Institute for Israel Education (AMIIE) in Israel for a decade. Tuvia has lectured at both Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University. He was a Senior Editor and Teaching Fellow at the Tikvah Fund. He is a research associate at the Hudson Institute. Tuvia is the author and illustrator the internationally acclaimed Israel education curriculum; "For the Sake of Zion; A Curriculum of Israel Studies" (Fifth edition, Koren 2017), and "Moral Dilemmas of the Modern Israeli Soldier" (Rama, 2011) and has a doctorate in Israel Education. His latest book, "Jewish Journeys, The Second Temple Period to the Bar Kokhba Revolt – 536 BCE-136 CE," was published by Koren this year. To order: https://korenpub.com/products/jewish-journeys
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