As our campuses re-open and we enter the trenches of post-pandemic college life, we prepare ourselves for the virus which has been infecting our campuses rapidly on a yearly basis: antisemitism. The symbolism of masks is unironic in this instance, as the masks regarding the COVID-19 pandemic served as a tool to stop the spread; whereas the masks for antisemitism, (i.e anti-zionism) encourage, enable, and even extend one of the world’s oldest forms of hatred.
In 2016 a student hosting an SSI tabling event for Tu B’shevat was interrupted by the Students for Justice in Palestine group, consisting only of “woke” white allies, wearing keffiyehs deterring students who wanted to learn about Israel’s advancements to society in drip irrigation from coming to the table. These self-proclaimed “experts” in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict handed out fliers accusing Israel of occupation and defining antisemitism, as to not draw comparisons to their protesting a Jewish holiday to their hatred for the Jewish people. The school justified their actions as being advocates with differing opinions.
In May of this year an outbreak of violence via Hamas in Gaza occurred, launching hundreds of rockets towards Israeli population centers. Israel’s right to defend herself for two weeks straight as the population was under attack didn’t phase the newfound social media “experts” of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and a brutal wave of antisemitism carried out for weeks after the ceasefire on May 21st, 2021. These “experts,” per se, jumped quickly using aesthetically pleasing graphics accusing Israel of human rights atrocities, eagerly posting manipulated, false, and overwhelmingly antisemitic information to their Instagram stories, only to soon move on to the next cause-of-the-moment.
What’s dangerous in this “expert” complex these individuals have is the quick soundbytes they remember when Jewish and pro-Israel students come to campus promoting the idea that Jews should have the right to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. “Occupation, Apartheid, Human Rights,” are the only words these students can identify Israel with.
One may think with quarantining, and distance learning, antisemitism statistically would fall in numbers, right? Wrong. The Anti-Defamation League found in their 2020 calendar year Audit of Antisemitic Incidents that Jews in the U.S. reported a disturbing 2,024 incidents of antisemitism last year, the third-highest year on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979.
2021 has proven itself a year with an overwhelming need for grassroots, pro-Israel activism. With a mission to be a clear and confident pro-Israel voice on college campuses and to support students in grassroots pro-Israel advocacy, the students of SSI are faced with one of the most challenging years ever before. As the students in Students Supporting Israel gather on campus for the first time since the social media storm deeming every Gen Z student an expert in Middle Eastern studies, they must now convince these “experts” that they have been misinformed. They must now have productive dialogue to separate the truth from the festered antisemitic rhetoric produced from the isolation brought by COVID-19. The offensive approach SSI students take is one that allows them to be the first on campus to speak on behalf of Israel — not to react in a defensive way to shield Israel from defamed statements.
Many students have already embarked on this task; being the first student group on campus to table, to create coalitions with other cultural groups, to place pressure on administrators in recognizing antisemitism, and to explain why the need for Students Supporting Israel is indispensable on college and high school campuses.
To our students: We believe in you. This is the year to leave your mark, to show the success of grassroots activism, to show real expertise through experience and dialogue, to build coalitions with other organizations and to celebrate each other’s uniqueness, and inform by leading by example. You have worked all year, preparing for the opening of these opportunities. You have triumphed from the restrictions. This is the grassroots spirit. This is Students Supporting Israel.
To Fall 2021: We are coming for you.
Students Supporting Israel Movement