Words of the Week

“At many American universities, mine included, it is now normal for student organizations to freely call Israel an imperialist power and an outpost of white colonialism with little pushback or discussion — never mind that more than half of Israel’s population consists of Israeli Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, and that the country boasts a 20 percent Arab minority. The word ‘apartheid’ is thrown around without hesitation. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is repeatedly dragged into discussions ranging anywhere from L.G.B.T.Q. equality (where to mention Israel’s vastly better record on gay rights compared with that of any other country in the Middle East is branded ‘pinkwashing’), to health care to criminal justice reform.”

Source: Blake Flayton, “On the Frontlines of Progressive Anti-Semitism” (The New York Times)

Dear College Students: Don’t Dismiss Jewish Communal Life Just Yet

There may be much to react to in New York Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg’s recent piece about how the current President of the United States has “revived the Jewish left,” but I’ll leave to others the task of a full response. Conditioned, perhaps, by reading the piece while monitoring a wave of photographs on my Facebook feed depicting friends and family members bringing their offspring to college campuses, I’m still enmeshed in this three-sentence paragraph:

Alyssa Rubin, a 25-year-old organizer with Never Again Action, told me that in college, she had little interest in Jewish communal life, much of which seemed to revolve around support for Israel. But in the months leading up to the 2016 election, as Trump spouted rhetoric that smacked of fascism and white nationalists grew giddy at their new relevance, ‘I had never thought about my Judaism more,’ she said. For the first time, anti-Semitism seemed an immediate, urgent threat.

What troubled me most was the implication—an idea that I’ve encountered elsewhere and worry may have been inculcated into the current flock of incoming undergraduates—that “establishment” Jewish life on campus “revolves around support for Israel.” If anecdotal experiences like Rubin’s are to be given representative credence in the paper of record, let’s pause and consider another individual example. Mine.

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