April 8, 2024
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We’ve Become Desensitized To Hate in North America

It is time that we take a strong stand and push back at these pro-Hamas protest rallies. We can’t hide who we are because of antisemitism, and we shouldn’t have to.

Antisemitism on college campuses has become increasingly prevalent, almost to the point where it is expected. Again and again, pro-Palestinian protesters call not simply to support the rights of Palestinians but to eradicate Jews in Israel and around the world.

One recent event took place, yet again, at Harvard University. This time, the protest occurred during a concert by Israeli singer Ishay Ribo, hosted by Chabad on February 27. Protesters took up the antisemitic call to eliminate Jews in Israel by chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” for hours outside the concert.

This is a good example of anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests and tropes flowing directly into illogical antisemitic chants and slogans, and blame is placed on non-political organizations. Chabad is apolitical, it doesn’t even have a political wing to it, and it isn’t an Israeli organization, it is a Jewish one. Chabad’s goal is to serve Jews and Judaism spiritually.

During the event, Chabad brought a singer from Israel, and protesters stood outside and screamed, “From the river to the sea.” This chant, as many now know, is a call to kill all the Jews in Israel.

A similar event took place on the University of California Campus in Berkley, California, on February 26, where hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters surrounded a campus building where a Jewish speaker was giving a lecture to a group of primarily Jewish students. During the incident, the students were spat on, and at least two reported being assaulted by the mob, who called for an intifada and blamed the Jewish students for a genocide that they claimed was taking place in Israel.

A third incident recently took place near Toronto, where pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted an event that was held outside of the Aish HaTorah building in Thornhill, Ontario.

Two weeks ago, on Monday, protesters surrounded one of the main buildings of the Jewish community in Montreal and harassed anyone entering or exiting the building. The list of incidents in North America goes on and on.

 

Terror Rallies: Disturbing Realities

These rallies are essentially calls for the extermination of the Jewish people, and that is scary. The protesters want everyone to forget that the aggressors were Hamas, the legally elected government of Gaza.

Israel removed its people from Gaza in 2005, and ever since, it has been effectively Judenrein, a place where no Jews were allowed to be, and any Jew who entered there would be killed or kidnapped. Since Gaza became Palestinian territory, all they have done with it is use it to continuously fire rockets at Israelis, and on October 7, they came across the border to rape, kill, kidnap and steal Jews and others.

What makes this so much more telling is that, even before Israel retaliated against Hamas as a fallout of the war, even before that happened, these rallies started calling for the extermination of the Jewish people. The rallies have very little to do with caring about the people of Gaza and far more to do with the hatred of Jews. We have to call them out for what they are and start pushing back loudly.

When you have peaceful Jewish gatherings such as these at a concert, a lecture, or even simply a building, and you call for the extermination of the Jewish people, that is, by definition, antisemitism. No other minority group in the world would stand by and allow this to happen to them. If pro-Palestinian protesters were calling for the extermination of any other minority group on the planet, everyone would be up in arms. But when it comes to Jews, people have become so used to it that, at best, we receive a political condemnation or a shake of a head on a news report.

It is time that we take a strong stand and push back at these pro-Hamas protest rallies. We can’t hide who we are because of antisemitism, and we shouldn’t have to.

We need to be doing more to let the world know who we are and what we stand for, not less. If a Jewish group or organization is planning to have an event–then we should put on five events. A lot of people are getting nervous about showing their Jewishness. This is not the time to be bashful. Bashfulness and keeping quiet have not worked for us in the past. This is the time to speak out, loud and proud, about being Jewish. Together, we can show the world exactly what that means and how important it is for everyone that we are here, to keep imparting Jewish wisdom to everyone.


The writer, Aish’s CEO, also serves on the board of governors of the Jewish Agency as an executive board member of the Rabbinical Council of America, and a board member of Yeshiva University High Schools and Naaleh High School. Prior to Aish, he was eastern director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center where he oversaw the Museum of Tolerance in New York City and contributed to the center’s fight against antisemitism.

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