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Time to Fight the Haters

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It’s the time of year when college grads are beginning to think about what comes next, and when high school grads are looking ahead to college. It’s a time of growth and change. But one thing stays the same – the rampant anti-Israel bias seen on college campuses.Tablet’s Liel Leibovitz writes that it’s time forthose who stand for Israel to stand up against the Jewish state’s haters:

I wish to speak to and about that most at-risk population currently on campus: young Jews.

You hardly need me, friends, to tell you that anti-Semitism on American campuses is spiking; half of you, according to a recent report, personally experienced or witnessed it firsthand. What you may need is a solid bit of advice about what to do—what to do when fellow students send mock eviction notices to your dorm; what to do when a professor opines that “justice and freedom for the Palestinians is incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel”; what to do when even the most genial of your peers fail to understand why you would ever consider supporting Zionism when it, by seemingly universal consensus, is little more than a colonialist, racist, oppressive ideology that is better eradicated than understood…

First, stop apologizing. Right now. You may be critical of certain aspects of Israel’s policy; if you’re not, you should march right into your university’s bursar’s office and demand a refund, as you’ve clearly failed to exercise your capacity for critical thinking in any meaningful way. But despite of these complexities, or maybe precisely because of them, you have much to be proud of: proud of being Jewish, proud of Israel, and proud of understanding the nuanced yet indispensable connection between the two. Start out by finding people who are just as proud, and cultivate a community predicated on faith, joy, candor, and all the other things that make life rich and nurturing.

Once you do that, you’ll discover that the old adage is true: Haters are indeed going to hate. Do not try to debate them or appease them or engage them in any sort of feel-good exercise. Instead, drag their bigotry into the light and make them pay for it. Force those who fail to condemn the atrocities of Hamas, those who believe that the Jews are somehow to blame for the rage of the maniacs who repeatedly rise to murder them, and those who defile history and morality by comparing Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa or to Nazi Germany to explain their hateful positions, and then explain why anyone so disdainful of reason and so devoid of empathy, decency, and common sense should have a place in any American institution of higher learning. Be like the shark in that Woody Allen joke, always moving, always ready to bare its teeth.

When you do, remember the final and most important piece of advice: No matter how relentless the adversity you face on campus, there’s a whole wide world out there that truly, blissfully, cares very little about the ideological battles you fight every day. These people are your natural allies. If you want them to take your side, don’t scare them with bluster or turn them off with self-righteousness. Instead, find funny and creative ways to make them see the absurdity of being denied the right to celebrate your identity by the same people consumed with celebrating every other expression of identity or the outrage of being subjected to hate speech in an environment allegedly devoted to the calm and unfettered exchange of ideas. Counter the bigots’ display of intolerance and fear with a better one of humor and hope, and let well-balanced people on campus decide which side is more appealing. As activists from Siberia to the Maldives have shown us, there’s no better way to combat hate and oppression.

Tags: 4Zion

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