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Netanyahu to US Jewish College Students on Campus Anti-Semitism:  “You Have to Fight”

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Edited by: Fern Sidman

In a concerted effort to tackle the surge of anti-Semitism on university campuses, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a delegation of American college students in Jerusalem on Monday. This meeting comes in the wake of Hamas’ brutal massacre on October 7th across southern Israel, which has ignited a wave of hatred and slander against the Jewish community within academic institutions.

Netanyahu emphasized the global struggle against the slander and misinformation targeting both the Jewish people and the State of Israel. Addressing the group, which included current and recently graduated students from prestigious universities such as Tulane, MIT, Columbia, Rutgers, the University of Michigan, and Harvard, Netanyahu emphasized the critical importance of countering lies with truth, as was reported by the Algemeiner.com,

“We’re facing a world struggle to fight slander against the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” Netanyahu stated. “The most important thing is you have to fight. And how do you fight lies? With truth. A lie can circle the earth 1,000 times before a single word of truth gets through, but we have no other choice. We fight by exposing the lies,” he told the students from his office in Jerusalem.

Among the delegation was Talia Khan, a student from MIT who has garnered attention for her outspoken stance against anti-Semitic abuse by anti-Zionist faculty and students at her university. Netanyahu is also an alumnus of MIT. The report in the Algemeiner.com said that Khan, who spoke on behalf of the students, highlighted the growing dangers of anti-Semitism and the support for terrorism on campuses. She told the gathering that she is the daughter of a Jewish woman and an Afghan Muslim father.

“As a Jew, I know the importance of the State of Israel in the shadow of the Holocaust,” Khan remarked. She also shared her unique perspective as a woman of Afghan descent, emphasizing the significance of Western values and the necessity of opposing forces that threaten to reverse societal progress, as per the information provided in the Algemeiner.com report. “As a woman of Afghan descent, I understand the importance of Western values and fighting the forces that are trying to set us back. As a patriotic American, it’s obvious that US interests are best served by providing our best and loyal ally Israel with the tools it needs to continue being a beacon of light and democracy.”

Khan’s plea to Netanyahu was clear and passionate. “For this reason, I ask you, Mr. Prime Minister, to help us become better partners in this war on terror. We all in this room, and many others that couldn’t make it on this trip, we’re all ready to dedicate our lives to protecting democracy, Western values, and Israel and America,” she declared as was reported by the Algemeiner.com

The massacre perpetrated by Hamas has not only escalated tensions in the Middle East but also intensified anti-Semitic sentiments globally, particularly in academic settings. Universities, traditionally seen as bastions of free thought and expression, have become arenas where Jewish students increasingly face hostility and discrimination. The rise in anti-Semitism on campuses has sparked a broader debate about free speech, hate speech, and the responsibilities of educational institutions in safeguarding their students.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s meeting with the American students is part of a larger effort to combat these rising tides of hatred and to foster solidarity among the Jewish community and its allies.

The students were brought to Israel by Olami, a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting young Jewish individuals from around the world. The report in the Algemeiner.com noted that the trip included significant visits, such as a tour of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, and the site of the Nova Music Festival massacre, where Hamas terrorists brutally murdered hundreds of young people on October 7th.

The delegation’s visit to the Kfar Aza kibbutz, where over 50 people were murdered by Hamas, was a deeply emotional experience. The visit to the massacre site left a profound impact on the students. Yasmeen Ohebsion, a recent Tulane University graduate, recounted the harrowing experience of hearing a survivor’s story. “That was incredibly hard to see,” Ohebsion told The Algemeiner.com during an interview conducted in a taxi from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. “A survivor there explained her story. She was trapped under a trash container with 40 people piled on top of her. Only 10 people at the very bottom of the container survived, so she almost suffocated to death because there were limbs and dead bodies on top of her. That was very intense.”

This visit provided the students with a firsthand understanding of the devastating impact of the attacks, fostering a sense of empathy and shared grief that transcended geographical boundaries.

The delegation’s visit comes against the backdrop of an alarming increase in anti-Semitic incidents on US college campuses. Following the October 7th attacks, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recorded 470 anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses within a two-month span, marking a 323 percent increase compared to the previous year, as per the information contained in the Algemeiner.com report. These incidents included demonstrations calling for Israel’s destruction and the harassment of Jewish students.

The hostile campus climate has forced many Jewish students to conceal their identities. According to a survey conducted by Hillel International, more than one in three Jewish college students felt the need to hide their Jewish identity post-October 7th. Additionally, 37 percent of Jewish students reported needing to conceal their identity, while 35 percent noted acts of hate or violence against Jews on their campuses, as was revealed in the Algemeiner.com report.  A majority of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with their universities’ responses to these incidents.

During their visit, the American students also engaged with Israeli leaders to discuss these pressing issues. As was affirmed in the Algemeiner.com report, Ohebsion led a discussion with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, bringing the students’ experiences and concerns to the forefront. This dialogue emphasized the shared challenges faced by Jewish communities globally and the importance of solidarity in combating anti-Semitism.

 

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