Jewish students are being vilified on campus. Will our allies stand up to antisemitism?

Nov 20, 2023 | Read Now, Voices

[Op-ed by Northwestern student & AJC Campus Global Board VP Lily Cohen]

As I scroll through Instagram, I am repeatedly told that Hamas’ terror attacks on Israel were justified by the “undeniable right to resist.” Worse than the sentiment itself is where it’s coming from – the same people who sit behind me in lecture halls, who were in my dance company or who I might see at a campus party.

The proximity of the vitriol has engulfed me in panic for the past month.

Many Jewish students have grown numb in recent years to the demonization of Israel on our campuses and in our social media feeds. But seeing students I engage with every day applaud the Hamas terrorists who slaughtered more than 1,400 people in Israel is sickening.

As I watched in horror the news from Israel on Oct. 7, I assumed that because the violent attack on innocent civilians felt so obviously wrong to my family, my Jewish friends and me, everybody else I knew would agree. Needless to say, I was caught off guard when classmates began declaring the attacks a victory for Palestinian “resistance.”

College campuses should be incubators of critical thinking and intellectual discourse. Yet, conversations have become increasingly stifled and cancel culture lauded, sometimes even by professors themselves.

And the events of the past two weeks suggest that the situation will only get worse unless something drastically changes.

[The Op-ed by Northwestern student & AJC Campus Global Board VP Lily Cohen continues:]

Last year, I wrote an article for the campus newspaper declaring my pride in my Jewish identity and my love for Israel, and calling out antisemitism on campus. In response, pro-Palestinian activists turned 42 copies of my article into a banner hung in front of the library and painted atop it “From the River to the Sea” – a phrase widely interpreted as a call for the erasure of the state of Israel and its Jewish inhabitants.

[The Op-ed by Northwestern student & AJC Campus Global Board VP Lily Cohen concludes:]

My hope is that university leaders will realize they need to reset the dynamic on campus. As the threat of a protracted war looms, now is the time to put in the hard work to build academic environments that value truth and reject hatred.

Read the full Op-ed by Northwestern student & AJC Campus Global Board VP Lily Cohen in the Nov. 9, 2023 USA Today]