Fight antisemitism or it'll run rampant - opinion

Jewish students across the US experience antisemitism regularly.

 THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY campus in Washington; the AU has an antisemitism problem.  (photo credit: MICHAEL COHEN)
THE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY campus in Washington; the AU has an antisemitism problem.
(photo credit: MICHAEL COHEN)

American University (AU) has an antisemitism problem. My three and a half years at American University were adorned with swastika graffiti in bathroom stalls and calls from students to destroy Israel. It shouldn’t be surprising; haven’t we learned anything from history? 

Unfortunately, the AU isn’t unique. Across the US, Jewish students are ostracized and shamed for expressing their Jewish identity, excluded from support groups, dubbed white supremacists and accused of running the university. We are witnessing a trend in which antisemitism has once again been deemed the cure for society’s ills.

As an Israeli-American, I am used to the constant xenophobia – from being called a Nazi to a baby-killer. I have learned that no matter how outrageous the accusation against Israelis might be, it will always be framed as justified. My identity has been erased and the AU has given their stamp of approval.

Students for Justice in Palestine at the AU, along with six other AU-sponsored departments, has invited The Nation’s Palestine correspondent Mohammed El-Kurd as part of a settler-colonialism lecture series on March 17. Providing a space for Palestinians to speak about their experiences is necessary to foster inclusive dialogue surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

In fact, as an Israeli, it’s crucial to create space for diverse experiences regarding the conflict. That being said, El-Kurd has completely rejected my Israeli identity as illegitimate, all the while spreading violent antisemitism in his rhetoric.

El-Kurd, like the AU, has an extensive history of normalizing antisemitism. Firstly, El-Kurd has equated Israelis to neo-Nazi pigs. El-Kurd’s equation of Jews to neo-Nazis paints the Jewish people as their oppressors, blatantly insulting the memory of the Holocaust. 

 WE MUST stand together against BDS and all forms of antisemitism. (credit: Wikimedia Commons) WE MUST stand together against BDS and all forms of antisemitism. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

With the rallying cries of “never again,” thousands of Holocaust survivors fought to establish a country to safeguard the future of the Jewish people. Labeling their children and grandchildren as neo-Nazis inverses their trauma, a slap in the face to the legacy of survivors.

Secondly, El-Kurd claimed that Israel Defense Force soldiers traffic organs. Conspiracies placing blood on Jewish hands isn’t anything new. During the Middle Ages, Jews were accused of using the blood of Christian children for the preparation of matzah for Passover. Such libels prompted anti-Jewish pogroms across Europe. 

In more recent history, Jews have been accused of using Christian blood for Jewish rituals during Nazi Germany. From the Damascus Affair to Deadly Exchange, blood libel against Jews has continuously mutated.

Lastly, El-Kurd described Zionism as a death cult. Zionism is the right for the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Zionism, like keeping the laws of Shabbat or wearing a yarmulke, is an expression of Jewish identity. Dubbing this integral facet of Jewish identity deathly seeks to portray Judaism as a whole as a death cult.

It did not take long for me to find these statements by El-Kurd. Just a quick Google search and I found antisemitic after antisemitic Tweet and Instagram repost. So, I ask AU’s administration: how can you in good conscience claim to fight antisemitism, while endorsing a lecture led by an antisemite? Don’t claim to fight antisemitism if you aren’t willing to protect Jewish students on campus.

The writer is the chief marketing officer of Jewish on Campus.