Rise of antisemitism in American universities demands action

“Enough is enough. Jewish students on campus are done being silent,” wrote University of Connecticut's Hillel after recent acts of antisemitism.

What appears to be a swastika spray-painted on a wall of the University of Chile in downtown Santiago [File] (photo credit: REUTERS)
What appears to be a swastika spray-painted on a wall of the University of Chile in downtown Santiago [File]
(photo credit: REUTERS)
A wave of antisemitic behavior hit the University of Connecticut this year, culminating in a graffitied Swastika and hateful comments over the weekend.
Another swastika and "SS" symbol were painted on one of the buildings in the Storrs campus on Tuesday. This is the seventh Jewish hate crime the university has experienced in 2021.
While university police are investigating the matter, UConn's Hillel has responded to the incidents, “Enough is enough. Jewish students on campus are done being silent.”
They called upon university students to join a "gathering to support Jewish students and stand up against antisemitism on April 5th, 2020."
UConn is not the only university to experience increased antisemitism in recent years. 
Ian Katnelson, a student from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign wrote last year, "I, a Jew, have been labeled a Nazi for being a Zionist, abandoned by progressive campus organizations, silenced in the student government as the lone Jewish senator, and personally threatened -- all for supporting the right of Jewish self-determination."
Additionally, the writer Liel Leibovitz issued a warning last year to Jewish students at American institutions of higher education telling them to leave. He argued that the rise of anti-Zionism, poor teaching quality, and inflated prices made elite colleges hostile places for both Jewish flourishing and liberal education. 
Leibovitz called upon his readers to cease applying and donating to institutions like Harvard and Yale.
Unfortunately, with BDS and other outspoken pro-Palestine student organizations, many students are only hearing one side of the conflict and ignorantly adopting antisemitic mantras. 
"I had experience talking to people who support BDS and the reasons that they gave were blatantly antisemitic," said Lexi Leitner, a student at Ithaca College in upstate New York, who is very proactive in the college's Student Alliance for Israel club. 
She added that most antisemitism on campuses stems from "people just ignoring the fact that it exists" instead of addressing the issue. For college students, "If it's not in their small circle, it's not real."
Leitner told The Jerusalem Post that swastikas were drawn in the snow and on school whiteboards, but nothing was done since they were not permanent and therefore not considered vandalism. 
“We have seen time and time again that education is the solution to much of the hate present in our world and on our campus,” UConn Hillel’s wrote on their Instagram.
Like Leitner the Hillel has acknowledged that most of the antisemitism comes from lack of education. Students arrive on campus naive and impressionable and "just side with what they hear," Leitner said.
She emphasized that college students don't always do their 'homework' and just believe whatever they read without researching the facts. "If you think BDS is about peace and equality, you're just reading their website," she concluded. 
UConn's call to action encourages students to think for themselves and educate themselves on the reality of antisemitism.
“We hope that Jewish students and non-Jewish students alike feel emboldened to call out antisemitism when they witness it, educate on antisemitism, and support each other as we heal from these hurtful actions.”  

Tamara Berens contributed to this report.