In the past week, Israeli citizens have faced vicious attacks from Palestinian terrorists in what is reportedly the country’s “bloodiest week since 2006,” according to The Times of Israel. But rather than using these heartbreaking events as an opportunity to reflect on the harm of their incendiary and often antisemitic accusations against the State of Israel and Jewish students, anti-Zionists at Tufts University have chosen to double down on their discriminatory campaigns against Jewish students. To be clear, anti-Zionism is the belief Israel does not have the right to exist, thus denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination and security.
For instance, this past month, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) launched a renewed Boycott, Divest, Sanctions (BDS) campaign at Tufts University, urging students to disassociate from all student organizations on campus and boycott Israeli products. As violent terrorists take the lives of dozens of Israelis across the Jewish State, SJP is vilifying Jewish students on campus and those who support Israel, labelling us as colonizers and apartheid supporters.
In a March 14 op-ed in the Tufts Observer magazine entitled “Justice through BDS,” the group, which is a university-sanctioned club at Tufts, referred to Israel (which they repeatedly spelled israel, as a way to undermine the legitimacy of the only Jewish state) as a nation rooted in “settler-colonialism.” Explicitly targeting Jewish students supporting the only democracy in the Middle East, they listed groups such as Tufts Friends of Israel, J Street U, and the Visions of Peace experimental college course as “complicit” in what they describe as Israeli “apartheid.” While those claims are steeped in antisemitism and are clearly incendiary, SJP went even further, discouraging Tufts students from applying for a school-sponsored fellowship with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a group that seeks to combat hate, prejudice, and antisemitism. What could SJP possibly find wrong with combating antisemitism?
It would be simply absurd to deny the clear linkage between SJP’s renewed BDS campaign and its explicit targeting of Jewish students through the many organizations and clubs that foster Jewish identity at Tufts. It is also no coincidence that nearly all the clubs that SJP’s op-ed mentions are led and attended by predominantly Jewish students.
In addition, SJP has unsurprisingly chosen to further ostracize Jewish students by denouncing the very groups that seek solutions to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict and peace between Israel and its neighbors. For instance, the Visions for Peace experimental college course, according to its course description, is designed “for those interested in learning about historical and contemporary conflict resolution and peace efforts in Israel/Palestine … and in exploring their own views in a challenging, tolerant, and respectful environment.” Secondly, groups such as Friends of Israel and J Street U engage students in “buddy” programs that foster cross-cultural conversations about our individual identities and political views. This is yet another example of SJP unfairly tarnishing and canceling those who seek to engage in dialogue to resolve conflict.
In response to SJP’s BDS campaign, which is unfortunately an all-to-familiar story for Jewish students at Tufts and across much of the country, the Tufts administration publicly denounced the club, repudiating parts of the BDS movement as “rooted in antisemitism” as well as SJP’s calls to ostracize fellow students on campus. While this is a positive step that deserves praise from the Jewish community, particularly from students at Tufts who simply seek a welcoming and inviting campus environment, the onus is now on the broader student body to reject SJP’s newest effort to exclude Jews at Tufts.
SJP’s renewed desire to eradicate the Jewish State, amid widespread terrorism in Israel, should not deter Jewish students at Tufts from expressing our identity. Rather, it should empower us to amplify our voices and not hide from those who seek to disparage us in targeting a democratic nation that is inextricably linked to Jewish identity and heritage.
As college students we are all encouraged to engage in civic and political causes, regardless of our identity or background. Accordingly, we must reject SJP’s outrageous pleas and aim toward greater dialogue, rather than cancelation of Jewish clubs and students, to navigate this delicate issue. We must ensure that Jewish students are respected and treated as equals on our campus in the face of this intransitive antisemitic campaign, irrespective of political views on Israel or the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. If we don’t, this is a denial of our core values.
Alex Landy is a Freshman at Tufts University studying political science and a Jewish on Campus Student Ambassador