Student Spotlight: Ariana Hoblin
Meet Ariana Hoblin, founder and president of SSI at Florida Atlantic University (FAU)! She is a freshman studying political science. Unfortunately, Ariana experienced antisemitism in a very brutal way during her middle school years. She explains,
“My face was photoshopped onto Anne Franks’s body, swastikas drawn on my arm and my belonging, and even just would hear students yelling slurs to me in the hallway. For a while, I hid my Jewish identity out of being scared of what might happen if I revealed that I was Jewish.”
As a child, Ariana was raised to be proud of her Jewish identity, and she enjoyed being proud until this horrific experience. However, she decided to take a trip to Israel in high school and this has shaped her into what she is doing with SSI now. She shares her journey,
“For a while, I hid my Jewish identity out of being scared of what might happen if I revealed that I was Jewish. In high school, I took a trip to Israel and educated myself more about Israel and its history. I fell in love with the country and what it stood for. For a while, I was scared to say I was Jewish, and in Israel, it is okay because it is our home. Israel will forever and always be a safe place for the Jewish people. No matter what the Jewish people might face Israel will always be home and there for us.”
Ariana took this experience and started her Israel advocacy journey and embraced her Jewish identity even more as a Stand With Us High School intern, and she also served as the president of her high school’s Jewish Student Union for four years. The next step in her advocacy journey was to start SSI on her campus. However, as a freshman, Ariana was slightly hesitant to start the chapter, but she quickly realized the NEED on her campus. She also shares some of the foundational values SSI holds. Ariana further explains,
“I felt the campus out and realized SSI was needed. There needed to be a club on campus that is active in educating about Israel. I felt there was a lack of education about Israel and SSI has the perfect way of educating. They also encourage student leaders to lead. As we students move on into our careers we must be able to lead. SSI gives students the perfect opportunity to lead, run a successful club, and be independent.”
She has already started to lead with strength! One of the programs Ariana hopes to bring is SSI’s “Mock Bomb Shelter” to “bring the scary reality of Israelis’ lives to campus.” She also wants to partner with Morse Life and their Butterfly project for children in the Holocaust. In addition, she wants to teach her campus about Israel and Zionism through “Israel 101.” Lastly, she plans to host an event about “Antisemitism, how to define it, and how to deal with it.”
During this last year, it was very difficult for Jewish and Zionist students on social media. Ariana was again met with antisemitism for her support for Israel. She shares,
“Although I was not on a college campus last year I saw what was going on through social media and my own high school’s campus. I opened my phone to terrible news and deaths on social media. I had downloaded the red alerts app to check on my friends in Israel. It felt like I never stopped getting a notification. While this was going on there were so many celebrities with a high influence just spreading completely false information about Israel. This mistake caused such an increase in antisemitism. As someone who gained a following on TikTok for being Jewish and a supporter of Israel, I received hundreds of death threats and hate comments. All simply because I was Jewish and supporting my homeland. I even had cops sitting outside my house because a troll had posted my address announcing for people to ‘go to the Jews’s house’. I started thinking into the future that in college I will need a pro-Israel community. SSI is that perfect community. SSI also provides educational material which was extremely needed during this time when almost everything that people saw on social media was just not factual.”
It is inspiring to see the strength Ariana holds even through the struggle and hate she has experienced. Through social media and on-campus, Zionism is often misunderstood. According to Ariana, “People often hide their antisemitism through their anti-Zionism. It is important to define what Zionism is so we can have productive conversations on campus.”
A few years ago, Ariana was able to use her voice in a powerful way, inspiring Jews across the world!
“In January of 2019, I was invited to speak to President Donald Trump in the Oval Office about the anti-semitism I have experienced. This was during the signing of the executive order for the right to pray in schools and the purpose of my speaking was to inspire the youth of all religions who face discrimination and bring attention to the problem of antisemitism and discrimination of race, religion, and ethnicity in America. This event had changed my life in advocacy forever. I never knew how much strength there was in just one single voice. I realized with just one of my stories I was able to inspire thousands of Jews across the world.”
To keep up with the amazing work of Arianna and her SSI chapter, follow @ssiatfau on Instagram!