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The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

The Student Media Site of Georgia College & State University

Bobcat Multimedia

Increase of anti-semitism on college campuses following the Israel-Hamas War

Alisdare Hickson
people protesting the Isreal-Hamas war

There have been 38 days of Israeli attacks on Gaza since the beginning of the war on Oct. 7. Since that Saturday, just over five weeks ago, there have been 4,324 children’s deaths and at least 10,569 adult deaths.


Throughout the “Al-Aqsa Storm” on Oct. 7, the militant groups led by Hamas went after military targets, including checkpoints, barracks, IDF positions and more. But the attacks also led the IDF to invade civilians on the ground and in the occupied territories on the edge of Gaza, who cannot be justified as military or political targets. 


“It’s scary, like, especially knowing people, I know it’s so far away people might not realize,” said an anonymous Jewish student. “Like, ‘it’s not our problem,’ but it does affect people here too. I feel like more outreach groups and maybe having more groups, like making Hillel more known. I didn’t know they [GC] had that.”


Following the attack on Israel by Hamas and Israel’s subsequent war on Hamas and attack on Gaza, there has been increased anti-Semitism on American college campuses and backlash on university administrations, which has affected the safety of Jewish students nationally.


For instance, following a nearly 300-student walkout on Nov. 9, Columbia University banned students who were in the Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, organization and the Jewish Voice for Peace or JVP, organization. These students cannot hold events on campus or receive university funding through the end of the fall semester, according to the New York Times. 


The New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR-NY, condemned the university’s decision to suspend these students. 


“Once again, we are witnessing the suppression and silencing of pro-Palestinian voices on campus,” said Afaf Nasher, the executive director of CAIR-NY. “SJP and JVP are dedicated to holding institutions, including institutions of higher learning, to account for their support of Israel apartheid and genocide of the people of Gaza.” 


Dr. Caley Smith, an assistant professor of religious studies at GC, believes that it is possible for people to show support for either Israel or Palestine without engaging in offensive or harmful behavior. 

“Everyone needs to read more, but always turn to the past to understand the present,” Smith said. “I keep feeling humbled by how much I need to know to come to a confident answer. But I hesitate to encourage them [universities] to control the speech of students. They are supposed to say things that are rash, wrong, damaging, dangerous — because this is a place where we are supposed to work on that together.”

Along that same line, GC has not formally spoken out about this global situation.


“There could probably be more efforts to realize there is an issue,” said an anonymous Jewish student. “I think they’re kind of avoiding the problem right now. Nothing’s been brought up; no emails have been sent. I’m sure we’re all aware of the attacks that just happened. Even just, like, an email, you know, from the college, like Cathy Cox saying, ‘We want to make sure this is a safe community,’ like she cares about all the minority groups here.”


On Oct. 31, Patrick Dai, a junior at Cornell University, was arrested for virtually threatening Jewish students and threatening to shoot up a dining hall that caters preodminantly to Kosher diets and is next to the Cornell Jewish Center, which houses at least 25 Jewish students. In another online post, Dai threatened to stab any Jewish men he saw on campus, physically attack and throw off a cliff any Jewish women he saw and behead any Jewish babies he saw. 


The charge filed against Dai contains a maximum of five years of prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and a maximum supervised release of three years. 


More than 1,600 Jewish Harvard alumni have threatened to withdraw their donations due to the uncertainty surrounding the safety of Jewish students. Their concerns surround anti-Israel protests and hate speech, both of which have been on the rise since the Israel-Hamas conflict began.


On Nov. 9, Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard, condemned the 60-year-old phrase “from the river to the sea,” which has been labeled divisive and anti-Semitic. 


“Universities have a bit more latitude in regulating certain types of speech that might otherwise be protected of the First Amendment to ensure that the university can create a safe, stable and sustainable educational mission where all opinions are welcome and where students do not feel marginalized or threatened by speech that is hateful,” said Adam Lamparello, an assistant professor of criminal justice at GC.


Regarding GC, students interviewed have not reported anti-Semitic experiences.


The anti-Semitic behavior around the country currently scares me, but thankfully, I haven’t experienced any here at GC,” said an anonymous Jewish student. “My friends and classmates have made me feel safe here on campus.”


On Oct. 10, an unnamed instructor at Stanford University made multiple Jewish students uncomfortable by downplaying the Holocaust and justifying the actions done by Hamas.

“That’s what Israel does to Palestinians,” the instructor said. 

Rabbi Dov Greenberg is the executive director of Stanford’s Jewish Community Center, and he reported that the instructor forced students to physically stand in the back of the room, supposedly warranting the instructor to say that statement. 

On Nov. 3, a Syrian Stanford student wearing a shirt with Arabic print was walking on campus when an unidentified man in a car hit the student, yelled an offensive phrase and drove off.

“[Expletive] you and your people,” the man said.

The offender has historically harassed Palestinian and Muslim students by recording them at events and infringing on their personal safety. The university has not outright addressed this incident as a hate crime, but does appear to be investigating it as such. 

Stanford Students for Justice in Palestine and Stanford Muslim Students Union are working together to confront administrators regarding anti-Semitism and Islamophobia on their campus. 

Altogether, anti-Semitism on American university campuses is a rising trend that demands collective attention and action. Confronting and addressing discriminatory acts against religious groups, including the Jewish community, is imperative to keeping college campuses safe and inclusive. 


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