Jewish Students Must Steer the Ship, Not Sit Back and Let Others Decide Our Fate

If I see any antisemitism on my Instagram feed again, and hear the screams of survivors ringing in my ears, I will speak up. I won't stand idly by.
August 25, 2023
lovro77/Getty Images

Spending three invigorating days at the Israel on Campus Coalition’s (ICC) National Leadership Summit earlier this month, I couldn’t help but think back to last year when I was scrolling Instagram, as I often do in my free time, and came across Kanye West’s antisemitic rant.

There is no way this is happening to us, I thought, as tears welled in my eyes, not here, not now, not just 78 years after our liberation from Nazi Germany. With every antisemitic post that tainted my Instagram feed, my body was consumed by a heated rush of anger and isolation.

To the millions of his impressionable and devout followers, West’s tweets set a dangerous precedent: An unabashed display of public Jew-hatred. With the click of a button, he had normalized antisemitism.

A typical school day turned into a catastrophic realization: Antisemitism was no longer just a “word” but a living, breathing monster that took on a life of its own. It had always lurked — sometimes concealed from the public — but now, it was viral. Millions had instantly seen it. Now it had found me. Now it was real.

At that moment, I realized the skeleton of Jew hatred was no longer hidden in a closet. Instead, Jew-hatred and antisemitic tropes had become a part of our mainstream culture. When I saw the apathetic response to Kanye’s antisemitism, I realized I had two options: fall victim to this modern wave of antisemitism or proactively battle it.

My undergraduate journey has been filled with opportunities to explore my passions and convictions, and I’m very grateful for that. I have cultivated a lifelong commitment to the alliance between the United States and Israel. And while such a commitment is met with great dissent on my campus, it took only three days at  the National Leadership Summitto meet 400 other college students who feel the same. I was no longer alone. From the moment I arrived at the Summit, I could feel the passion and energy in the air. Being surrounded by some of the nation’s most outstanding student leaders — each with their own unique background — was an invigorating and comforting experience.

My involvement in Central Student Government as a representative for the University of Michigan’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts taught me one thing: Amplifying voices drives positive change. ICC created a space to engage with critical issues affecting Israel and the Jewish people, which no longerexist on many of our nation’s campuses. This year’s ICC’s National Leadership Summit was three-days of thought-provoking panel discussions, skill-building workshops, and interactions with seasoned pro-Israel advocates and an incredible range of political and cultural figures. Those who attended gained new perspectives and tools that will make a real difference on our campuses and, beyond that, in our collective efforts to strengthen support for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

I was particularly moved by the keynote speakers who shared their expertise with Summit attendees, including the co-founder and chair of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies, Lynn Schusterman, who inspired me to dream big, take risks, and make it happen. Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, said it best during his plenary session: “You [young people] are our future, and we have to invest in the future.”

Since I’ve returned to campus, I feel more empowered and inspired. I want to continue my active leadership and take my activism to greater heights. My experience at ICC’s National Leadership Summit has equipped me with the necessary tools to make my voice heard and continue fighting for the values I hold dear.

If I see any antisemitism on my Instagram feed again, and hear the screams of survivors ringing in my ears, I will speak up. I won’t stand idly by. I only hope other students on other campuses feel the courage to do the same and feel empowered to direct our Jewish-American future. We will not sit back and let others decide our fate.

Emma grew up in Los Angeles where her family still resides, and she is a rising junior at the University of Michigan.

Did you enjoy this article?
You'll love our roundtable.

Editor's Picks

Latest Articles

Sacrifice Works Both Ways

If Israel is to recognize a Palestinian state, then the Palestinians should be obligated to recognize Israel – as a Jewish state.

More news and opinions than at a
Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.

More news and opinions than at a Shabbat dinner, right in your inbox.