May God avenge their blood

Yet as this anger dissipates, I don’t feel empty.

May 4, 2019 23:06
3 minute read.

BDS. (photo credit: WIKIPEDIA)

When I read the alert that flashed across my phone I was gripped with rage. I tore the blade of grass I was whistling in half and felt the urge to let out a blood-curdling scream. Exactly six months after the massacre at the Pittsburgh Tree of Life Synagogue, a synagogue in San Diego was attacked by a man shouting, “Jews are ruining the world!” as he killed a congregation member and injured others.

But, even though this could have been my synagogue, I didn’t tear down my hammock or punch the tree. Instead I thought, Hashem yikom damam, may God avenge their blood. God will deal with the vengeance. I don’t take this to mean God will come down to smite this murderous soul, simply that we mortals don’t have to deal with this anger. God takes it from us because if we were to deal with it. It would break us.

Yet as this anger dissipates, I don’t feel empty. Like air filling a vacuum one purposely rushes in. Never again. But to do this we must look beyond our Instagram posts and the roots of this antisemitism and cut them out of the ground.

These roots spread everywhere, to the Left, to the Right, and to claim that one side of the political spectrum is the exclusive home is ignorant. From Charlottesville to Pittsburgh to everywhere in between, right-wing extremists have committed violent acts toward Jews. America, besides a certain president, is quick to denounce these people, while other incidents rest below the surface. Swastikas were drawn at Cornell, Penn State, Duke, Tennessee, Minnesota, and Maryland; antisemitic posters and flyers have run rampant, and there was an 89% increase of antisemitic incidents on college campuses last year over 2017.

But these incidents do not stand isolated. The AMCHA initiative collected data to confirm what every Jewish student has felt on campus since the BDS, or boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement started. Any school that has incidents of anti-Israel harassment is dramatically more likely to have antisemitic incidents. “Israeli Apartheid Week” is on almost every college campus in America and engages in directly antisemitic acts. From calling for Palestine to expand “from river to sea,” promoting antisemitic imagery, and calling out Jewish students around campus, antisemitism is inherently tied to Israeli Apartheid Week.

BDS, a movement universally supported at Israeli Apartheid Weeks, received most of its initial support from the Palestinian National Call for BDS, a movement sponsored by the PLO and Hamas, among other Palestinian terrorist groups. Terrorist organizations like these are still closely tied to the movement through NGO donations.

Again, antisemitism is a problem not exclusive to the Left, but the normalization of it among the youth is. As college students see antisemitism as normal and admissible in public conversation, the era of America as a protector of Jews will end. When I see BDS being supported on the green, I see the views of the terrorists who killed my cousin being presented as reasonable. I see lengths that weren’t taken against South Africa being called for on a state that has full rights for every citizen; one that even if every blatantly false claim against it were confirmed would still not have committed as many human rights abuses as Iran or Saudi Arabia.

This is the purpose that fills my blood, that makes me write this instead of study for my finals; the need to call this antisemitism; to raise it above the dark that it scuttles in, hiding behind legitimate criticism of Israel, normalizing antisemitism among the new generations gaining political agency.

Don’t stand for antisemitism on your college campus, don’t accept calls for unity from antisemitic groups, don’t be afraid to rip off the mask of Israel criticism, and remember that while God will avenge the fallen we must protect the future.

The writer a Jewish college student at the College of William and Mary who is actively involved as an Israel advocate.

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