Student Spotlight: Tamara Listenberg
Meet Tamara Listenberg, president of SSI at American University! She is a sophomore studying international relations. Tamara is an Israeli, and this comes up quite often throughout her classes.
“Many students will not present their honest views in front of me as I identify myself as Israeli at the beginning of each course introduction. However, on social media people aren’t so afraid to show their hostile opinion towards Israel. People are not ready to conduct a mature dialogue with people that have different views to them, and that is a huge problem in America today.
Tamara explains further the campus climate on social media.
“During the last year activism on campus towards Israel has become much more extreme, especially on social media platforms. The relationship between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and antisemitism on college campuses has become clear. Anti-Israel comments turned to anti-zionist that turned to anti-semitic. It made me realize that people were unaware of how anti-zionism and anti-semitism are connected.”
Oftentimes there is a moment or experience that a student goes through to then make the important decision to start an SSI chapter. For Tamara, it was a negative experience, but she has stepped up and has risen to the occasion.
“The moment I realized I wanted to start SSI at my school is when a lecture by Tzipi Livni was countered by many hateful comments made by AU students who claimed our institution should not be supporting a person from Israel, “an apartheid state”. Implying that a person from Israel should not be welcome at AU. The comment section was filled with remarks declaring that “Zionists are not welcome”. Being a proud Zionist myself I understand that most of these people have misunderstood what Zionism means, leading to hurtful and unnecessary antisemitic rhetoric.”
This disgusting antisemitism at American University has no place. As stated before, Tamara is Israeli and the antisemitism she has experienced at AU affects her in a very personal way. She shares,
“I was born in Israel and lived there for the majority of my life, as well as served in the IDF for two years. I support the State of Israel because it is the only land the Jewish people can really call home at any given time. Israel is the land our ancestors could only dream about. With this in mind and the rise of antisemitism around the world, every day that I live outside of Israel I realize it is a true miracle that we have the land of Israel as our home.”
As one of SSI’s newest chapters, Tamara has big plans for SSI at AU! She further explains,
“I hope to create a profound base for people who believe in supporting Israel in a rightful and just manner. A club that will allow students to express themselves and their right to support the State of Israel in a climate that is less accepting of that. We believe in sharing knowledge with students about Israel’s history, its diverse people, and its day-to-day reality, as Israel should not be looked at solely through the lens of conflict but as a nation with a legitimate and unique story, values, and aspirations. This club will allow individuals to grow and build the skills they need to combat antisemitic and anti-Israel narratives that they face in their daily lives. I’m proud to have a great and enthusiastic group of students supporting Israel alongside me and we cannot wait to begin our journey with SSI!”
We are very excited for the future of SSI at American University! To keep with SSI at AU follow @ssi_au on Instagram!