Pro-Israel Students, We Applaud You for Standing Strong

One of the biggest contributing factors to this antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment is TikTok, where Jew hate is allowed to run rampant and Jewish employees describe antisemitism proliferating in their workplace.
February 6, 2024
A man holds up an Israeli flag as Columbia students participate in a rally in support of Palestine at the university on October 12, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Right after the horrific attacks in Israel on October 7, Reuters/Ipsos conducted a poll of Americans ages 18-39, and what they found was troubling, to say the least. Only 34% of these young adults believed that Hamas was responsible for the conflict, compared to nearly 60% of Americans ages 40 and up. A Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, taken in December, revealed that American support for Israel was strong among every age group – except for 18- to 24-year-olds. A majority replied in the affirmative when they were asked if Israel should be ended and given to Hamas and the Palestinians.

One of the places where students learn this radical hate is on college campuses, where they are indoctrinated against the Jewish state and the Jewish people.

To say that college campuses have been hostile towards Jewish and pro-Israel students over these past three-and-a-half months would be a vast understatement. Before Israel even started defending itself following October 7, students on college campuses protested against it. They chanted the genocidal slogan, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” tore down posters of the kidnapped hostages, burned Israeli flags and posted antisemitic threats to online message boards.

October 7 was the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust. Jewish students have not only been dealing with the pain of this reality, but also with the fact that so many of their peers are dismissing their feelings of fear and anguish and actively engaging in antisemitic rhetoric and actions. They heard justifications for rape, as well as calls for Jewish genocide – which the now dismissed presidents of Harvard and Penn told a congressional committee in December would not be a violation of university policy “depending on the context.”

One of the biggest contributing factors to this antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment is TikTok, where Jew hate is allowed to run rampant – and Jewish employees describe antisemitism proliferating in their workplace. This is the same platform where dozens of young Americans expressed their sympathy and support for Osama bin Laden, and where Jewish creators face hate every single day. If you dare reveal you’re a Jew on TikTok, be prepared for an onslaught of “Free Palestine!” comments.

It’s so critical to support and uplift Jewish and pro-Israel students during these troubling times when they are surrounded by negativity and resentment. At the start of the new year, we had the privilege of talking with 60 exceptional pro-Israel student activists attending the Israel on Campus Coalition’s Geller Fellowship Retreat in New York City.

We both talked about how love is stronger than hate. We were all wearing the dog tags in support of the hostages that Abbey Onn, the tireless advocate who had five relatives either brutally murdered or taken hostage that day, brought to the gathering. In English, they say: “Bring Them Home.” In Hebrew, perhaps more poignantly, they say: “Our Hearts are Captive in Gaza.”

At the retreat, we discussed the importance of having allies who are not Jewish. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) groups across the U.S. have been allying with other minority organizations on campus and erroneously comparing their causes to that of the Palestinians, framing Israelis and Jews as white oppressors. It’s time to take back that narrative and to build our own coalitions with pro-Israel students of all different backgrounds and stand strong together.

We also urged students not to stoop to using the tactics of the other side, who hide behind masks while destroying property and shouting hateful rhetoric. Instead, we must always respect our surroundings and stick to the truth. It’s what has protected us from others who tried to destroy our people throughout history.

What’s going on on college campuses is called “progressivism,” when truly it is regressive. To us, being progressive means welcoming in and protecting people from different backgrounds – including Israelis and Jews. It means promoting free speech while swiftly shutting down hateful rhetoric, like what’s been heard on college campuses well before October 7. It means giving those who were historically discriminated against the tools and resources to move up and become more equal members of society, a social justice cause that Jews have led time and time again in America, in Israel, and around the world.

The college campus is the first place we must take back progressivism and stay true to its values. Otherwise, in 10 years, when these college graduates are making their way up in the workforce and government, we are going to have a much more serious problem on our hands. By starting with the pro-Israel students and giving them the words and strength they need to fight back, we can potentially save the entire country from this twisted ideology.

We know our campus leaders can do it. We were so inspired by their resolve; they were not afraid to stand against the hatred and lies coming their way. In the face of terrible trauma and tragedy, they have united with their clear-thinking peers and rejected campus groupthink and distorted narratives. They are not afraid to have a different opinion than many of the other students on their campuses and fight for what’s right.

These passionate leaders will continue to be a beacon to their generation on campus, through social media and beyond until the day Hamas is defeated, every last innocent captive returns home and we come out victorious – just like we’ve done over and over throughout history – once again.

Messing is an American actress most well-known for her role in NBC’s Will & Grace. Mazzig runs the Tel Aviv Institute, a non-profit that combats online antisemitism. 

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