What is taking place on our college campuses across the country? There is a great rise not only in anti-Israel sentiments, but a serious increase in anti-Semitism.
Irwin Cotler, a leading scholar of human rights has proposed a concept of “new anti-Semitism” which entails the delegitimization, demonization and setting of double standards, not only against the State of Israel, but against the Jewish people. So do many of our students feel apprehensive about being “public” about their Jewish identities, even as they are expected to be experts on all facets of Judaism and issues concerning the State of Israel.
Many Jewish students have found themselves in positions of being questioned about their loyalty to the United States, as the “new anti-Semitism” focuses upon the question of loyalty to Israel and an apparent conflict between these two loyalties.
As one Jewish student expressed: “We are forced to be ‘not so public’ about our Jewish identities. And between combating Divestment resolutions, and defending ourselves against anti-Semitism, we have lost sight of what we really came to these universities for: an education.”
Regrettably, such attacks upon Jews have a long and painful history. The reality which Jewish Enlightenment thinker Moses Mendelssohn hoped to address in advocating the Jewish people “to be a Jew in the home and a man on the street,” seems to be just as relevant now as it was to Mendelssohn in the eighteenth century, even as many of our college students courageously try to stand up to their ignorant and misguided accusers.
While this matter should be of concern to all of us, WE ARE HOLDING A SPECIAL PROGRAM FOR OUR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AND THEIR PARENTS ON MONDAY EVENING, OCTOBER 26TH AT 6pm. WE WILL SHOW THE FILM “CROSSING THE LINE 2,” AND DISCUSS HOW THESE IMPORTANT ISSUES IMPACT UPON ALL OF US. AS FOR OUR COLLEGE PARENTS, A PROGRAM/DISCUSSION IS BEING PLANNED FOR YOU WHICH WILL TAKE PLACE IN THE COMING MONTHS.
Yes, college life has changed since I attended U.C.L.A. Never was I made to feel uncomfortable being Jewish, and I trust that the same is true for most of you. If such was not the case, I would love to hear from you about your experiences.
Rabbi David Greenberg