Congratulations, new college freshmen! Welcome to what will undoubtedly be some of the most exciting years of your life. Get ready to meet new people, learn things that fascinate you, and figure out who you are and who you want to be.
If you’re Jewish, you should probably also prepare yourself for the various forms of anti-Israel sentiment, and maybe even anti-Semitism, you’re likely to encounter on your new college campus.
In the past year alone, as a Jewish student at McGill University in Montreal, I’ve been called a “Zionist b—-.” I’ve been told several times that Jews haven’t suffered (never mind the Spanish Inquisition, Eastern European pogroms and centuries of violence and marginalization leading up to the Holocaust). I’ve seen my friends mocked for their Judaism in crude, hateful language on popular anonymous social media platforms. When I asked if a student publication would write about instances of anti-Semitism on campus in its end-of-year issue, I was told that those instances were already covered in “mainstream Zionist media.”
By no means do I defend every action of the Israeli government, but Israel as a Jewish homeland plays an integral role in my identity. I love Israel and firmly believe in its right to exist, just as I believe in a Palestinian state. I also consider myself a liberal and care deeply about a range of injustices, including gender inequality, homophobia and the racial opportunity gap.
Yet so many of my liberal peers, with whom I share so much common ground, have actively excluded Jewish students from their social-justice organizations. The activist community’s demonization of Israel is apparent again and again in my interactions on campus. These clubs propagate the idea that Zionism underpins many of the world’s problems, as well as claim that Jews have no right to feel connected to Israel and that any Jew who does feel a connection to his or her religious homeland is part of the problem. Despite many of our shared values, my Jewish peers’ and my attempts to reach out to these groups have often been dismissed...