Zero tolerance for anti-Semitism

Recent events illustrate prejudice against Jewish students on college campuses

College campuses around the country have witnessed a disturbing rise in anti-Semitic acts. During a worship service on March 18, over 100 leaflets with hand-drawn swastikas were found on the lawn of the Chabad Librescu Jewish Student Center at Virginia Tech. Last October, the GrandMarc apartment complex on 15th Street in Charlottesville was spray-painted with an orange Star of David and the word “Juden,” a clear act of hate meant to intimidate and threaten the University’s Jewish community. We decry all acts of hate, and urge the University community to fight anti-Semitism.

A 2014 study indicated that over half of Jewish college students at the time had experienced anti-Semitism on their campuses. More recently, Jewish Community Centers around the country have received over 100 bomb threats, while over 250 headstones in Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia have been vandalized. Another study conducted in 2016 found that Jewish students in the first six months of 2016 experienced 45 percent more anti-Semitic acts than in the same time period of 2015. Such figures represent the normalization of prejudice against the Jewish community in the United States.

Attacks on the Jewish community have noticeably increased following the election of President Donald Trump. Organizations such as the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist group, have supported Trump’s campaign and his presidency. The ideologies of NPI and similar organizations have incited white nationalists around the country to commit acts of hate against Jews and other minorities. Moreover, Trump’s appointment of Stephen K. Bannon as Assistant to the President and White House Chief Strategist further perpetuates anti-Semitism in the United States. While serving as the executive chair of Breitbart News, Bannon published news articles with titles such as “Planned Parenthood’s Body Count under Cecile Richards Is up to Half a Holocaust” and “Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” With an advisor who clearly espouses anti-Semitism, Trump will serve as a symbol of success for those who attempt to further an anti-Semitic agenda until he disassociates himself of known anti-Semites and white supremacists.

The University community must recognize and combat the increasingly anti-Semitic national climate. While there have been few flagrant instances of anti-Semitism at the University, the recent events at Virginia Tech and other universities highlight the reality of anti-Semitism on college campuses. The University administration has a responsibility to protect its Jewish population by raising awareness and offering support to those affected. Students also have a responsibility to protect their Jewish classmates when they witness incidents of discrimination or hate. 

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