By NATHAN TAFT, THE DAILY—
Earlier this year at UCLA, sophomore Rachel Beyda was initially denied a spot on the student council’s Judicial Board. Why?
Because she was Jewish.
As an openly proud, Star-of-David-wearing Jew who goes to school on a college campus, this didn’t surprise me as much as I wish it had.
I’ve attended the UW for four years now, I’ll be graduating at the end of this quarter, and during my time here I’ve faced more anti-Semitism than I’d like to admit. I’ve had TAs whose grading of my work drastically changed for the worse mid-quarter after I spoke out about the need for a Jewish State. I’ve gotten dirty looks around campus for displaying my Star of David prominently around my neck. I’ve had classmates quite literally cease interaction with me after discovering my Jewish heritage, no longer sitting near me during lectures and going out of their way to be in different groups during quiz sections.
I’m not writing this piece for sympathy or pity. This is not a woe is me, feel bad for the Jew story. No, I’m writing this because so few people understand the slow slide back into anti-Semitism that’s occurring, not just here, but around the world, and that’s a problem.
But first, let’s back up a bit.
After the Holocaust, rates of anti-Semitism dropped drastically; losing 6 million of your people can do that. But, as the decades passed, memories faded and anti-Semitism began to thrive once more.
In France, Jews make up less than 1 percent of the population, but are targeted by 51 percent of all racially motivated attacks. All across Europe, Jews face murder, rape, beatings, and harassment for simply being Jewish. Chants of “Jews to the gas,” “dirty Jew,” and “death to the Jews,” are no longer rare, being heard at riots, marches, and even soccer games in multiple cities throughout Europe. Sometimes, the leaders of these groups claim they’re demonstrating against Israel, not Jews, sometimes they don’t. If you’re being honest, it doesn’t really matter one way or another.
Here in the United States, this resurgence of anti-Semitism is less widespread, being mostly limited to college campuses, and is usually far more subtle. Disdain for and discrimination against Jews is rarely out in the open like in the case of Beyda. Instead, people like to hide behind anti-Israel rhetoric to justify their bigotry.
Now, that’s not to say all anti-Israel statements are anti-Semitic; far from it. I’m among the first to be critical of some of Israel’s policies, for good reason. Israel recently re-elected Benjamin Netanyahu, someone who has said he is outright opposed to a two-state solution with the Palestinians. That’s despicable. Palestinians have just as much of a right to a state as Israelis do, and to ever truly achieve peace, both peoples must have a country to call their own.
But oftentimes, when people on campus see my Star of David or find out that I’m Jewish, I’ve become the target for their frustration and anger with the State of Israel’s actions. Many will never admit it, but simply by being Jewish, I’ve become their enemy.
That’s not right. Maybe if I was a hardcore religious Zionist — I’m not — who believes the Palestinians should be forcibly and violently removed from Gaza and the West Bank — I don’t — I could understand that reaction.
But that’s not what’s going on, and that’s not the viewpoint of the vast majority of American Jews. Yet, some people see my Star of David and brand me as someone toxic, someone worthy of their disdain and vitriol.
That’s not being anti-Israel. That’s being anti-Semitic. And anyone who says otherwise simply isn’t being honest.